Posts tagged ‘bay area’

Josh Allen’s Deconstruction Orchestra

The Outsound group has posted several videos from this year’s New Music Summit, the annual creative-music festival held every summer in San Francisco. (You’ll find the full playlist of videos here.)

Video is a powerful tool for documenting live music, especially creative music. The music is underrepresented in the media as it is. Video evidence of past performances could be a useful promotional tool, especially when traveling out of town. And for this kind of music, it’s not as if the fans will stay home hoping there’ll be video to replay later — that’s hardly a guarantee.

Here’s Josh Allen conducting an improvising orchestra. It’s a grand, hour-long piece full of big sounds and blazing solos. Rent Romus and Vinny Golia, on saxes, really sink their teeth into it early on. Afterwards, there’s a fiery encore where we get to hear Allen’s tenor sax assault. Great stuff.

December 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

Monday Make-Out, January 2014

Nathan Clevenger Group @ the Make-Out Room, SF

Nathan Clevenger Group, bathed in the Make-Out Room’s red light.

On the first Monday of every month, jazz takes over the Make-Out Room bar in San Francisco’s Mission district. It had been more than a year since I’d gone, and I finally atoned for that this month.

I arrived in about the middle of the first set — the Nathan Clevenger Group, whose new album I’d just written about. The band’s sound relies on feathery harmonies of clarinet and sax that have to work just so; one of the strengths of the Observatory album is the silkiness in the recording. I’d imagine a venue with a bright sound, like the Luggage Store Gallery, might not be so conducive to that sound.

It worked in the Make-Out Room, though, which was a pleasant surprise. The band was locked in with the harmonies and their solos, playing for a decent-sized audience, many of whom had come to truly listen to the music. Late in the set, when guest Jason Levis stepped in as a second drummer, he and Jon Arkin got into a brief, unaccompanied drum battle– and I swear, the whole bar went silent for it. They even got a few laughs when they traded off quieter and quieter sounds (the machismo of silence). It was nice to see a jazz band capture that much attention in a bar setting.

Levis and Lisa Mezzacappa were up next as duo B, a reunion of their bass-and-drums combo. Duo B used to play around town quite a bit, and I’d imagine venue owners helped come up with one of their song titles: “So It’s Just the Two of You.”

Duo B was an acoustic act, but they added an electric guitar for this set, producing a heavy sound. While the guitar did have its mellow moments, the first of two improvisations started with an electrified, industrial feel. A later segment had Levis going nuts on the snare and high-hat with Mezzacappa delving athletically on the bass. The second piece was more of a long, glorious sunburst with elements of drone; it started with some prickly guitar in an adversarial approach but ended up as an example of nicely sustained mood and coloring.

The third act was apparently Denny Denny Breakfast, performing one long, unexplained suite. On the web, DDB seems to be a pop act, the musical vehicle for Bob LaDue. What we saw was different: a fairly large band playing a long, polished, complex suite full of tricky passages at breakneck speed. It was as if a marching band had grown up in a town where Zappa chemicals leaked into the water supply. Drums and/or vibes triggered goofy synth patches as well, adding a madcap Nintendo silliness to the music.

This wasn’t throwaway stuff. The band’s charts were long and, according to one guy I was talking to, really complicated. (The charts were also photocopied just a couple hours before the show, apparently.) It was impressive.

January 26, 2014 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

Offside Festival Winds Up Tonight

David Boyce of The Supplicants. Source: BayTaper.com. Click for photo, sound, and video of a 2010 show.

What I like about the site for the San Francisco Offside Festival — a local-jazz showcase that ends Saturday night — are the little interviews with the bands. They’ve done a good job putting together a blog that introduces the artists by having them answer a fixed set of questions, then introduces their music and their influences via YouTube and Vimeo clips.

I like the answer Lisa Mezzacappa gave about being on the road. “Behold the glamor!

I’ve been mostly underwater for the month of May, out of town for two weeks, shuttered away in work for a third. I did get to see some music in New York (oh yes), which was a nice break, but haven’t had time for anything while in town. Tonight is my last chance, and yours, to get in on the fun.

The lineup — with links that go back to the SF Offside blog is:

  • Secret Sidewalk (three synths, sax, and drums — this is going to be different)
  • Klaxon Mutant Jazz All-Stars (a more traditional-lineup quintet, but they’re fans of Kneebody, so this should be lively)
  • The Supplicants (longtime sax/bass/drums trio). BayTaper.com has an excellent little record of a 2010 show at the Red Poppy Art House, complete with video.

The venue is Viracocha, in the Mission District.

Do check out the SF Offside site; it’s got press clips and information about tickets. They’ve put an impressive amount of work into this. Should be a great show tonight.

May 26, 2012 at 9:03 am 1 comment

SF Offside Festival

A set of shows celebrating Bay Area jazz has been put together by Laura Maguire, local music fan extraordinaire.

She’s calling it the SF Offside Festival, and the bill consists entirely of local talent, except for saxophonist Dave Rempis, who appears in a cooperative, experimental trio. It’s happening May 24-26.

Here’s the full-on press release:

– 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 –

What: *San Francisco Offside Festival*

When: 8pm, Thursday May 24, Friday May 25, & Saturday May 26

Where: El Valenciano (Thursday), 50 Mason Social House (Friday), plus
special location TBA (Saturday)

Tickets: Starting at $10/night or $25 for festival pass

Advance purchase: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/244401

Website: www.SFOffside.com

RSVP: www.facebook.com/events/284562801627321/**

* *

Born of a passion to celebrate the unique creativity and diversity of the local jazz scene, SF Offside has gathered together some of the Bay Area’s most exciting musical talent for an event unlike any other. The three-night festival showcases notable local musicians and composers, like Marcus Shelby, David Boyce, Darren Johnston, Lisa Mezzacappa, Larry Ochs, Erik Jekabson, Aram Shelton, Eric Garland, and many more.

*Night One: “Excursions” – El Valenciano, 1153 Valencia Street*

The festival kicks off with three different ensembles with one thing in common—mastery of traditional techniques coupled with fearless commitment to exploring innovative territories. Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa opens the evening with her improvisational “garage jazz” quartet, Bait & Switch. Following is an experimental trio featuring saxophonists Dave Rempis from Chicago (the festival’s only non-local musician!) and Larry Ochs of ROVA with the ubiquitous Darren Johnston on trumpet. These Are Our Hours, a brand new quintet featuring core members of the Oakland Active Orchestra, close the evening with explorations grounded in jazz and free improvisation.

*Night Two: “Onward” – 50 Mason Social House, 50 Mason Street*

The second night of the festival takes a decidedly contemporary look at straight-ahead jazz and presents three Bay Area composers and their respective trios—bassist Marcus Shelby, trumpeter Erik Jekabson, and guitarist Alex Pinto. Celebrated as a leading light of the Bay Area’s jazz scene, Shelby will perform with a fresh trio that features the talented young pianist Joe Warner and the versatile Tiffany Martin on vocals. Jekabson, respected both as a bandleader and as a sideman, brings his post-bop improvisational sensibilities to the mix, while Pinto, a young guitarist trained in Hindustani classical music (who also happens to be the festival’s co-director), has a distinctive modern sound all of his own.

*Night Three: “Junction” – Location TBA (See website May 21st)*

The festival closes with an evening of genre-expanding music that intersects jazz in distinctive ways. Secret Sidewalk, an innovate quintet bridging electronic/tape music and jazz, spotlights Marcus Stephens on sax and electronics. Blending rock and jazz strategies, the recently formed Klaxon Mutant Jazz All Stars is an illustrious quintet featuring music by all five members—Eric Garland, Henry Hung, Kasey Knudsen, George Ban-Weiss, and Colin Hogan. Bay Area staple and masters of improvisation, The Supplicants, with guest drummer Hamir Atwal, end the festival with a musical journey that takes many unexpected directions.

*SF Offside Festival*

A co-production of local jazz guitarist Alex Pinto and local music curator Laura Maguire, SF Offside was created to fill a perceived gap in the regional jazz festival circuit. With an exclusive focus on homegrown talent, the mission of SF Offside is to draw attention to the incredible creativity to be found right here in our own backyard, and to build larger audiences for specifically local jazz offerings. The hope is that San Francisco ultimately gets the recognition it deserves as home to a rich, diverse, and exceptionally talented jazz community.

*‘Like’ Us on Facebook*** …. www.facebook.com/SFOFest

April 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm 4 comments

Moe!kestra and Surplus 1980

Moe! Staiano has back-to-back shows of note happening in just a couple of days.

Source: Moe on FacebookTuesday March 13: Moe!kestra comes to The Uptown in Oakland, performing “Piece No. 9: When Terrie Had Six.” The title refers to Terrie Ex of the Dutch band The Ex, whose songs served as inspiration for the piece. Expect a mass of 30 or so musicians following instructions written out by Moe. He’s a very physical conductor, so the piece will probably be visually as well as musically dynamic.

On Facebook, Moe is hinting that this will be the last Moe!kestra ever. That turned out to be untrue when he said it in 2009, but given the logistics of putting together a project like this and the difficulty of finding a venue that’s both capable and willing, you might want to assume (or at least pretend) he’s right this time.

Opening will be the free-jazz quartet of Mark Clifford (vibraphone), Anton Hatwich (bass), Aram Shelton (clarinets), and Jacob Wick (trumpet).

Wednesday March 14: I love it when the Hemlock Tavern (San Francisco) opens its backroom stage to jazz/improv acts. This is going to be a great show:

  • Surplus 1980, at the Starry Plough in BerkeleySurplus 1980 — Moe’s avant-rock band, pictured at right. Read about them here; listen to them here.
  • ReCardiacs Fly — The Cardiacs cover band that I keep writing about (with Moe on drums). More here.
  • PG13 — The (apparently rather loud) trio of Thomas Scandura (drums), John Shiurba (guitar), and Phillip Greenlief (sax). They’ve played together quite a bit, and while I’ve never heard them, I’ll point out that Scandura and Shiurba were in the last version of The Molecules. So, they’ve got loudness-and-craziness cred.

March 11, 2012 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

Hi, I’m Back

So, I’ve been out. Sorry for the lack of updates. The day job hit one of those periods.

I’m in Los Angeles right now, sharing Southwest Gate 1 with, apparently, the Stanford women’s basketball team and lots of Stanford students (the band, possibly). Somehow, I don’t think my KZSU avant-jazz credentials will impress any of them.

Anyway, the point is: I’m still around, and I did manage to attend three shows recently (including one here in L.A.), and I’ll try to post pictures and/or words soon.

On the down side, I’m going on an unexpected trip to New York next week. It won’t be as draining as this past trip was, but it does mean I’ll miss important Bay Area shows happening on March 14 (another ReCardiacs Fly show) and March 15 (Jim Ryan’s new bands).

March 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Jim Ryan’s New Things

Jim Ryan has Bay Area shows on Feb. 19, March 15, and April 1.  See below.

Jim RyanThe Awakening (Edgetone, 2012)

Saxophonist Jim Ryan has a couple of new things going on. He’s reactivated the free-jazz band Forward Energy for a new CD and a couple of shows, and he’s got an entirely new group, Green Alembic, that might be described as a mini chamber orchestra.

Forward Energy is playing tonight (Sun. Feb. 19) to mark the release of that new CD, The Awakening. Forward Energy can get as edgy as any improvised group, but it tends to stick to a jazz vein, often aided by the choices Scott Looney makes on piano.

The Awakening is a brightly jazzy album, with Rent Romus on additional sax and C.J. Borosque on trumpet, creating a substantial front line. The general structures are jazz-oriented. “The Opening” feels very much like a composition; you almost wonder when it’s going to coalesce into a single line. (It doesn’t.) And “Freestyle,” while as wide-open as its name implies, has a moment when one sax hands off to the other (probably Ryan to Romus), as they would do in a “normal” jazz context. But underneath, Eric Marshall on bass and Timothy Orr an drums are cooking away at whatever space they’ve decided to create, rather than dictating the rhythm.

Most of the album operates that way, as the group creates agile jazz pieces built of a group-crafted direction. All-out noise explosions are rare — “Float and Jolt” has a couple, but that’s part of what appears to be a planned structure (or an inside joke that developed as the piece was forming).

Mostly, there’s an attention to creating cohesive pieces. “Talk Talk” includes a chirpy dialogue between the saxes, over nothing but a brisk walking bassline — a nice span, and it sounds great when the rest of the band jumps in at once. “Lost Leprechaun” is like a ballad, starting out with melodic muted trumpet and working its way into a careful group construction.

Green Alembic is Ryan’s newest idea, a group similar to a mini chamber orchestra — I can’t recall if that’s Ryan’s own description or just my impression after he explained it to me. It includes oboe, trumpet, and violin, and projected images — which might include instructions to the band followed by images to play off of (landscapes and the like). Ryan himself will be playing kalimba and flute, and it sounds like he’ll be adding spoken word, in the form of poetry (improvised or otherwise; he’s done this with many other ensembles in the past).

The images, aside from contributing a visual mood, can also include instructions to the band, followed by images to play off of (landscapes and the like). It’s a way for Ryan to free himself from the duties of conducting his chamber group. As far as the instrumentation, I think he mentioned that he wants to try different things — an April 1 show, in particular, might feature two versions of the ensemble, the second one using bassoon and trombone, among other instruments. It would be a good chance to see how the concept manifests itself in different sets of hands.

Here’s at least part of the Ryan itinerary:

  • Sun. Feb. 19Forward Energy‘s CD release show at Musicians Union Hall (111 9th St., San Francisco), 7:30 p.m. Emily Hay and Motoko Honda are also on the bill — more about them here.
  • Thursday March 15Forward Energy and Green Alembic both play at El Valenciano (1153 Valencia St., San Francisco), 8:30 p.m. Also on the bill: Tri-Cornered Tent Show; more about them here.
  • Sunday, April 1 — Green Alembic plays at Musicians Union Hall (111 9th St., San Francisco), 7:30 p.m.

February 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


Calendar

November 2017
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Posts by Month

Posts by Category