About Endangered Blood

A quick apology: No, I don’t have any actual review of the band Endangered Blood here yet, nor even a description of the music.

I mention this because the blog activity has spiked lately with visitors heading to the Endangered Blood posts.  Sadly, I’ve got no inside contacts with the band and didn’t see them live, leaving me in no position to help.  Sorry!

In fact, I can’t find any reviews of their swing through the western states. (Which kind of speaks to why New York musicians are reluctant to do these kinds of tours.) If anybody has reports of how the shows went, or even if you just want to confirm what the turnout was like, I’m all ears.

What I do know is that the band has a CD coming on Skirl Records; copies might have been available on the tour. The best I can do for now is point you to photos of the CD package — but then again, most of you have probably found that already.

Anyway, if you came here for Endangered Blood tidbits: Thanks for reading, and I hope my scribblings here haven’t been too disappointing.

L.A., Hear Richard Sears

Performing tonight, Dec. 11, 8:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., at The Blue Whale (Los Angeles), opening for Endangered Blood.

Richard SearsRick (self-released, 2010)

“Opening” isn’t quite the word for Sears’ band’s show tonight. Down in Los Angeles today/tonight, Sears, Endangered Blood, and a cast of dozens will be performing tonight, a benefit show for The Blue Whale, a venue that’s been good to the creative music scene.

Like the poster (at right) says, the festival starts at 12:30 p.m. and goes and goes and goes.

As mentioned earlier, pianist Richard Sears was the catalyst for this series of posts about some of the opening acts on Endangered Blood’s western tour. So, we’ve come kind of full circle, to tonight’s show and the album Rick.

It’s far from your typical jazz album; in fact, if anything, Rick bears resemblance to the work Jim Black has done with his band, Alas No Axis. Sears spends a lot of his time on organ or electric piano playing foil to Adam Ratner’s jangly, pounding guitar and Louis Cole’s drumming. Sax from Sam Gendel or Doug Mosher tops things off. It’s a fresh combination full of new energy.

Like Alas No Axis, the band on Rick hits a mix of jazz ideas and indie rock. It’s a lively combination on faster tracks like “Rick” and “Radio Flyer,” which kick off the album. Things slow down from there but get no less interesting. “Blue Whale, Blue Wail” is a soaring slow burn, and “11:11,” where acoustic piano actually shows up, is a quiet and thoughtful track bringing the album to a nice close.

It’s time for the big confession about Endangered Blood: I didn’t get to the show in Oakland last night, and I knew all along that I wouldn’t, due to a family commitment. I hope the turnout was great, and I wish I could jet down to L.A. for this Blue Whale festival, which sounds amazing. Hopefully, all this typing has done some good to help support the shows. And on a selfish note, I’ve learned a little about some artists new to me, such as Sears. That’s always an exciting journey.

Scott Looney Isn’t Just an Opening Act

Scott LooneyRepercussions (Edgetone, 2007)

Looney/Lake/Smoker/EllisUrban Ruminations (Metaphysical, 2009)

Continuing the litany of Endangered Blood opening acts, we get to tonight’s show in Oakland at Studio 1510 (at 1510 8th St., Oakland) where the opening band will be a new trio of Scott Looney (piano), Doug Stuart (bass), and Kjell Nordeson (drums).

Of the three, I’m most familiar with Looney, proprietor of 1510. He’s a terrific improvising pianist as well as an electronic musician. And with Studio 1510 he’s hosted some monumental shows for local and visiting artists.

I’ve seen Kjell Nordeson perform a few times. Terrific percussionist in jazz/improv settings as well as the new-music oeuvre; he was featured in one of the Sylvano Bussotti pieces in last week’s sfSound performance. I’m not familiar with Doug Stuart, but, uh, I’m sure he’s a nice guy.

Let’s focus on Looney’s piano playing, though. A couple of CDs show off his dexterity and stage presence in improvised settings, and they demonstrate why you ought to go see this trio tonight.

In the solo Repercussions, Looney flashes a variety of styles including thickly chorded jazz/classical leanings, stacking one spontaneous idea onto another to form strong, arresting pieces. He’s mostly playing the piano straight, unadorned, although prepared piano and fingernails-against-strings show up in a few places. Here’s a rich little segment of the track “luxtasEnTempore,” showing off some nice technique and even handfuls of songlike chords at the end.

I feel like I should showcase one of the more abstract tracks — you know, show off my avant-garde cred — but this one really grabbed me, not for its tuneful moments as much as for its fast, florid technique. Nice stuff.

Urban Ruminations puts Looney in a quartet setting with some amazing partners: Oliver Lake (sax), Paul Smoker (trumpet), and Lisle Ellis (bass). They’ve got an admirable rapport. And while Looney shines as an equal-part leader in most of the pieces, I find myself coming back to this selection of “Monad/The Is Eye,” where Looney takes the role of ersatz drummer, settling into a groove that sparks off some nice horn soloing. (Sample is just less than 2 minutes.)

I don’t know what direction the Looney/Stuart/Nordeson trio would take, but these records might offer a clue. The people who show up to see Endangered Blood will probably get a treat in seeing Looney’s opening act.

Endangered Blood: The Openers

Is it weird that I’ve been obsessing about the opening acts on Endangered Blood‘s Western U.S. tour?

To recap: This is the NYC quartet of Chris Speed (sax/clarinet), Oscar Noriega (other sax), Jim Black (drums), and Trevor Dunn (bass).  They’re all a big part of the current downtown NYC scene, but they rarely get out west due to the impracticalities of touring. But Dunn used to live in the Bay Area, and Speed and Black once hailed from Seattle, so they’ve got ties.

Anyway. The discovery of Richard Sears‘ music is what got me thinking along these lines. From there, some known quantities and one unknown but very interesting one turned up.

Taken from the Jim Black events page, here’s Endangered Blood’s schedule.

Dec. 5, Chicago, @ The Hungry Brain. This already happened, so we’ll skip it.

December 6th, Seattle, @ The ChapelWayne Horvitz Quartet. With Neil Welch (sax), Willem de Koch (trombone), and Luke Bergman (bass).  Presumably you know the many colors of Horvitz. Welch is quite active on the Seattle scene as well. His Narmada album shows a late-’60s reverence to the origins of free jazz, and, separately, an interest in Indian ragas… but he’s also done work with loops and pedals.  Here’s a review of Narmada, and you can hear samples at CD Baby.  Presented by the Wayward Music Series.

December 7th, Portland, OR @ Hop and VinePaxselin Quartet.  Fronted by sax and clarinet, Paxselin dabbles in bopping free jazz and some somber chamber-sounding material as well. Presented by Portland Eye & Ear Control. Hear samples of them on CD Baby, eMusic, or CD Baby again.

December 8th, Eureka, CA @ Red Fox TavernWSG Krawdad? Dunno.

December 9th, Boulder, CO @ Old Main, CU CampusKneebody.  An awesome band that I’m stunned to discover I haven’t mentioned on this blog yet. Youthful, creative, and exciting enough to have been the first non-Dave-Douglas artist to appear on Dave Douglas’ then-new record label. This one’s a double-headliner show (like a double A-side single, for you oldster types out there) and might be the most exciting bill on the docket. Read more at kneebody.com, and sample their new album on eMusic.

December 10th, Oakland, CA @ Studio 1510 Performance Space — Scott Looney (piano), Doug Stuart (bass), Kjell Nordeson (drums), a new Bay Area trio. Looney can be heard in contexts from jazzy free-jazz to abstract improvising to pure electronics; this trio looks like it’ll stick to the first category. Sounds very promising.

December 11th, Los Angeles, @ The Blue WhaleRichard Sears (piano) and band. Sears’ album, Rick, is streamable on his site, and it’s good stuff. Just check out the exciting title track, with its pulsing guitar and very, well, Chris Speed-like sax played by Sam Gandel.

December 12th, Phoenix, AZ @ Modified Arts — Unknown.

December 13th, Tucson, AZ @ Solar Culture — Folky acoustic music from Sara P. Smith, formerly the trombonist with Chicago-area groups like Isotope 217. You can hear more at sarapsmith.com.

A terrific list, overall. Given enough resources and free time, I’d be tempted to follow Endangered Blood around just to listen to their opening acts. Hopefully some of them benefit from the exposure, or at least get a good audience (gigs are so hard to come by, for many of these folks).  If nothing else, some of them can say they’ve gained one new listener already.

You can hear Endangered Blood’s music on Myspace and YouTube (see below).

Endangered Blood, Richard Sears, Here, L.A., NYC

Stringing things together on the Web again:

1. Holy cow, some downtown NYCers are coming our way.  Endangered Blood will be playing at Studio 1510 (Oakland) on Friday, Dec. 10.  Here’s the calendar listing.

The band is Chris Speed (sax), Oscar Noriega (other sax), Trevor Dunn (bass), and Jim Black (drums).  I’m familiar with the constituent parts but not the whole.  This Danish calendar says they “create a new sound that integrates swing, free jazz, and rock, while maintaining the experimental energy that all these musicians are known for,” and it points to another couple of more detailed quotes, from sources closer to home. The video below offers some clue as well.

Opening that show will be the Bay Area trio of Scott Looney (keys), Doug Stuart (bass), and Kjell Nordeson (drums).


2. That show is part of a western U.S. tour, so they’ll be in L.A. too, at Blue Whale on Saturday Dec. 11.

3. Keyboardist Richard Sears will open for them in L.A., with a full band. (Photo at right by Dario Griffin.) I’d never heard of Sears before, but his album, Rick, is streamable on his Web site and sounds pretty dang cool — the title track blends a choppy, agitated guitar rhythm with the kind of lazyboat horn melody that’s found on some Chris Speed and Jim Black records.  Thus do we come full circle, if we stretch hard enough.