December 2018

This has been a pretty epic year. I won’t recap all the highlights, but I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. Anyway, there are a few more pretty excellent things coming up in the next week or so.

Sunday the 16th, The Present Quartet, a free improvising unit with Ellen Burr (flutes), Anne LeBaron (harp and electronics), Charles Sharp (winds, electronics, little instruments), and yours truly on the contrabass, will record at CalArts. The results of this session will appear on a plastic disc next year. Labels, let’s talk…

Thursday the 20th Charles and I will play two sets of improvisation at the Industry Cafe & Jazz in Culver City with the always-delightful Anna Homler on voice and assorted sound-making objects. 8pm. No cover. Charles and Anna have never played together before; this will be fun.

And on Friday the 21st I’m backing up my neighbor, once-and-future rock star Adam Snyder, on a set of his tunes and a couple of covers at a private party. I don’t do the rock/pop thing a whole lot, and Adam is great. We’ve been wanting to do something together for years. Stoked that this is finally going to happen…

Also, speaking of rock, I backed up Jack Curtis Dubowsky on a Pete Shelley cover which ought to hit YouTube any minute…

I don’t know if anyone reads this, but thanks for your interest and support! Next year will be even better.


Annual Report

I am somewhat amused by making an annual spreadsheet of my performances, I think in homage to Throbbing Gristle’s brief series of Annual Report albums, and also because a couple of my friends who are more serious players do them and include more fun details: how many broken drumsticks, how many miles driven, how much espresso and/or whiskey consumed, etc. So here’s my 2018:Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.03.40 AM.png

What I think is interesting about this one is how little capital-J Jazz there is. Lots of free improvisation, lots of new and old classical music, but only a couple gigs where we’re improvising on tunes, even as frames for free improvising. The breakdown is 43% fully improvised, 39% fully composed, and 18% mixed, and almost half of those mixed ones are Jack Curtis Dubowsky’s music for silent films. Interesting. It’s not like I’m out there hustling standards gigs, but don’t think I can’t do that if you need someone to do it…

Rocktober 2018

October always seems to be action-packed. Here’s this year’s batch of performances and presentations:

  • Sept. 30 I am playing with Cello Pudding at Cafe NELA. This is an early one for NELA: we’ll hit at 7, so we can make it down the street to see the big orkestROVA Angel City Jazz Festival show at Zebulon at 8…
  • Oct. 3 I am hosting the Angel City Jazz Festival’s Young Artist Competition Finals at the Santa Monica Public Library. This is also a 7pm show. Four bands will play short sets and the judges, including Lauren Baba, Azar Lawrence, Dan Atkinson from UCSD’s jazz camp, and (yikes!) me, will choose which one gets to open for Azar at LACMA on the 5th. Free admission.
  • The 14th is yet another Angel City-adjacent show, though an unaffiliated one. From 3-5pm at Coaxial Arts Lisa Mezzacappa, Charles Sharp, and I are staging a statewide improvisers collaboration called California Unification Process. The East Bay-based members of Lisa’s avantNOIR sextet: Lisa (bass), Aaron Bennett (tenor sax), Mark Clifford (vibes), John Finkbeiner (guitar), Jordan Glenn (drums), and Tim Perkis (electronics), in town to play Angel City, will represent Northern California, while the southern delegation will be the ad hoc coalition of Kris Tiner (trumpet – Bakersfield), William Roper (tuba – Altadena), Tina Raymond (drums – Burbank), myself (bass – Culver City), Charles (reeds – Long Beach), and Wilfrido Terrazas (flute – San Diego). We’ll play two sets of free and semi-structured improvisations in various combinations.
  • The 17th is the third Wednesday, which is the usual night for the Soundwaves concert series I run at the Library. This month is Brightwork newmusic, a Pierrot ensemble playing recent work by David Lang, Thomas Ades, and others. 7:30pm. Free.
  • Then the 18th is the Third Thursday, which means it’s Thirdsday: Ellen Burr and my residency at the Industry Cafe & Jazz. This month is a special one. We’ll play the first set at 8 with Berklee-trained guitarist Derek Bomback, ready to cut loose after months leading cruise ship bands, and polyrhythmic polymath Peter Valsamis on drums. Then, at 9 Peter will be joined by his Canadian brethren Yves Charuest on alto saxophone and Lisle Ellis on bass. Free, but donations are encouraged.
  • The 20th is the first show of the new Santa Monica Symphony season, at SaMo High. Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, and the US premiere of Roman Kim’s violin concerto, with the composer as soloist. I’m back in the section with these folks. 7:30pm. Free.
  • On the 21st Michael Intriere and I are accompanying vocalist/soundmaker/performance artist Anna Homler at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. 4pm. Free.
  • Finally, for now, I’m playing with the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble for Jack’s new semi-improvised score for Nosferatu. That’ll be on the 29th at the Art Theatre in Long Beach (7pm)and the 30th at the Santa Monica Public Library (7pm, free).

Summer’s Almost Gone…

…but I wanted to check in again before all the orchestra stuff gets rolling.

The 2018-19 season of the Soundwaves concert series I run is underway. Hit the link to see all the cool stuff I’ve managed to line up.

I’ve been writing some short pieces on Culver City music for a new politics & lifestyle website, the Culver City Catalyst. Check it out! So far I’ve covered where to hear free classical music, profiled the Boulevard Music shop/venue and my new pal Eric Revis, promoted the City Hall outdoor concerts, done a bit of research on the Hare Krishna mantra and Throbbing Gristle’s 1981 concert in CC, and paid tribute to the late great Jonathon Gold. More to come…

Speaking of Culver City, Ellen Burr and I have a residency at the Industry Cafe & Jazz on the third Thursday of the month. One or both of us will play each month with guests. I missed July and won’t be there in August either, but September 20 Ellen and I will play two sets of free improvisation in a quartet with Vinny Golia and Breeze Smith. Vinny, Breeze, and I just released a pretty cool trio recording. October 18 Ellen and I will play a set of tunes with guitarist Derek Bomback and drummer Peter Valsamis, then hand the stage over to Peter and his Canadian brethren Yves Charuset and Lisle Ellis for what I expect will be some burning free jazz. I’m excited about having a venue so close to home. We’ll keep this one going for as long as they let us…

My other August and September shows also involve Ellen. We’re improvising soundtracks to some silent films with Jack Curtis Dubowsky on analog synth at the Carlsbad Music Festival on Aug. 25, and on Sept. 13 we’re driving even further south to play at Palomar College with Andrea Centazzo as the West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio.

All these gigs are free; hope to see you there!

Two Pair

Thursday the 28th I will play twice with Elliott Levin, First, at 7:30pm, I will join his Eclectic Electric Elders of Improvisation (the epic ensemble of Bobby Bradford, Don Preston, and Chris Garcia) on my Soundwaves concert series at the Santa Monica Public Library then, at 10, he and I play across town at Cafe NELA with the prodigiously polyrhythmic Peter Valsamis, and possibly other prominent participants. Both shows will almost certainly be high energy free jazz. This is the first Soundwaves concert with an aftershow. I feel like Prince.

The next week’s double is 24 hours apart but involves even more driving. My group with Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, and Charles Sharp, which I had figured would be a one-off special, has turned into a working band. We’re calling it the Present Quartet. On July 5th we’re on Brad Dutz‘ series at Sun Space (8pm, $5-10 donation, two sets) and on the 6th we’re at the Track 16 Gallery in downtown LA (8pm, free, but RSVP). This is also a free improvising unit, but is likely to explore subtler intensities than Elliott’s bands:

The fifth card is the Santa Monica Symphony’s first outdoor summer concert since I’ve been in the group, on the 21st, with a very conventional setlist. Reed Park, 6pm, free.

Hope to see you there!

June 2018

Here’s my next batch of performances and productions:

Some very cool stuff is in the works, including Soundwaves 2018-19 and a possible residency, stay tuned for details. I’m also continuing to write on music for the Culver City Catalyst, a fine new online publication.

Eat the Document

  1.     Eat the Document was Bob Dylan and D.A. Pennebaker’s sequel to Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back followed Dylan on a 1965 solo tour of England, confronting fans and writers disturbed by his move from protest songs like “Only a Pawn in their Game” to more abstract and personal work like “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” He faced even more hostility on the 1966 tour, having “gone electric,” backed by the Hawks (later known as the Band). This peaked at a notorious concert, captured in the film, where a heckler shouted “Judas” at Dylan, who then directed his band to “play fucking loud” and counted off “Like a Rolling Stone.” The movie was never released, probably a casualty of the chemical and emotional burnout which led Dylan to back down from the intensity of his 1966 work to John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline but, like all things Dylan, it has since been bootlegged in every medium available. Big chunks can be found on YouTube, including a troubling sequence of Dylan and John Lennon wasted out of their minds, and much of the concert footage was reused in Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home. Meticulous reenactments of the offstage footage make up most of the Cate Blanchett section of Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, and it is possible that more people have seen that than the original, a glamorous example of Baudrillard/Eco’s theory of the simulacrum.
  2. There are only a couple of minutes of film of Charlie Parker, and they are silent. The same is true for Albert Ayler, although there is also film of at least one concert locked in a European archive. It is almost certainly possible to watch all the existing video of John Coltrane in a day. As media have moved from photochemical to magnetic to digital, recordings have multiplied exponentially, and one can now, for example, follow a significant chunk of the New York jazz underground in almost real time thanks to Don Mount.
  3. If I was still in the academic world I would have developed a theory of the underground concert as virtual event by now. I recently played for a few dozen people in a storefront gallery across from a strip club and a weed store. Our set was maybe 40 minutes, and the entire evening lasted around three hours, with two other acts, setting up, tearing down, hanging out, etc. That’s the actual event. The virtual event began weeks before, with the creation of a Facebook event and it being shared and commented on by the musicians, our friends, and members of various groups where it appeared. It continued through the show itself, with people posting photos, videos, and comments from the setup, performance, and hang, then lasted for a day or two afterwards as more documentation was posted and more comments generated. This will all revive when more formal recordings, video, etc from the show are made public. It is not unusual for more people to “like” or comment on a post about a show than were there. Likewise, the effects of the fact of an event will often exceed the effects of the event itself: people hearing that I played with a particular Famous Musician will have more of an effect than people hearing me play with him/her.
  4. All this is an absurdly long-winded way of letting you know that I have some fresh documents of my own for you to check out. My March performance with Alicia Byer & Alexander Vogel is on Bandcamp, as are the results of a marathon session with Disclaimer (Kristian Aspelin, Paul Pellegrin, and me) plus Scott Heustis, Haskel Joseph, Tony Green, and Breeze Smith. There’s also video of my recent set at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Open Gate concert series with Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, and Charles Sharp, and a track from Cello Pudding’s set at Coaxial last week is going to appear on a compilation LP in Japan. Enjoy!