Two new releases: Architecture/Battery from Trio Various, with Tracy McMullen (soprano and tenor saxophones), Rich West (drumset), and myself. A live gig plus a studio track. There may be an album of studio stuff eventually. We did this band for a few months in 2012 while Tracy had a postdoc at USC, and we each wrote for it. This is a band camp pay-what-you-want release, because it’s a slightly scruffy Zoom recording. I did minimal editing and mastering; I’m no wizard. If the studio stuff resurfaces that might be a real release…

The other thing is the video of the last show I did before the lockdown: March 6 at ArtShare-LA with The Present Quartet (Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, Charles Sharp, and myself). This was our first outing playing compositions. It’s short, because we were part of a sort-of Downtown arts revue. Hope you dig it…


Everything for March and April is canceled. No performances, no Soundwaves, no Thirdsdays. In the words of the late great Jac Zinder, STAY HOME.

Meanwhile, you can watch videos from the last 5 years of Soundwaves on I just put up a wonderful Wayne Horvitz/Sara Schoenbeck duo show.

It’s probably also safe to order this new book I contributed to: cover_jazz_w_1000

I may be able to prepare an online release or two during this hiatus, and I’m trying to do some meaningful practice, to finally apply some of what Mark Helias tried to teach me here:

This is also an opportunity to relax and slow down for a month or two. Hope to see you all soon.


Some of my friends have taken to claiming the entire month of their birth for festivities. I tend to load mine up with even more action than usual, because one source of creativity is resistance to our mortality. Good times. Anyway, here’s the schedule:


2020 Plans

Just the musical ones, for now…
I am continuing as a member of the Santa Monica Symphony and the Vicente Chamber Orchestra.

The “Thirdsday” third-Thursday residency I share with Ellen Burr at the Industry Cafe & Jazz is also ongoing. In January we will be joined by guitarist Cristian Amigo and drummer Brock Avery. In February we will have violinist Kathleen Kim, clarinetist Alicia Byer, and drummer Alex Cline. Both of those shows will be free improvisation. Ellen will be away in March, so I am bringing in my power trio Disclaimer, with Charles Sharp added on reeds. We will probably do one set of tunes and one of free improvisation.

Charles and I have a bunch of other projects coming up. I’ll be joining the Cal State Fullerton Improvisation Ensemble he leads at SunSpace Feb. 23 and he and I will be joining Lisa Mezzacappa and the Yves Charuest/Lisle Ellis/Peter Valsamis trio for an evening of mix & match improvising at the Industry Cafe Feb. 25. I’m also going to join the Fullerton Improvisation Ensemble for their set at the Fullerton New Music Festival Feb. 29.

We’re also both in the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble, playing live scores to silent films. Feb. 22, at the unlikely time of 10AM, we are doing Nosferatu at the famous Vista Theater.

The Present Quartet, which is Ellen, Charles, Anne LeBaron, and myself, is also playing at that festival. We are also doing a short set at ArtShare-LA Mar. 6, which will be the first time we play any sort of composed or pre-structured music.

I am also very excited about two events I’m organizing as part of Braxton75, marking the 75th birthday of Anthony Braxton, one of my biggest musical heroes. On May 3 The Decisive Instant, a large ensemble Charles and I co-lead, will play selections from the classic Creative Orchestra Music 1976 album at the Open Gate concert series in Eagle Rock. Then, on June 4, Braxton’s actual 75th birthday, The Present Quartet will play a set of his music on the Soundwaves series I run at the Santa Monica Public Library.

That series is starting its fifth year tonight, and I continue to be very proud about the performers I am able to present. If you are in West LA you really ought to come.

So, lots of action, and there’s more in development, including some writing and talking gigs. Hope to see you there!

2019 in Retrospect

Looks like I played 45 shows in 2019.

Here’s the breakdown by band:
1 Collaborations with Ellen Burr 7
2 The Red Cars 6
3 The Present Quartet 4
3 Vicente Chamber Orchestra 4
4 Santa Monica Symphony 3
5 Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble 2
5 Jonathon Grasse 2
5 Lisa Mezzacappa Bass Choir 2
5 The Decisive Instant 2
6 Scott Heustis 1
6 Andrew Raffo Dewar 1
6 Philip Foster 1
6 Nick Mazzoli 1
6 Sonic Open Orchestra 1
6 my own quintet 1
6 Elliott Levin 1
6 Karen Borca 1
6 Ken Field 1

By venue:
1 The Industry Cafe and Jazz 8
2 Battery Books & Music 4
3 First Presbyterian Church 3
3 SaMo High 3
4 The Wine Bar 2
4 private parties 2
4 Augsburg College 2
5 The Frida 1
5 The Art Theater 1
5 Downey Theater 1
5 Coaxial 1
5 KFJC 1
5 Indigo House 1
5 Art Share-LA 1
5 Eagle Rock Center for the Arts 1
5 Sun Space 1
5 Civic Center Studios 1
5 Cinema Bar 1
5 CALB 1
5 Cafe NELA 1
5 Broad Stage 1
5 Culver City ArtWalk 1
5 Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook 1
5 Brooklyn College 1

and by drummer:
1 Paul Pellegrin 5
1 Richard Hynd 5
2 Keith Larsen 2
2 Garth Powell 2
2 Devin Pruden 2
3 Brian Christopherson 1
3 Peter Valsamis 1
3 Andre Martinez 1
3 Eric Paull 1

That’s 36% free improvisation, 19% classical, 19% jazz, 14% rock, 10% structured improvisation, and 2% Arabic music, but good luck classifying most of this stuff…

I also gave three conference presentations, organized 24 concerts and a symposium, and worked full-time for The Man. There’s a book chapter and a book review in press, but I don’t think I should count them until I see copies.

And, don’t forget the debut album by The Present Quartet (recorded in 2018, but released 2019):

Thanks to all the leaders, composers, players, presenters, etc, and thank you for listening!

PS. I also made it on a list of “the local veteran cadre” making “vital contributions” compiled by ex-LA Weekly jazz critic Greg Burk. This is an extremely nice way for him to call me “old.”

October 2019

I don’t know why, but October always seems to be packed. Orchestra season has resumed, school is back in session, and Halloween is good for a fun show or two. So, here’s what I have pending:

  • Oct. 5: Vicente Chamber Orchestra Annual Gala Concert at the Broad Stage.  This group’s Year of Beethoven concludes with the Triple Concerto & 4th Symphony. Star soloists and a strong ensemble in a nice hall in Santa Monica.
  • Oct. 12: The Red Cars at Culver City Art Walk & Roll Festival 2019. This is my rock band, with past and future rockstars Adam Snyder & Richard Hynd. Free outdoor show, 11AM.
  • Oct. 13: SASSAS Exquisite Corpse at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Also outdoors in Culver City, but very different. This will be a large-scale structured improvisation involving  artists from SASSAS’ 20 years of presenting experimental music. Word is this will be their final presentation as well.
  • Oct. 17: Thirdsday with Ellen Burr. Pre-Halloween Scareophonic Spooktacular. 8PM. Industry Cafe & Jazz. Culver City. Free. Ellen and I have the third Thursday at this low-key Ethiopian restaurant. For October we are spotlighting singer/violinist/guitarist Rebecca Lynn in two sets of Halloween-themed standards, movie & TV themes, rock, pop, etc. We will endeavor to give eclecticism a bad name.
  • Oct. 20: Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at SaMo High, 7:30PM. Weber, Gershwin, Dvorak. Free.
  • Oct. 26: I am speaking at the Unit Structures: The Art of Cecil Taylor conference at CUNY at 9AM then playing Taylor’s music in a large ensemble led by Karen Borca at Brooklyn College at 8PM. It is a real honor to be part of this group of prominent scholars and musicians, including several who worked with Taylor. It’s also my New York debut.

So, that’s two shows in Santa Monica, three in Culver City, and one in New York. Two classical, two pop, two avant-garde. Everything is free admission except the Vicente Chamber Orchestra. Hope to see you there!

August 2019 Updates

I have a lot of developments to update you on.

First, the 2019-2020 season of the Soundwaves New Music series I run at the Santa Monica Public Library is underway, and everything is just about set through next June. Here’s what’s coming up:

Not a bad lineup. All shows are free admission and start at 7:30, except for the Oct. 1 show, which starts at 7.

I also have lots of gigs on the way. I’ll just tell you about August right now.

On the 9th the great Oakland bassist/composer Lisa Mezzacappa and I are organizing an improvising bass ensemble for a show at Sunspace. We expect nine players, who work in jazz, classical, rock, and country music and all share the language of free improvisation. 8pm. $10.

On the 10th I’m playing a set of contemporary composed music downtown with the Sonic Open Orchestra, including Gavin Bryars’ “The Sinking of the Titanic” and Michael Gordon’s “Weather One.”

The 15th is the third Thursday, which is Ellen Burr and my shared residency at the Industry Cafe & Jazz in Culver City. This month we will be joined by Jeff Gauthier & Maggie Parkins for two sets of free improvisation. Also free as in no cover, but please buy food & drinks. 8pm.

On the 17th I am leading a jazz quintet at a fundraiser for Holly Mitchell’s campaign for LA County Supervisor. She has been an outstanding State Senator, passing the Crown Act, which barred discrimination based on natural hairstyles, and has done important work on racial disparities in maternal health, among other issues. She is leaving that office due to term limits. The band will be Dave Williams on trumpet, Sean Sonderegger on tenor sax, R. Scott Dibble on keyboard, and Peter Valsamis on drums. We’ll be playing compositions by Dave, Sean, and Scott, plus a few by Herbie Hancock in honor of his upcoming Hollywood Bowl appearance, and Prince, because everyone loves Prince. 2pm at a private home. Suggested donation is $50+, but less is OK. You can contact me for details.

My rock band The Red Cars plays the Cinema Bar in Culver City on the 20th. 9pm. We’ll be followed by T.J. Troy’s Run Downhill and The Wrinkling Brothers (Joe Dean & George Hurley). No cover, so buy lots of drinks. The Red Cars is singer/songwriter Adam Snyder, formerly of Mercury Rev, backed by drummer Richard Hynd (from Scottish popstars Texas), and myself.

Finally, on the 25th, The Decisive Instant, an experimental big band I co-lead with Charles Sharp, will be at the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach at 6pm. 737 Pine St. $10. Come at 4 for two other great acts.

And here are some recent recordings.

Charles Sharp, Michael Intriere, and I contributed to a compilation of sonic interpretations of Dorit Cypis’ art installation “Close Your Eyes if You Want to See,” now free here.

JSMICS_05-7-19_1and The Decisive Instant played July 7 at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts:

July Shows

I have two big events in early July.

On the 3rd The Present Quartet (Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, Charles Sharp, and yours truly) is sharing a CD release show at ArtShare-LA with Dan Clucas’ Boojum Quartet (with Vinny Golia, Steuart Liebig, and Alex Cline). Two formidable improvising ensembles! 7:30pm. $10.

Then, on the 7th, Charles and I are reassembling our large ensemble The Decisive Instant for a concert of music by Jack Curtis Dubowsky, Vinny Golia, George Oldziey, William Roper, and Dr. Sharp himself. Each composer will conduct their work. This is the largest edition of the band yet, and we are very proud to have assembled such a powerful community of composers & performers. At the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Open Gate concert series, hosted by Will Salmon & Alex Cline. Opening solo percussion set by Chris Garcia. 7pm. $10.

Hope to see you there!

May-June 2019

First of all, the debut album by The Present Quartet is out, and we couldn’t be happier. Downloads are available now on Bandcamp and CDs from the band members and the label (pfMENTUM). More shopping options will be available soon, and we’re planning a very special album release event.

I have written quite a bit about this band here. I put it together with my two most frequent collaborators, Charles Sharp and Ellen Burr (I’m usually in each of their groups, Andrea Centazzo has a trio with me and Ellen and one with me and Charles, all three of us have been in Adam Rudolph‘s LA orchestra together, and we overlap in countless ad hoc ensembles), and Anne LeBaron, whom none of us had played with before. This was meant to be a one-off special project, but we were immediately offered more shows after our first performance, and now it’s a regular thing. We are even going to start working with some composed materials. I hope you like the album.

Now, May and June are going to be nuts.

In the morning on the 15th I’m talking about the Soundwaves concert series at a conference at UCLA, sponsored by their Center for Music Innovation. Also on my panel? Dexter Story, who played drums in Adam Rudolph’s band with me, Charles, and Ellen!

That evening I’m presenting the Carillon Quartet at Soundwaves. As usual, it’s 7:30pm, and no cover. This will be a wild show, including the premiere of David Roseboom‘s trumpet quartet.

Then off to the airport to Minneapolis for the International Society for Improvised Music (ISIM) conference to perform with The Present Quartet and see what other trouble I can get into.

I’m coming back via Oakland, so I can join Lisa Mezzacappa and ten other bassists on the 20th for a live broadcast from the studios of KFJC, 2-6pm.

The 22nd is another Soundwaves event: Michelle Zukovsky and Gloria Cheng previewing the Berg and Lutoslawski pieces from their Jacaranda show.

And on the 26th I’m back with the Santa Monica Symphony for their season finale.

The first weekend of June I will be a delegate to the State Democratic Convention, so probably no time for music.

On the 6th I host poet Brendan Constantine, performing John Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing” at Soundwaves.

The second weekend I’m playing on the Vicente Chamber Orchestra’s Beethoven Festival.

The 20th is the Thirdsday residency I share with Ellen at the Industry Cafe in Culver City. Ellen is away, so I am bringing in The Red Cars, which is singer-songwriter Adam Snyder backed by me and drummer Richard Hynd. Both those guys were in major label bands, Adam Mercury Rev and Richard Texas. So that’s kind of different company for me…

And then things wrap up on the 26th with the legendary Elliott Sharp at Soundwaves, reading from his memoir and playing solo electric guitar. Angel City Arts and Truetone Music are helping make this one happen.