April 2019

This month I have five shows to tell you about. I am playing three and presenting three.

  • The 10th is another collaboration between my Soundwaves concert series at the Santa Monica Public Library and Jacaranda Music. This free preview of their April 13 “Stay On It” program features Scott Dunn performing and discussing excerpts from Lukas Foss’ “Solo for Piano.”  7:30pm.
  • On the 14th Anne LeBaron (harp), Charles Sharp (reeds), and I will be at the Coaxial Arts DIY space in downtown LA, opening for the Samuel Blaser (trombone) & Gerry Hemingway (drums) duo. Thanks to Andrew Choate and the Unwrinkled Ear for this gig. The phenomenon of local bands opening for touring acts doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, especially in jazz/improvised music. It helps build audiences, community, etc. Anyway, this will be a good one. Blaser is a crazy virtuoso and Hemingway is on a bunch of my favorite albums… 8:30pm. $5-10 at the door.

Anne, Charles, and I are 3/4 of the Present Quartet. In our complete form, with Ellen Burr, we have a forthcoming CD on Pfmentum. We just finished the audio postproduction and have just about worked out everything for the graphics. It’ll be available near the end of May. Stay tuned for download/purchase info and a CD release show.

  • On the 17th I am hosting Nicole Mitchell (flute) and Alex Lough (electronics) at the library for a set of duo improvisation. 7:30pm. Free.
  • The next night is the third Thursday, or “Thirdsday,” which is Ellen and my residency at the Industry Cafe & Jazz in Culver City’s Arts District. No Ellen this month, but you get Scrappers: cornetist Dan Clucas‘ quartet with me, Joe Baiza (guitar), and Brian Christopherson (drums). You may know Joe and Brian from SST Records band Saccharine Trust. Part of how I got into jazz and improvised music was through LA punk: a lot of the SST artists like Greg Ginn, Henry Rollins, and Mike Watt linked the freedom and energy of their music to free jazz. Baiza, with his later band Universal Congress Of, actually covered Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, James Blood Ulmer, etc. It’s pretty cool to connect myself to that history, even a little bit. 8pm, two sets, no cover.
  • Finally, for now, on the 27th I’m playing with Cosmophonists at the Wine Bar in Long Beach. This is Jonathon Grasse‘s power trio, putting his fractured guitar in front of drum phenom Devin Pruden and myself. 9pm, and there will be a band before us and one after. No cover.



Welcome to 2019

The new year started with the January installment of Ellen Burr and my shared residency on third Thursdays (“Thirdsday”) at the Industry Cafe in Culver City. Ellen joined my power trio Disclaimer (pictured above, with Kristian Aspelin & Paul Pellegrin) for a set of Sonny Sharrock songs and one of free improvisation. We have great stuff planned for the months ahead:

  • Feb. 21: Ellen with Charles Sharp, Steuart Liebig, and Peter Valsamis.
  • Mar. 21: Ellen with the Scott Heustis Group: Scott Heustis, Scott Dibble, Keith Larsen, and me.
  • Apr. 18: Scrappers: Dan Clucas, Joe Baiza, Brian Christopherson, and me.

Ellen and I can’t do May 16, so we will have a guest band or cancel it. After that, we’re looking forward to collaborations with The Scrapes (Jeff Gauthier & Maggie Parkins) and Vicki Ray, among other awesome musicians.

The reason we can’t play May 16 is that we will be at the International Society for Improvised Music (ISIM) conference for a performance and panel as The Present Quartet (with Charles Sharp and Anne LeBaron). That band also has a record in the can, which I hope will find a home at a label soon. There’s always Bandcamp.

Anne, Charles, and I are going to open for Samuel Blaser and Gerry Hemingway at Coaxial on April 14, presented by The Unwrinkled Ear, and Charles and I are playing a set of free improvisation Feb. 1 (that’s tomorrow night, if you read this as soon as I post it), with Andrew Raffo Dewar at Battery Books in Pasadena.

You will probably not read this in time to make it to Dewar’s solo performance (soprano sax & electronics) tonight on my Soundwaves series at the Santa Monica Public Library, but mark your calendar for these upcoming ones:

  • Feb. 13: Wayne Horvitz & Sara Schoenbeck
  • Feb. 21: Pianospheres Preview: Vicki Ray & Tom Chiu Play Morton Feldman
  • Mar. 20: Daniel Corral “Unknown Summits” World Premiere
  • Mar. 28: Pianospheres Preview: Susan Svrcek and Friends Play Arnold Schoenberg
  • Apr. 10: Jacaranda Preview: “Stay on It”
  • Apr. 17: Nicole Mitchell & Alex Lough
  • May 15: Carillon Trumpet Quartet
  • May 22: Jacaranda Preview

I will be leading the bass section of MESTO (the Multi-Ethnic STar Orchestra) in a concert of Egyptian music March 24 in Downey. For European classical music, I’m with the  Vicente Chamber Orchestra Mar. 9 and the Santa Monica Symphony May 26.

The uncategorizable Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble is performing an original score to F. W. Murneau’s “Sunrise” Feb. 9 at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana and Feb. 14 at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. That’s quite a film. Plus, Jack and I cut this tribute to Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks:

Searching for that, I found a couple of bootleg clips of Jack, Ellen, and me improvising to vintage experimental animation at the Carlsbad Music Festival a few months ago:

There’s also a full set of improvisation by Ellen, me, Garth Powell, and Jonathon Grasse, shot last weekend by taper supreme Tom Bartloac, and the rest of the set I played that night as part of the Scott Heustis Group will probably surface soon.

As if that wasn’t enough, Scott Dibble asked me to join the string section for his LP, which we cut Tuesday at Big Ego Studios. Mostly pads, but there’s a few minutes of the string trio alone, playing some really interesting (and challenging) stuff. Bruce Friedman is editing and mixing some recordings from a few years back of him, me, and Jim McAuley playing my arrangements of Stockhausen’s “Tierkreis.” I’m on guitar. We play all of Karlheinz’ notes. No shenanigans.

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!