I recently joined Volkan Terzioglu and Robert Reigle for two episodes of their radio show/podcast “Noise and Smoke.” Apparently the people of Turkey want to hear musical and social analysis of free jazz bootlegs, and thanks to the internet you can enjoy it too. Shows 1.22 and 1.23 are the three of us exploring the recording of Cecil Taylor’s November 1969 Berlin concert. It was an honor to be asked, and really fun to work on this. There may be more.
I contributed three videos of solo improvisations to the Deep Tones for Peace project.
My book Free Jazz: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge 2018) is now in paperback, so the price is now a bit more in reach.
I signed a contract to write a second book, also about free jazz, for a series on jazz styles that SUNY Press is launching in 2022.
If there is a third book, I’ll try to expand my range.
This is, predictably, the shortest year-end summary since I started doing them. I had ten in-person shows pre-COVID, and three online events and one socially-distanced outdoor one since. Here’s the tally:
Shows by Band:
Tie for 1st (two each): Collaborations with Ellen Burr, solo, The Present Quartet, Cal State Fullerton New Music Ensemble
Tie for 2nd (one each): Santa Monica Symphony, Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble, Vicente Chamber Orchestra, Opera Povera, Adam Snyder, Robert Reigle & Tim Feeney
Shows by Venue
Tie for 1st (two each): Industry Cafe & Jazz, California State University Fullerton, Facebook Live
Tie for 2nd (one each): SGI Auditorium, Vista Theater, First Presbyterian Church, Battery Books & Music, ArtShare-LA, Zoom, SunSpace, my neighbor’s front yard
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…
It’s probably also safe to order this new book I contributed to:
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:
- Feb. 6: presenting Steve Loza & Steven Isoardi talking about LA’s Central Avenue jazz scene and Gerald Wilson. Santa Monica Public Library. 7PM. Free.
- Feb. 8: panelist on “Improvising Composition” at the Society for Ethnomusicology California/Hawaii Chapter Meeting, UC Riverside, 11AM. Free.
- Feb. 9: moderator & panelist for “Prager on the Podium: What Happens When a Right-Wing Radio Host is Your Guest Conductor?” at the Society for Ethnomusicology California/Hawaii Chapter Meeting, UC Riverside, 11AM. Free.
- Feb. 20: playing improvised music with
Kathleen Kim (violin), Alicia Byer (clarinet), and Alex Cline (percussion). The Industry Cafe & Jazz. 8PM. Free.
- Feb. 22: playing a live score to “Nosferatu” with the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble. Vista Theater. 10AM. $12.75-$20
- Feb. 22: playing Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Brahms with the Vicente Chamber Orchestra. First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica. 4PM. $10-$35.
- Feb. 23: playing Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and Arthur Blythe with the Cal State Fullerton Improvisation Ensemble at SunSpace. 8PM. $TBD.
- Feb. 26: presenting Yves Charuest, Lisle Ellis, and Peter Valsamis. Soundwaves new music series. Santa Monica Public Library. 7:30PM. Free.
- Feb. 27: co-presenting Thomas Kotcheff, who will play and discuss excerpts from Frederic Rzewski‘s “Songs of Insurrection” as a preview of his Pianospheres show. Soundwaves new music series. Santa Monica Public Library. 7:30PM. Free.
- Feb. 29: Improvisation Symposium with the Cal State Fullerton Improvisation Ensemble and The Present Quartet (w/ Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, & Charles Sharp), plus Anthony Davis, Mark Dresser, and Michael Dessen. Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival.
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.
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!
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 MESTO 1
6 Philip Foster 1
6 Nick Mazzoli 1
6 Sonic Open Orchestra 1
6 my own quintet 1
6 Elliott Levin 1
6 SASSAS 1
6 Karen Borca 1
6 Ken Field 1
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 CSUDH 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): https://thepresentquartet.bandcamp.com/releases.
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.”
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!