Pudding Time

In Dec. 2015 I saw Dave Travis sitting-in with one of Dave Williams‘ groups at Cafe NELA and realized that I knew three unconventional cello improvisers. I invited them to form a group, Dave Travis named us Cello Pudding, we played several shows at NELA, and spent a day in the studio. The album is now ready and we will be making our first appearance before an audience who have not come to drink beer and listen to punk rock.

Here are the details: Cello Pudding CD cover
recorded at Catasonic Studios by Mark Wheaton.
Cover by Dean Westerfield.
Vetza (LAFMS): cello & voice
Dave Travis (Carnage Asada): cello
Michael Intriere (Fat & F*&^ed Up, Anna Homler): cello
me: bass

Coming soon to Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, etc.

CD release show Aug. 6 7PM at the Open Gate series at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. Admission $10 ($5 for series performers).

We’re opening for the Michael Vlatkovich/Steuart Liebig/Garth Powell triumvirate.

I’m pretty stoked about bringing together these folks and about playing free improvised music that’s based on the four of us making sounds together with no preconceptions.

The Santa Monica Symphony

You probably already know that I play in the Santa Monica Symphony and that there is some weird bad stuff happening there, with right-wing radio host Dennis Prager invited to guest-conduct half of a fundraising concert.

I signed this open letter, and then was contacted by the Santa Monica Daily Press. I don’t know what they’re going to publish or when, but here are their questions and my answers:


Q: whether you’re playing

A:  I am not playing. I did not know who Prager was before Guido [Lamell, our conductor] announced he would be our guest. When I Googled him, the first thing that came up was his Twitter, and his post at that moment was in favor of eliminating the NEA. The Santa Monica Symphony has gotten NEA grants, as has the LA Philharmonic and just about every local cultural institution you can name, from Beyond Baroque to Self-Help Graphics. Why would we fundraise with someone who wants to destroy one of our sources of funds? Beyond this, of course, Prager insists that many members of the orchestra and community are abnormal, un-American, or subhuman: LGBT people, Muslims, atheists, etc. I do not think an event with him can be apolitical. Prager is not an artist who also just happens to believe or do terrible things (like Richard Wagner or Bill Cosby); promoting these ideas is his life’s work. It is an insult to the orchestra and audience to lend him our stage. I am heartbroken that Guido would do this.
Q: how many other SMSO musicians you think are concerned.
A: I don’t know. We haven’t met since the May 28 concert, and there wasn’t much discussion before then.
Q: Is it just a small minority?
A:  My impression, from a few brief conversations and some gossip, is that many people are concerned and that the orchestra’s board was quite divided. While musicians may wish Prager wasn’t involved, quite a few want to support the orchestra no matter what. Many are also excited about the opportunity to play Disney Hall. I also want the orchestra to thrive and think that associating ourselves with a hatemonger will alienate many of our fans and supporters.
Q: Are they active in trying to persuade others not to play or buy tickets?
A: Some are, as you can see from the open letter. I respect the other members’ choices to play or not. I understand that there are a lot of factors. For example, for those whose careers depend on freelance playing, maintaining connections and a reputation as easy to work with are very important.
Q: Have you heard from audience members about the decision to feature Prager?
A: Yes. Several friends, family members, co-workers, and musicians in other groups have asked me WTF is going on. It is sad. I joined after the 2013 organizational crisis, when Guido saved the orchestra from folding, and it has been a tremendous experience playing to consistently sold-out halls with some of LA and the world’s top musicians. Guido is not only a superb conductor, but he is so generous with his knowledge that I would often leave a rehearsal feeling like I had been to a strings master class. The Santa Monica Symphony has been an excellent orchestra, respected by musicians and loved by the community. Inviting Prager may have ruined this experience for a lot of people in and out of the band. I recommend that anyone concerned contact the symphony via info@smsymphony.org

I hope you can tell from this that my main emotions are disappointment and grief. Because of Proposition 13, there was no orchestra at my junior high or high school. I was a self-taught jazz and rock bassist, then eventually started getting offered gigs where I had to play as part of a string section rather than a rhythm section and my intonation and bowing had to suck less. So, I started taking lessons, and I quickly discovered that classical players know some stuff about the instrument the rest of us don’t. Imagine playing jazz with Renaud Garcia-Fons’ technique! (BTW, who’s got the Francois Rabbath/Ornette Coleman tape?) That was never going to be me, but anyway, I worked hard, felt real accomplishment that I’d made it into this band (and that I had a regular gig playing music everyone understood and respected, for a change), and now what? I’m not fired, as far as I know, but can I really go back in the fall like everything’s cool?

July Shows

So much for laying low and working on the book! A bunch of calls came in, so consider checking out these gigs:

 

May, June, July…

Things are going to slow down for a while on the performing side while I focus on some writing. However, I am still playing a few shows and presenting a couple more. I hope you’ll check them out. And, if you have something awesome you want me to play on, don’t hesitate to ask…

April Shows

The gigs keep coming! When is everyone going to realize how lame I am and stop calling?

In the jazz universe, the Rhythm Agents’ residency at the Exhibition Room in Long Beach continues on the 7th and 21st. Dave Williams, Patrick Butler, and myself, playing standards. 9:30PM-12:30AM. Reservations required.

As Bowie said, the European canon is here. Verdi’s Requiem on the 1st with the Santa Monica Symphony, Brahms and Tchaikovsky with the Palisades Symphony on the 9th.

Outward bound, JAB (with Anna Homler & Breeze Smith) is playing at The Battery Books and Music in Pasadena on the 6th at 8PM. The West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio (with Andrea Centazzo & Ellen Burr) is playing at Dave Williams’ Jazz at the Tithing Closet series on the 23rd around 7:30, and I may be in other bands on that bill as well. The Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble debuts Jack’s live score to the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks film The Mark of Zorro at the Santa Monica Public Library at 7:30 on the 27th, and a beautiful studio recording of that music will be available in iTunes and elsewhere.

And finally, I’m presenting Bonnie Barnett and her band (with Dan Clucas, Richard Wood, Hal Onersud, and Garth Powell) at the Santa Monica Public Library on the 19th. 7:30-8:30PM. Free admission.

More March

This month is going out with a bang!
Tuesday the 21st I’ll be at Cal State Dominguez Hills opening Jonathon Grasse’s faculty recital in a set with Dave Williams, Tom Steck, and Dr. Grasse himself, invoking some revolutionary musical spirits to deal with the present situation. Archie Shepp might have called it Dumpster Fire Music. 7:30pm in the University Theater. $5-10.
Friday the 24th Dave and I are playing our usual gig at the Exhibition Room. Standards with Patrick Butler on guitar. 930-1230. Reservations required.
Saturday I am subbing in a 2 women (plus band) show about Patsy Cline in Garden Grove. Thanks to Rebecca Lynn for the hookup.
Sunday is a double-header. New Valley Symphony at Forest Lawn at 2, playing all your favorite bits from Carmen, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute, then Scrappers 6-9 at The Offbeat, in which Dan Clucas and I improvise with Joe Baiza and Brian Christopherson from Saccharine Trust.

Two albums are in the pipeline: Cello Pudding (with Vetza, Dave Travis, and Michael Intriere) is free improvisation for three cellos, bass, and voice. Great recording, mix, etc. by Mark Wheaton and cover art by Dean Westerfield. No release date set, but it’ll definitely be before we play the Eagle Rock/Open Gate series Aug. 6. That’ll be a CD. Zorro, by the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble, is going to drop Apr. 27 as a download only. This is Jack’s music for the silent film The Mark of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks. The album is like one of those John Zorn Filmworks CDs, with like, 20 2-minute cues. I convinced him to record long Liberation Music Orchestra-style blowouts on a couple of the themes, but they didn’t make the cut. It’s a great-sounding product, recorded by former Sparks guitarist Earle Mankey. This version of the JCDE is Alicia Byer, Charles Sharp, Angelo Metz, Scott Dibble, “Slam” Nobles, and myself. Links to get these albums coming soon…

March 2017

Quite a month ahead:

On the 5th I’m playing in the Open Gate Theatre 20th Anniversary Concert. For the past 20 years Will Salmon and Alex Cline have been presenting creative music on the first Sunday of the month. To celebrate their anniversary, they’ve invited an epic lineup of west coast free players for mix and match improvisations. String basses: Devin Hoff and myself, bass guitars: Steuart Liebig and Darryl Tewes, trumpets & cornets: Bobby Bradford, Dan Clucas, Daniel Rosenboom, and Bruce Friedman, etc. You get the idea. An honor to be in this company… Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock. 7PM https://www.facebook.com/events/409…

On the 10th and 24th I’m with Dave Williams and His Rhythm Agents at the Exhibition Room. 9:30PM-12:30AM. This is a trio (Dave on trumpet, Patrick Butler on guitar) playing jazz standards in a quasi-retro mode. This may be the end of our residency at the Exhibition Room so, if you’ve been waiting to check us out, now’s the time.

On the 15th I am presenting Michael Pisaro on my Soundwaves concert series at the Santa Monica Public Library. 7:30pm. free.

On the 21st I’ll be playing a set of improvised music to open Jonathon Grasse‘s  faculty recital at California State University, Dominguez Hills with Tom Steck, Dr. Grasse, and TBD. 7:30pm.

And the 26th is the long-awaited return of Scrappers, at The OffBeat – A Bar On York. 7pm. This is a free improvising unit convened by Dan Clucas, in which he and I are joined by Joe Baiza and Brian Christopherson from SST Records legends Saccharine Trust. This will make 3 1/2 gigs for us in about 10 years. I don’t know when the next one is going to come around…

Eagle Rock, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Compton, Long Beach, Highland Park! Dig it.