July Shows + Music in Mind

I’m very excited about going to Milan to help celebrate the 45th anniversary of Andrea Centazzo’s Ictus Records label. There will be four nights of improvised music by Andrea and his collaborators from across the US and Europe. Stop by if you’re in the area! Here are the details of what I get to do:

July 4: Trio with Carlo Actis Dato (bass clarinet) & Vasco Trilla (drums)

July 5: West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio with Ellen Burr (flutes) and Andrea Centazzo (drums & electronics) + Sergio Amaroli (vibes). This will be the only set at the festival based on compositions.

July 6: Sextet with Elbio Barilari (saxophone), Harri Sjöström (saxophone), Guido Mazzon (trumpet), Francesca Gemmo (piano), and Steve Hubback (drums)

July 7: Large Ensemble with Ellen Burr (flutes), Carlo Actis Dato (bass clarinet), Roberto Ottaviano (sax), Harri Sjöström (sax), Elbio Barilari (saxophone & trumpet), Guido Mazzon (trumpet), Giancarlo Schiaffini (trombone), Steve Swell (trombone), Francesca Gemmo (piano), Elisabeth Harnik (keyboards), Sergio Armaroli (vibes), Vasco Trilla (drums), Steve Hubback (drums), Andrea Centazzo (Conduction).

Tickets available now!

The Ellen Burr Trio, with a contractually obscured drummer, will play in Udine July 9

Then, I’ll be back home at the Industry Cafe & Jazz on the 15th with Sean Sonderegger fronting the Soapbox rhythm section of R. Scott Dibble, Peter Valsamis, and myself. No cover, but order food & drinks!

Not a bad month!

I also just appeared on Anthony Caulkins’s Music in Mind podcast. Audio links here, or watch us on YouTube. Lots of interesting talk about improvisation, skill, and creativity, as well as my story (less interesting). Ends with a banjo/bass duet improvisation.

Soundwaves Encore +

The Soundwaves new music series, which I ran at the Santa Monica Public Library from 2016 to 2020 with help from Daniel Rothman, returns for three outdoor shows this summer. Think of this as an encore, a little extra before the end, rather than a real return, because the Santa Monica City Council, following the City Manager’s direction and with no significant resistance from the library’s management or community, cut the library budget by more than 50% in May 2020. With no night hours, no plans to restore them, and a skeleton crew in place, opportunities to present serious live music will be almost nonexistent.

But, in order to survive we must keep hope alive. So, I bring you:

June 4: The West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio: Andrea Centazzo, Ellen Burr, and yours truly.

July 2: The Dan Rosenboom Quintet

August 6: The Lauren Baba Quintet

All shows are at the Pico Branch Annex in Virginia Avenue Park, at the corner of Pico and Cloverfield in Santa Monica. 3:30PM. One set. Outdoors. Free admission, no tickets, reservations, etc.

Now, as far as playing, besides that June 4 date with Andrea & Ellen, there are a few things.

May 20 Ellen and I are at the Industry Cafe & Jazz again, with what is becoming a more-or-less regular unit including Charles Sharp on winds, R. Scott Dibble on keyboard, and Peter Valsamis on drums, playing original, standard, and non-standard jazz and jazz-adjacent tunes. 6:30-9:30PM. Outdoors, no cover, but order some food & drinks.

May 29 is the last show of the Santa Monica Symphony‘s season. Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Sibelius. 7PM. Free, reservations required.

June 11 the West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio will be at Alva’s Showroom in San Pedro.

June 17 Ellen and I will be back at the Industry with associates TBD.

Stay tuned for more!

April Shows

April 3: Vicente Chamber Orchestra at Bel Air Presbyterian Church. Schubert 6th Symphony + Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. 1:30PM. Free, but reservations required. Small orchestra, big pieces, fantastic soloist, beautiful venue.

April 9: West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio (with Andrea Centazzo & Ellen Burr) opening for Vijay Anderson’s Silverscreen Quintet (with Vinny Golia, Bobby Bradford, William Roper, and Adam Lane) at 2220 Arts and Archives. 8PM. $20. Advance tickets encouraged. Two all-star LA-focused avant-jazz bands, both performing with video. This is the venue formerly known as the Bootleg Theater. A group of arts nonprofits have taken it over, including the Unwrinkled Ear and the Poetic Research Bureau. This will be my first time there since the switch. I think it’s especially important to support this venue and these artists. Also, in my humble opinion, the trio is on fire. We are amped about a European tour this summer, and Ellen and I have been working out at our monthly dates at the Industry Cafe & Jazz. Speaking of which:

April 15: Quintet with Ellen Burr, Charles Sharp, R. Scott Dibble, and Peter Valsamis at Industry Cafe & Jazz. 6:30PM. Outdoors, no cover, order some of the excellent food & drinks.

April 17: LA Artists for Ukraine: Ukrainian Cultural Center. 3PM. $50.

April 30: Steve Bowie Quartet at Altadena Guild Home Tour. TBD.



Bruce Friedman, Jim McAuley, and Jeff Schwartz Release Tierkreis: Unique Los Angeles Trio Interprets Legendary Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Most Popular Work

In 1974, avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen wrote a series of short melodies based on the signs of the zodiac (“Tierkreis” is German for zodiac). They were originally intended for a set of custom music boxes, so he was limited by the capacity and range of their mechanisms. However, between then and his death in 2007, he created versions of these melodies for performance by instrumentation ranging from solo voice to symphony orchestra and incorporated them into large-scale works including Sirius and the Licht opera series. He also published instructions for performers to create their own versions, and many have done so.

Los Angeles trumpeter Bruce Friedman attended the 2008 Stockhausen Course in Kürten, then organized a tribute concert that fall at Harbor College on a series curated by Grandmothers of Invention drummer Chris Garcia. Among the pieces he prepared was a version of “Tierkreis” with guitarist Jim McAuley. Friedman invited Jeff Schwartz, who he knew as a bassist, to join them. After studying the score and instructions, Schwartz created a realization for trumpet and two guitars, playing the second guitar part himself to help cover the exact notes from Stockhausen’s original because the harmonies were impossible on a single guitar and, since they had been written for music boxes, there was nothing in the bass register. Although all three musicians were experienced in jazz and free improvisation, and Stockhausen’s instructions permit improvisation, they chose to stay with his written parts, focusing on the rare and beautiful sound of post-tonal music played on steel string guitars. Following the tribute concert, they recorded this music in Architecture Studio, the home base of Kronos Quartet sound engineer Scott Fraser, himself a brilliant electric guitarist who performs improvised ambient music with Friedman.

Nate Dorward’s 2006 interview with McAuley in the online magazine Paris Transatlantic <http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/interviews/mcauley.html> is probably the best source on his remarkable life in music. Born in Kansas in 1946, McAuley moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s when his folk-rock band Mouse signed to Capitol Records. After they broke up, he played on sessions including Frank Sinatra’s Old Blue Eyes is Back, was briefly signed to John Fahey’s Takoma Records, studied and performed with John Carter, taught the cast of A Mighty Wind how to fingerpick, and recorded several albums of improvised music including solo work and collaborations with Nels Cline, Leroy Jenkins, and others, as well as the psychedelic folk project Mc ‘n’ Mac with his partner Mary MacQueen. With Tierkreis, McAuley was very proud of having made what he considered a classical recording and was looking forward to its release when he unexpectedly passed away in August 2021. This album is dedicated to his memory.

CDs are available directly from Friedman and Schwartz and downloads from Minus Zero <https://minuszero.bandcamp.com/>. All proceeds from download sales will go to Planned Parenthood.

Bruce Friedman is a classical and jazz trumpet player. His recordings as a leader, with Scott Fraser, with Motoko Honda, and as a member of Rich West’s band, are on the Pfmentum and AnalogArts labels. https://www.brucefriedmanmusic.com

Jeff Schwartz is a librarian, activist, bassist, and the author of books on free jazz for Routledge (2018) and SUNY Press (forthcoming). https://jeffschwartzmusic.wordpress.com

March Shows

March 25: C#3(+n): Charles Sharp (reeds, etc), me (bass), Peter Valsamis (drums) + Ellen Burr (flutes). Classic, original, and instant jazz compositions. Industry Cafe & Jazz, Culver City. 6:30-9:30PM. No cover (order food & drinks). Outdoors.

March 27: Santa Monica Symphony. Dvorak, Schumann, Brahms. John Adams Middle School. 3PM. Free, but reservations required.

March 29: West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio: Ellen Burr (flutes), me (bass), Andrea Centazzo (percussion, electronics, and compositions). The Pike, Long Beach. 9PM.

So, good stuff continues to happen. Let’s see if it holds…

February Shows

COVID willing, I will play some shows in the next few weeks:

Feb. 14: Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble – Live score to “Sunrise,” at the Art Theater, Long Beach. 7PM. $18.

Feb 18: Jazz Standards with Ellen Burr, R. Scott Dibble, Peter Valsamis, and many special guests. Industry Cafe & Jazz, Culver City. No cover (buy food & drinks).

Feb. 19: Santa Monica Symphony – Dvorak “New World Symphony” & Florence Price Piano Concerto. John Adams Middle School Auditorium, Santa Monica. 7PM. Free (reservations required).

Feb. 26: Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble – Live score to “Sunrise,” at the Million Dollar Theater, DTLA. 7:30PM. $18.

Annual Report

Eight in-person shows this year, compared to eleven in 2020 and 45 in 2019.

Ranked by Band:
1. West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio (2)
2. Andromeda Electric Orchestra, Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble, Native Plant Society, Santa Monica Symphony, unnamed improvising group (w/ Ellen Burr, Kristian Aspelin, & Corey Fogel), Vicente Chamber Orchestra (1 each)

By Venue:
1. Industry Cafe & Jazz (2)
2. a cul de sac in Chatsworth, Art Theater (Long Beach), Cal State Dominguez Hills, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, John Adams Middle School, Wende Museum (1 each)

By Drummer:
1. Andrea Centazzo (2)
2. a dude whose name I forgot, Corey Fogel, Slam Nobles, Devin Pruden (1 each)

By Genre:
1. Free Jazz (4)
2. Canonical Classical (2)
3. Pop Classical, Silent Film Score (1 each)


Thirdsday is on Friday Now

In the Before Times, Ellen Burr and I shared a night at the Industry Cafe & Jazz in Culver City. The Third Thursday of the month, we’d invite different folks to join us for an evening of music-making. I named this “Thirdsday.” We’re bringing it back, but now on the third Friday. Dec. 17 Kristian Aspelin and Corey Fogel will join us for two sets of free improvisation, starting at 7, outdoors. No cover, but you should order a drink and probably some food (it’s good!).

In other news, I recently played a set of Jonathon Grasse’s music, streamed from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Great to see all these folks again!

Albert Ayler

When I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, I put together a book-length biography of saxophonist/composer Albert Ayler. I think I did most of the work over a summer when I was working for campus catering. I’d go to the library between lunch and dinner events, read jazz magazines, and listen to rare vinyl. After failing to interest a publisher, I put the text online in the early ’90s, once the World Wide Web was a thing. I continue to hear from folks about this work. However, a lot of new information has become available since then, and my understanding of the music and its milieu has definitely grown. In a way my dissertation, my piece in Free Jazz Communism, my first book, and the one in the works are all about filling in the context around that first project.

Peter Niklas Wilson wrote a solid book on Ayler in 1996, at least as far as I can tell, since I don’t read German. Revenant Records issued “Holy Ghost,” an exhaustive box set of unreleased recordings including a substantial book in 2004 but ran into rights issues. ESP-Disk then reedited some of the music and recorded interviews into their audio documentary/anthology The Albert Ayler Story. Kasper Collin, who made the excellent documentary I Called Him Morgan on Lee Morgan made a fine film on Ayler in 2007, but it has never appeared on DVD or streaming, I think because of the same legal questions that vexed “Holy Ghost.” Unauthorized uploads can be found. The folks at the fan site ayler.co.uk have been doing a great job compiling new information on Ayler’s life and work. However, I learned today that Richard Kolada has finally signed a contract to publish his biography of Ayler. Richard has been working on this since the ’90s and has done an unbelievable amount of archival digging, as well as spending time with Ayler’s family (including his father and brother, who have since passed), and every other relevant person he could track down. He has been sending me drafts now and then, so I can confidently say that he is going all the way in. Can’t wait to see it in print for real!