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.


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.