“Bringing Live New Music to the Westside”

The first two installments of Soundwaves, the new music series I am co-curating with Daniel Rothman at the Santa Monica Public Library on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30PM, went quite well. In January Jim Fox, Michael Jon Fink, and Aron Kallay played solo piano music from composers affiliated with the Cold Blue Music label, and in February Judicanti Responsura (William Roper & Joseph Mitchell) played their own work. I hope anyone reading this in the LA area will try to make it to the four remaining shows and/or send compliments to the SMPL management. Attendance and feedback will make it easier for Daniel and me to get funding to continue the series, for me to do more creative music programs at the library, and for the Library to support noncommercial work in general.

This series ties into the DRAM streaming service Santa Monica has begun offering (at my instigation) and focuses on artists whose music is on that service. After an experiment with nonresident fees, Santa Monica Library cards are once again free to all California residents, so pick one up and begin enjoying this resource, which no other public library offers. And again, if you’d like to report your appreciation for this extraordinary service (and my role in bringing it to you) to the management, please do.

Here are the remaining Soundwaves dates.

In a very nice review of the first Soundwaves show, Paul Muller wrote that we were “bringing live new music to the westside.” Of course there already is live new music on the westside: Jacaranda, the Hammer, and the MiMoDa studio have shows more or less regularly, SASSAS has been producing events at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and there are occasionally things at the Track 16 Gallery, Bergamot Station, the Electric Lodge, and I’m sure other venues I’m not cool enough to know about. However, I will accept that, as a regular ongoing series with institutional backing, Soundwaves could be something different.

The next performance I am doing has similar potential. It’s the debut of JAB, a trio with Anna Homler on voice and toys, Breeze Smith on percussion and electronics, and myself on the contrabass. We’re sharing a bill with the Obihiro Cowboys, which is an all-star brass and percussion band of Bobby Bradford, Michael Vlatkovich, William Roper, and Joseph Mitchell. This show is at the Highways Performance Space at 18th and Olympic in Santa Monica, Feb. 28, at 7:30.

Now, as soon as I mentioned any of those folks’ names you should have run to mark your calendar. The Wire and Pitchfork have been loving Anna’s revival of her Breadwoman character from the ’80s, and if you don’t know Bobby Bradford from Ornette Coleman’s “Science Fiction” and “Broken Shadows” LPs, “Death of a Sideman” and “Murray’s Steps” with David Murray, his long collaboration with John Carter, or the discs under his own name, you have many hours of fine listening ahead of you.

But, as they say, there’s more. Highways is a legendary venue for performance art, maybe the closest thing LA has to one of those NYC spots like the Kitchen. Tim Miller, one of the NEA Four, was their director for years. Coco Fusco has performed there, etc. It’s quite a coup to get a music show in there, if I do say so myself, and if it goes well there may be more.

This makes it more important than usual that folks show up for this one. There are several obstacles. First, admission is $20. Not my idea. However, some half-price tickets are available on Goldstar, so move fast. Second, my pal Dave Williams has assembled a strong free jazz/funk lineup on the other side of town at Cafe NELA. If you don’t come to my show go to his. Third, and last, that’s the night of the Academy Awards, but really, how interesting is that going to be? Watch the highlights on YouTube later.

The Highways people will be delighted if you make a commitment to attend through an advance ticket purchase via Goldstar, the Highways website, or (310) 315-1459.

I hope to see you out at these events. I am going to be playing a lot more in March and April and won’t need to hype those shows quite as much, so stick around for that too!

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