Two Pair

Thursday the 28th I will play twice with Elliott Levin, First, at 7:30pm, I will join his Eclectic Electric Elders of Improvisation (the epic ensemble of Bobby Bradford, Don Preston, and Chris Garcia) on my Soundwaves concert series at the Santa Monica Public Library then, at 10, he and I play across town at Cafe NELA with the prodigiously polyrhythmic Peter Valsamis, and possibly other prominent participants. Both shows will almost certainly be high energy free jazz. This is the first Soundwaves concert with an aftershow. I feel like Prince.

The next week’s double is 24 hours apart but involves even more driving. My group with Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, and Charles Sharp, which I had figured would be a one-off special, has turned into a working band. We’re calling it the Present Quartet. On July 5th we’re on Brad Dutz‘ series at Sun Space (8pm, $5-10 donation, two sets) and on the 6th we’re at the Track 16 Gallery in downtown LA (8pm, free, but RSVP). This is also a free improvising unit, but is likely to explore subtler intensities than Elliott’s bands:

The fifth card is the Santa Monica Symphony’s first outdoor summer concert since I’ve been in the group, on the 21st, with a very conventional setlist. Reed Park, 6pm, free.

Hope to see you there!


June 2018

Here’s my next batch of performances and productions:

Some very cool stuff is in the works, including Soundwaves 2018-19 and a possible residency, stay tuned for details. I’m also continuing to write on music for the Culver City Catalyst, a fine new online publication.

Eat the Document

  1.     Eat the Document was Bob Dylan and D.A. Pennebaker’s sequel to Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back followed Dylan on a 1965 solo tour of England, confronting fans and writers disturbed by his move from protest songs like “Only a Pawn in their Game” to more abstract and personal work like “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” He faced even more hostility on the 1966 tour, having “gone electric,” backed by the Hawks (later known as the Band). This peaked at a notorious concert, captured in the film, where a heckler shouted “Judas” at Dylan, who then directed his band to “play fucking loud” and counted off “Like a Rolling Stone.” The movie was never released, probably a casualty of the chemical and emotional burnout which led Dylan to back down from the intensity of his 1966 work to John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline but, like all things Dylan, it has since been bootlegged in every medium available. Big chunks can be found on YouTube, including a troubling sequence of Dylan and John Lennon wasted out of their minds, and much of the concert footage was reused in Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home. Meticulous reenactments of the offstage footage make up most of the Cate Blanchett section of Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, and it is possible that more people have seen that than the original, a glamorous example of Baudrillard/Eco’s theory of the simulacrum.
  2. There are only a couple of minutes of film of Charlie Parker, and they are silent. The same is true for Albert Ayler, although there is also film of at least one concert locked in a European archive. It is almost certainly possible to watch all the existing video of John Coltrane in a day. As media have moved from photochemical to magnetic to digital, recordings have multiplied exponentially, and one can now, for example, follow a significant chunk of the New York jazz underground in almost real time thanks to Don Mount.
  3. If I was still in the academic world I would have developed a theory of the underground concert as virtual event by now. I recently played for a few dozen people in a storefront gallery across from a strip club and a weed store. Our set was maybe 40 minutes, and the entire evening lasted around three hours, with two other acts, setting up, tearing down, hanging out, etc. That’s the actual event. The virtual event began weeks before, with the creation of a Facebook event and it being shared and commented on by the musicians, our friends, and members of various groups where it appeared. It continued through the show itself, with people posting photos, videos, and comments from the setup, performance, and hang, then lasted for a day or two afterwards as more documentation was posted and more comments generated. This will all revive when more formal recordings, video, etc from the show are made public. It is not unusual for more people to “like” or comment on a post about a show than were there. Likewise, the effects of the fact of an event will often exceed the effects of the event itself: people hearing that I played with a particular Famous Musician will have more of an effect than people hearing me play with him/her.
  4. All this is an absurdly long-winded way of letting you know that I have some fresh documents of my own for you to check out. My March performance with Alicia Byer & Alexander Vogel is on Bandcamp, as are the results of a marathon session with Disclaimer (Kristian Aspelin, Paul Pellegrin, and me) plus Scott Heustis, Haskel Joseph, Tony Green, and Breeze Smith. There’s also video of my recent set at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Open Gate concert series with Ellen Burr, Anne LeBaron, and Charles Sharp, and a track from Cello Pudding’s set at Coaxial last week is going to appear on a compilation LP in Japan. Enjoy!


May Shows

It worked out that, after playing Roscoe’s Seabird Lounge on April 1 with Dave Williams‘ Latin jazz project, I have no more April gigs. That’s actually good, because I just got the digital galleys of my book to proofread. It really looks like a book now. Terrifying!

May, on the other hand, is going to be packed.
On the 5th the West Coast Chamber Jazz Trio will play Alva’s Showroom in San Pedro. If you are anywhere in the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim Metropolitan Statistical Area, this is worth the trip. Virtuoso flautist Ellen Burr (LA Flute Orchestra, Adam Rudolph, Vinny Golia, Steuart Liebig, Harris Eisenstadt, etc.) and I play Andrea Centazzo‘s music with the man himself on drums. Andrea was a pioneer of free improvisation in Europe, working with Steve Lacy, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Albert Mangelsdorff, and many others, and also has composed prolifically for varied ensembles in many genres. This band revisits and unites these strands of his work. Two sets, ten bucks. Check it out!

The next night Ellen and I will be at the Open Gate concert series at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts in a quartet with harpist Anne LeBaron and multi-instrumentalist Charles Sharp, playing a set of free improvisation. This was an idea I had to celebrate my 50th birthday, to combine two of my most frequent collaborators, Charles and Ellen, with someone none of us had played with before. The Saxon/Vogel Duo also appear.

Then, on the 9th, Cello Pudding returns, playing at Coaxial, a DIY space in an ungentrified part of Downtown LA, along with Steuart Liebig and Emily Hay duo and Bernd Buerklin solo.

I get to rest for a couple of weeks, then on Monday the 22nd the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble will premiere Jack’s new score for the 1920 silent “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” at the Art Theatre in Long Beach and on Sunday the 27th the Santa Monica Symphony will present their Memorial Day concert.

Not a bad month. And what’s up with that image? I tell you what: it’s a blue wave.


2018 Part 2

Progress continues in several creative areas:

The Arabic orchestra MESTO makes its first LA appearance in two years at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall March 17. Tickets are expensive, but there is a strong lineup of star singers and soloists and the band is stocked with hot LA folk, classical, studio, and experimental musicians (and also me).

I will be on the remaining concerts of the Santa Monica and Palisades Symphonies’ seasons. These are all free admission, so if you go to a couple of these and the MESTO show, you can lower your average ticket price.

I have a cluster of chamber music-style free improvisation gigs coming up:

I feel much more connected to the instrument when I can play without an amp, but I also want to work on using amplification to make small sounds more useful, as well as to be able to play in loud bands, of course. Here’s some video from a fun and funky recent gig where I was not quite loud enough:

And speaking of loud music, I’m organizing a recording session for three guitar-bass-drums improvising trios: Disclaimer (with Kristian Aspelin, Paul Pellegrin, and myself), Moonville (Haskel Joseph, Darryl Tewes, and Breeze Smith), and the Scott Heustis Trio (Scott, Breeze, and Tony Green). The plan is for each trio to record a long track and for each musician to pick a mix & match group for a short piece, sort-of Company style. This might be a CD or a Bandcamp-only release, we’ll see.

Also, there’s plenty of good stuff coming up on my Soundwaves concert series. Don’t sleep on it if you’re in LA, and if you aren’t in LA, a lot of videos of past shows are on the site.

Finally, the publication date for my book seems to be set: May 25!


2018 Part 1

So far 2018 has brought me a bunch of symphony and chamber music gigs:

followed by some non-classical action:

  • Feb. 12 the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble plays a new live score to a silent movie TBD at the Art Theatre in Long Beach.
  • Feb. 17 Jonathon Grasse’s Native Plant Society (with Dave Williams and Tom Steck) plays structured improvisation at the Wine Bar in Long Beach on a bill with Dave’s NotQuiteFree and Threadbare Aristocrats (Dan Clucas/Darryl Tewes/Jonathan Saxon). 8pm. Free, but buy drinks and fill the tip jar…
  • and March 17 is the return of MESTO to UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall. This is a really special large ensemble of LA artists performing Arabic music, led by Palestinian-American conductor/composer/scholar Nabil Azzam. We’ve performed in Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Abu Dhabi, and Detroit. LA shows only happen every few years. This one features music from the Arabic-Latino North African connection and includes several amazing guest vocalists and soloists. That said, it’s gonna cost you $60 plus fees and parking. 7pm.

The Soundwaves concert series I run is moving ahead, with some great stuff coming up, and my book Free Jazz: A Research and Information Guide is on track for publication in May from Routledge’s Music Bibliographies series. The 4th edition of A Basic Music Library is also available now, after years in limbo. I contributed listings for the Himalayas and parts of India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. These are not books which any person should buy, but I hope they will be valuable tools for research libraries.

Happy New Year! Stay strong and fight back!


Soundwaves – First Quarter 2018

Soundwaves, the concert series I run at the Santa Monica Public Library, ends its second year Dec. 20 with a program of graphic scores. About 2/3 of the show will be played by an open participation workshop ensemble – arrive by 6pm to rehearse Ellen Burr‘s “Ink Bops” with the composer and a couple other things with me. The remainder will feature Scott Worthington playing James Tenney’s “Beast” and the Cal State Fullerton New Music Ensemble, led by Charles Sharp, playing Christian Wolff’s “For 1, 2, or 3 People.”

2018 launches Soundwaves’ partnership with PianoSpheres. They’ll be previewing their Zipper Hall events at the Library, with free one hour versions of the full evening concerts, in addition to the regular monthly Soundwaves presentations.

The first quarter looks like this. All shows are at 7:30pm, one set, free admission:

April, May, and June are also going to be great, but aren’t 100% confirmed.

Also at the Library, on Jan. 3, at 7pm, I am hosting a presentation by VP Artist Consulting called “Music Business 101” so, if you are in the music business, come on by!