MSP synthesis w sax masters Steve Adams & Aaron Bennett @Makeout Room, SF (Mon 6 May, 8pm)

The Makeout Room (Photo by Kelly Allen,

I’m delighted to join the great Monday Makeout series, which has been curated and nurtured by Bay Area greats like Lisa Mezzacappa, Darren Johnston, & Karl Evangelista — a series that has made one of the best lounges in SF one of the best places to hear ground-breaking new music as well.

Even more exciting is to be joining it with wind giants Steve Adams and Aaron Bennett

Coordinates: Makeout Room, SF, Mon 6 May, 8pm3225 22nd St, SF (between Mission & Valencia – map)

Steve Adams

Steve Adams needs little introduction to lovers of jazz and new music, having been a long-standing key player in various East & West Coast scenes. His work on various saxes, flutes, electronics and as a composer combines probing originality, playful improv structures and swing with a very specific angular momentum.

Steve Adams

Steve is best known as a member of ROVA Saxophone Quartet, whom he’s been with for more than 20 years. Steve is also a member of the Bill Horvitz Band, various Matt Small ensembles, and the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, as well as leading his own projects.

Steve lived in Boston in the ’70s and ’80s, where he was a member of Your Neighborhood Sax Quartet, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, and Composers in Red Sneakers among others. A remarkable collaboration with avant jazz bassist Ken Filiano, which we in the Bay Area have the pleasure of hearing on his swings to the West Coast, was formed in this period.

Steve’s versatility, powerful musical imagination, commanding technique, and personal warmth and great sense of humor make him a wonderful collaborator, and it’s been great to have my ears expanded by his beautiful ideas.

Aaron Bennett in Space

Aaron Bennett has been bending space in the Bay Area jazz and improvised music communities for more than 15 years. Beyond his studies in composition and performance of western music at California Institute of the Arts, Aaron has also studied and played the music of West Africa, Indonesia, India, and Traditional Japanese 雅楽 (Gagaku) music. He has performed throughout the United States and abroad including performances with Wadada Leo SmithPeter KowaldJohn ButcherDonald RobinsonMarco EneidiGianni GebbiaWeasel WalterAdam LaneLarry OchsSteve AdamsJohn RaskinVictoria WilliamsAphrodesiaLagos-RootsROVA Saxophone Quartet and many others.

Aaron Bennett in Time

Over the last year it’s been my honor and pleasure to play in Aaron’s Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra and have my mind thoroughly blown by his remarkable compositions for improvising ensemble, utilizing his unique graphic notation. If you don’t know this band, download its first album (cover below) at today and hear what the fuss is about.

Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra (cover art: Nancy Bennett)

Featured in the set will be various graphic-score and state-transition-diagram compositions for improvisers by Steve Adams, such as #30 and #39.

#39, Ⓒ Steve Adams

It is too much fun to rehearse these witty, game-like pieces! You’ll love them too.

Whale Form, © Aaron Bennett

We’ll also do the improv-ensemble composition Whale Form by Aaron Bennett. Like the “alphabet pieces” we do in Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra, it encodes the perfect amount of info in its specialized language to ensure the contradictory fusion of structure and openness, with each performance like a fresh encounter with a complex ecosystem in a new season.

I’ll contribute improv compositions combining musique concrète concepts with laptop synthesis and live acoustic instruments, such as Emergent 2, first heard earlier this year in performances at Berkeley Arts Festival and Trinity Chamber Concerts, and a new piece based on linguistic operations, Saxo Grammaticus.

Saxo Grammaticus (drawing by Louis Moe)

Saxo Grammaticus was a 12th-C scholar who wrote the first history of Denmark, the Danmarks Krønike, containing the original story of Hamlet.

Improv Grammar Diagram from "The WIsdom of the Impulse", by Tom Nunn

Saxo Grammaticus is an improvisatory structure of state transitions for saxes and electronics/laptop based on syntactical concepts from generative and phrase-structure grammars and the Japanese poetry form renga (連歌).

Big Bang radiation echo imaged at various frequencies by Planck satellite

Big Bang radiation echo imaged at various frequencies by Planck satellite

It will also be my pleasure to introduce into this mix some reprocessed signals from the universe’s longest and most primal vibration, the Big Bang, which has been going on for about 13.7 billion years… so far. The portion of the signal available thus far will be projected into various time-warps and convolutions, often sped up approx. 100 septillion times to come into human audio range. This has been fascinating new material to work with.

Plank satellite scanning a slice of the Big Bang

Plank satellite scanning a slice of the Big Bang

Lovely Builders - Ross Hammond (L) and Scott Amendola (R)

Set 2: Lovely Builders (Ross Hammond: guitar and Scott Amendola: drums & electronics)

Ross Hammond

To let Ross Hammond speak for himself:

“I’m a guitarist, improviser and composer living in Sacramento, CA.  I never really know how to answer when people ask what type of music I play.  I suppose it’s rooted in jazz and folk and rock and soul, and then it’s heavy on the improvisation, except when it’s a composed piece.  Oftentimes the music I make is totally improvised.  Sometimes there’s no music at all and it’s just sound.  And then again I’ve been known to play a lot of acoustic, roots based music with other like-minded folks.  Sometimes I’ll accompany singers, songwriters, poets and dancers.   From time to time I’ll also get chances to write music for films and other art projects.  I’m not sure there’s any easy way to describe all of that, so I just say that I play the guitar.”

Those who have heard Ross Hammond are familiar with the problem of describing his fluid music, always unpredictable (except you can be sure it will always be warm, ear-opening, and very, very hip).

And those who know the music scene of the Greater East Bay stand in awe of Ross’ role in organizing Nebraska Mondays at Luna’s and many other events that keep the flame creative music burning brightly in Sacramento, Davis and points beyond.

Some of his current projects are:

— Ross Hammond Trio (w Shawn Hale: bass, Dax Compise: drums)

Electropoetic Coffee (w poet NSAA)

Lovely Builders (w Scott Amendola)

— V Neck (w Tom Monson [FB link])

Amy Reed [FB link] (accompaniment)

Scott Amendola. Photo by Peak (Piyanari Scott),

For Scott Amendola, the drum kit isn’t so much an instrument as a musical portal. As an ambitious composer, savvy bandleader and capaciously creative foil for some of the world’s most inventive musicians, Scott applies his wide-ranging rhythmic virtuosity to a vast array of settings. His closest musical associates include guitarists Jeff Parker, Nels Cline and Charlie Hunter, Hammond B-3 organist Wil Blades, ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs, and Tin Hat clarinetist Ben Goldberg, players who have each forged a singular path within and beyond the realm of jazz.

While rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area scene, Scott has woven a dense and far-reaching web of bandstand relationships that tie him to influential artists in jazz, blues, rock and new music. A potent creative catalyst, the Berkeley-based drummer become the nexus for a disparate community of musicians stretching from Los Angeles and Seattle to Chicago and New York. Whatever the context, Scott possesses a gift for twisting musical genres in unexpected directions. By employing custom designed electronics, including looping machines, pedals and ring modulators, he’s continually expanding his sonic palette, exploring textures and rhythms with an improvisational sensibility.

Scott’s stature as a composer has also been growing at a rapid rate. In April 2011, he premiered Fade to Orange, a New Visions/New Vistas commission funded by the James Irvine Foundation. A collaboration with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the extended work fully integrates the mercurial jazz trio with Nels Cline and bassist Trevor Dunn into the orchestra.

Set 3: Ben Goldberg’s Brainchild

Ben Goldberg (photo by Ken Weiss of Cadence Magazine)

Some brief excerpts from Ben’s longer bio:

“While getting a B.A. in music from UC Santa Cruz, I studied clarinet with Rosario Mazzeo, the dean of twentieth century clarinet teachers. I started playing and studying klezmer music, which has a virtuosic clarinet tradition. I began to think about how to use the clarinet in jazz and improvised music…

Steve Lacy provided a good example. He had devoted himself solely to the soprano saxophone and his music really touched me. I was playing in The Klezmorim and for some reason there were a bunch of tours in France that included hanging out for a week or two in Paris between gigs. I used to go down to the Sunset to listen to Steve and ask him for a lesson. Finally he relented…

In Sweden I met Ziya Aytekin (Зия Айтекин), a traditional zurna player from the Caucasus.  I heard how much his music had in common with, for example, the late work of John Coltrane. I wondered if I could use klezmer music to explore this connection between the traditional and the “avant-garde.”

One day I got together with Dan Seamans and Kenny Wollesen, with whom I had often played traditional klezmer music… This group became New Klezmer Trio.

Joe Lovano said that Mel Lewis could play a downbeat that was so strong it would last for eight bars.  Perhaps there are some downbeats that keep ringing for the rest of your life.  For me, New Klezmer Trio was this downbeat…

I received a Master of Arts degree in Music Composition from Mills College, where I studied musical analysis with David Bernstein, and composition with Alvin Curran, Pauline Oliveros, and Christian Wolff [and received…] a Jazz Study Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts which funded private study with the saxophonist Joe Lovano.

Guitarist John Schott and I began working on music of the bebop era — Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. We soon found the songs transformed through elongation, repetition, dwelling, thickening the melody, and other approaches… Further study involved the post-serialist notion of combinatorial structures containing a specified number of notes…”

Among many awards, a recent one is 2011 Downbeat Critics’ Poll, which named Ben as the #1 Rising Star Clarinetist. Ben has also been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for a 2013 Jazz Award in the category of Clarinetist of the Year.

Ben Goldberg

Line-up for his ensemble, Brainchild, in this show includes:

— Ben Goldberg: clarinet & leader

Steve Adams: flute

Scott Amendola: Drums

— Karl Evangelista: guitar

Dan Fabricant: bass

— Jordan Glenn: drums

Dan Plonsey: alto sax

Josh Smith: tenor sax

As you can see, this will be an amazing evening — hope to see you there!


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply