MSP/piano, w sax masters Steve Adams of ROVA Sax Quartet & Aaron Bennett (Sun 08 Dec @’s SIMM Series, SF, 7:30pm) + Set 2: Daniel Pearce & Teddy Rankin-Parker duo, 8:30pm

Outsound: A New Sonic Collective for the 21st Century

I’m very excited to once more join sax masters Steve Adams and Aaron Bennett at Outsound’s SIMM Series at 7:30pm, Sun 08 Dec (Set 1) at the Musicians Union Hall, 116 9th St @ Mission, SF (map).

Yakitori-ya in the rain at night, Shimbashi (夜の雨の中で焼き鳥屋、新橋)

Outsound’s SIMM Series reminds me of cozy parties among friends at my favorite yakitori joint, nestled under the Shimbashi Bridge in Tokyo in the night rain… from the outside a few hints of warm light and laughter, on the inside a serious wild time. The difference is that, unlike the yakitori joint, the SIMM Series is a spaceship that travels to other musical dimensions.

An acoustic-centered sister of the Luggage Store Series, SIMM has brought the best cutting-edge acoustic jazz and avant-garde musicians in and out of the Bay Area to SF audiences and delivered one musical adventure after another.

(L → R) Joe Lasqo, Steve Adams and Aaron Bennett at the Makeout Room, 6 May 2013 (Photo by Michael Zelner)

It’s my honor to return to this series, and I’m especially excited to be doing so with Steve Adams and Aaron Bennett, whose highly disparate styles interlock in a unique fusion.

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 and a half 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)

Kim Seok-Chul (김석철), shaman and hojoek (호적) virtuoso

We’ll open with  blast of high energy from Steve Adams’ piece In The Waterfall, inspired by Emma Franz’s great film Intangible Asset № 82, which documents Australian jazz drummer Simon Barker’s 7-year, 17-trip quest to find and meet the late Kim Seok-Chul (김석철), Korean shaman and virtuoso of the piercingly powerful Korean double-reed instrument hojoek (호적).

Bae Il-Dong (배일동), Korean Pansori (판소리) singer, who spent 7 years singing next to a waterfall to learn how to sing with force

On the long and winding road to eventual success in meeting Kim Seok-Chul (김석철), Simon Barker encounters another apostle of intensity, acclaimed singer of the Korean traditional opera pansori (판소리), Bae Il-Dong (배일동), who spent 7 years singing next to a waterfall to learn how to develop the spiritual force to match and overpower it.

Music critic John Shand once remarked that “If volcanos could sing, then they would sound like Bae Il-Dong.”

And if volcanoes could play Giant Steps, they would sound like Aaron Bennett and Steve Adams

Inspired by this kind of intensity, the improvisational structures of Steve Adams’ piece In The Waterfall challenge its players to burn through the waterfall by being in the waterfall, an experience you’ll not soon forget.

Anthony Braxton

Next we’ll present 2 original pieces “interpolated” into Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music piece, Composition #255.

Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music series lays track to interconnect the destinies of two marginalized groups in the struggle for the full decolonization of American culture, while at the same time taking complete advantage of the explosion of musical thinking that started in centers like Darmstadt, Paris and New York after the war.

Cosco Ghost Dance Petroglyphs from Site CA-INY-4836, the Gallery (Death Valley)

From the essay Like A Giant Choo-Choo Train System by Jonathan Piper (liner notes to 9 Compositions [Iridium] &  2006 [Firehouse 12 Records]):

Anthony Braxton (L) & Dave Holland (R)

“…In 1993 Braxton told Graham Lock he was looking for “a system of tracks, like a giant choo-choo train system that will show the connections, so where a soloist is moving along a track, that will connect to duo logics, trio logics, quartet logics. So, for instance, if you’re traveling from Composition 47, which is a small town, to a city like Composition 96, the model will demonstrate the nature of combinations and connections in between systems.”

The Ghost Dance

Things fell into place in 1995 after Braxton sat in on a Native American music course and studied the Nanissáanah (“Ghost Dance”) rituals promulgated by Native American prophet Wovoka in the late 1800s. For Braxton, the Ghost Dance had great resonance. “The Ghost Dance music, when it was put together, that came about in a time after the American Indian had been decimated, 98 percent of their culture destroyed,” Braxton recalls. “Various tribes came together and compiled whatever information they had left. And the Ghost Dance music was described as a curtain—one side is reality for us, and the other side is the ancestors. And the Ghost Dance music would provide a forum to connect with the ancestors. That had a tremendous impact on me.”  Drawing on the example of all night Ghost Dance ceremonies (and other world trance musics), Braxton looked to construct a “melody that doesn’t end” to serve as the train tracks to cohere his system. The Ghost Trance Music was born.”

Ghost Dance Song (Arapaho)

Following the performance tradition of Phillip Greenlief, under whose baton I had the honor to play this piece with Orchesperry in August at Berkeley Arts Festival, we’ll “interpolate” other pieces into the Braxtonian matrix, a procedure which introduces kaleidoscopic shards of color into the trance (see 32 min of that performance below).

Our interpolations on this occasion will send the piece in a wildly different direction and will lead off with the graphic-score state-transition-diagram composition for improvisers by Steve Adams, #30.

#30, Ⓒ Steve Adams

It’s total fun to play these witty and dynamic graphical games from Steve’s book.

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.

Joe Lasqo @ Meridian Gallery, 11 Jan 2012 (Photo:,

I’ll contribute an improv composition combining musique concrète concepts with laptop synthesis and live acoustic instruments, Emergent 2, first heard earlier this year in performances at Berkeley Arts Festival and Trinity Chamber Concerts. Its 5-part series of transformations trace the emergence of complexity from clarity, sound from music, music from sound, & clarity from complexity.

Plus, of course there will be free improvs.

Set 2 at 8:30pm will be the indescribable duo of cellist Terry Rankin-Parker and percussionist Daniel Pearce. I have heard them play recently at the Luggage Store, and they will open your ears with sounds you’ve never dreamt of.

Originally from Chicago and/or other planets, they’ve recently moved to the Bay Area and describe themselves as “improvisers whose music considers friendship”. It is a very apt description, because the intensity of their telepathic musical rapport is unique and will hit you like a 2×4. You will hear original music of rare power.

Teddy Rankin-Parker

A Jimi Hendrix of the cello (and a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music), Teddy has performed, toured, and/or recorded with dozens of artists, including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble N_JP, Iron & Wine, Glen Hansard, Birthmark, OosImaginary Art Collective, the Kirtan Choir, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Joffrey Ballet, AACM, Chicago Folks Operetta, Opera Cabal, Renee’ Bakers Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, Henry Grimes, Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, and Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble.

Daniel Pearce

Daniel is a one-of-a-kind drummer, as well as a writer, who’s performed, toured, and/or recorded with numerous groups, including Tenebre, the Ghost Shirt, the Odilon Swan Ensemble, the Canyon Rays, Cardboard, and Ex-Nihilo.

His drumming redefines rhythmic gestures as primal grammatical acts that do not so much as keep time as create time.

Each of them is an original pathbreaker who’s developed a completely new language for their instrument, and the dialogue of these languages in the duo is unforgettable and will widen your definition of music (recent EP, Companion Pieces, Vol. 1).

Cover of Companion Pieces, Vol. 1, new EP by Teddy Rankin-Parker and Daniel Pearce — what lurks within?

This show will be a wild journey — look forward to take it together!

See you there…


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