MSP/Piano: Full Renga-kai (連歌会) w Beckman, Bickley, Condry, Deuter, Kreith, Lasqo, Moskow, Santomieri and Wilsey, plus dancer Nan Busse, Sun 09 Feb, @ SIMM Series, SF, 7:30pm + Set 2: Eli Wallace Trio @ 8:30pm

9 musicians and 1 dancer welcome you to the Year of the Horse - 新年快樂!

新年快樂!Join us as we welcome the Year of the Horse with a kaleidoscope of unfolding lowercase sound and movement.

By a scheduling coincidence, the opening of the Year of the Horse falls close to our first 2014 performance of a full Renga-kai (連歌会), a game-like music and dance ritual derived from the ancient Japanese collaborative poetry form renga (連歌) — so we hope this accidental juxtaposition of these two great East Asian cultures reflects the potential for wider unexpected harmonies.

Outsound: A New Sonic Collective for the 21st Century

Time & Place: Outsound’s SIMM Series at 7:30pm, Sun 09 Feb (Set 1) at the Musicians Union Hall, 116 9th St @ Mission, SF (map).

Line-up: Nancy Beckman (shakuhachi, small percussion), Tom Bickley (Paetzold contrabass recorder, electronics/radios), Rachel Condry (clarinets), Patti Deuter (piano/toy piano/radio), Ben Kreith (violin), Joe Lasqo (laptop, piano, mṛdangam & solkaṭṭu), Sangita Moskow (sarod), Dean Santomieri (guitars), Jennifer Wilsey (percussion) + dancer Nan Busse. preview of this show: here.

Carol Simmons, polymer clay, 36 Permutations on Black (

Expanding on John Cage’s “renga-piece” techniques, we’ve created a kaleidoscopic new piece called Renga-kai (連歌会), for 9 electro-acoustic musicians, plus dancer.

The piece will comprise 36 short duets which will pair each musician with every other and employ game-like shifting-time rules, using an extended methodology that generates fresh combinations of timbres, instruments, and events in much the same way as a mobile in moving air does among its sculptural elements.

John Cage and D.T. Suzuki (鈴木 大拙 貞太郎)

As is well known, John Cage was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture in general. This led to a fascinating series of “renga pieces” based on the Japanese collaborative improv poetry form, renga (連歌).

Fu Nanihito Renga, an example of a 100-section / 100-artist renga form, 1525 A.D., Kanazawa-city collection (賦何人連歌、大永5年(1525)金沢市)

With beginnings in the time of the Man’yōshū (万葉集), c. 760 A.D., renga evolved into a very sophisticated game played by connoisseurs who used its 5-line stanzas in an interplay of group-improvised linked verses, exchanged among the members of a (usually sake-soaked) poetry party.

Renga paper of poet Nishiyama Sōin (西山宗因連歌懐紙)

Japanese poetry fiends took renga to remarkable heights of sophistication, defining an elaborate aesthetic of seasonal symbolism, pivot-stanzas referring to moon and cherry blossoms, and special gold-and-silver dusted papers of different shapes, sizes and colors to brush their poems onto whilst sipping from cups of sake brought to them sushi-boat-style by special garden streams constructed for this purpose.

Renga-kai (連歌会) is a new form extending rules based on some of the “renga pieces” of John Cage, and their unique transformations — not only of Japanese verse forms for alcohol-soaked group poetry improv, based on structures of 5 + 7 + 5 + 7 + 7 — but also of concepts like “duet”, “listening” and “time”.

Time displacement: Ø

It generates a game that, like go (碁), is rich in strategy despite relatively simple rules.

Time displacement: t-1

Time displacement: t-२

Expanding on game-like rules Cage developed for his luminous and serene “renga-pieces”, we use the 36-stanza kasen (歌仙) form of renga, re-imagining each 5-line stanza as a duet in 5-line musical units, each filled with 5 or 7 sound-events which replace the 5 or 7 syllables of the original poetic form.

Time displacement: t-三

Our renga-rules allow the players to create an interlinked joint control of fluid time, creating meditative, ever-shifting ripples in highly-focused 31-event sound-poems which will be uniquely different in each performance.

The 36-stanza the kasen form includes three “moon stanzas” and two “flower stanzas”, which will be interpreted by dancer Nan Busse.

Modern Renga Banquet at the Shusuitei in the Kyoto Imperial Park (連歌の会席〜京都御苑内の拾翠亭にて)

Modern Renga Banquet at the Shusuitei in the Kyoto Imperial Park (連歌の会席〜京都御苑内の拾翠亭にて)

And we’ll honor the renga tradition of alcohol-assisted creativity, by demarcating these sections with ceremonial libations (which may lead to some interesting musical results…).

The full ensemble:

Nancy Beckman

— Nancy Beckman (shakuhachi & percussion)

Nancy creates performance pieces, plays and teaches the shakuhachi, and performs with the Cornelius Cardew Choir. Her education includes an undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University, a master’s in interarts from SFSU and ordination to teach shakuhachi from Myōan-ji (明暗寺, the famous “Temple of Light & Darkness” of shakuhachi history) in Kyoto.

The Gate of Light & Darkness at Myōan-ji (明暗寺門)

The Gate of Light & Darkness at Myōan-ji (明暗寺門)

Tom Bickley and friend

Tom Bickley (Paetzold contrabass recorder, electronics/radios)

Tom Bickley (bio / site) composes electro-acoustic music, plays and teaches recorder, performs with Three Trapped Tigers (with recorder players David Barnett and Judy Linsenberg), co-founded and directs the Cornelius Cardew Choir, is a curator emeritus of the Meridian Gallery music series, and is on the Library Faculty (music, philosophy and political science) at CSU East Bay. His education includes degrees in music, theology, and library and information science and the Certificate in Deep Listening.

Rachel Condry

Rachel Condry (clarinets)

Rachel Condry is an Oakland based clarinetist, improviser, composer and educator.  Her work advocates for small sounds, lost or forgotten in the noisy drones of the modern soundscape.

Rachel’s musical interests span from pop to classical to free improvisation to acousmatic composition. She is often found collaborating with other disciplines such as art, poetry and dance.

She writes open scores and performs with the improvising quartet, Gestaltish who are preparing to release their first album. In 2005, Rachel made her Carnegie Hall debut with The Matt Small Chamber Ensemble, a group that blends jazz and classical approaches with free improvisation.  She’s also a founding member of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra with whom she has frequently been featured as a soloist, as well as the principal clarinetist of the Golden Gate Park Band, the oldest civic band in the nation.  Rachel holds an MFA from Mills College and a BA and BM from Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Patti Deuter performs Cage's "Four Walls" @ Berkeley Arts Festival

— Patti Deuter (piano, toy piano, radio)

Often found in Paris as well as California, ringleader of the original Satie/Cage Vexations at Berkeley Arts, and a student of Eliane Lust’s, Patti is an indefatigable macherin of the new music and piano scenes of the Bay Area.

From her studio-cottage nestled in the trees, where everything is keyed to one of four vibrant synesthetic colors (forming, I would say, a visual rootless 13th chord in second inversion… Scriabin would approve), passionate strains of Rzewski, Cage, Wolff, and other masters of 20th and 21st century piano escape to infuse the air.

Ben Kreith plays by the water, as the ancient masters of the Chinese gǔqín (古琴) zither did to sharpen their ears

— Ben Kreith (violin)

Violinist Benjamin Kreith has performed as a chamber musician, soloist and orchestra player throughout the US and Europe. He’s premiered solo works at the Strasbourg and Marseille festivals and performed as a guest artist with the Ying and Muir Quartets.

Ben helped to found the Ensemble CGAC in Santiago de Compostela, and has also performed with sfSound, Barcelona 216, and the Harvard Group for New Music. Recently he spent several years in Montana as a member of the Cascade Quartet and concertmaster of the Great Falls Symphony. He has taught at the Escola de Música de Barcelona and served as artist-in-residence at the University of California, Davis.

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

Joe Lasqo (MSP/laptop, piano, mṛdangam & solkaṭṭu)

Sangita Moskow

Sangita Moskow (sarod)

Sangita Moskow’s musical career reflects a personal global consciousness and delight in the wonderful variety of artistic expression.

Her sarod studies took place between 1969-1985 with classical North Indian maestro Ali Akbar Khan. Vocal training is a major component of classical Indian music study, and Sangita found herself combining vocals with the sarod early on.

Collaboration with Swiss clarinetist Hermann Bühler has inspired many compositions, some featured on their CD, Sojourn. Sojourn toured Europe for more than a decade and also received Swiss support for a 17-concert tour in Mexico.

Yakshi, the duo of Sangita & Mihai Manoliu, produced a CD of compositions and improvisations, preserving the rasa (रस, emotional power or “flavor”) of Indian rāgas via Manoliu’s use of modified tunings for the guitar to supply a harmonic underpinning for the sarod.

Planet Tree Music Festival producer/pianist/composer Lawrence Ball and Sangita duo-perform totally improvised music based on Indian rāgas, with the timbral overlaps of the sarod and piano providing a fertile ground. Their last performance occurred at the Planet Tree Music Festival at Pete Townsend’s studio on the outskirts of London.

Collaboration with electronic/ambient artist Robert Rich resulted in the CD Yearning, a combination of alāp (अलाप, unmetered free rhythm) on sarod with an electronic soundscape to create a unified field between Hindustani tradition and electronics; Yearning was voted a top CD for meditation and yoga by Yoga Journal.

Although primarily known as a sarodist, Sangita began her Indian studies as a percussionist on the North Indian classical tabla drums. She studied with Phil Ford, Pandit Shankar Ghosh (শংকর ঘোষ) and Zakir Hussain (زاكير حسين). She plays tabla with mandolinist Phil Lawrence and can be heard on the CD Mandolin Mandalas. Sangita played for a year in Lou Harrison’s gamelan orchestra at Mills College, and studied more gamelan in Bali. In 2010 Sangita began learning the bodhran, the drum that accompanies Irish music.

Not content with East-West synthesis, Sangita also pursues East-East synthesis, especially in combination with the Japanese shakuachi, performing with shakuhachist Stephen Ross in Hawaii, England, Europe and locally in a long musical collaboration. These Still Waters, Sangita’s CD collaboration with the late New York shakuhachi player Genji Itō (伊藤源次) is another wonderful example of Sangita’s East-East work and one of my personal favorites.

Among other collaborators too numerous to note in detail, ones which may be of particular interest to readers of this blog are: Tom Nunn, Polly Moller, Aurora Josephson, Karen Stackpole, Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, Genny Lim and Pan Asian Orchestra, Doug Carroll, and Guillermo Galindo, with whom she has given some stunning recent performances at Berkeley Arts Festival and the Chapel of the Chimes Garden of Memory.

Sangita’s received more than 10 awards for musical composition from the ASCAP Foundation as well as a Subito grant from the American Composers Forum.

Dean Santomieri at Berkeley Arts, 12 Aug 2011 (Photo by Neo Serafimidis)

Dean Santomieri (guitars & voice)

Dean Santomieri has been working with electronic music and musique concrète since 1971, as well as creating multi-image pieces, videos, and super-8 and 16mm films. Dean formed the electro-acoustic performing duo Donkey Boy in the 90s with Luther Bradfute, which employed live electronic music, slides or video, story-telling, costumes, and props in their many Bay Area performances. He’s collaborated with Joyce Todd to form the baroque performance group Theater of Memory, and also performed with Malcolm Mooney (the original singer with the German prog-rock group Can) & The 10th Planet, providing electronics and guitar. Dean formed a multi-media group with musicians Bruce Anderson, Karen Stackpole and David Kwan, for live performance of his short stories (narration accompanied by live music and video). This ensemble’s initial show, The Boy Beneath the Sea, was performed numerous times in the Bay Area, leading to his first CD release, followed by Crude Rotation and others.

More recently, Bay Area audiences have been captivated by Dean’s telepathic duo work with violinist and electronics maestra Thea Farhadian, and Dean will in fact have just returned from playing with Thea in Berlin for this show. I was highly honored to have Dean & Thea play in last spring’s Vexations [Re-vex’d] improv marathon as well.

Another notable collaboration to which Dean has recently added impressive ectoplasmic heft is the uniquely paranormal ensemble Ghost In The House, where his unclassifiable musical narratives show what happens when Ken Nordine’s word jazz meets Jung’s Red Book.

Jennifer Wilsey

— Jennifer Wilsey (percussion)

Improviser/composer/educator Jennifer Wilsey currently performs with improvising ensembles The Bloom Trio (with W. Allaudin Mathieu and George Marsh), Timeless Pulse (with Pauline Oliveros, Thomas Buckner, George Marsh, and David Wessel), and Gestaltish (Gretchen Jude, Rachel Condry, Jacob Peck). In addition to ongoing activities as a concert percussionist, Jennifer’s past projects included work with The Good Sound Band, Wrestling Worms, Petr Kotik and the S.E.M. Ensemble, Stuart Dempster, and Anna Halprin, among others. Jennifer’s recordings can be heard on the Deep Listening, Mutable, Cold Mountain Music, and Pitch-A-Tent labels.

She received her BA in Music from UC Santa Cruz and MFA in Improvisation from Mills College, and is a Deep Listening Certificate holder. As an educator, Jennifer teaches percussion, percussion pedagogy, and directs the Percussion and Improvisation Ensemble at Sonoma State University. At Mills College she teaches Advanced Musicianship while serving as the Musicianship Program Coordinator. She also maintains a private studio, offering creative music lessons in Santa Rosa and Oakland, California.

Nan Busse

— Nan Busse (dancer)

Nan Busse, performing with Bruce Ackley, Steve Adams, Nava Dunkelman, Joe Lasqo, Cheryl Leonard, and Thollem McDonas, Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Jan 2014

Nan Busse has been creating dance-based art works since receiving her MFA from UC-Irvine (“a long time ago…”). Collaborating with choreographer Christopher Beck, she made pieces performed at Centerspace (Project Artaud) and New College; and with her partner, poet Tobey Kaplan, participated in the Link inter-disciplinary performance series.

Emily Mizuno (L), Nan Busse (M), and Peggy De Coursey (R) prepare backstage for the performance of Nguyễn Dance Company at the Metropolitan Theatre in Hồ Chí Minh City, Việt Nam

Since about 1999 she has been unable to stop dancing – thanks to Yvonne Caldwell, Evelyn Thomas, Roger Dillahunty, Georgia OrtegaJohn Tanner, and the great Cassie Terman, and has toured in Việt Nam and the US with Nguyễn Dance Company. She works as an Education & Arts Therapist in the East Bay.

Set 2 (8:30pm): Eli Wallace Trio

Following the super-cooled lowercase-space of Renga-kai will be the Eli Wallace Trio, a monster trio of Eli Wallace (piano), Karl Evangelista (guitar), & Jon Arkin (drums) for some hot jazz.

The Eli Wallace trio combines a visceral and unfettered approach to improvisation within the framework of Eli’s original pieces. Influenced by language from free and post-bop jazz musicians, post jazz, and noise rock, the music pushes the element of spontaneous interaction to a new zenith, unpredictable yet cohesive. The birth of this group resulted from a casual jam session, one that burst with too much excitement and mirth to not produce a lasting relationship. Eli subsequently composed tunes as a vehicle to develop and hone their group sound and interplay, creating a diverse topography of musical landscapes that’s constantly evolving yet still firmly rooted.

The material in this show will be fresh from a recording session of these songs, such as Hedgehog and Bipartisan Discourse — great tunes which I had the pleasure of hearing this group perform recently at Mynah Music in Oakland.

Eli Wallace

Since moving to the Bay Area from New England not too long ago, pianist and composer Elli Wallace’s ebulliently energetic ideas and great chops have put him at the forefront of Bay Area jazz’s new generation of players.

Graduated from New England Conservatory, Boston, MA with a Master’s in Music (Jazz Composition) in 2011, Eli studied with Jason Moran, Jerry Bergonzi, Ken Schaphorst, Frank Carlberg, and Kati Agócs. After relocating to the Bay Area, he’s played with numerous musicians in all different genres of music from free improvisation, to straight ahead jazz, to rock/pop. Some of the groups with which he’s appeared include: Karl Evangelista’s Ai-Ai, Jim Ryan’s Virtual Assembly and Retro Blue, John Givens’ No Lovely Thing, and Bill Wolter’s Inner Ear Brigade. He also appeared on Dan Meinhardt’s first album Gone West, released in 2012.

His own recent project is a series of pieces composed specifically for solo piano that embraces his interest in jazz, improvisation, and contemporary avant-garde classical music; it culminates in a nuanced and complex combination of carefully notated passages intertwined with torrid and visceral guided improvisation. As a composer he has been commissioned to write music for jazz big band, solo piano, chamber orchestra, and dance performances; he was also awarded Honorable Mention after submitting his piece “Influx Rebellion?” to the EarShot Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings (in affiliation with Columbia University and the American Composers Orchestra).

Karl Evangelista

As well as organizing the incendiary Light a Fire Series, Filipino-American guitarist/composer Karl Evangelista ranks among a new wave of creative musicians grounded in jazz, 20th century experimentalism, and popular song, exploring the place of multiculturalism and ethnic co-existence in an increasingly post-cultural, trans-idiomatic cultural space. As the creative force behind boundary breaking group Grex, Evangelista has been called “essential current-and-future listening, his music “a near-seamless blend of modern jazz, contemporary structuralist composition, indie rock, and blues rock” (Tiny Mix Tapes). This complex, powerful aesthetic fosters an “otherworldly experience” that is “completely original” (Eugene Weekly).

Karl has explored the possibilities of intercultural dialogues across a vast spectrum of academic and professional situations. He’s worked in a wide variety of ensembles with or under the direction of, among others, e.g. Achyutan (Marvin Patillo), Scott Amendola, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), India Cooke, Fred Frith, Eddie Gale, Ben Goldberg, Matthew Goodheart, Phillip Greenlief, Darren Johnston, Lewis Jordan, Myra Melford, Hafez Modirzadeh (حافظ مدیرزاده), Bill Noertker, Zeena Parkins, John-Carlos Perea, Gino Robair, Daniel Schmidt, Marcus Shelby, Aram Shelton, David Slusser, Damon Smith, Karen Stackpole, Moe! Staiano, and AIR co-founder Francis Wong (王世明), and has performed in new arrangements of works by Luciano Chessa, Christian Jendreiko, Polly Moller, AACM co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams, and Art Ensemble of Chicago co-founder Roscoe Mitchell. Karl’s interest in fostering cross-cultural musical dialogues has also led to grant-based research (’08) on The Blue Notes, a group of South African exile musicians, multiple guest lectures at UC Berkeley, and continued work at the community-based East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.  Karl holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Improvised Music from Mills College.

Jon Arkin

Originally from the Boston area, Jon Arkin began his studies of music and percussion at an early age.  His experiences playing in local groups led him to the University of Miami School of Music, where he studied drum set performance and composition, and won several awards for his participation in the school’s top jazz combos.  After earning his degree in 1998, he relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area.  In addition to leading his own groups, he has been busy as an in-demand freelance musician with many notable local, national and international artists.  Spanning three decades, his list of recording credits includes dozens of albums and guest appearances in a wide variety of genres, as he maintains an active recording schedule as a studio musician.  He has also established himself as a noted educator, teaching unique classes, workshops, clinics and lessons to students in the Bay Area and elsewhere, and is a frequent faculty member of the Stanford Jazz Workshop and the Jazzschool in Berkeley.

His drumming style has been sought out as much for his versatility as for his uniqueness.  A believer in the power of listening, grooving, dynamic balance, and attunement, his collaborators attest to his ability to suit the music of the moment.

In addition to Eli and Karl, some of Jon has performed and/or recorded with:

Albino!, Michelle Amador, Wil Blades, Kenny Brooks, Matt Butler, Ian Carey, Bill Champlin, Eric Crystal, Spencer Day, Karl Denson, Terry Disley, Rachel Efron, Taylor Eigsti, Jon Evans, Barry Finnerty, Jesse Foster, Joe Gilman, Meklit Hadero, Fareed Haque, Steve Heckman, Matthew Charles Heulitt, Friday Jumbo, Kasey Knudsen, Julian Lage, Heather Lauren, Mark Levine, Vusi Mahlasela, Mitch Marcus, Frank Martin, Jeff Massanari, Justin Morell, Gene Perla, Randy Porter, Lee Presson, Realistic, Barry Ries, Jorge Santana, Adam Shulman, Alex Skolnick, Dayna Stephens, Stew & the Negro Problem, Ira Sullivan, Grady Tate, Leonard Thompson, Harvey Wainapel, Vince Wallace, Mike Zilber

Join us on a journey from super-cooled neogaku poetics to super-heated jazz that will leave you tingling.



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