Having many great memories from last year’s Sun Ra Friendly Galaxies event, also curated by Jan Michaels, I’m excited to again take part in C4NM’s 2015 jazz ancestor extravaganza, which is focused on the music of jazz great Ornette Coleman, who passed earlier this year.
I’m also keenly looking forward to playing Ornette’s music with this ensemble the next night at The Second Act, where ROVA Saxophone Quartet have designed a contrastive program featuring Ornette’s associates Steve Lacy and John Carter.
We’re presenting Ornette on shrooms in a new many-colored coat, with “heretical” instrumentation, weaving in psychotropic LED threads of laptop electronics, and the almost-never-heard-with-Ornette piano. To add to our Ornette instrumentation heresy — no reeds. A very fresh new sound with a new color scheme for tomorrow.
We’re taking as our starting point the unique and very untraditional Ornette bass-piano dialog pioneered in Lisle Ellis’ Downbeat ✰✰✰✰✰ album with Canadian pianist Paul Plimley, Kaleidoscopes – The Ornette Coleman Songbook — then adding in the searching, agile trumpet of Darren Johnston, the inimitable sensitivity and cymbal-work of master percussionist Donald Robinson, and a meta-body of electronic sound, vibrating energy sources, and sound-producing objects that will make new sonic colors flash across the night sky. The result is our new band, Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body.
Set 3: 9pm, Sun 25 Oct
+ Set 2: Aram Shelton’s Marches: 8pm
+ afternoon films on Ornette: 2:30pm matinée
Set 2: 8:30pm, Mon 26 Oct
+ Set 1: ROVA Saxophone Quartet: 7:30pm
☞ For discounted advance tickets on Show 2, click: here
Here’s some info on our crew, then details of each date and artists in other sets (Show 1 artist info, film program info, and Show 2 artist info, follow directly after Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body info — I will try to implement jump points).
◉ Lisle Ellis (bass)
Virtuoso bassist and computer musician Lisle Ellis is a veteran of 40+ recordings (including Down Beat ✰✰✰✰✰ The Ornette Coleman Songbook). Lisle has worked with Paul Bley, Peter Brötzmann, Andrew Cyrille, Anthony Davis, Ben Goldberg, Frank Gratowski, Joëlle Léandre, Rudresh Mahanthappa (ರುದ್ರೇಶ್ ಮಹಂತಪ್ಪ), Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), Myra Melford, Bob Ostertag, William Parker, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Stefano Scodanibbio, Cecil Taylor, William Winant, Pamela Z, and John Zorn, among many others.
Lisle Ellis’ long-term working relationship with Donald Robinson, in groupings such as the Glenn Spearman Trio, What We Live and various Biggi Vinkeloe bands, has created one of free jazz’s most subtly driving and telepathic rhythm sections, described as “the best bass-drums tag team on the scene” by Jazz Times, and this telepathy will be in full force in our shows…
◉ Darren Johnston (trumpet)
Trumpeter/composer/songwriter Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists. His interests rotate around composing instrumental music, writing songs, & performing all styles of jazz, experimental and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, and the Arab world. These interest coalesce in his primary current ensemble, Darren Johnston’s Broken Shadows. He’s performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Fred Frith, Meklit Hadero (መክሊት አየለ ሀዴሮ), ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Myra Melford, Ben Goldberg, Matt Wilson, Mark Dresser, Marshall Allen, Dave Rempis, Larry Ochs, Marcus Shelby, and others.
As a composer, Darren has written for small jazz groups, big bands, string quartet, chamber ensembles, dance companies such as Axis Dance, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Robert Moses’ Kin, Liss Fain Dance, and others, as well as for short films. In his recent song-writing Darren has focused on using found text to create lyrics. In 2012 he composed a suite, excerpting text from a series of interviews he conducted with a diverse collection of immigrants living in the Bay Area, called Songs Of Seven Miles. The following year he continued this technique by commissioning letters from immigrants who wrote either to their own selves at the time they first arrived in the US, as if they were able to send a message with insights and advice back through time, or to a beloved of their choosing back in their country of origin. He then set the resulting songs on an elementary-school class, 3 middle-school classes, a high-school choir, a collection of professional singers, a Bulgarian tupan drummer, and 6 horns, all using body-percussion and choreography, in order to form the Trans-Global People’s Chorus. Other projects as a band-leader include the award winning Nice Guy Trio, The Darren Johnston Quintet, and the category defying Broken Shadows, which mixes song-writing with musicians from jazz, classical, Balkan, and other musical communities.
◉ Donald Robinson (drums)
Master drummer Donald Robinson, whom Coda Magazine has described as a “percussion Dervish”, has numbered among his most notable collaborators Alan Silva, Anthony Braxton, Oliver Lake, Glenn Spearman, Larry Ochs, Cecil Taylor, Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, Bobby Few, Raphé Malik, Joe McPhee, John Tchicai, Marco Eneidi, Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), Paul Plimley & Matthew Goodheart.
Much of his work has seen him featured in the stellar rhythm section of Donald Robinson and bassist Lisle Ellis, especially including the band What We Live with Larry Ochs on saxophones, a trio that toured in Europe and North America from 1994 – 2002, sometimes with special guests such as Dave Douglas, Wadada Leo Smith or Kazakh vocalist Saadet Türköz (Саадет Туркёз). His longest musical association, dating from the 1970’s, was with the late tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman; these two appear on something close to a dozen CDs together in sextets, quintets, and quartets with several tours to Europe
After coming up in the hothouse of the Paris free jazz scene, Donald has been a stalwart of both the SF Bay Area and northern and central European avant-garde jazz scenes, frequently touring there with Biggi Vinkeloe and Larry Ochs.
It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to collaborate with Donald on various projects such as the Biggi Vinkeloe Roughtet, IBIM LAB, and the occasional quartet of Bruce Ackley – Lisle Ellis – Joe Lasqo – Donald Robinson.
◉ Joe Lasqo (keyboards | laptop | objects)
Pianist / laptopist Joe Lasqo studied classical music in India; computer/electronic music at MIT, Columbia, Berkeley/CNMAT; has been a long-time performing modern & avant jazz musician; & has lived, played and listened in several Asian and European countries (now in San Francisco). He’s keen on the application of artificial intelligence techniques to improvisation and the meeting of traditional Asian musics with the 21st century. His recent album, Turquoise Sessions, is available on Edgetone Records; with new releases planned in 2015.
Joe had a weekly residency for 3½ years+ in the afternoon piano series at Viracocha, and has appeared recently with Bruce Ackley and Steve Adams of ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Aaron Bennett’s Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra, Phillip Greenlief’s Orchesperry, his own Renga-kai (連歌会), Mukaiji-kai (霧海箎会), and Fushigi Kenkyūkai (不思議研究会) ensembles, synthesist Thomas Dimuzio, clarinetist/vocalist Beth Custer, pianist Thollem McDonas, percussionist Suki O’Kane, sound artists Joe Snape (UK) & Lucie Vítková (Czech Rep.), technodivas / electronic musicians Pamela Z & Viv Corringham (NYC/London) and many others.
◉ Bill Thibault (video)
Bill Thibault received a Ph.D. in Information & Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology (thesis: “Application of Binary Space Partitioning Trees to Geometric Modeling and Ray-Tracing”). As a Ph.D. candidate he worked at Bell Labs (now Lucent Technologies) in Murray Hill, NJ. After graduating, he took positions on the faculty of the Dept. of Math & Computer Science at California State University, East Bay and more recently, with Obscura Digital.
Somewhere along the way he also turned to the Multispectral Side and became the notorious VJLove, master of the doors of visual perception, and co-conspirator in many raids on reality, with partners in crime like Kattt Atchley, Kenneth Atchley, John Bischoff, Chris Brown, Barbara Golden, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Tim Perkis, and WIGBAND.
….For info on earlier afternoon Ornette Documentary Film program, see below
….For info on Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body, jump here.
….For info on our next night, with ROVA Saxophone Quartet, see below.
— John Ingle’s music is informed and influenced by contemporary concert music, improvised music, electronic music, jazz, Asian folk music traditions, & the blues and gospel of his native Southeast US. He collaborates with electronics innovator Laetitia Sonami, in duo with NYC-based composer/dulcimerist Dan Joseph and is a founding member of the sfSoundGroup. John’s solo sax music emphasizes multiphonics, vocal harmonics and subtle control of extended sax techniques, while his chamber music explores such musical parameters as spiral time, linear pulse, & non-linear harmony, and indulges in both simple resonance as well as complex timbre and auditory sleights-of-hand.
— Kjell Nordeson divides his time between Stockholm, San Francisco, and Southern California.
Together with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, he formed AALY Trio and has performed with Peter Brötzmann, Barry Guy, Ken Vandermark, Joe Morris, William Parker, Paul Rutherford, Gerry Hemingway, Frank Gratkowski, Stefano Scodanibbio, and many others. He also founded Co. Alba with choreographer Nathalie Ruiz.
Since 2004, Kjell has been active in the San Francisco Bay Area’s thriving community of free-improvised, experimental and new music, regularly playing with musicians Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin, Greg Goodman, George Cremaschi, Scott Looney, Damon Smith, John Ingle, Aram Shelton, Darren Johnston, Lisa Mezzacappa & many others.
The music of Marches is inspired by Albert Ayler & Sun Ra, and is guided by an aesthetic centered on simple tonal melodies and performers that bring energy to the music. It uses the instrumentation of the ensemble to create a distinct sound: combining the timbres of the saxophones and keyboards to make a lush and thick textured sound with intertwining parts propelled by the two drummer / one bass rhythm section.
— Aram Shelton performs on saxophone, clarinets, & live electronics. Based in Oakland, the projects Tonal Masher, Broken Trap Ensemble, Gold Age, & Ton Trio II, among many others, represent his music. His writing and playing has been documented through more than two dozen albums since 2003 and is grounded in and influenced by the rich history of avant-jazz & free improvisation in America. He’s performed in Europe, Canada and the US, including appearances at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, the Suoni per il Popolo Festival in Montreal, and the Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival.
A tireless curator and instigator of new, creative music throughout the Bay Area, and especially in Oakland, Aram’s events have long lit up the scene at The Uptown, Studio Grand, and other pioneering East Bay venues.
— Reeds player Cory Wright, has been involved in both the jazz and creative music worlds for the past 20 years, in New York, L.A., & in the San Francisco Bay Area. His recent projects reflect his interest in blurring the distinction between composed & improvised material and in combining the harmonious with the atonal, & groove with the arrhythmic. Cory has played in ensembles lead by Anthony Braxton, Vinny Golia, Eddie Gale, Adam Rudolph and Yusef Lateef (يوسف لطيف). He is currently a member of bay area groups Bristle, Wiener Kids, the Nathan Clevenger Group and the Oakland Active Orchestra, and leads his own projects Green Mitchell and the Cory Wright Outfit.
— Pianist Steve Blum’s influences include Western classical music, the jazz avant-garde, Indian classical music, and West African ensemble drumming. Steve’s played throughout L.A. and has toured the U.S., playing piano with stage productions & vocal harmony groups. He was music director and keyboardist for the infamous lounge singer “Tony Clifton” for a 5 month run at the Comedy Store in Hollywood in 2012. Steve is now in the Bay Area, where he works as an accompanist/instructor for Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland & music director for Sophia Rose Choir in Sebastopol.
— Safa Shokrai (صفاء شکری) is inspired by visual art, architecture, and movement, informing the color and tone of his work. He strives to create a performance experience in which the audience steps into a film, a world that has been fabricated and imagined, realized with sound and sight. He has toured with Rupa & The April Fishes, and leads some of the Bay Area’s finest musicians in his ensemble The Glasses, described as “step into your own noir film with our soundtrack”.
— Percussionist and composer Britt Ciampa attended the prestigious Jazz Studies program at William Paterson University, studying with such jazz luminaries as Mulgrew Miller, Rich Perry, Kevin Norton, Horacee Arnold, Steve LaSpina, and Cecil Bridgewater, and continued his studies at UCCS Colorado Springs where he studied with improvised music masters Jane Rigler, Glen Whitehead, and Randy Bowen. In 2013, Britt relocated to the Bay Area where he can be currently found lingering about the Bay Bridge and seeking out suspension bridge/seafood enthusiasts who might be interested in making music.
— Jordan Glenn spent his formative years in Oregon drawing cartoons, taking dance classes from his aunt, and putting on plays with his sisters. As he got older he began making movies with his friends and studying jazz, classical, and rock music. Later, he relocated to the Bay Area, received a masters degree from Mills College and since has worked closely with Fred Frith, William Winant, Zeena Parkins, Roscoe Mitchell, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Ben Goldberg, Todd Sickafoose, John Schott, Dominique Leone, Aaron Novik, Darren Johnston, Aram Shelton, Cory Wright, Lisa Mezzacappa, Karl Evangelista, Michael Coleman, Matthew Welch and the bands Jack O’ The Clock, Arts & Sciences, 20 Minute Loop (Facebook), Beep!, tUnE-yArDs, and the Oakland Active Orchestra. He also leads and conducts the project Mindless Thing, a collaboration with poet/free-jazzer/sage Jim Ryan, as well as the long standing trio Wiener Kids & the 10-piece expansion, The Wiener Kids Family Band.
◉ Afternoon films on Ornette: 2:30pm matinée, Sun 25 Oct
….For info on Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body, jump: here.
….For info on evening sets with John Ingle/Kjell Nordeson & Aram Shelton’s Marches: see above.
….For info on our next night, with ROVA Saxophone Quartet, see below.
Acclaimed documentaries, curated by Peter Esmonde, filmmaker of TRIMPIN: The Sound of Invention:
— Moffett, David, and Ornette (dir. Dick Fontaine )
These incisive documentaries show this unique innovator in a wide variety of performances, situations, and moods.
Shirley Clarke‘s 1985 Ornette: Made in America includes footage of Ornette Coleman performing in New York, Fort Worth, & Morocco, and includes interviews with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, Yoko Ono (小野洋子), William S. Burroughs, and many others.
Dick Fontaine’s 1966 short Moffett, David, and Ornette shows Charles Moffett, David Izenzon, & Ornette Coleman working through a frustrating recording session in Paris.
◉ Mon 26 Oct: ORNETTE, LACY, & POINTS BEYOND… @ The Second Act, SF, 1727 Haight St, SF (between Shrader & Cole – map), Set 2: 8:30pm: Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body
….For info on the previous night, with John Ingle/Kjell Nordeson & Aram Shelton’s Marches: see above.
….For info on previous afternoon’s Ornette Documentary Film program,see above.
….For info on Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body, jump: here.
Set 1: ROVA Saxophone Quartet, 7:30pm
ROVA will present a set of works largely by outside composers. In juxtaposition to Tomorrow Is The Meta-Body’s Ornette Coleman-inspired set, ROVA will perform compositions by Ornette associates Steve Lacy and John Carter, as well as a piece each by ROVA member Jon Raskin, and British composer John Butcher.
Soprano sax specialist Steve Lacy played regularly and shared ideas with trumpeter Don Cherry, one of Ornette’s longest standing collaborators. Lacy rehearsed and played with Ornette, and even traveled with his double quartet to Cincinnati in 1961 to perform Free Jazz. The concert never happened, but that’s another story. ROVA will perform a Steve Adams arrangement of Lacy’s Cliches.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer John Carter grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and was an early associate of Ornette’s. They both migrated to L.A., where John Carter settled, performing his brand of open jazz, and working as an educator. His approach to improvisation shared a lot with Ornette, especially in the early days, but his compositional sense developed quite differently. In the early 1990s, Carter wrote the monumental Colors for ROVA, who have recently reactivated this raging work for some upcoming retrospective performances.
ROVA Saxophone Quartet explore the synthesis of composition and collective improvisation, creating exciting, genre-bending music that challenges and inspires.
ROVA are one of the longest-standing groups in the music movement that has its roots in post-bop, free jazz, avant-rock, and 20th-century new music, and draw inspiration from the visual arts and from the traditional and popular music styles of Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.
In noting ROVA‘s innovative role in developing the all-saxophone ensemble as “a regular and conceptually wide-ranging unit,” The Penguin Guide To Jazz calls its music “a teeming cosmos of saxophone sounds” created by “deliberately eschewing conventional notions about swing [and] prodding at the boundaries of sound and space…” Likewise Jazz: The Rough Guide notes, “Highly inventive, eclectic and willing to experiment, Rova [is] arguably the most exciting of the saxophone quartets to emerge in the format’s late ’70s boom.”
Inspired by a broad spectrum of musical influences – from Charles Ives, Edgard Varèse, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis (Ιάννης Ξενάκης) and Morton Feldman to The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, John Coltrane, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman – ROVA began, in 1978, writing new material, touring, and recording, including early collaborations with such like-minded colleagues as guitarists Henry Kaiser and Fred Frith, and saxophonist John Zorn. Also in its early years, ROVA shared the stage in collaborations with fellow San Francisco based trailblazers Kronos Quartet and Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. A 1983 tour of the USSR and accompanying PBS documentary highlighted the first five years of Rova’s existence.
◉ Largely self-taught, Bruce Ackley studied saxophone briefly with Lee Hester and Noel Jewkes, and clarinet with Beth Custer and Ben Goldberg. Throughout the 1970s he was involved with the emerging free improvisation scene in San Francisco, and formed Sound Clinic with Lewis Jordan and George Sams in 1975. He began playing with Larry Ochs in 1973 and Jon Raskin in 1975, which led to the formation of ROVA Saxophone Quartet in the fall of 1977.
Since then Bruce has mainly devoted his musical life to his work with ROVA, with some notable side projects. In 1977 he performed and recorded with the quartet Twins, featuring John Zorn on reeds, and Eugene Chadbourne and Henry Kaiser on guitars. During the 1980s he played regularly with trombone-electronics wizard, Dino J.A. Deane and drummer Joseph Sabella. They formed Planet X in 1992, which performed extensively in the Bay Area and made a recording at that time. Bruce has also performed with the Italian bass virtuoso, Stefano Scodanibbio. In 1996 they performed together with koto-electronics player Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), and the brilliant cellist, Rohan de Saram, formerly of the Arditti String Quartet.
That year Bruce formed a trio to perform his more jazz-oriented original compositions, Actual Size, with George Cremaschi on bass and Garth Powell on drums. This led to the recording The Hearing by the Bruce Ackley Trio, featuring Joey Baron on Drums and Greg Cohen on bass, and released on the John Zorn-curated Japanese label Avant. During the late 1990s Bruce formed Frankenstein, a jazz repertory band that played the music of many of the forward-looking artists of the early ‘60s, particularly Grachan Moncur III, Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, and Jackie McLean—providing him an opportunity to dig into material that significantly impacted him during formative years.
◉ Fellow ROVA-ite 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 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 Ken’s swings to the West Coast, was formed in this period.
◉ Larry Ochs works on and breathes music. He composes. He plays saxophone. He looks for adventurous ideas to take on and for other artists – musicians and friends in other art mediums – to take them on with him.
Larry is primarily, but not only, found in the worlds of “avant-garde” or “improvised music” — but any artists in the visual arts or other performance-based arts that have an interest in taking chances are welcomed in. Thus, for example, he has worked recently with Shinichi Iova Koga (シンイチ・イオヴァ・コガ) and his dance group inkBoat; he is at the beginning of a relationship with We Players, a Bay Area theater company, and is into ongoing work with Korean performance artist and vocalist Dohee Lee (이도희).
Since 1978, Larry’s activities have been primarily centered around the ROVA Saxophone Quartet which has made over 35 European tours plus numerous concerts throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as recording over 30 CDs/LPs as a quartet and/or in collaboration with other artists. Larry has created roughly two dozen compositions for saxophone quartet as well as other pieces for ROVA in larger ensembles, many of which are recorded, and some of which were commissioned by Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation and Meet the Composer. He has been acting executive director of Rova:Arts since 1988.
In addition Larry currently composes for and leads Kihnoua with vocalist Dohee Lee (이도희), Scott Amendola and special guests; The Fictive Five with New York–based musicians Nate Wooley, Ken Filiano, Pascal Niggenkemper, Harris Eisenstadt; Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core with Scott Amendola, Donald Robinson, Satoko Fujii (藤井郷子), and Natsuki Tamura (田村夏樹). He also performs in and often composes for more “collective” bands such as: East-West Collective with Didier Petit, Sylvain Kassap, Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), Xu Fengxia (徐凤霞); Ochs-Robinson Duo with drummer Donald Robinson; Jones Jones – with Mark Dresser and Vladimir Tarasov (Владимир Тарасов); Maybe Monday with Miya Masaoka (正岡みや) and Fred Frith; Shelton-Ochs Quartet with Aram Shelton, Kjell Nordeson and Mark Dresser; and the Trio of Dave Rempis / Darren Johnston / Larry Ochs.
◉ Jon Raskin has been a member of ROVA Saxophone Quartet for 3 decades, exploring the relationship of improvisation and composition, developing and honing the language of ensemble music and researching linguistic possibilities of the saxophone.
Highlights of Rova founding member Jon’s early career include his ’70s participation in new music ensembles directed by composers John Adams and Barney Childs. Before ROVA, Jon served as music director of the Tumbleweed Dance Company, was a founding member of the Blue Dolphin Alternative Music Space, and participated in the creation of The Farm — an art project that included a city farm, a community garden, Ecology Center, Dance and Theater companies and organized the creation of a city park.
Highlights as a member of ROVA include composing a collaborative work for San Francisco Taiko Dojo (サンフランシスコ太鼓道場)/ROVA, working with Howard Martin on the installation work Occupancy, composing music for Mr. Bungle/ROVA, organizing the 30 year Anniversary Concert of John Coltrane’s Ascension, performing the music of Miles Davis at the Fillmore with Yo Miles!, the Glass Head project with inkboat and the ongoing Electric Ascension project.
Jon has worked and recorded with Liz Allbee, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, George Cremaschi, Fred Frith, Philip Gelb, Matthew Goodheart, Phillip Greenlief, Phillip Johnston, Henry Kaiser, Pauline Oliveros, Kanoko Nishi-Smith (西鹿乃子) Dana Reason, Gino Robair, Sam Rivers, John Shiurba, Wadada Leo Smith, Vladimir Tarasov (Владимир Тарасов), and poet Carla Harryman, among many others.
Experience the gems of Ornette Coleman’s songbook glowing under a brilliant new ultra-violet light — come vibrate with us at Center For New Music and The Second Act!