MSP/piano, trio w wind, voice & electronics virtuosi Beth Custer & Thomas Dimuzio (Sun 09 Nov @ SIMM Series, SF, 7:30pm) + Set 2: Art ↔ Jazz w Noertker’s Moxie, 8:30pm

Beth Custer - Joe Lasqo - Thomas Dimuzio

Beth Custer - Joe Lasqo - Thomas Dimuzio

Outsound: A New Sonic Collective for the 21st Century

I’m very excited to again join wind, voice and electronics virtuosi Beth Custer & Thomas Dimuzio at Outsound’s SIMM Series: 7:30pm, Sun 09 Nov (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.

I’m delighted as well to be playing with two of the Bay Area’s most unique and unclassifiable musicians, clarinetist, vocalist, and composer, Beth Custer, and synthesizer sifu (師傅) Thomas Dimuzio. We were all delighted earlier in the year at how well everything clicked when we played together to create a mysterious, beautiful sonic universe, and we’re looking forward to another space expedition.

A sequence of typical quantum eigenvectors for the quantum map (Nodal domain statistics for quantum chaotic maps, by J.P. Keating, J. Marklof and I.G. Williams, New J. Phys. 10 (2008) 083023)

We’re planning an evening of improv interplay that will splatter sonic possibilities all over the quantum map into alternate universes where our musical triangle can have many more than three vertices.

Putative SLE trace from an eigenfunction of the quantum map (Nodal domain statistics for quantum chaotic maps, by J.P. Keating, J. Marklof and I.G. Williams, New J. Phys. 10 (2008) 083023)

Beth Custer (Photo: Anne Hamersky)

Beth Custer is a San Francisco based composer, clarinetist, vocalist, bandleader, and the proprietor of BC Records.

An original member of the Club Foot Orchestra, a trailblazing ensemble who pioneered scoring and performing with silent films (Pandora’s Box, Sherlock Jr., Metropolis, etc.), Beth is also a founding member of the 4th-world ensemble Trance Mission, the trip-hop duo Eighty Mile Beach, and leads the quartet of esteemed jazz clarinetists Clarinet Thing, as well as The Beth Custer Ensemble. The Pacific Film Archive commissioned Beth to compose a live score for My Grandmother / ჩემი ბებია / Моя Бабушка, a rare Soviet film, which she toured internationally in Russia, Czech Republic, Ireland, and England, supported by Trust for Mutual Understanding and Mid Atlantic Arts Fund awards.

Beth Custer performs "For the Grace of Any Man" at the Red House Speak Easy, San Francisco, June 2012

She composes for theatre, film, dance, television, installations and the concert stage and has created scores for the contemporary chamber ensembles Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Zeitgeist, Earplay, City Winds, + Turtle Island and Kronos String Quartets; for the theatre productions of Campo Santo Theatre, Berkeley and San Diego Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, California Shakespeare, Overtone Industries, A Traveling Jewish Theatre, and Cornerstone Theatre; for dancers and troupes Joe Goode Performance Group, Flyaway Productions, Osseus Labyrinth, AXIS Dance Company, and butō (舞踏) masters Harupin Ha (ハルピン派), Koichi Tamano (玉野黄市) and Ledoh (レドー). Her score for JGPG’s The Maverick Strain, which won an Isadora Duncan Award, excerpts enjoyed a run at the Joyce Theater in NYC during April ’09.

Beth created KQED’s Independent View theme with her band Eighty Mile Beach and composed for CBS/Film Roman’s Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat with Club Foot Orchestra, as well as creating music for the films of Cathy Lee Crane, Melinda Stone, Betsy Bayha, Julie Wyman, George Spies, Karina Epperlein, Will Zavala, Peter MacCandless, and Koohan Paik (구한). Beth created four musicals with award winning writer Octavio Solis in LA & SF, and her collaborative scores with inventor and MacArthur Fellow Trimpin led her to compose Vinculum Symphony, a site-specific, large-scale work that unites chamber musicians with experimental instrument builders.

Stephen Kent and Beth Custer perform in the Sanctuary of Dawn at the Garden of Memory event, Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, 21 Jun 2012

Beth has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists including inventor Trimpin; artists Vladimir Kokolia and Billie Grace Lynn; musicians Stephen Kent, Fred Frith, Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), Joan Jeanrenaud, Amy Denio, Tin Hat, Tango № 9, Pamela Z, Will Bernard, Sex Mob, John Schott, Grassy Knoll, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Violent Femmes, J.A. Deane, the late, great Snakefinger, Greg Goodman, William Cepeda, Elaine Buckholtz, Mark Eitzel, Penelope Houston, Anna Homler, Ollin, and Connie Champagne.

She has over 35 recordings out with her ensembles Eighty Mile Beach, Clarinet Thing, Trance Mission, The Beth Custer Ensemble and Club Foot Orchestra.

Head LIght by Trance Mission (Beth Custer: clarinets/trumpet/voice, Stephen Kent: didjeridu/percussion/cello, John Loose: multi-ethnic drums/samples, Kenneth Newby: Asian winds/percussion/digital atmospheres)

With such a creative explosion, it’s very hard to pick particular jewels out of the box, but Beth’s pathbreaking work with Trance Mission holds special significance for me as a musician integrating non-Western and Western musics, and the sparkling, sensuous tracks of Head Light are a wonderful place to hear the most disparate of world-musical elements click together as if they’d been designed to from the start.

Thomas Dimuzio

Thomas Dimuzio is a composer, multi-instrumentalist & electronic musician, mastering engineer, sound designer, and label proprietor based in San Francisco.

Long regarded as a musical pioneer for his innovative use of live sampling and looping techniques to create compelling works, Thomas is a true sonic alchemist who can seemingly create music events out of almost anything. Listed sound sources on his various CDs include everything from ‘modified 10 speed bicycle’ and ‘resonating water pipe’ to short-wave radios, loops, feedback, samplers, and even normal instruments such as clarinet and trumpet, while his current work is facilitated by the deep expanses of modular synthesis.

His use of signal processing, custom crossfade looping, and algorithmic mixing fuels a synergy of man and machine in his live performances, while intercepted signal feeds from collaborators, wild sources of MIDI-controlled feedback, modular synthesizers, circuit-bent toys, or ambient microphones on the streets, become integrated as sound sources within his system of live interactive electronics, effortlessly moving from electroacoustic and noise to glitch, dark ambient, improv and drone.

Thomas Dimuzio

In his work as a sound designer, Thomas has worked with synthesizer and processor manufacturers such as Kurzweil, Lexicon, and OSC to create custom presets and sample libraries, and he has collaborated with Fred Frith, Tom Cora, and ROVA Saxophone Quartet to create sound libraries for Rarefaction and Big Fish Audio. Thomas also continues to play a key role in the development of Avid’s industry standard Pro Tools HD recording and mixing system, as he has for the past 20 years.

As a collaborator, Thomas works with numerous artists and ensembles such as Dimmer (with Joseph Hammer), Chris Cutler, Fred Frith, Dan Burke/Illusion of Safety, Nick Didkovsky, ISIS, Negativland, Arcane Device (David Lee Myers), Matmos, Wobbly (Jon Leidecker), Poptastic, 5uu’s, Tom Cora, Mickey Hart, Paul Haslinger, Arte Saxophone Quartett, Due Process, and Voice Of Eye.

Thomas Dimuzio

As a mastering engineer, Thomas has worked with independent artists and labels through his own Gench Studios since the early 1990’s. Among his clients are Matmos, Negativland, ISIS, AMM, Captain Ahab, Doctor Nerve, Psychic TV3, Xiu Xiu, Devin Hoff, GG Allin, KK Null (Kazuyuki Kishino / 岸野 一之), Joey P, Fred Frith, Scott Amendola, and many others.

Thomas Dimuzio’s recordings have been released internationally by ReR Megacorp, Asphodel, RRRecords, No Fun, Sonoris, Drone, Record Label Records, Odd Size, and other independent labels.

Album cover for Slew, by Thomas Dimuzio

Among his many gem-like albums, the one I’ve been listening to the most recently is the great Slew, a rich assortment of solo pieces that probe the facets of inter-dimensional sound space.

Joe Lasqo & Morgana perform w Jim Ryan's Green Alembic in the sfSoundSalonSeries at Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Apr 2014 (Photo by Carly Hoopes)

It’s my great pleasure and honor to join these eminent colleagues for your listening pleasure.

Set 2, 8:30pm: Noertker’s Moxie (Bill Noertker, Annelise Zamula, Dax Compise, Joshua Marshall)

Noertker's Moxie perform at SIMM Series (L → R): Joshua Marshall, Bill Noertker, Annelise Zamula. (Out of frame: Dax Compise; Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

Noertker's Moxie perform at SIMM Series (L → R): Joshua Marshall, Bill Noertker, Annelise Zamula. (Not pictured: Dax Compise; Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

We have the honor to share the bill with Noertker’s Moxie, the long-standing ensemble of bassist Bill Noertker, who comes to the show fresh from a recent triumph at the 2014 Outsound New Music Summit with his ensemble Obstreperous Doves (w Dave Mihaly, Nava Dunkelman, Karl Evangelista, and Christina Stanley).

Bill started out as a trombonist, then moved to the electric, and eventually, the acoustic, bass. In high school a teacher gave him Count Basie Jam: Montreux ’77, with Ray Brown on bass. Later that year, he heard Benny Goodman’s version of Sing Sing Sing while tripping on acid. These two events changed his perspective entirely, and he later became further de-tethered by dangerous levels of exposure to the music of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago tempered by the administration of cooling doses of Duke Ellington.

After studying with Putter Smith (…who also played assassin Mr. Kidd in the James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever) and Bobby Bradford, Bill moved to San Francisco and studied composition under Aldo Ryzy-Ryski and and bass with Mandy Flowers while a member of the experimental art rock band, Bardo, three of whose members, Bill, Annelise Zamula, and Dave Mihaly, later formed the After the End of the World Coretet. Bill and Annelise also later became the core of Noertker’s Moxie, for which Bill has composed 150+ pieces.

Kleiner blauer Teufel (Little Blue Devil), by Paul Klee

Kleiner blauer Teufel (Little Blue Devil), by Paul Klee

Ein weiterer Teufel... Bill Noertker (Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

Ein weiterer Teufel... Bill Noertker (Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

Bill has drawn on his travels in Europe — and an unusual working partnership with 20th-century artists like  Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, & Wassily Kandinsky (Василий Кандинский) — to create a large body of work that uses their paintings as a graphic seed for subtly surreal jazz compositions and suites such as the Blue Rider Suite, Sketches Of Catalonia, and Acrobats (a jazz ballet inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duineser Elegien).

Little Blue Devil — Blue Rider Suite, Vol. 2, by Noertker's Moxie

Little Blue Devil — Blue Rider Suite, Vol. 2, by Noertker's Moxie

A highlight of Noertker’s Moxie shows is usually such a trans-historical intermedia collaboration where one or more paintings of these European masters is paired with a composition inspired by it.

Noertker's Moxie perform at SIMM Series (L → R): Annelise Zamula, Bill Noertker, Joshua Marshall, w guest appearance by the painting of Paul Klee (Out of frame: Dax Compise)

Noertker's Moxie perform at SIMM Series (L → R): Annelise Zamula, Bill Noertker, Joshua Marshall, w guest appearance by the painting of Paul Klee (Out of frame: Dax Compise)

The surreaistic poetry of Ektor Kaknavatos (Έκτωρ Κακναβάτος)

The surreaistic poetry of Ektor Kaknavatos (Έκτωρ Κακναβάτος)

He’s also composed music for three films that showcase the intimately-scaled sculptures of David Beck, and composed the score for a film by Nikos Koumoundouros (Νικος Κουμουνδουρος), The Commandments or The Nostril of Ektor Kaknavatos (Οι εντολές, ἠ το ρουθούνι του Έκτορα Κακναβάτου), which was selected for the Short Film Corner at the prestigious Festival de Cannes 2010, and he’s now at work scoring the upcoming Olympia Stone film Curious Worlds: the Art and Imagination of David Beck.

Bill’s other ensembles and collaborations are far too numerous to list in full, including work with Jon Birdsong, Laurie Buenafe Krsmanovic, Brett Carson, Graham Connah, David Cooper, Rob Ewing, Annette Giesriegl, Motoko Honda (本田素子), Darren Johnston, Kasey Knudsen, Jason Levis, Tracy McMullen, Lisa Mezzacappa, David Slusser, Karen Stackpole, Greg Stephens, Strawberry Moon String Quartet, John Vaughn, and Eli Wallace.

For 14 years Bill has also collaborated with saxophonist & neo-joikist Rent Romus in Outsound Presents to produce the SIMM Series, our cozy host for this show.

Annelise Zamula (Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

Annelise Zamula (Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

Annelise Zamula started on flute at age 11 and picked up sax at 14 after falling in love with jazz. She studied classical flute with Wallace Mann, and, after moving to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music, with Matt Marvuglio.

In addition to being a founding member of the After the End of the World Coretet and Noertker’s Moxie, Annelise has performed with the Riffrats, Moodswing Orchestra, Montclair Women’s Big Band, Connie Champagne & Her Tiny Bubbles, Carwash, The Strayhorns, Golden Gate Park Band, the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet (BTMSQ), the Indigo Girls, and the Pat Graney Dance Company.

Annelise currently performs with Big Lou’s Dance Party, Noertker’s Moxie, and the Berkeley Saxophone Quartet, and is now in the studio with Bill Noertker, recording the soundtrack for Curious Worlds: the Art and Imagination of David Beck.

Dax Compise

Dax Compise

Drummer Dax Compise is one of the founding members of the California Outside Music Associates (COMA).

Dax has performed throughout the region in settings ranging from the symphony, to blues & jazz groups, to fully improvised percussion ensembles, and his creativity and command of trap set has led to him being great demand as a sideman.

Besides regular performances with COMA, he’s a key collaborator with the improv community in Sacramento, including upcoming recordings with Ross Hammond and Tony Passarell.

Josh Marshall

Joshua Marshall is an Oakland-based saxophonist and composer/improviser. His work involves architectural innovation, narrativity, advanced extended saxophone techniques, and live digital media. He’s studied with Pauline Oliveros, Evan Parker, Butch Rovan, I.M. Harjito, & Steve Adams of ROVA Saxophone Quartet. Joshua has worked with Opera Wolf, Ikue Mori (もりいくえ), Rent Romus’ Lords of Outland, Architect/Enchantress, Medium Sized Band, Josh Allen’s Deconstruction Orchestra, Key West, and Modest Machine. His amazing technique gives him relaxed command of cracked multi-phonics, exotic trills, and timbre tremolos, which he uses to superb effect.

Join us for some space yakitori and surrealism/jazz tapas among friends with these two special sets…

Joe

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MSP/piano, w UBU RA BIG BAND (Set 3, 8:45pm) ◉ Reconnaissance Fly (Set 1, 7pm) ◉ Electropoetic Coffee (Set 2, 8pm) ◉ Wed 12 Nov @ Center for New Music’s Friendly Galaxies Sun Ra event, SF

Sun Ra and friend, from the film Space Is The Place

Sun Ra and friend, from the film Space Is The Place

As many people are aware,this year is the 100th anniversary of Sun Ra’s arrival to planet Earth, giving rise to a wave of remembrance and RA-CONSCIOUSNESS washing over the the planet like a cosmo-vibrational meteor shower.

Yo, Morton Street!

Yo, Morton Street!

When CNM’s wonderful Jan Michaels put the Friendly Galaxies extravaganza together and asked me to organize a big band for it, I was very happy to accept, as I have many fond memories of Sun Ra shows from living in Philadelphia during the heyday of his Morton Street commune in Germantown, as well as some choice El Saturn records in homemade sleeves, that were pressed in handfulls and sold in the back at the shows in those days.

Sun Ra

Sun Ra

The Sun Ra Friendly Galaxies event will be at San Francisco’s focal-point new music incubator and venue, Center for New Music (55 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA – map), with our set at approx. 8:45pm on Wed 12 Nov. (Note: all set times below approximate; Examiner.com preview with more info about this show: here)

Bill Sebastian's Outerspace Visual Communicator in action

Bill Sebastian's Outerspace Visual Communicator in action

A wonderful, essential, feature of those Philly concerts was the Outerspace Visual Communicator, invented by Bill Sebastian. Controlled by a keyboard, this pioneering visual synthesizer was the perfect backdrop for the ecstatic music, poetry and dance of the Ra scene. We’re likewise very fortunate to have the video artisty of software virtuoso Warren Stringer to fulfill our needs for direct trans-asteroidal stimulation of the visual cortex. (John O’Shea will do likewise in Set 1).

My Way Is The Spaceways, by Sun Ra

My Way Is The Spaceways, by Sun Ra

“I think of myself as a complete mystery. To myself.”
Sun Ra, interview with Jennifer Rycenga (1988)

Mystic, space alien, musician, poet, afrofuturist, and mathematical philosopher, Sun Ra, who was obsessed with equations, was far too multi-dimensional a formula himself to “add up”. Many aspects of his life are known, many not, some deliberately obscured… with multiple versions of his first journey to Saturn in the 1930′s recorded in many places.

Space Is The Place, by Sun Ra

Space Is The Place, by Sun Ra

The more you find out about the details of his life, the more they seem simultaneously mysterious and mundane, as the important turning points seem not take place in the plane of human events…

John Cage Meets Sun Ra — a really weird record, even for these guys.. one of my favourites

John Cage Meets Sun Ra — a really weird record, even for these guys.. one of my favourites

… and not even the most outlandish assertions by Sun Ra can account for the superfluid transitions from outer-space to Fletcher Henderson that made you feel like you heard the entire history of jazz in one show (or one song).

Sun R

Sun Ra

We come not to explain therefore, but to celebrate, and shine with the mysterious beauty of the black Sun..

Sun Ra, cover from The Shadows Cast by Tomorrow

Sun Ra, cover from The Shadows Cast by Tomorrow

UBU RA BIG BAND

Assembled from the luminous gas remnants of the Beanbenders Supernova & other far corners of the universe, we travel through the sonic space of Sun Ra’s repertoire:

Steve Adams

Steve Adams – electronics (w possible wind instrument outbreaks)

Aaron Bennett

Aaron Bennett

Aaron Bennett – saxes

Myles Boisen

Myles Boisen – guitar

Phillip Greenlief

Phillip Greenlief – reeds

Percussion by any means necessary with John Hanes...

Percussion by any means necessary with John Hanes...

John Hanes – percussion

Joe Lasqo @ Meridian Gallery, 11 Jan 2012 (Photo: PeterBKaars.com, http://www.peterbkaars.com)

Joe Lasqo – keyboards/laptop

Lisa Mezzacappa

Lisa Mezzacappa – bass

Dan Plonsey performs at Temescal Arts Center

Dan Plonsey – reeds

Jon Raskin

Jon Raskin

Jon Raskin – reeds

David Slusser

David Slusser

David Slusser – reeds

Barbara Golden, the “Joan Rivers and Mae West of the Bay Area experimental music scene”

Barbara Golden, the “Joan Rivers and Mae West of the Bay Area experimental music scene"

Kattt Atchley

Space songtresses: Barbara Golden & Kattt Atchley

Nan Busse

Evangel King performs Bare Bones Crow against/with ancestor figures by Gillian Garro at The Garage, San Francisco, Sep 2009

Astro-Terspichorean dancers: Evangel King & Nan Busse

Warren Stringer

Video artist: Warren Stringer (Youtube, bio)

Set 1, 7pm: Reconnaissance Fly (Amanda Chaudhary: keyboard/electronics; Rich Lesnik: reeds; Polly Moller: voice, flutes, guitar; Larry the O: drums, and Tim Walters: bass/electronics)

Reconnaissance Fly

Reconnaissance Fly

We have the honor to share the bill with an astonishing band started a dozen years ago by Polly Moller, Reconnaissance Fly.

Through many kaleidoscopic changes of personnel and instrumentation, they’re now in one of their most vibrant electroacoustic forms ever, balancing twin analog/digital super beings Amanda Chaudhary (अमांडा चौधरी) and Tim Walters against the acoustic fire of reed wizard Rich Lesnik, the raw vocal & flute is-ness of Polly Moller, and the added inter-dimension of Larry the O. They will delight and amaze you with a mixed repertoire of original and Sun Ra sound adventures.

Polly Moller

Polly Moller

Polly Moller: voice, flute, bass flute, guitar, heat sink

The originator of the band and tea drinker, Polly Moller has a hard time resisting potatoes in all their myriad forms…

…with an emphasis on tasty multiphonics…

When composing for ensembles of other people and things, she makes sound-art rituals based on natural phenomena and the occult.

When composing for Reconnaissance Fly, she has difficulty keeping a piece the way she originally heard it.

Amanda Chaudhary (अमांडा चौधरी)

Amanda Chaudhary (अमांडा चौधरी)

Amanda Chaudhary (अमांडा चौधरी): keyboard, electronics

A brilliant elettronicista and keyboard player, Amanda is also a mistress of understated (and so all the more deadly) music theater and performance art in her duo Pitta of the Mind with poet Maw Shein Win, as well as a noted blogger writing on the multiverse-intersection of felines and voltage control at catsynth.com.

Larry the O

Larry the O

Larry the O: drums, percussion, odd commentary

“…it all runs together like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich you forgot in your pocket before doing the laundry. I guess I could just Google myself and find out…”

Rich Lesnick

Rich Lesnick

Rich Lesnik: clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone

Fiery, warm, wry, and often bizarre, Rich is not only a master of reeds but also a master builder of bicycle wheels at his business Hands On Wheels. Some of his heroes are (in this order): John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Che Guevara, Thich Nat Han.

Tim Walters

Tim Walters

Tim Walters: bass, computer

SuperCollider guru Tim Walters was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Mama used to dance for the money they’d throw. Papa would do whatever he could.

John O'Shea against a background of marigolds

John O'Shea against a background of marigolds

John O’Shea: video artist / illuminationist

“I am alive in San Francisco and a native Californian — working artist, Burning Man artist/volunteer, film maker, painter, stage manager”.

Also, not to be missed, in Set 2, approx. 8pm: Electropoetic Coffee (poet NSAA + guitarist Ross Hammond)

Electropoetic Coffee

Electropoetic Coffee

This wonderful duo has blown me off my feet with their totally-on, high-impact combination of poetry and music, and they’ll brilliantly carry forward the afrofuturist poetic tradition, which Sun Ra was such a vibrant part of, in our Friendly Galaxies event.

The blinding musical light of Sun Ra sometimes causes his impact as a 20th-century African American poet to be overlooked, but lyrics and poetic chant are integral to to a large portion of his vast book. And like Bob Dylan’s, they stand alone.

Who better to represent this bardic tradition than techno-griots Electropoetic Coffee?

“The new Dial-A-Poem format à la Burroughs/Anderson/Gyson…..BRING IT ON!!! “ – R. Foley, Chicago Hipster

Poet, NSAA (photo - Noel Neuburger)

Poet, NSAA (photo - Noel Neuburger)

Lawrence Dinkins a.k.a. NSAA (pronounced en-sah-ah), is a host at Mahogany Urban Poets, one of Sacramento’s oldest spoken word venues and a dynamic and expressive poet whose poems attack injustice and inhumanity. NSAA explores the African American experience, commenting on youth movements, musical rhythms, and social justice.

His first book, Sub American, is a collection of poems dealing with the concept of being a hyphenated American. In the book he explores a broad range of topics, ranging from President Bush+ Hurricane Katrina to the Civil Rights Movement.

NSAA is also the author/editor of Open Mic Sketchbook (2013) and released two spoken word CD’s, Lightning in a Bottle 1 (2009) and Lightning in a Bottle 2: NSAA’s Revenge (2013).

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, Berkeley and points beyond.

Why indeed?

Why indeed?

Come vibrate with us in our meteor shower of RA-CONSCIOUSNESS on this special night (the night of the landing of the Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko…!)

Joe

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—— Past Performances ——————————————————

Note: Shows, releases, and other events below are only in approximate chronological order.

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MSP/Piano+: w Transbay Multimedia Consort for British NY-based avant vocalist | sound artist Viv Corringham’s 2014 NorCal Tour, 08-19 Oct — CCRMA • Luggage Store • Berkeley Arts Festival • Second Act • The Nunnery

Viv Corringham

I’m very excited to be joining British NY-based avant vocalist & sound artist Viv Corringham for her NorCal tour! I had a wonderful time playing with her and percussionist extraordinaire Suki O’Kane last year and I’m really looking forward to playing together again.

This time I’ll join Viv as part of an expanded Transbay multimedia consort of Deep Listening practitioners and neogaku kaiju (with Nancy Beckman, Tom Bickley, Nan Busse, Ron Heglin, Jon Myers, Suki O’Kane, Bill Thibault, and Jennifer Wilsey in various of the shows)

Programs may include various types of improv games based on sonic grammars, deviant sample-melting, mnemo-narrative field recordings, and an intermedia moiré of words, utterance, sound, motion, memory, image & music.

The tour has 5 Bay Area dates. Immediately below is a list of these, followed by info on Viv and our crew, then details of each date adding info about the venues and other acts.

Viv Corringham (R) & Andrea Parkins (L) performing at Douglass Street Music Collective, NYC, 13 Aug 2013

Viv Corringham Bay Area Tour Dates (we’re the final set in all cases)

Wed 08 Oct: CCRMA, Stanford (w Beckman, Bickley, Busse, Lasqo, Myers, Thibault). [jump to other acts & show time-place specifics | read on for VC Consort info]

— Set 1: Tom Duff & his Wire Machine

Thu 09 Oct: Luggage Store Gallery, SF (w Beckman, Bickley, Busse, Lasqo, O’Kane, Thibault, Wilsey) [jump to other acts & show time-place specifics | read on for VC Consort info]

— Ongoing vibratory art installation: David Gurman

— Set 1: Bryan Day, [ruidobello] (Jorge Bachmann), Mason Jones & Michael Gendreau

Fri 10 Oct: Berkeley Arts Festival (w Beckman, Bickley, Heglin, Lasqo, Thibault, Wilsey) [jump to other acts & show time-place specifics | read on for VC Consort info]

— Set Ø: Metropolitan Butoh (都風舞踏) (Molly Barrons, Ronnie Baker, Christina Braun, Martha Matsuda)

— Set 1: Henry Kuntz & Envision Ensemble (Brian Godchaux, John Kuntz, Esten Lindgren, Dan Plonsey)

Sat 18 Oct: FogRaiser @ Second Act, SF (w Beckman, Bickley, Busse, Lasqo, O’Kane, Thibault, Wilsey) [jump to other acts & show time-place specifics | read on for VC Consort info]

— Set 1: Carolyn Fok | Set 2: Matt Dean | Set 3: Jack Hertz & rizorkestra

Sun 19 Oct (afternoon): The Nunnery, SF (w Beckman, Bickley, Busse, Lasqo, Wilsey) [jump to other acts & show time-place specifics | read on for VC Consort info]

— Set 1: Kattt Atchley & Ron Heglin

Details for each show follow below.

Steve Smoliar’s preview of our SF shows at Examiner.com: here

(L → R) John Bisset, Viv Corringham, David Leahy, & Alison Blunt perform on the BBC's Jazz on 3 - Sound of Cinema

Viv Corringham has worked internationally since the early 80s, creating music performances, audio installations & soundwalks, using as her tools a gorgeous voice, a wide-open imagination, field recordings, and live electronics.

For a taste, click below to experience her multi-media collaboration with Elio Martusciello:

Viv Corringham's Soniferous Garden, Walker Art Center, MN, Jul 2013 - An aural expedition guide for World Listening Day

She’s interested in exploring people’s special relationship with familiar places and how that links to an interior landscape of personal history, memory and association.

Viv Corringham

Her ongoing project Shadow-Walks has been presented in gallery shows from New York to Istanbul to Hong Kong:

Viv Corringham's Shadow-Walks

“In the Shadow-walks project I go to places and ask local people to take me on walks that are special for them in some way.  I record our conversations as we walk together.  Later I retrace the person’s walk on my own and attempt to “sing the walk” through vocal improvisations. These recordings are edited together to make the final sound piece. I also collect any objects I find on the person’s route.”

For an example of the multi-media convergence of walking, song and remembrance, see her evocative commemoration of collaboration with late British thaumaturge and percussionist Paul Burwell, Together Then Created A Journey That Both Forgot:

Viv’s wonderful recent album of shadow-walks from 3 continents, Walking, will be available at these shows. Viv is a maestra of blending strongly place-evoking field recordings with cozy/haunting vocal lines of uncommon beauty and invention. This album of shadow-walks is the place to hear the amazing results.

Viv Corringham's brilliant new album, Walking

Not limited to roaming physical space, Viv’s travels extend to virtual space, including the notable Avatar Orchestra Metaverse project, meeting regularly with Pauline Oliveros and other happy mutants to play audio-visual instruments in Second Life.

Zonzo Spyker (Viv Corringham) performing in Avatar Orchestra Metaverse

Viv’s training and awards include an MA in Sonic Art with Distinction from Middlesex University & a BA in Theatre Design from Nottingham Trent University. She’s a certified teacher of Deep Listening, having studied with Pauline Oliveros. Viv is a 2012 and 2006 McKnight Composer Fellow; other grants and awards have come from Jerome Meet the Composer, the English & Irish Arts Councils, Jazz Services, Millennium Funding, London Arts Board, Chisenhale Awards, and others.

Joe Lasqo @ Meridian Gallery, 11 Jan 2012 (Photo: PeterBKaars.com, http://www.peterbkaars.com)

It is my honor and pleasure to join Viv and her multimedia consort in these performances. The following performers will join the consort on different dates:

Nancy Beckman

◉ Nancy Beckman (shakuhachi)

Nancy Beckman 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)

Tom Bickley and friend

◉ Tom Bickley (Paetzold contrabass recorder | EWI wind synth | objects)

Tom Bickley (bio / site) composes electro-acoustic music, plays and teaches recorder, performs with Three Trapped Tigers (with recorder player David Barnett), 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.

Nan Busse

◉ Nan Busse (dance | didgeridoo)

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

Since about 1999 she’s been unable to stop dancing – thanks to Yvonne Caldwell, Evelyn Thomas, Roger Dillahunty, Georgia Ortega, John Tanner, and the great Cassie Terman, and has toured in Việt Nam and the US with Nguyễn Dance Company.

Originally trained as a musician (piano), Nan’s increasing engagement with the didgeridoo, as both an instrument and dance partner, has led to some wonderful collaborations where she executes her part at all points on the spectrum between sound and movement.

Ron Heglin (photo - Joel Deuter)

◉ Ron Heglin (trombone | tuba | voice)

Ron Heglin is a low-brassist and vocalist working with extended technique on the trombone and with spoken and sung imaginary languages. His voicing has been influenced by his study of North Indian vocal music. He works both compositionally and in an improvisational mode. He has been a member of the Bay Area music context for over 25 years and has performed internationally.

Joe Lasqo & Morgana perform w Jim Ryan's Green Alembic in the sfSoundSalonSeries at Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Apr 2014 (Photo by Carly Hoopes)

◉ Joe Lasqo (laptop | piano | objects)

Laptopist/pianist Joe Lasqo studied classical music in India; computer music at MIT, Columbia, Berkeley/CNMAT; has been a long-time avant jazz musician; & has lived, played & listened in many East Asian and European countries (now in SF).

Special interests include applying AI techniques from expert systems, natural language processing, and computational linguistics to music; and the intersection of traditional Asian musics with modernism.

Joe is a regular member of Aaron Bennett’s Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra, Donald Robinson’s IBIM LAB, and Jim Ryan’s Green Alembic, as well as his own Renga-kai (連歌会) Ensemble, and looks forward to upcoming releases with Thomas Dimuzio, Beth Custer, and Biggi Vinkeloe.

Jon Myers

◉ Jon Myers (percussion)

Jon Myers is a composer & percussionist from Boston, MA interested in fractal and cyclic forms. He plays in various traditional and contemporary contexts from jazz and Javanese gamelan to new music chamber and percussion ensembles in addition to performing with radio-feedback instruments and computer programs of his own devising.  He is currently studying composition at Mills College in Oakland, CA. His composition Mobile was premiered in Oct 2013 at the Berkeley CNMAT.

Suki O'Kane

◉ Suki O’Kane (percussion)

Suki O’Kane is a classically trained mallet percussionist, a composer and an instigator working with artists from a wide array of of music, movement & public art genres. One of the founding members of the lo-fi sampling ensemble The Noodles (w Michael Zelner), Suki plays percussion with Moe! Staiano’s Moe!kestra!, Dan Plonsey’s Daniel Popsicle, Big City Orchestra and is an ensemble member of Thingamajigs, performing new works by Edward Schocker, Dylan Bolles and Zachary James Watkins.

She works in partnership with House of Zoka, a live recording project that has documented over 13 years of creative new music in the Bay Area, & since 2003 has been curating performances of live music and film, such as The Illuminated Corridor, a nomadic public art project that creates streetscapes of live experimental music and performative projection and Music by the Eyeful, the indoor performance series exploring the work of intermedia artists.

The 4 heads of Bill Thibault depicted as video Brahmā (ब्रह्मा)

◉ 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. Upon graduation, he took his current position on the faculty of the Dept. of Math & Computer Science at California State University, East Bay.

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.

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 Pek).

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.

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Wed 08 Oct, 9pm: CCRMA, Stanford.

We’re keenly looking forward to play at the South Bay’s floating city of computer music, whose brilliant composers and music technologists are always on the leading edge of projects such as telematic performance, reproducing the hyper-prolonged delay of the Hagia Sophia to perform Byzantine music designed for a space a half-planet away, mustering massive laptop-orchestras, gamifying music, 3D-printing mutated daxophonic attachments, and sonifying tomatoes.

CCRMA is housed in The Knoll, 660 Lomita Dr., Stanford, CA 94305 (map, transport, directions)

Viv Corringham

Set 2, 9pm: Viv Corringham with Nancy Beckman, Tom Bickley, Nan Busse, Joe Lasqo, Jon Myers, and Bill Thibault (jump to Viv Corringham tour info)

Tom Duff burning the midnight photons

— Set 1: Tom Duff & his Wire Machine: Lucier, Golomb, Gray (8pm)

In a rare appearance, Bay Area master Tom Duff will install and perform/operate his Wire Machine, which takes Alvin Lucier’s seminal composition/installation Music on a Long Thin Wire and runs with it.

Alvin Lucier behind the horseshoe magnet used to induce vibrations to the wire (photo: Lon Holmberg, design: Patrick Vitacco, from LP Cover of Alvin Lucier's Music on a Long Thin Wire, Lovely Music)

Almost 40 years ago, new music explorer Alvin Lucier designed and assembled an embodied musical process from a long wire, clamps, tables, speakers, an amp, an oscillator, microphones, and a powerful magnet.

Tom Duff performs on the Wired Machine @ Battery Townsley, Marin Headlands, as part of the Soundwave (5) festival, 05 Aug 2012

Impresario, master of digital graphics & electronic sound art, and creator of Duff’s Device, Tom Duff has re-imagined, re-realized, and radicalized this original scenario on various occasions, e.g. the notorious 5-day performance on sfSoundRadio in 2011 and the site-specific realization for the Soundwave (5) festival at Battery Townsley in the Marin Headlands in 2012.

Tom will use his expanded version of Lucier’s kit to perform his piece Lucier, Golomb, Gray, exploring the effects of useful information encoding schemes on a vibrating electromechanical system and its listeners. (Those who are familiar with these encoding schemes will enjoy the dry wit of the score).

With or without such arcane knowledge, you won’t know what hit you, but your chakras will be thoroughly cleansed (losslessly, and without spurious outputs). Listen if you dare…

Tom Duff

Tom’s early musical life involved studying electronic music under Sam Dolin and Ann Southam at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in the 1960s.

Nowadays he composes, sings in the Cardew Choir, and plays banjo, ukelele, electronics, and home-built instruments.

Tom Duff gave life to the title role in Gino Robair's opera, "I, Norton"

Tom is notorious for many things, not the least of which are his many performances in the title role as Emperor Norton in Gino Robair’s opera I, Norton

…and Bay Area lovers of new music are heavily indebted to him for 15 years+ of superb new music concert series in the East Bay, including his ongoing Tom’s Place (calendar) house concert series, his role in organizing the annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, and his irregular (some would say, quite irregular…) Transbay Skronkathons.

Outside of sorting out the new music force field of the Bay Area, Tom finds time to also be a super graphics programming badass at Pixar (and before, Lucasfilm), where his adventures have led to multiple patents and a couple of Academy Awards.

Glenda, the Plan 9 Bunny, is the evil creation of Renée French for the purposes of total and utter world domination as part of the Plan 9 from Bell Labs

Prior to terrorizing the West Coast, Tom bent technology space at Bell Labs where he did graphics, networking, and authored the “rc” shell for v10 (the last “Research UNIX”), before being assimilated into the dark ops of the Bell Labs Plan 9 project, where he wrote the Mothra browser, Plan 9′s counterpart to Netscape’s Mozilla.

To those astonished by Tom’s ability to juggle being a thought-leader in both musical and technology fields, he might reply with a characteristic aphorism: “It’s not that kind of zero”.

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Outsound: A New Sonic Collective for the 21st Century

Thu 09 Oct, 9pm: Outsound Presents’ Luggage Store Gallery Series, 1007 Market St. @ 6th Street, San Francisco (map)

Luggage Store Gallery - Doorway to the beyond...

Outsound Presents fantastic series @ the Luggage Store Gallery has been a home away from home for avant-garde sound artists both local and international for many years, as well as offering the unique chance to dialog with the superb art exhibitions curated there by Laurie Lazer & Darryl Smith.

A reflected conflict zone from Reflector, by David Gurman

We’re especially looking forward to a multimedia conversation with the current installation, Reflector, by co-founder of MAPPR, TED Fellow, and data artist David Gurman, internationally recognized for using real time data and citizen reportage from conflict zones to drive kinetic art installations. His “real-time memorials” bring events we usually only hear about directly into the same space as our bodies.

Here the 4½ foot inner circle of each installation unit is a sightly concave bowl half-filled with water. A pad on the outer circle allows the viewer to select from various political or eco conflict zones and transmit the real time seismic signals from that conflict zone to the concave bowl, causing ripples and sometimes even the water jumping up (it turns out that artillery fire in Syria is well detected by seismic sensors).

Viv Corringham

— Set 2, 9pm: Viv Corringham with Nancy Beckman, Tom Bickley, Nan Busse, Joe Lasqo, Suki O’Kane, Bill Thibault, and Jennifer Wilsey (jump to Viv Corringham tour info)

CERN particle-boffin running to Luggage Store meeting….

— Set 1Bryan Day + Michael Gendreau + Mason Jones + [ruidobello] (Jorge Bachmann):  (8pm)

Particle-boffins are urgently meeting at CERN to determine the quantum implications of the unification of these four sonic forces. The dark energy that powers the universe’s expansion may be found to center on the coordinates of the Luggage Store when they simultaneously converge.

Bryan Day performs in the Active Music Series @ The Uptown, Oakland, 11 Jun 2013 (photo - John Scharpen)

Bryan Day is a improviser, instrument inventor, illustrator & installation artist based in Richmond, CA. His work involves combining elements of the natural and man-made world using field recordings, custom audio generation software and homemade instruments. Bryan’s work explores the parallels between the patterns and systems in nature to those in contemporary society.

Bryan Day

Bryan has toured throughout the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, Argentina & Mexico, performing both solo as Sistrum and Eloine, and in the Shelf Life and Seeded Plain ensembles, as well as with innumerable collaborators.

Bryan Day's kit reflects his sound universe (photo - John Scharpen)

Since 1997 he has been running the new music label Public Eyesore and its sister label Eh?. Through Public Eyesore and Eh?, Bryan has produced and released over 200 albums of improvised and experimental music by artists from all over the globe, in addition to co-curating the music series at Meridian Gallery in San Francisco.

Michael Gendreau

Michael Gendreau has composed and performed solo, as well as in several group configurations, since 1979. His former group Crawling With Tarts (1983 – 1998) used ideas revolving around elementalism and pre-language states. Michael has elaborated on these ideas while adding concepts based on his studies in physics, philosophies attending to temporal and environmental persistence, applications of parataxis, and experiments with small motors and turntable mechanisms. His performances have involved sounds from one-off transcription discs cast by others in the middle of the last century, and those cut in his studio using a decrepit lathe.

More recently, Michael has sought to extend these later studies, and to use buildings as speakers. He records the infrasonic vibrations of the performance space and in the concert, and he uses the structure’s resonances as an additional instrument in his site-specific compositions. These practices are based in part on his current work as an acoustician, working primarily on low-vibration and noise design for buildings.

Mason Jones

VP of Engineering at Womply & co-founder of FinderLabs, Mason Jones has worked at startups around San Francisco such RPX, SingleFeed, BlackArrow, DHAP, Nickelodeon Online, etc. for over 20 years, building products and leading engineering teams.

In his other life, he’s a musician, primarily a guitarist. Mason started the band SubArachnoid Space, and his current project is Numinous Eye. As well as releasing many solo/collaborative albums, Mason founded the Charnel Music label in the early 90s and put out records by bands like Crash Worship, Pain Teens, Gravitar, Fushitsusha (不失者), and Mainliner. Mason has written extensively about Japan’s independent music scene and for Dusted magazine.

Jorge Bachmann (aka Ruidobello)

Sculptor, electronics master, photographer, and engineer [ruidobello] (Jorge Bachmann) is a multi-disciplinary, mixed-media and sound artist. Since the early 80s, Jorge has been exploring the strange, unique and microcosmic sounds of everyday life, collecting field recordings. The sound atmospheres created are meant for deep listening and are composed in symbiosis with the sculptural installations.

He creates equally sensual and detailed oriented photo-based work; and his art explores social and sensual constructs and experiences.

Starting his career in Bogotá, Colombia and then active for a long period in Lausanne, Switzerland, Jorge eventually relocated to the Bay Area and has become a technical and artistic mainstay of MEDIATE’s Soundwave Series as well as the Engineer Scotty of the Starship SFEMF, somehow finding time to regular give solo electronic concerts like his recent brilliant one at The Lab.

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Fri 10 Oct, 9:15pm: Berkeley Arts Festival (2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA – map)

Another opportunity to play at the East Bay’s indispensable focal point for new music, Berkeley Arts Festival, is always welcome!

— Set 2, 9:15pm: Viv Corringham with Nancy Beckman, Tom Bickley, Ron Heglin, Joe Lasqo, Bill Thibault, and Jennifer Wilsey (jump to Viv Corringham tour info)

Martha Matsuda performing (image - Doug Slater / Doug Slater Photography)

— Set Ø: Metropolitan Butoh (都風舞踏) (Molly Barrons, Ronnie Baker, Christina Braun, Martha Matsuda) (8pm)

Following our Aug experiment in using the large bay windows as go-go cages for avant-dance, we repeat the dance opener format w Metropolitan Butoh (都風舞踏), a group of veteran Bay Area butoh performers of the Tamano School who’ve collaborated since 2004.

Butoh came to the United States with the arrival in Berkeley in 1978 of Kōichi & Hiroko Tamano (玉野黄市 & 玉野弘子). Kōichi was the protégé of butoh’s co-founder, Tatsumi Hijikata (土方巽), and the Tamanos have maintained Hijikata’s legacy in California via their butoh company, Harupin-Ha (ハルピン派, “The Harbin Faction”).

Kōichi Tamano (玉野黄市) of Harupin-Ha (ハルピン派)

Hijikata used a type of layered imagery, much like poetry, that he called Fu (譜, a word that can also mean music notation). Metropolitan Butoh, whose members have studied and worked w Harupin-Ha, use this method to generate imagery, creating the movement for their performances.

Mission Fu (ミッション譜) is the title of our ongoing exploration of images from the urban landscape, in the Mission District, Oakland, Detroit and other cities where have lived. We comment on the breakdown of human contact as society gets increasingly pulled into machines, the perversion of greed and the effects of homelessness, addiction and poverty. We generate work that speaks to social justice issues in a non-narrative way; it is imagery born from the streets we walk. For the Berkeley Arts Festival, we will engage with the local landscape to create time-based art; a Berkeley Fu (バークレー譜).”

Molly Barrons

Molly Barrons is from Detroit. She received her B.A. in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College. She created Metropolitan Butoh as a vehicle for training, performance and community, and for many years co-produced the San Francisco Butoh Festival with Brechin Flournoy.

Ronnie Baker performing

Ronnie Baker, a student of Kōichi and Hiroko Tamano (玉野黄市 & 玉野弘子), has been training and dancing Butoh since 2000. He has been involved in the performing arts, since the early 1990′s. He has performed in the US and Japan.

Ronnie Baker performing

In addition to butoh, his background experiences include static trapeze, Spanish web, hand-balancing, some contortion with a circus community in Atlanta, and capoeira, Currently, he trains and dances ballet with Monique Goldwater Ballet.

Christina Braun

Lifelong dancer Christina Braun’s choreography with collaborating composers has been presented regularly since 2002.  At SF Butoh LAB and with BUTOH San Francisco, she has produced Butoh Dance symposia, performances, workshops, and festivals.

Martha Matsuda performing (photo - Patrick Darme)

Martha Matsuda fell in love with butoh in 1994, the first time she was exposed to its magic. Martha is grateful for having been able to train with some of the finest butoh masters in the world and has performed in several ensembles — Metropolitan Butoh, SF Butoh Lab, and with Kōichi and Hiroko Tamano-san’s Harupin-Ha Butoh Dance Company.  She has performed at many indoor and outdoor Bay Area venues, in Mexico, and New York City.

Henry Kuntz in leopard mask

— Set 1: Henry Kuntz & Envision Ensemble (Brian Godchaux, John Kuntz, Esten Lindgren, Dan Plonsey) (8:20pm)

A second rare appearance by a daring pioneer of joyously unbounded, infinitely free jazz. Response was so enthusiastic for Henry’s 27 Aug show with the new Envision Ensemble, we had to bring them back fast!

Henry Kuntz has blazed many trails in realizing the intersection of world musics (esp. from Latin America and Indonesia), in a ritualistic & shamanistic quest for joy and sonic freedom located in a “festival time” outside of clock time. Henry’s also a pioneer of multi-tracking as a method of generating “asynchronously synchronistic” improvisations beyond the boundaries of time and intention.

Opeye Quintet, forerunner of Envision Ensemble (L → R- Esten Lindgren, Brian Godchaux, Ben Lindgren, John Kuntz, Henry Kuntz)

The Envision Ensemble (an outgrowth of the earlier OPEYE Orchestra and OPEYE Quintet) moves toward an advanced improv archetype, one in which multiple independent events may occur while the musicians simultaneously create an experiential musical whole.

Line-up:

— Henry Kuntz: sax, violins, gamelan, percussion, ringleader

— Brian Godchaux: violin, viola, mandolin

— John Kuntz: ukulele, guitar, mandolin, percussion

— Esten Lindgren: contrabass, pocket trumpet

— The mathematically impossible Dan Plonsey: reeds

Henry Kuntz (photo by John Kuntz)

Henry Kuntz has been intimately involved in free jazz and free improvisation for more than 40 years.

From 1973 to 1979, he was editor/publisher of the internationally-acclaimed newsletter-review BELLS. He first recorded on tenor sax in 1977 on Henry Kaiser’s Ice Death. He’s played musette and various flutes since 1981, miniature violins since 1983, gamelan and xylophones since 1988, and the Moroccan rhaita (غيطة‎) since 1999. On Humming Bird Records, he’s released various recordings of solo, group, and multi-tracked free improvisations.

A dalang of he wayang kulit shadow play

In addition to his instrumental work, special mention must be made of Henry’s masterful adaptation of the vocal techniques and the otherworldly utterance vocabulary of the dalangs (shamanistic master puppeteers) of the Indonesian wayang kulit shadow-theatre, and other forms of wayang.

Humming Bird’s Earth Series presents indigenous music recorded by Henry in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Bali (Indonesia). These musics, along with Native American and other world musics — Henry has made additional music and dance explorations to Ecuador, Nepal, Thailand, Morocco, and Java and Sumatra (Indonesia) — have very much affected his overall musical and cultural concept.

The result is an ecstatic and transcultural music of infinite freedom.

One of Opeye's golden hits, The Sun Divination Session

In 1986 – drawing on aspects of music, dance, performance, and ritual – Henry formed the “avant-shamanic trance jazz” group OPEYE, which has manifested in various incarnations. He’s also performed with Moe! Staiano’s MOE!kestra and has collaborated on various projects with edgy drone master Robert Horton.

Jazz writer John Litweiler, in his book The Freedom Principle, singles out Henry as an independent multi-instrumentalist extending free-form musical concepts and practices begun by musicians of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) in Chicago in the 1960s and by the many free-wheeling English and European improvisors who burst on the scene in the 1970s.

(L → R) Suki O’Kane, Ron Heglin, Dan Plonsey, Michael Zelner, and Henry Kuntz perform in an incarnation of Opeye Orhcestra, with a painting of Ben Lindgren's in the background (photo by Eleanor Lindgren)

Henry writes that his “aesthetic is steeped in the traditions of jazz, but players draw on their total life experience to incorporate cultural elements of various traditions, potentially including extra-musical elements such as the use of masks, costumes, painting, and textiles… the music is founded upon a new world creative aesthetic: one’s own experiences and background are central, but the fetters of provincial cultures are thrown off — we have all become heir to every tradition: Shared Humanity in all its richness and diversity — and the future is likewise embraced”.

Envision New Music, the latest album from the updated Envision Ensemble, featuring glorious transglobalized free improv (and never has a pineapple ring been more effectively deployed…)

In this respect, OPEYE and its successor, Envision Ensemble, have moved to expand the ways players relate to each other musically in the improv. Henry explains: “We’d like each player to remain as much as possible autonomous while at the same time being indispensable to the creation of the whole music.”

The shamanic implications of free improv have likewise been directly acknowledged and drawn upon. Henry points out, “The inherently creative and explorative aspect of free improv suggests an underlying shamanic dimension, one in which through the manipulation of sounds and symbols, aspects of cultural ‘healing’ may be facilitated and take place through music.”

Selections of his music are available for free download at his website, Sax & Stories.

Dan Plonsey performs at Temescal Arts Center

Born in Cleveland, Dan Plonsey has lived in the Bay Area since 1984.  Dan is a composer and improvisor, primarily playing the various saxophones.

Among the musical influences he considers most important are: seeing the Sun Ra Arkestra as often as possible from 1978 onwards; studying with Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Karl Berger and others at the Creative Music Studios; studying composition with Martin Bresnick; hearing LPs of Bay Area musicians (including Henry Kuntz) in the late 70′s which led to moving here; reconnecting with Braxton at Mills College; playing with many of the Bay Area’s great musicians as creative music spreads from venue to venue.

Dan co-founded The Manufacturing of Humidifiers; founded Daniel Popsicle to play his own compositions (including the epic series, Music of El Cerrito); and co-founded and MC’d the legendary Beanbender’s Creative Music Series (1995-99; the first band to play was OPEYE). For an extensive list of recordings of Dan’s compositions, see: http://www.plonsey.com/plonsey/plonsey_records.html.

For me, as someone integrating Indian music with a modernist toolkit, it’s especially fascinating that Dan credits his study of how Bollywood films interweave vocal line and instrumental commentary, so differently to Western music, with making his music effervesce with bent lines, unexpected breaks, and weird fun.

Brian Godchaux

Violinist on the Cats Under the Stars album by the Jerry Garcia Band, and brother of Keith Godchaux, keyboard player for the Grateful Dead, Brian Godchaux has pursued mastery of traditional American and Celtic music, receiving the Rising Star award from the West Coast Cajun & Zydeco Music Association. For 17+ years, he’s played violin with Dan Hicks in his bands, The Acoustic Warriors & the Hot Licks, and occasionally plays in a bluegrass band with David Nelson of New Riders of the Purple Sage and Sandy Rothman, as well as playing some Bach when he gets the opportunity.

In between Hot Licks tours, Brian recorded a CD with the Heart of Gold Band. He was a principle songwriter and vocalist, as well as lead player on acoustic and electric violin and mandolin.

Then there is the weird-ass avant-shamanistic jazz with Henry…. was it the brown blotter….?

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FogRaiser 2014

Sat 18 Oct, 9pm: FogRaiser @ the Second Act, 1727 Haight St., San Francisco CA 94117 (map)

A night of diverse live electronic and electro-acoustic music featuring four different performances that have been commissioned to present their interpretation of Fog Music. This is a special event to raise funds for the San Francisco Fog Music Festival 2015 that will be staged by Aural Films Records on 28-31 Jan 2015 at the new Second Act, which has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of the old Red Vic movie house.

Shakuhachi master Kyochiku Zenji (虚竹禅師) received the piece Mukaiji (霧海箎, "Fog, Ocean, Flute") in a dream

Among other music, we’ll be presenting an extended transmutation of the ancient shakuhachi piece Mukaiji (霧海, “Fog, Ocean, Flute”) which was received by shakuhachi master Kyochiku Zenji (虚竹禅師), on a boat in a dream. As our sonic boat drifts through the fog we’ll hear islands of solos and other pieces emerge from this flowing matrix.

Viv Corringham

— Set 4, 9pm: Viv Corringham with Nancy Beckman, Tom Bickley, Nan Busse, Joe Lasqo, Suki O’Kane, Bill Thibault, and Jennifer Wilsey (jump to Viv Corringham tour info)

Carolyn Fok

— Set 1: Carolyn Fok (7:30pm)

Carolyn Fok has been an award-winning visual & pioneering female electronic musician since 1981, known for her epic approach to music & the painstaking process she takes to develop material. She’s also recently been collaborating, engineering, and mastering studio works for her solo projects and groups.

Although her naturalist—surrealist paintings & illustrations have shown in New York, San Francisco & Hong Kong, & her music has been featured in Electronic Musician and Keyboard, she’s best known for single-handedly creating her own genre of artwork, a form she calls musaics, in which she creates masterly, moving electronic sound designs, original art, and introspective writings.

Carolyn’s sense of music and sound began with recording stories on a tape recorder at age 9. Inspired by an early drum machine built by her father and his multi-track recorder, she developed a self-taught approach to instruments with electronics and by the early 80′s, evolved a signature style under the name, CYRNAI, now Carolyn Fok. “I like building a fine line between experimentation and perfection,” she says.

“She may be the modern Wendy Carlos, but going much further than Tron and Bach at a single step.

‘But the music!’ Well, technically, it’s of the caliber of Brian Eno, Kitaro and earlier Tangerine Dream …seemingly written for a voice which seldom shows.”

—Musesmuse.com Essential Albums, review of: The Listener

Other albums include: Magic Realism, Transfiguration (Cyrnai), Charred Blossoms. Carolyn’s music is available at: www.highfrequencymusic.com

Matt Dean

— Set 2: Matt Dean (8:00pm)

Matt Dean has been a musician, composer and sound designer for almost 40 years. He works in a variety of styles and media, including electronic music, film scores, and game audio design for Sony Playstation. A list of works can be found here.  He’s formally trained at Longy School of Music and Antioch College, with private studies in guitar, piano, flute, and african drumming.

Currently he collaborates with a variety of musicians, artist and designers under the moniker Aos Crowley, Chromasonic, and his own name amongst others. Current projects include a new album with William Spivey (Facebook site: here).

Jack Hertz performs at Noisebridge, San Francisco

— Set 3: Jack Hertzrizorkestra (8:30pm)

“Inspired by the mystery of life. I manipulate sound to create intangible techno-organic impressions between music and noise.”

Starting from expriments more than 30 years ago with analog tape and a Casio VL-Tone, Jack Hertz has created an extensive ambient and meta-ambient sound universe, with particular emphasis on Frequency Modulation, and has implemented an elaborate and unique customized software platform for FM synthesis.

rizorkestra

rizorkestra is based in Los Angeles and “currently roaming the California coast and deserts performing music, collecting musical instruments, photographing and filming the Pacific Ocean and the sun in the sky and planning cheap, sensible meals.”

Jack Hertz will play electronics and riz will play synthesizer and guitar.

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The Nunnery

Sun 19 Oct, 3pm (N.B. matinée): @ the Nunnery, (3016 25th St., San Francisco, CA 94110, between Florida and Alabama Streets, map)

The Nunnery is the secret lair and new-instrument research lab of sound-inventor Tom Nunn, who’s begun hosting a series of concerts there which often involve invented / homebrew instruments and extended improvisational techniques.

Part of the invented instrument orchestra at The Nunnery

The performance space is surrounded by Tom’s latest creations. Twice a month he opens his atelier to the public for performances on a Sunday afternoon and a Monday evening, and we look forward to a matinée performance there in Set 2, 3pm, Sun 19 Oct: Viv Corringham with Nancy Beckman, Tom Bickley, Nan Busse, Joe Lasqo, and Jennifer Wilsey (jump to Viv Corringham tour info)

Kattt Atchley and Ron Heglin @ 2010 Skronkathon (photo by Michael Zelner)

— Set 1: Kattt Atchley & Ron Heglin (2pm)

Kattt Atchley creates a blended sound using her voice, amplification and electronics.

Kattt Atchley

Since the late 90′s, she’s been in a voice duo with Ron Heglin — their signature sound is a mix of melody, harmony, perfectly and closely tuned pitches, and “this other element that always happens”. Since 2010, she has been in the pop band The Atchleys with her husband Kenneth Atchley, and more recently Bill Thibault — Kattt sings; Kenneth programs, plays electronics, sings, writes poetry; and Bill programs, projects his video graphics — their signature sound mixes singing, poetry, electronic tones, beats, video.

Ron Heglin (photo by Tom Djll / Djll Pixels)

Ron Heglin is a low-brassist and vocalist working with extended technique on the trombone and with spoken and sung imaginary languages. His voicing has been influenced by his study of North Indian vocal music. He works both compositionally and in an improvisational mode. He has been a member of the Bay Area music context for over 25 years and has performed internationally.

=================================

Join us for these beautiful shows with one of New York & London’s most unique improvising voices and a glittering cast of Bay Area co-conspirators…

Joe

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MSP/Piano+: in the quartet of Bruce Ackley/Lisle Ellis/Joe Lasqo/Donald Robinson, performing a large structure by Ackley • Sun 24 Aug: Berkeley Arts Festival, w Thomas Dimuzio & Wobbly • Mon 25 Aug: mystery location in North Beach, San Francisco, w Opera Wolf (Crystal Pascucci, Robert López, Joshua Marshall)

An all-too-brief visit to the Bay Area by virtuoso bassist and computer musician Lisle Ellis serves as a catalyst to gather together some musical friends for an electro-acoustic BBQ in space.

The secret recipe is provided via a large-scale improv structure by master chef Bruce Ackley.

(clockwise) Bruce Ackley, Joe Lasqo, Donald Robinson, Lisle Ellis

◉     Show 1 – East Bay     ◉

@ the East Bay’s indispensable focal point for new music, Berkeley Arts Festival (2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA – map), 9pm, Sun 24 Aug.

+ Set 1: Thomas Dimuzio & Wobbly, 8pm (jump to Set 1 specifics)

◉           Show 2 – SF           ◉

@ a very cool mystery location in North Beach, San Francisco (send mail to joe@joelasqo.com for address & details), 9:30pm, Mon 25 Aug.

+ Set 1: Opera Wolf (Crystal Pascucci, Robert López, Joshua Marshall), 8:30pm (jump to Set 1 specifics)

Here’s some info on our crew, then details of each date and other acts.

Bruce Ackley w ROVA / Nels Cline Celestial Septet at Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, 20 Aug 2011 (photo by peak, http//:peakness.com)

Bruce Ackley was born in Rochester, NY. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began singing in choral groups at age 10. (His father performed in a vocal sextet as a young man in the 1930s.) Bruce sang throughout his school years and finally took up the sax. He formed his first improvising trio that year with friends from his art school days at Wayne State in Detroit, where he studied painting and drawing. In 1971 he relocated to the Bay Area.

Largely self-taught, Bruce 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.

Bruce Ackley, Celestial Septet @ le poisson rouge, 26 Feb 2011, w ROVA, Nels Cline (& Nels Cline Singers), Scott Amendola, and Trevor Dunn

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.

The electro-acoustic world of Lisle Ellis

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 Gratkowski, 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

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.

Joe Lasqo & Morgana perform w Jim Ryan's Green Alembic in the sfSoundSalonSeries at Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Apr 2014 (Photo by Carly Hoopes)

Laptopist/pianist Joe Lasqo studied classical music in India; computer music at MIT, Columbia, Berkeley/CNMAT; has been a long-time avant jazz musician; & has lived, played & listened in many East Asian and European countries (now in SF).

Special interests include applying AI techniques from expert systems, natural language processing, and computational linguistics to music; and the intersection of traditional Asian musics with modernism.

Joe Lasqo @ Meridian Gallery, 11 Jan 2012 (Photo: PeterBKaars.com, http://www.peterbkaars.com)

He’s had a weekly residency for 3¾ years+ at Viracocha (21st & Valencia, SF), 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 10-person Renga-kai Ensemble (連歌会), master drummer Donald Robinson, German-Swedish saxist/flautist Biggi Vinkeloe, pianists Thollem McDonas, Sarah Cahill, and Luciano Chessa, percussionist Suki O’Kane, sound artists Joe Snape (UK) & Lucie Vítková (Czech Rep.), experimental vocalists/electronic musicians Pamela Z & Viv Corringham (NYC/London), and many others.

His album, Turquoise Sessions, is on Edgetone, + new releases w Beth Custer, Thomas Dimuzio & Biggi Vinkeloe are coming soon.

Don Robinson performing w the Kris Tiner Trio @ In The Flow Festival, Sacramento, 14 May 2012 (photo by George Thomson)

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), Biggi Vinkeloe, & Matthew Goodheart.

After coming up in the hothouse of the Paris free jazz scene, Don has been a stalwart of both the SF Bay Area and northern and central European avant/jazz scenes, and will just have returned from his most recent Scandinavian tour for these shows.

To get an idea of the kind of sonic fireworks in store, check out the video above from a show in with the same rhythm section in concert with Biggi Vinkeloe at North Beach’s Emerald Tablet on 19 Apr 2014:

Wobbly (Jon Leidecker), front, and Thomas Dimuzio, back, perform at Garden of Memory, Chapel of the Chimes, 21 June 2012 (photo by Michael Zelner)

Sun 24 Aug @ Berkeley Arts Festival (2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA – map)

Set 1: Thomas Dimuzio & Wobbly, 8pm

Set 2: Bruce AckleyLisle EllisJoe LasqoDonald Robinson (see above), 9pm

Bay Area lovers of electronic music have come to anticipate the annual shore leave of Starship Gench on Planet Plunderphonia as Thomas Dimuzio & Wobbly join together for duets at the Garden of Memory event at Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes on the Summer Solstice.

Unfortunately, dates couldn’t align for this year’s Garden of Memory, so we’re very happy to offer listeners a second chance to get their duo-fix of these contrastive electronic masters, whose complementary styles blend in the most surprising ways — truly, two great tastes that taste great together!

Thomas Dimuzio

Thomas Dimuzio is a composer, multi-instrumentalist & electronic musician, mastering engineer, sound designer, and label proprietor based in San Francisco.

Long regarded as a musical pioneer for his innovative use of live sampling and looping techniques to create compelling works, Thomas is a true sonic alchemist who can seemingly create music events out of almost anything. Listed sound sources on his various CDs include everything from ‘modified 10 speed bicycle’ and ‘resonating water pipe’ to short-wave radios, loops, feedback, samplers, and even normal instruments such as clarinet and trumpet, while his current work is facilitated by the deep expanses of modular synthesis.

His use of signal processing, custom crossfade looping, and algorithmic mixing fuels a synergy of man and machine in his live performances, while intercepted signal feeds from collaborators, wild sources of MIDI-controlled feedback, modular synthesizers, circuit-bent toys, or ambient microphones on the streets, become integrated as sound sources within his system of live interactive electronics, effortlessly moving from electroacoustic and noise to glitch, dark ambient, improv and drone.

Thomas Dimuzio

In his work as a sound designer, Thomas has worked with synthesizer and processor manufacturers such as Kurzweil, Lexicon, and OSC to create custom presets and sample libraries, and he has collaborated with Fred Frith, Tom Cora, and ROVA Saxophone Quartet to create sound libraries for Rarefaction and Big Fish Audio. Thomas also continues to play a key role in the development of Avid’s industry standard Pro Tools HD recording and mixing system, as he has for the past 20 years.

As a collaborator, Thomas works with numerous artists and ensembles such as Dimmer (with Joseph Hammer), Chris Cutler, Fred Frith, Dan Burke/Illusion of Safety, Nick Didkovsky, ISIS, Negativland, Arcane Device (David Lee Myers), Matmos, Wobbly (Jon Leidecker), Poptastic, 5uu’s, Tom Cora, Mickey Hart, Paul Haslinger, Arte Saxophone Quartett, Due Process, and Voice Of Eye.

Thomas Dimuzio

As a mastering engineer, Thomas has worked with independent artists and labels through his own Gench Studios since the early 1990’s. Among his clients are Matmos, Negativland, ISIS, AMM, Captain Ahab, Doctor Nerve, Psychic TV3, Xiu Xiu, Devin Hoff, GG Allin, KK Null (Kazuyuki Kishino / 岸野 一之), Joey P, Fred Frith, Scott Amendola, and many others.

Thomas Dimuzio’s recordings have been released internationally by ReR Megacorp, Asphodel, RRRecords, No Fun, Sonoris, Drone, Record Label Records, Odd Size, and other independent labels.

Album cover for Slew, by Thomas Dimuzio

Among his many gem-like albums, the one I’ve been listening to the most recently is the great Slew, a rich assortment of solo pieces that probe the facets of inter-dimensional sound space.

Wobbly (Jon Leidecker), collecting audio transmissions directly into his brain @SFMOMA (photo by Aaron Muszalski, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Jon Leidecker has been performing music under the name Wobbly since 1990.

His live performances search for the extended narratives spun from countless layers of samples, polyphony improvised from musicians who have yet to meet.

Releases include the album Wild Why for Tigerbeat6, Live 99>00 for Phthalo, Regards for Alku, Simultaneous Quodlibet for Important Records, and Playlist & Music For The Fire for Illegal Art. Recent festival appearances include Sound Unseen / Plunderphonia in Minneapolis, Ether at Royal Festival Hall in London, and Sonar in Barcelona.

Wild Why, by Wobbly, source of the hit singles "Come Buy, Yo Play Radishes", "Puddle. Uh. Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh. Puddle", & "Uhh, Hey Eh. Check It Check It"

Wobbly has been producing music since 1987 and ongoing studio and live projects involve collaborations with Antimatter, Kevin Blechdom, Blevin Blectum. MaryClare Brzytwa, Thomas Dimuzio, the Evolution Control Committee, Fred Frith, Huun-Huur-Tu (Хуун-Хуур-Ту), Lesser (Jason Doerck), Matmos, Anne McGuire, Dieter Moebius, John Oswald, Ōtomo Yoshihide (大友良英), Zeena ParkinsPeople Like Us (Vicki Bennett), Tim Perkis, Tim Story, and Booper-inventor The Weatherman (David Wills) of plunderphonics pioneers Negativland. He’s also a member of the Chopping Channel and Sagan.

Wobbly (Jon Leidecker)

Taking to heart Spider Robinson’s advice from Melancholy Elephants, “Art is long, not infinite… One day we will use it up – unless we can learn to recycle it like any other finite resource”, Wobbly has gone on vast plunderphonic raids with fellow “detrivores” like Negativland, Matmos, and the Chopping Channel crew.

Or, as the website detritus.net puts it: “He says he is a performer of pre-recorded live music. If you know what that means please email us.”

Opera Wolf (L → R, Joshua Marshall, Crystal Pascucci, Robert López)

Mon 25 Aug @ a very cool mystery location in North Beach (send mail to joe@joelasqo.com for address & details)

Set 1: Opera Wolf (Crystal Pascucci, Robert López, Joshua Marshall), 8:30pm

Set 2: Bruce AckleyLisle EllisJoe LasqoDonald Robinson (jump to description above), 9:30pm

Joshua Marshall and Crystal Pascucci perform in Opera Wolf @ the 2013 Outsound New Music Summit (Photo by Peter. B. Kaars, www.peterbkaars.com)

Bay Area trio Opera Wolf does “emergent composition” & collective creative communication, performing text-based compositions, graphic-scores, & free improv pieces, drawing on influences from free jazz,  contemporary classical music, & electroacoustic experimentation. Its members have all studied under Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins and William Winant, and their work synthesizes timbral manipulation, melodic extension, and poetic articulations of form with their highly individual approaches to instrumental technique, reaching beyond the traditional limits of instrumentation. Opera Wolf was notably featured as part of the 2013 Outsound New Music Summit festival. Stephen Smoliar of Examiner.com described the performance as, “…a journey of auditory discovery, the best possible follow-up to the ways in which Stravinsky shocked the world 100 years ago….”

Crystal Pascucci

Cellist/composer/improviser Crystal Pascucci is a classically-trained musician who works in the areas of free improv, graphic-score compositions, and chamber music, exploring non-traditional cello techniques to develop musical ideas beyond pitch & rhythm. Notable teachers include Joan Jeanrenaud, Robert Black, Anthony Braxton, & Marion Feldman. In addition to Opera Wolf, she’s performed the work of Roscoe Mitchell at Yoshi’s Oakland, the work of Polly Moller at the Soundwave Festival, with Aaron Bennett’s Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra, the Oakland Active Orchestra, and with renowned clarinetist, Rachel Condry, in the improv duo, Chocolate for Breakfast.

Josh Marshall

Joshua Marshall is an Oakland-based saxophonist and composer/improviser. His work involves architectural innovation, narrativity, advanced extended saxophone techniques, and live digital media. He’s studied with Pauline Oliveros, Evan Parker, Butch Rovan, I.M. Harjito, & Steve Adams of ROVA Saxophone Quartet. In addition to work with Opera Wolf, Joshua has worked with Ikue Mori (もりいくえ), Rent Romus’ Lords of Outland, Architect/Enchantress, Medium Sized Band, Josh Allen’s Deconstruction Orchestra, Key West, and Modest Machine. His amazing technique gives him relaxed command of cracked multi-phonics, exotic trills, and timbre tremolos, which he uses to superb effect.

Robert López perfoming w Mateo Lugo in the Active Music Series at Oakland's Uptown, 11 June 2014

Robert López is a percussionist working in ensembles spanning contemporary composition, free improv, & pop/rock. He’s studied mallet/multiple/hand percussion w Michael Carney, Dave Gerhart, Brad Dutz; Ghanaian Ewe drumming w Neili Sutker, Eric Hartwell, CK Ladzekpo; and drum set w Randy Drake. Before moving to Oakland, he recorded and performed with L.A. rock acts Wild Pack of Canaries, Bobby Blunders, New Lights By Dead Vines & the Vespertines; in the Bay Area, he’s worked with Opera Wolf, Quattour Elephantis, Jordan Glenn’s Mindless Thing, & his duo with Shanna Sordahl, ZE BIB!. Recent performances include the premier of Work Around the World by Aaron Gervais at Other Minds Festival 18, a duo appearance with Moe! Staiano at the14th San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, and with the avant-rock group Grex at the 2014 Switchboard Music Festival, following the recording and release of their full-length album Monster Music.

Join us for some rare and savory meta/electrico/post-jazz space-BBQ on either (or both!) sides of the Bay…

Joe

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Prélude: Bob Marsh & Evangel King: window/door/river (8pm) • Set 1: Henry Kuntz’ Envision Ensemble, w Brian Godchaux, John Kuntz, Esten Lindgren, & Dan Plonsey (8:20pm) • Set 2: Tom Duff & his Wire Machine perform: Lucier, Golomb, Gray (9:10pm), Wed 27 Aug @ Berkeley Arts Festival

I’ve had the honor and pleasure to curate 3 shows in Aug at the East Bay’s indispensable focal point for new music, Berkeley Arts Festival (2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA – map); this is the final one in the series, at 8pm, Wed 27 Aug.

We end with a set of radical explorations in motion/sound/art, unbounded ecstatic improvisatory freedom, and the strange effects of informatically re-encoding musical/mechanical systems (and, possibly, their listeners).

(L → R) Bob Marsh (cello) and Evangel King (dancer) perform window/door/river @ The Luggage Store Gallery, 10 July 2014

Set Ø/Prélude: Bob Marsh and Evangel King perform window/door/river (8pm)

Bob Marsh and associates have made many multimedia interpretations of Bob’s graphic scores in the rhizomic window/door/river project.

Bob Marsh (cello) and Evangel King (dance) perform one of the most beautiful of these fascinating pieces in a short site-specific realization designed specifically for Berkeley Arts Festival space.

From Bob:

window/door/river began as a graphic response to a dance class with Anna Halprin a couple of years ago. It seemed to resemble some of my graphic music compositions. The four panels reminded me of windows, or maybe they were doors. Maybe they were all aspects of the life of a river. I decided to send this window/door/river composition to various friends, near and far, asking them to create any kind of interpretation they might desire. Various types of realizations can be found at http://windowdoorriver.bandcamp.com/

6 months ago I began working with dancer/choreographer Evangel King on this project, exploring the variety of meanings, literal and metaphorical, of windows, doors and rivers. In the end we decided to work within the contexts of actual windows and doors, letting the river portion be the river of life that flows around us at all times”

Above is a video of an afternoon rehearsal of window/door/river at Berkeley Arts, reflecting one set of Bob and Evangel’s improvisatory choices in response to the graphic score.

Bob Marsh, the Ziggy Stardust of the Indeterminate

Having previously left large swathes of stunned onlookers and listeners gasping in the Midwest, Bob Marsh has become a treasure of our own Bay Area music scene.

Bob Marsh performs as Mr. Mercury, Receiver Gallery, San Francisco, 03 Mar 2007

Bob is a master improviser on any instrument (or surface… or sound-generating costume…), whose work involves shaping sounds words images motions sonic-suits ideas.

Bob Marsh savors a quiet moment, performing in Sonic Suit #1, Outsound New Music Summit, 2011 (Photo: PeterBKaars.com, www.peterbkaars.com)

Originally from Detroit, Bob arrived in the Bay Area in 2000 after ten years in Chicago where he played with most of the avant improvisers in that rich and varied scene. Since his arrival on the west coast, Bob has been busy with several projects. He currently leads or directs: Emergency (X)tet, a string ensemble focusing on textures and microtonics; the Che Guevarra Memorial Marching (and Stationary) Accordion Band, structured and free improv for 6 to 15 accordions; Robot Martians, electronics and processed voice; the Out of the Blue Chamber Ensemble, a mixture of reeds and strings; Opera Viva, voiced physical theater; the Quintessentials, a quintet specializing in interpreting graphic compositions based on alterations to the Michelin Road Guide to France; the Free Reed Vibrating Society (inexplicable/self-explanatory), and the Illuminated Orchestra, structured improvs for large ensemble. Additionally Bob is a member of Rent Romus‘/Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s Abstractions, Moe! Staiano’s MOE!kestra and Tom Bickley’s Cornelius Cardew Choir. Bob tours frequently with his long term collaborator, saxophonist Jack Wright, and has recently been presenting a solo work involving violin, voice and tap shoes. Bob’s educational background includes a BFA in sculpture and an MA in humanistic clinical psychology. He has studied classical piano, classical guitar and vibraphone and has taught himself various other instruments. He’s currently active with cello, accordion, violin, voice, vibraphone and electronics.

M. Mercure à R-de-Choc, 21 mai 2010 (pour plus de détails sur R-de-Choc et son organisateur, Pascal Marzan, svp. voir: http://r-de-choc.blogspot.com)

Bob plays well with others, such as Jim Baker, John Berndt, Tom Bickley, Jeb Bishop, Kyle Bruckmann, Gust Burns, Gene Coleman, George Cremaschi, Matt Davingon, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Dina Emerson, Bryan Eubanks, R. Albert Falesch, John Finkbeiner, Tara Flandreau, Stephen Flinn, Jonathan Fretheim, Carol Genetti, Greg Goodman, Morgan Guberman, Greg Hamilton, Chris Heenan, Ron Heglin, Jeff Hobbs, Matt Ingalls, Kurt Johnson, Aurora Josephson, Andrew Lafkas, Adam Lane, Joe Lasqo, Eric Leonardson, Jacob Lindsay, Fred Longberg-Holm, Toshi Makihara (牧原トシ), Tatsuya Nakatani (中谷達也), Tom Nunn, Suki O’Kane, Garth Powell, Bhob Rainey, Hal Rammel, Rent Romus, Scott Rosenberg, Jim Ryan, Joe Sabella, Jonathon Segel, John Shiurba, Blaise Siwula, David Slusser, Damon Smith, Adam Sonderberg, Karen Stackpole, Grant Strombeck, Tom Swafford, Ken Vandermark, Matt Weston, Sue Wolf, Theresa Wong (天欣), Michael Zelner, and Michael Zerang.

Evangel King performs Bare Bones Crow against/with ancestor figures by Gillian Garro at The Garage, San Francisco, Sep 2009

Evangel King is a contemporary dance artist. She creates dances for herself, other soloists, as well as companies. Evangel gives workshops and performances locally and on tour, and has for 30+ years been based in San Francisco Bay Area.

She received her BA at UC Santa Barbara and her MA from Case Western Reserve University, both in dance, and has been artist-in-residence at: Western Michigan U, Indiana U, Cleveland State U, Case Western Reserve, Portland State U, & Fresno State U.

Evangel King performs Bare Bones Crow with Gillian Garro's setting, Sunshine Biscuit Factory, Oakland, 08 May 2010 (photo by Gillian Garro)

In addition to performing her own choreography and two solos created by Deborah Hay of the revolutionary 1960′s Judson Dance Theatre, Evangel is a founder of Choreographers Performance Alliance. CPA curates the longest running performance series in the Bay Area. She’s also a staff member of the service organization Dancers’ Group.

Evangel teaches modern dance technique and the somatic work, Ideokinesis. Her writings about dance have appeared in the national publication Contact Quarterly and the monthly publication for the Bay Area, In Dance.

Presently, Evangel is co-creating on-site solo dance films like the video above, a collaboration with Gillian Garro, and is part of a group of movement artists delving into challenging themes using Anna Halprin’s Life/Art Score-making Process.

Henry Kuntz in leopard transformation mask

Set 1: Henry Kuntz’ Envision Ensemble, w Brian Godchaux, John Kuntz, Esten Lindgren, & Dan Plonsey (8:20pm)

A rare appearance by a daring pioneer of joyously unbounded, infinitely free jazz.

Henry Kuntz has blazed many trails in realizing the intersection of world musics (esp. from Latin America and Indonesia), in a ritualistic & shamanistic quest for joy and sonic freedom located in a “festival time” outside of clock time. Henry’s also a pioneer of multi-tracking as a method of generating “asynchronously synchronistic” improvisations beyond the boundaries of time and intention.

OPEYE Quintet, forerunner of Envision Ensemble (L → R- Esten Lindgren, Brian Godchaux, Ben Lindgren, John Kuntz, Henry Kuntz)

The Envision Ensemble (an outgrowth of the earlier OPEYE Orchestra and OPEYE Quintet) moves toward an advanced improv archetype, one in which multiple independent events may occur while the musicians simultaneously create an experiential musical whole.

Line-up:

— Henry Kuntz: sax, violins, gamelan, percussion, ringleader

— Brian Godchaux: violin, viola, mandolin

— John Kuntz: ukulele, guitar, mandolin, percussion

— Esten Lindgren: contrabass, pocket trumpet

— The mathematically impossible Dan Plonsey: reeds

Henry Kuntz (photo by John Kuntz)

Henry Kuntz has been intimately involved in free jazz and free improvisation for more than 40 years.

From 1973 to 1979, he was editor/publisher of the internationally-acclaimed newsletter-review BELLS. He first recorded on tenor sax in 1977 on Henry Kaiser’s Ice Death. He’s played musette and various flutes since 1981, miniature violins since 1983, gamelan and xylophones since 1988, and the Moroccan rhaita (غيطة‎) since 1999. On Humming Bird Records, he’s released various recordings of solo, group, and multi-tracked free improvisations.

A dalang of the wayang kulit shadow play

In addition to his instrumental work, special mention must be made of Henry’s masterful adaptation of the vocal techniques and the otherworldly utterance vocabulary of the dalangs (shamanistic master puppeteers) of the Indonesian wayang kulit shadow-theatre, and other forms of wayang.

Humming Bird’s Earth Series presents indigenous music recorded by Henry in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Bali (Indonesia). These musics, along with Native American and other world musics — Henry has made additional music and dance explorations to Ecuador, Nepal, Thailand, Morocco, and Java and Sumatra (Indonesia) — have very much affected his overall musical and cultural concept.

The result is an ecstatic and transcultural music of infinite freedom.

One of Opeye's golden hits, The Sun Divination Session

In 1986 – drawing on aspects of music, dance, performance, and ritual – Henry formed the “avant-shamanic trance jazz” group OPEYE, which has manifested in various incarnations. He’s also performed with Moe! Staiano’s MOE!kestra and has collaborated on various projects with edgy drone master Robert Horton.

Jazz writer John Litweiler, in his book The Freedom Principle, singles out Henry as an independent multi-instrumentalist extending free-form musical concepts and practices begun by musicians of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) in Chicago in the 1960s and by the many free-wheeling English and European improvisors who burst on the scene in the 1970s.

(L → R) Suki O’Kane, Ron Heglin, Dan Plonsey, Michael Zelner, and Henry Kuntz perform in an incarnation of OPEYE Orchestra, with a painting of Ben Lindgren's in the background (photo by Eleanor Lindgren)

Henry writes that his “aesthetic is steeped in the traditions of jazz, but players draw on their total life experience to incorporate cultural elements of various traditions, potentially including extra-musical elements such as the use of masks, costumes, painting, and textiles… the music is founded upon a new world creative aesthetic: one’s own experiences and background are central, but the fetters of provincial cultures are thrown off — we have all become heir to every tradition: Shared Humanity in all its richness and diversity — and the future is likewise embraced”.

Envision New Music, the latest album from the updated Envision Ensemble, featuring glorious transglobalized free improv (and never has a pineapple ring been more effectively deployed…)

In this respect, OPEYE and its successor, Envision Ensemble, have moved to expand the ways players relate to each other musically in the improv. Henry explains: “We’d like each player to remain as much as possible autonomous while at the same time being indispensable to the creation of the whole music.”

The shamanic implications of free improv have likewise been directly acknowledged and drawn upon. Henry points out, “The inherently creative and explorative aspect of free improv suggests an underlying shamanic dimension, one in which through the manipulation of sounds and symbols, aspects of cultural ‘healing’ may be facilitated and take place through music.”

Selections of his music are available for free download at his website, Sax & Stories.

Dan Plonsey performs at Temescal Arts Center

Born in Cleveland, Dan Plonsey has lived in the Bay Area since 1984.  Dan is a composer and improvisor, primarily playing the various saxophones.

Among the musical influences he considers most important are: seeing the Sun Ra Arkestra as often as possible from 1978 onwards; studying with Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Karl Berger and others at the Creative Music Studios; studying composition with Martin Bresnick; hearing LPs of Bay Area musicians (including Henry Kuntz) in the late 70′s which led to moving here; reconnecting with Braxton at Mills College; playing with many of the Bay Area’s great musicians as creative music spreads from venue to venue.

Dan co-founded The Manufacturing of Humidifiers; founded Daniel Popsicle to play his own compositions (including the epic series, Music of El Cerrito); and co-founded and MC’d the legendary Beanbender’s Creative Music Series (1995-99; the first band to play was OPEYE). For an extensive list of recordings of Dan’s compositions, see: http://www.plonsey.com/plonsey/plonsey_records.html.

For me, as someone integrating Indian music with a modernist toolkit, it’s especially fascinating that Dan credits his study of how Bollywood films interweave vocal line and instrumental commentary, so differently to Western music, with making his music effervesce with bent lines, unexpected breaks, and weird fun.

Mathography, a text from Dan Plonsey's "Student Work"

One of Dan’s most charming and/or alarming recent projects was Student Work, presented in a series of concerts at the East Bay’s Starry Plough. By day a teacher of calculus and geometry at Berkeley High, Dan set to music the found poetry of responses to his beginning-of-the-year assignment, asking students to write about their experiences with math. The poignant, funny, and/or surreal replies let to the creation of complementary music pieces around the text, triggered by the emotions, the speech rhythms, or even the sonified geometries of the responses.

Dan says: “Whatever venue Bonnie Hughes has — past, present, future — is my favorite venue for playing and listening to music” — so what could be better than to hear him play at Bonnie’s own Berkeley Arts Festival?

Tom Duff burning the midnight photons

Set 2: Tom Duff & his Wire Machine: Lucier, Golomb, Gray (9:10pm)

In another rare appearance, Bay Area master Tom Duff will install and perform/operate his Wire Machine, which takes Alvin Lucier’s seminal composition/installation Music on a Long Thin Wire and runs with it.

Alvin Lucier behind the horseshoe magnet used to induce vibrations to the wire (photo: Lon Holmberg, design: Patrick Vitacco, from LP Cover of Alvin Lucier's Music on a Long Thin Wire, Lovely Music)

Almost 40 years ago, new music explorer Alvin Lucier designed and assembled an embodied musical process from a long wire, clamps, tables, speakers, an amp, an oscillator, microphones, and a powerful magnet.

Tom Duff performs on the Wire Machine @ Battery Townsley, Marin Headlands, as part of the Soundwave (5) festival, 05 Aug 2012

Impresario, master of digital graphics & electronic sound art, and creator of Duff’s Device, Tom Duff has re-imagined, re-realized, and radicalized this original scenario on various occasions, e.g. the notorious 5-day performance on sfSoundRadio in 2011 and the site-specific realization for the Soundwave (5) festival at Battery Townsley in the Marin Headlands in 2012.

Tom will use his expanded version of Lucier’s kit to perform his piece Lucier, Golomb, Gray, exploring the effects of useful information encoding schemes on a vibrating electromechanical system and its listeners. (Those who are familiar with these encoding schemes will enjoy the dry wit of the score).

With or without such arcane knowledge, you won’t know what hit you, but your chakras will be thoroughly cleansed (losslessly, and without spurious outputs). Listen if you dare…

Tom Duff

Tom’s early musical life involved studying electronic music under Sam Dolin and Ann Southam at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in the 1960s.

Nowadays he composes, sings in the Cardew Choir, and plays banjo, ukelele, electronics, and home-built instruments.

Tom Duff gave life to the title role in Gino Robair's opera, "I, Norton"

Tom is notorious for many things, not the least of which are his many performances in the title role as Emperor Norton in Gino Robair’s opera I, Norton

…and Bay Area lovers of new music are heavily indebted to him for 15 years+ of superb new music concert series in the East Bay, including his ongoing Tom’s Place (calendar) house concert series, his role in organizing the annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, coming up soon in Sep, and his irregular (some would say, quite irregular…) Transbay Skronkathons.

Outside of sorting out the new music force field of the Bay Area, Tom finds time to also be a super graphics programming badass at Pixar (and before, Lucasfilm), where his adventures have led to multiple patents and a couple of Academy Awards.

Glenda, the Plan 9 Bunny, is the evil creation of Renée French for the purposes of total and utter world domination as part of Plan 9 from Bell Labs

Prior to terrorizing the West Coast, Tom bent technology space at Bell Labs where he did graphics, networking, and authored the “rc” shell for v10 (the last “Research UNIX”), before being assimilated into the dark ops of the Bell Labs Plan 9 project, where he wrote the Mothra browser, Plan 9′s counterpart to Netscape’s Mozilla.

To those astonished by Tom’s ability to juggle being a thought-leader in both musical and technology fields, he might reply with a characteristic aphorism: “It’s not that kind of zero”.

Join us for an unrepeatable show by rare masters of shamanic/informatic sound exploration and a unique site-specific movement/sound/art/experience…

Joe

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MSP/Piano/+: w Thollem McDonas’ Werkstattband, Mon 28 Jul @ CMC, San Francisco, 8:15pm

Outsound: A New Sonic Collective for the 21st Century

I’m keenly looking forward to playing again with Thollem McDonas in his Outsound New Music Summit Werkstattband.

A peripatetic, “perpetually touring” improvising pianist renowned for his powerful solo performances and scintillating collaborations, Thollem also specializes in improv-workshops where music is roughed out among the participants one day and served hot and fresh soon afterward, and that’s the scenario he’s bringing to the Outsound New Music Summit this year.

(For a post-show review which later appeared in Examiner.com, see here.)

Thollem McDonas (Image - Angela C. Villa)

The Werkstattband resulting from Thollem’s workshop will perform at 8:15pm, Mon 28 Jul @ the CMC (544 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA – map).

Current line-up:

Thollem McDonas: piano, Franken-B3 MIDI controller, instigator/leader

Kersti Abrams: sax & rhaita (غيطه‎)

Michael Aubin: bass guitar

Ferrara Brain Pan: bass clarinet, flute, sopranino sax

Jill Burton: voice

Brett Carson: piano & Franken-B3 MIDI controller

Tania Chen: piano, radios, gadgets, toys

Ron Heglin: trombone & voice

Heikki Koskinen: digital trumpet & recorders

Joe Lasqo: laptop & piano

Collette McCaslin: trumpet & electronics

Michael Mersereau: guitar

Ann O’Rourke: percussion, electronics, vocals

E. Doctor Smith: The Drumstick (invented e-percussion instrument)

Eli Wallace: piano & Franken-B3 MIDI controller

Sandy Yolles: electronic percussion

Thollem McDonas w Piano & Victrola (© 2012, Angela C Villa)

Thollem McDonas is a pianist, composer, improviser and teacher. He travels perpetually internationally performing as a soloist as well as in collaboration with a wide array of artists in wildly divergent directions. In the past 7 years, he has added 32 albums to his discography on 15 different vanguard labels in 5 different countries. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of Irish and Cherokee descent. At the age of five, he began studying the keyboard repertoire from the medieval to the 20th century and studied with many notable teachers including Aiko Onishi (大西愛子) and Lou Harrison. After graduating with degrees in both piano performance and composition, he stepped from the concert pianist trajectory to dedicate his time to grassroots political movements and ecological restoration projects. In 2005, he returned to his music as his full focus, incorporating his myriad experiences into his compositions, improvisations and teaching.

On Debussy's Piano And…, by Thollem McDonas & Stefano Scodanibbio

For musicians and listeners saddened by the artificial split between “classical” and “improvising” traditions, Thollem’s incorporation of radically re-imagined patterns and strategies from classical music into a fiercely trans-idiomatic gumbo, along with elements of free jazz, transmuted Latin music, and other influences, will be especially interesting and beautiful. A wonderful CD (among many) highlighting this is On Debussy’s Piano And…, an incredible collaboration with the late, great Italian bassist Stefano Scodanibbio, which Thollem performs on the last piano owned by Debussy.

The hands of Thollem McDonas, Bairro Alto (© 2010 Angela C Villa)

Thollem has performed extensively as a soloist as well as in piano concertos with symphonies, West African drumming troupes, Javanese gamelan ensembles, punk bands, with film makers, dancers, poets and painters and a wide array of divergent musicians, both famous and under-known. He is the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a Mexican-American cross border ensemble for musical exchange.  As a writer, his essay, “Deep Listening and the Peripatetic Life of an Improvising Musician” was written specifically for An Anthology of Essays on Deep Listening (Deep Listening Institute, 2012) in honor of Pauline Oliveros‘ 80th birthday and he is a regular columnist in Full Moon Magazine (Prague), a print publication dedicated to independent music. His music is diverse, with each album and every concert exploring a variety of approaches and paths, resulting in dramatically new and different outcomes.

His collaborations with musicians, dancers, and film-makers take up 23 single-spaced lines (here) and continue to grow rapidly.

Joe Lasqo & Morgana perform w Jim Ryan's Green Alembic in the sfSoundSalonSeries at Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Apr 2014 (Photo by Carly Hoopes)

It will be my pleasure and honor to join Thollem and the other members of the Werkstattband in one of the many great events of the Bay Area’s freshest new music festival, the Outsound New Music Summit.

For a look at what happened last time we played together, the video above, provided by the generosity of videographer Charles Smith, is of the first piece from our “double trios” show at Center for New Music in San Francisco on 15 Jan 2014.

Line up: Bruce Ackley & Steve Adams (saxes), Thollem McDonas (piano) & Joe Lasqo (piano / laptop), Nava Dunkelman (percussion), Cheryl E. Leonard (meta-percussion, natural objects, viola), & Nan Busse (dance).

Who knows what fireworks Thollem and crew will launch this time? Come vibrate with us and find out….

Joe

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Set 1: Mountains In Space – Electronic Music from CCRMA (8pm) + Set 2: Luciano Chessa & Benjamin Kreith performing Futurist sound-poetry & pieces from their suite ”Garrett — Confusing Salon Music & Noise since 2013″ (9pm), Sun 10 Aug @ Berkeley Arts Festival

I have the honor and pleasure to curate several shows in Aug at the East Bay’s indispensable focal point for new music, Berkeley Arts Festival (2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA – map), and this is the first at 8pm, Sun 10 Aug.

We start this series with a show running the gamut from the birth of mechanical analog synthesis in the crucible of Italian Futurism almost 100 years ago to the cutting edge digital synthesis of tomorrow being invented at Stanford’s CCRMA computer music research center.

Mountains In Space: (L → R) Luke Dahl, Colin Sullivan

Set 1: Mountains In Space – Electronic Music from CCRMA (8pm)

Mountains in Space perform live ambient electronic music made with analog synths, custom algorithms, and field recordings.

Their music is “a time-dilated dive into fractal cosmic jello.”

Mountains in Space is Luke Dahl and Colin Sullivan who met at Stanford’s CCRMA computer music lab and began collaborating musically in 2013.

Luke Dahl performs @ CCRMA's Modulations event, San Francisco, May 2013, w industrial animations by Mary Franck

Luke Dahl started out a pianist & french horn player. After receiving an initial BS in Electrical Engineering from the U. of Michigan he worked on audio technologies at Creative Labs where he helped develop spatialization and reverb techniques for the SoundBlasterLive, and at Apple where he worked on audio for iPod products. Returning to academia full-time he received a Master’s in Music, Science, & Tech in 2007 at CCRMA, where he now pursues a Ph.D.

Luke’s research interests include a number of intersections between music and tech:

Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) performs Twilight (2013) for laptop orchestra by Ge Wang (王戈), Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University, May 2013

— The design and study of new instruments for musical expression & new performance ensembles based on these instruments. In this context Luke has created instruments and composed works for both the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) and the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (Mopho), of which he’s a founding member.

— The relationship between music and movement, including instrumental performance gesture with traditional & new instruments, movement imagery and metaphors in descriptions of musical experiences, & sonification of movement data.

TweetDreams, created by Luke in collaborate with Jorge Herrera and Carr Wilkerson (also of CCRMA), is a multimedia musical performance made from live Twitter data. During a performance tweets containing specific terms are retrieved from Twitter’s servers, sonified into short melodies, and displayed graphically. The piece is created by three groups of users: the audience, the performers, and the world.

Luke is a holder of several patents, esp. in the field of Reverb Science.

Colin Sullivan

Starting out as bass guitarist, Colin Sullivan is a veteran of media companies such as Synthetic Cinema International (makers of Assault Of The Sasquatch, Alien Opponent, and Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound), and Gracenote; more recently, Colin is a co-founder of Oakland music tech startup Musikara, which makes tools for the interactive and collaborative creation and visualization of music.

At CCRMA, Colin is focused on exploring algorithmic music generation and sound synthesis.

There he’s developed some notable pieces of technology, for example:

Jnana, a generative musical accompaniment system integrated into Ableton Live.

KnacK, a music composition framework for the ChucK programming language

— Tulpasynth, a collaborative music system that enables a group of people to spontaneously create together by manipulating a physics-based environment on a touchscreen interface

Luciano Chessa & Benjamin Kreith perform Futurist sound-poetry & pieces from their suite "Garrett — Confusing Salon Music & Noise since 2013", Center for New Music, San Francisco, 11 June 2013

Set 2: Luciano Chessa & Benjamin Kreith perform Futurist sound-poetry & pieces from their suite Garrett — Confusing Salon Music & Noise since 2013 (9pm)

Bay Area New Music champions Luciano Chessa & Benjamin Kreith perform pieces from their suite Garrett — Confusing Salon Music & Noise since 2013, for violin, piano, Vietnamese đàn bầu, bullhorn, saw, Aardvark synth app, harmonica & voice.  A program consisting of original pieces, Erik Satie transcriptions, Futurist sound poetry, a Fluxus piece, delicate improvisations, and much more.

Especially noteworthy are:

Cover of « Piedigrotta » by Francesco Cangiullo

— Piedigrotta (1913): “Considered to be the pinnacle of Futurist sound poetry, Francesco Cangiullo’s epic poem about the yearly Neapolitan street party dedicated to the Madonna di Piedigrotta. The explosions of firecrackers, the cries of street venders, the tenori battling at the annual song competition and, more in general, the sound of an entire city presented as a living organism, all reach a sudden jolt when the procession of the Black Madonna takes over the stage. By brilliantly hijacking onomatopoeic techniques typically found in Futurist poetry to mimic the explosions of mortars and shrapnels, and by forcing them to recreate the complexly articulated noise of a wild street party, Cangiullo truly succeeds here in celebrating — and synthesizing — life.” (text by Luciano Chessa)

— Analfabeta (“Illiterate”, 1989/2013), by Luciano Chessa: “Capo Caccia is a promontory punctuated by dramatic limestone cliffs.  Under it, only a few miles from my hometown Sassari, caves run for miles by the Mediterranean coastline. As I utter the words “Capo Caccia,” something specific resonates in the cavity. The exploration begins. With the marine sonar of the mind I locate a place at the heart of the deepest cave, and thus I name it: because it is a primordial, pre-cultural, pre-linguistic place. A retired Aleph-like situation where language is just as unnecessary as it is irrelevant. There, in my childish mind, I picture everything being unchanged since the Creation. Illiterate”

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

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.

Ben has worked directly with composers including Francisco Guerrero Marín, Gunther Schuller, and Magnus Lindberg. His live recording of Christian Lauba’s Kwintus for violin solo is available on the Accord/Universal CD Morphing.

Ben also plays the harmonica and first achieved notoriety when his improvisations on that instrument with Leonard Bernstein were broadcast on international television.

Luciano Chessa and friend (photo by Viola Berlanda)

As a composer, conductor, and soloist on instruments as varied as piano, musical saw, Vietnamese đàn bầu, & megaphone distortion/feedback, Luciano Chessa has been active in Europe, the US, Australia, and South America.

Luciano Chessa performing Joan La Barbara's "Hear What I Feel" @ Pamela Z's VOICECAGE, 21 Aug 2012

His compositions include a piano & percussion duet after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Petrolio, written for Sarah Cahill and Chris Froh and presented at the American Academy in Rome, Il pedone dell’aria for orchestra and double children choir, premiered in Torino, and 2 works in collaboration with artist Terry Berlier: Louganis for piano & TV/VCR-combo, and Inkless Imagination IV for viola, mini-bass musical saw, turntables, piano, percussion, FM radios, blimp and video projection.

Luciano Chessa performs on the Vietnamese đàn bầu

Recent premieres include a large orchestral work for the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino titled Ragazzi incoscienti scarabocchiano sulla porta di un negozio fallito an.1902; Movements, a multimedia work for 16mm film, đàn bầu and amplified film projectors produced in collaboration with filmmaker Rick Bahto; Come un’infanzia, a guitar + string quartet piece for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Luciano Chessa performs on the musical saw at the Garden of Memory, Chapel of the Chimes

A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by SFMOMA for Nicole Paiement and Opera Parallèle, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein and video by Kalup Linzy; LIGHTEST, an SFMOMA commission presented last year at the SF Columbarium; and Set and Setting, for San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, premiered in Feb at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

A portion of Futurist sound poem « Zang Tumb Tumb » by Filippo Tomasso Marinetti

Luciano has been performing Futurist sound poetry for well over 10 years, based on a Dada typography which the futurists called parole in libertà, (“words in freedom”), including his reading of Italian Futurist sound poetry to accompany a performance of the Grammy Award Nominated New Century Chamber Orchestra, and he’s given the modern premiere of Francesco Cangiullo’s explosive Futurist sound poems Piedigrotta and Serata in onore di Yvonne to critical acclaim.

« La Musica », painting by Luigi Russolo

Luciano’s also the author of Luigi Russolo, Futurist: Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult, showing for the first time the occult relationship between Futurist painter and sound artist Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori and Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical noisemakers

Luciano Chessa conducts Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners, Performa, 2009 (Photo by Paula Court, courtesy, Performa)

Luciano’s Futurist expertise resulted in a commission by New York City’s Biennial PERFORMA to direct the first reconstruction of Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori orchestra by master instrument builder Keith Cary, and to curate and conduct concerts which received a “Best of 2009″ mention in the New York Times, featuring, among many other compostions, his L’acoustique ivresse, for bassvoice & intonarumori ensemble, and the modern premiere of Russolo’s Risveglio di una città.

Luigi Russolo & Ugo Piatti with the original Intonarumori

As can be seen in this photo, these intonarumori were astonishing early 20th-century synthesizer instruments which were not merely analog, but mechanical (we are talking about crank-driven here, look at Ugo Piatti to the right…).

Luigi Russolo photographed with the Russolophone (c. 1930)

Luciano’s intonarumori orchestra went on to gather new commissions and play at the MART in Rovereto, Italy, as part of the Festival Transart, following with a sold-out intonarumori concert for Berliner Festspiele-MaerzMusik Festival; for Art Basel Miami Beach, he conducted this ensemble with the New World Symphony with Lee Ranaldo in the premiere of Ranaldo’s It All Begins Now! and continued to the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

Luciano Chessa conducting Joan La Barbara and the Magik*Magik Orchestra in the premiere of La Barbara’s “Striation” as part of Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners, Performa, 2009 (Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa)

Luciano brought the ensemble back to the Bay Area last year in an inspired concert at BAM/PFA, and a double LP dedicated to the Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners and documenting the first phase of this project appeared on the label Sub Rosa and promptly sold out.

A video with interviews of Luciano and showing the intonarumori in action can be seen below:

Luciano teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, serves in the Advisory Board of TACET, the international research publication dedicated to Experimental Music of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and collaborates with San Francisco’s Istituto Italiano di Cultura. His music is published by RAI TRADE, the Italian National Broadcast Channels’ music publishing company and Edizioni Carrara.

Join us for a rare electro-acoustic evening, encompassing more than a century of enfants terribles blasting apart musical barriers….

Joe

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MSP/Piano/+: UPRIGHT — w Pamela Z, Sarah Cahill, Luciano Chessa, & Maxxareddu, Thu 10 Jul @ Room Series, Royce Gallery, San Francisco, 8pm

UPRIGHT w Sarah Cahill, Luciano Chessa, Pamela Z, and special guest, AI improvising agent Maxxareddu (Room Series 2014/№ 3, Royce Gallery, San Francisco), Thu 10 Jul

Pamela Z’s fascinating avant-chamber ROOM Series takes place at Royce Gallery, a wonderful black box performance gallery on the border between San Francisco’s Mission and Potrero Hill districts with gorgeous acoustics and beautiful lighting. For many years Pamela Z Arts has presented 3-5 incomparably eclectic shows a year in this special series to an enthusiastic experimental music and performance audience, often uniting performers from wildly different musical worlds, or mixing musicians and other performance artists for a wild, but always beautiful exploration of the unique, the unexpected, and the unforgettable.

Pamela Z @ Ars Electronica 2008 Linz, Austria (photo by rubra, courtesy, Ars Electronica)

These evenings feature a variety of virtuosic, solo artists and chamber groups playing cutting-edge new music. The series has included a wide range of artists including Joëlle Léandre, Carl Stone, JHNO, Zoë Keating, Beth Custer, Amy X Neuburg, Moe! Staiano, Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), Suki O’Kane, and many more. A ROOM series evening often includes up to four extremely varied artists of a certain instrument family or curated around a specific theme, who each play solo works and then join together with the other artists for an ensemble improvisation or scored work.

A wonderful restored vintage-era upright piano (in a former life, also a player piano…) has just come available in the space and will make its debut at this show, an event I’m very happy to take part in, not only with vocal and electronics diva Pamela Z, but also with two of the most inspiring pianists and musicians of the Bay Area (or anywhere), Sarah Cahill and Luciano Chessa.

Time & Place: 8pm, Thu 10 Jul at the Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa Street (between Harrison & Alabama) San Francisco (map).

In the first part of this post, I’ll talk about the fantastic musicians who will be on the program, and in the second part I’ll discuss what I’m doing in this show (jump to Joe Lasqo program description).

Although the focus in this show is on the 3 pianists, their polyamorous relationships with The Upright, and the additional electro-acoustic instruments & entities they bring into the mix, I must first say a bit about our wonderful curatorial hostess, who’ll also contribute a solo piece and join us in the concluding tutti improv….

Pamela Z (photo by Marion Gray, mariongray @ mac . com)

Pamela Z is a San Francisco-based composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampling technology, and video.

A pioneer of live digital looping techniques, she processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers. Her solo works combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, and sampled concrète sounds. She uses Max/MSP and Isadora software along with custom MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound and image with physical gestures. In addition to her performance work, she has a growing body of inter-media gallery works including multi-channel sound and video installations.

Pamela Z in Baggage Allowance (photo Valerie Oliveiro valerie oliveiro @ gmail . com)

Pamela has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan – performing in international festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (New York); la Biennale di Venezia (Italy); the Interlink Festival (Japan); Other Minds (San Francisco); and Pina Bausch Tanztheater’s 25 Jahre Fest (Wuppertal, Germany).  She has composed, recorded and performed original scores for choreographers and for film/video artists, and has done vocal work for other composers (including Charles Amirkhanian, Vijay Iyer, and Henry Brant). Her large-scale, multi-media performance works, Parts of Speech, Gaijin (外人), Voci, and Baggage Allowance have been presented at the Kitchen in New York, Theater Artaud & ODC Theater in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Art Theatre in Chicago, as well as in Washington D.C. & Budapest. Her one-act opera Wunderkabinet inspired by the Museum of Jurassic Technology (co-composed with Matthew Brubeck) premiered at The LAB in San Francisco, and was presented at REDCAT in Los Angeles and Open Ears Festival in Canada. She’s shown media works in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York); Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum (Köln); the Tang Museum (Saratoga Springs NY); the Dakar Biennale (Sénégal); Krannert Art Museum (IL), and the Kitchen (NY).

Pamela Z @ Ars Electronica 2008 Linz, Austria (photo by rubra, courtesy, Ars Electronica)

Pamela has had chamber commissions from Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can Allstars, ETHEL, California E.A.R. Unit, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Empyrean Ensemble, and St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra.  As well as curating and producing the ROOM Series, she’s collaborated with a wide range of artists including Miya Masaoka (正岡みや), Joan Jeanrenaud, Brenda Way (ODC Dance), Jeanne Finley + John Muse, Shinichi Iova-Koga (シンイチ・イオヴァ・コガ), Christina McPhee, Leigh Evans, and Jo Kreiter.  Pamela has participated in several New Music Theatre (now renamed Zakros Interarts) events, including the famous original Fort Mason John Cage festivals, and has performed with The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Her interactive web-based work Baggage Allowance was officially launched in summer of 2011 at baggageallowance.tv where it remains permanently available.

Pamela Z performing a study for Baggage Allowance @ Roulette, NYC (photo by Kimberly Young)

Special mention must be made of Pamela’s recent masterwork, Carbon Song Cycle,  with video collaborator Christina McPhee and master musicians Dana Jessen, Charith Premawardhana (චරිත ප්රේමවර්ධන), Theresa Wong (天欣), and Suki O’Kane. Inspired by ongoing changes and upheavals in the earth’s ecosystem, and by the carbon cycle — the process through which carbon is exchanged between all terrestrial life forms and domains — it’s scored for a chamber ensemble of voice & electronics, viola, cello, bassoon, and percussion, plus immersive, multi-screen video projections.

To compose the music, Pamela wove together melodic motifs inspired by scientific data about the carbon cycle and texts referencing environmental balance and imbalance, playing on the idea of the natural exchange of elements by passing sonic material between the players, as well as exploring audio elements related to the imagery shot at petroleum fields, natural gas locations, and geothermal sites around back-country California, along with carbon-inspired drawings and images of processes involving intense heat and chemical transformations.

Carbon Song Cycle premiered at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive and has toured to Roulette in NYC. If you want to experience something of this alarming and beautiful piece yourself, a video of the BAM/PFA performance can be found above.

Sarah Cahill (Photo by Christine Alicino)

Sarah Cahill, recently called “fiercely gifted” by the New York Times and “as tenacious and committed an advocate as any composer could dream of” by the San Francisco Chronicle, has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to her include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood, and Evan Ziporyn, and she’s also premiered pieces by Lou Harrison, Julia Wolfe, Ingram Marshall, Toshi Ichiyanagi (一柳慧), George Lewis, Leo Ornstein (Лев Орнштейн), and many others. I find her renditions of Kyle Gann’s works particularly mesmerizing; they’ve seemed to me a pinnacle of sensitivity and virtuosity since initially hearing her perform Gann’s Time Does Not Exist at the Other Minds festival a few years ago.

Sarah Cahill (photo by Marianne La Rochelle)

Sarah has researched and recorded the music by the important early 20th-century American modernists Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford, and has commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence.  She enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for performance.  Recent appearances include Spoleto Festival USA, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, the Portland Piano Festival, and the Mendocino Music Festival.  She was recently the soloist with the La Jolla Symphony conducted by Steven Schick for Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto, and she’s performed chamber music with the New Century Chamber Orchestra, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many other chamber groups.

A Sweeter Music, by Sarah Cahill

Sarah’s most recent project, A Sweeter Music, premiered in the Cal Performances series in Berkeley in 2009 and continued to New Sounds Live at Merkin Hall, Rothko Chapel, the North Dakota Museum of Art, Le Poisson Rouge, and venues around the country, with newly commissioned works on the theme of peace by Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Yōko Ono (小野洋子), Frederic Rzewski, Phil Kline, and many others. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that “the music, helped along by the impassioned force of Cahill’s playing, amounted to a persuasive and varied investigation of the subject,” and London’s Financial Times called it “a unique commissioning programme that unites artistic aspirations with moral philosophy.”  Her next project, Utopia/Dystopia, will feature new works by young composers envisioning the future of the planet.

(L→R) Sarah Cahill with Chris Froh and Luciano Chessa, Villa Aurelia, Rome (photo by Laurie San Martin)

Most of Sarah’s albums are on the New Albion label. She has also recorded for the CRI, New World, Other Minds, Tzadik, Albany, Cold Blue, and Artifact labels.  Her album A Sweeter Music was released by Other Minds, and she’s currently preparing a CD of Patterns of Plants by Mamoru Fujieda (藤枝守). Her radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco.  She’s on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory, hosts a new music series at the Exploratorium, and curates a monthly series of new music concerts at the Berkeley Art Museum.

Sarah will premier a new piece by Peter Garland, After the Wars, and also play pieces by Luciano Chessa.

Luciano Chessa and friend (photo by Viola Berlanda)

As a composer, conductor, and soloist on instruments as varied as piano, musical saw, Vietnamese đàn bầu, & megaphone distortion/feedback, Luciano Chessa has been active in Europe, the US, Australia, and South America.

Luciano Chessa performing Joan La Barbara's "Hear What I Feel" @ Pamela Z's VOICECAGE, 21 Aug 2012

His compositions include a piano & percussion duet after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Petrolio, written for Sarah Cahill and Chris Froh and presented at the American Academy in Rome, Il pedone dell’aria for orchestra and double children choir, premiered in Torino, and 2 works in collaboration with artist Terry Berlier: Louganis for piano & TV/VCR-combo, and Inkless Imagination IV for viola, mini-bass musical saw, turntables, piano, percussion, FM radios, blimp and video projection.

Luciano Chessa performs on the Vietnamese đàn bầu

Recent premieres include a large orchestral work for the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino titled Ragazzi incoscienti scarabocchiano sulla porta di un negozio fallito an.1902; Movements, a multimedia work for 16mm film, đàn bầu and amplified film projectors produced in collaboration with filmmaker Rick Bahto; Come un’infanzia, a guitar + string quartet piece for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Luciano Chessa performs on the musical saw at the Garden of Memory, Chapel of the Chimes

A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by SFMOMA for Nicole Paiement and Opera Parallèle, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein and video by Kalup Linzy; LIGHTEST, an SFMOMA commission presented last year at the SF Columbarium; and Set and Setting, for San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, premiered in Feb at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

A portion of Futurist sound poem « Zang Tumb Tumb » by Filippo Tomasso Marinetti

Luciano has been performing Futurist sound poetry for well over 10 years, based on a Dada typography which the futurists called parole in libertà, (“words in freedom”), including his reading of Italian Futurist sound poetry to accompany a performance of the Grammy Award Nominated New Century Chamber Orchestra

Cover of « Piedigrotta » by Francesco Cangiullo

… and he’s given the modern premiere of Francesco Cangiullo’s explosive Futurist sound poems Piedigrotta and Serata in onore di Yvonne to critical acclaim.

Exotic scores of the 14-century - An Ars Subtilior chanson about love « Belle, bonne, sage » by Baude Cordier, in a heart shape, with red notes indicating rhythmic alterations

As a musicologist, his areas of research include 20th-century, experimental, late fourteenth-century music (Ars Subtilior), and Italian 1990′s hip-hop.  Luciano received a Ph.D. in musicology from UC Davis; at the Conservatorio di Musica, Bologna he earned a DMA. in piano and a MA in composition. His research focuses on 20th-century & experimental music and can be found in Musica e Storia (Levi Foundation, Venice).

« La Musica », painting by Luigi Russolo

Luciano’s also the author of Luigi Russolo, Futurist: Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult, showing for the first time the occult relationship between Futurist painter and sound artist Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori and Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical noisemakers

Luciano Chessa conducts Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners, Performa, 2009 (Photo by Paula Court, courtesy, Performa)

Luciano’s Futurist expertise resulted in a commission by New York City’s Biennial PERFORMA to direct the first reconstruction of Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori orchestra by master instrument builder Keith Cary, and to curate and conduct concerts which received a “Best of 2009″ mention in the New York Times, featuring, among many other compostions, his L’acoustique ivresse, for bassvoice & intonarumori ensemble, and the modern premiere of Russolo’s Risveglio di una città.

Luigi Russolo & Ugo Piatti with the original Intonarumori

As can be seen in this photo, these intonarumori were astonishing early 20th-century synthesizer instruments which were not merely analog, but mechanical (we are talking about crank-driven here, look at Ugo Piatti to the right…).

Luigi Russolo photographed with the Russolophone (c. 1930)

Luciano’s intonarumori orchestra went on to gather new commissions and play at the MART in Rovereto, Italy, as part of the Festival Transart, following with a sold-out intonarumori concert for Berliner Festspiele-MaerzMusik Festival; for Art Basel Miami Beach, he conducted this ensemble with the New World Symphony with Lee Ranaldo in the premiere of Ranaldo’s It All Begins Now! and continued to the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

Luciano Chessa conducting Joan La Barbara and the Magik*Magik Orchestra in the premiere of La Barbara’s “Striation” as part of Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners, Performa, 2009 (Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa)

Luciano brought the ensemble back to the Bay Area last year in an inspired concert at BAM/PFA, and a double LP dedicated to the Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners and documenting the first phase of this project appeared on the label Sub Rosa and promptly sold out.

A video with interviews of Luciano and showing the intonarumori in action can be seen below:

Luciano teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, serves in the Advisory Board of TACET, the international research publication dedicated to Experimental Music of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and collaborates with San Francisco’s Istituto Italiano di Cultura. His music is published by RAI TRADE, the Italian National Broadcast Channels’ music publishing company and Edizioni Carrara.

¾ of the Half-Human Quartet - (L → R): Joe Lasqo, Ritwik Banerji (ঋত্বিক ব্যানার্জী) & Maxxareddu, 25 Jul 2013 @ Outsound New Music Summit (Photo: PeterBKaars.com, http://www.peterbkaars.com)

Maxxareddu is my AI improvising agent associate, formally premiered at the computer music night which I curated for Outsound New Music Summit 2013 (link, scroll down to Set 2), and who also slips sometimes unannounced into a number of my laptop-based performances

He’s a past member, along with Ritwik Banerji (ঋত্বিক ব্যানার্জী) and Ritwik’s improvising agent, Maxine, in the ensemble, Half-Human Quartet (we’ll both miss Ritwik and Maxine, who are shortly off to Berlin… Gute Reise!).

Maxxareddu uses a variety of techniques ranging from blackboard architectures and, especially, computational event-grammars, from my past work in expert systems development and natural language processing, to listen to, analyze, and improvise with both human and non-human partners.

Joe Lasqo & Morgana perform w Jim Ryan's Green Alembic in the sfSoundSalonSeries at Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Apr 2014 (Photo by Carly Hoopes)

I am truly privileged to join these eminent colleagues for what I’m sure will be a rare night of musical beauty.

I don’t have detailed advance info about the solo segments which Pamela Z, Sarah Cahill and Luciano Chessa intend to present in this show, but, turning to my part of the program, here is some info below (or jump to series description & bios of Pamela, Sarah and Luciano above).

Chōshi (調子) - Japanese Notation

Chōshi électro-acoustique (電子音響の調子)

Based on a “chōshi” (a “tuning prélude”) which is associated with one of the oldest shakuhachi pieces, Hon Shirabe (本調べ), this is a “other-timed” music, organized into phrases controlled by breath-time.

It’s been my privilege to work with some of the great shakuhachi players of the Bay Area like Nancy Beckman, Cornelius Shinzen (深禅) Boots, and Karl Young who have taught me a lot about riding and letting “breath” into my instruments (piano, laptop, percussion) — instruments which ordinarily could almost be described as “anti-breath”. The practice of chōshi has been a good place to apply these insights.

Cover of Joe Lasqo's Album "Turquoise Sessions", available 18 Oct 2011from Edgetone Records

I’ve recorded an earlier, purely piano version of this piece on my CD, Turquoise Sessions. In this second chōshi piece, I add laptop-based MSP synthesis as well.

Many of the wind techniques of the shakuhachi (e.g. overblowing) aren’t available on the piano, so I’ve developed a toolbox of effect-substitution strategies which sometimes use a quite different sound or technique than the original (including at times markéd distortions to the original pitches or modality) — and all the more so for the digital electronics.

Also I generally held the structure over the flame a bit to see which way it would melt…

The result is a sequence where each phrase has a different flavor like one sound-color shifting into another.

John Cage and D.T. Suzuki (鈴木 大拙 貞太郎)

Cyber Renga-kai [Q] (サイバー連歌会 )

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 garden streams specially 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 fundamental 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.

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…).

In the past, I’ve presented Renga-kai with human duet partners in the ensemble; in this show I’ll perform the form for the first time with a non-human duet partner, Maxxareddu.

Sarasvatī (सरस्वती) on her animal mount, the swan; painting by Navneet Parikh (नवनीत पारिख)

Sa-Z Chissà? in rāga Mandāri (ராகம் மந்தாரி)

A relatively traditional Indo-Modernist composition of mine in the 3-part South Indian form rāgam-tānam-pallavi (well, not SO traditional… it’s on the piano with harmonies…. and for this show, it will be concentrated into a brief piece from a more usual performance time of 40-50 min).

The term rāgam-tānam-pallavi refers to the 3 sections of this form:

(1) rāgam (ராகம்) – slow intro in unmetered time to establish the rāga

(2) tānam (தானம்) – a section of rhythmic play which is faster and involves using more complex rhythmic phrases

(3) pallavi (பல்லவி) – a presentation of the melody in metered time, faster

If you’ve listened to either North or South Indian classical music, you’ll find this form not unfamiliar, and it is my hope that you’ll appreciate the wonderful potential of the piano as a nontraditional instrument for the grand and vital Karnatic tradition of South India.

The rāga for this program, Mandāri (ராகம் மந்தாரி), has become an obsession for me of late. Its complex emotional flavor — warm and yet mysterious, fully feeling the world’s tragic nature and yet witty and strong — is a result of its rich intervallic structures, which geometrically recur in yin and yang positions.

In addition to the above, I’ll also join the other players for free improv. Who knows what’ll happen when our musical worlds intersect…?

In lesser hands, the turbo-eclectisicm of this group of musicians might spin out of control; under the wearable-controller baton of Pamela Z, it will become a night-blooming sonic flower of rare alien beauty.

A flower that will bloom only once… hold it with your mind and come vibrate with us….

Joe

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MSP/Synth/+: Waitomo Caves Improv’erture — w the double Kiwilectric power of Simon O’Rorke / Paul Winstanley, the alien élan of Tom Nunn’s invented instruments, and the software wu of Joe Lasqo, Sun 25 May @ The Nunnery, San Francisco, 2pm (two sets)

Waitomo Caves, North Island, Aotearoa/New Zealand

On the flimsiest of connections with Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave Overture, we present a Waitomo Caves Improv’erture featuring two of New Zealand’s finest electronic musicians, Simon O’Rorke and Paul Winstanley, who’ll be joined by prolific instrument inventor Tom Nunn and myself, Joe Lasqo, playing synthesizer, laptop, and small percussion.

(Examiner.com preview with more about the Fingal’s Cave Overture connection: here.)

This will be improvising synthesist and percussionist Simon O’Rorke’s only Bay Area appearance on his current US tour.

Glowworms, Waitomo Caves, North Island, Aotearoa/New Zealand

After achieving psychotropic tele-telepathic resonance with the members of the unique Waitomo cave glowworm habitat half a world away in Aotearoa’s North Island, our band of intersonic spelunkers will be driven to the deepest frontiers of audio experience by the glowworms’ chill incandescence.

The Nunnery

The site of this inter-spatial / interspecies experiment could be no other than The Nunnery (address and map below), the secret lair and new-instrument research lab of sound-inventor Tom Nunn, who’s begun hosting a series of concerts there which often involve invented / homebrew instruments and extended improvisational techniques.

Part of the Invented Instrument orchestra @ The Nunnery

The performance space is surrounded by Tom’s latest creations. Twice a month he opens his atelier to the public for performances on a Sunday afternoon and a Monday evening, and we look forward to a matinée performance there at 2pm, Sun 25 Nov (3016 25th St., San Francisco, CA 94110, between Florida and Alabama Streets, map)

One kiwi makes you larger…

And one kiwi makes you small…

Simon O'Rorke in his studio w synths & bronze percussion, Wellington, 01 Jan 2014 (photo by Mary Roberts)

The show’s guest of honor is synthesist/percussionist Simon O’Rorke, a key driver of the Wellington improv scene and a daring pathbreaker even by the standards of the convention-disregarding, menefreghista, follow-the-sound-wherever-it-goes culture of New Zealand improv.

Simon O'Rorke gives birth to a new sound, 03 Jan 2005... (photo by Brian Latimer)

Originally from Britain, Simon was already ignited by early studies there in the improv workshops of UK improv revolutionaries John Stevens and Trevor Watts (of Spontaneous Music Ensemble) when he emigrated to Aotearoa in the late 80s.

And puts it to good use… Simon O'Rorke playing 32-in. Paiste Earth & Symphonic gongs at O'Rorke Towers, Wellington, 03 Jan 2005. (Photo - Brian Latimer)

Spearheading the diffusion of improv practices and techniques from European improv and American free jazz into the Southern Pacific, he organized the groundbreaking Wellington improv trio The Slab, w saxophonist Brian Hutson, and later, guitarist Matthew Mitchell, switching from his original instruments, bass guitar and synthesizer, to percussion in the process.

WMFOOMD (Wellington Most Famous Orchestra of Miraculous Delights) performs at iiii Festival, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 8 Nov 2011

Later configurations of The Slab also included antipodal improv masters, guitarist Daniel Beban and saxophonist Anton Wuts.

Simon has also been active in the improv supergroup The Wellington Most Famous Orchestra of Miraculous Delights (WMFOOMD).

Simon O'Rorke's percussion tour de force w Alphabethead (David Morrison), Clangophonica

The unique percussion sensibility and extended techniques for both performing and electronically processing percussive sounds that Simon has pioneered were well in evidence in a string of later collaborations, especial the astonishing work with turntablist Alphabethead (David Morrison) in the duo Clangophone and with laptopist Octif (Shanan Holm) in the duo Peel (PErcussion vs ELectronics).

Pattern Recognition, masterpiece of processed percussion by Peel, the collaboration between Simon O'Rorke and Octif (Shanan Holm)

The albums made by these duos, Clangophonica by Clangophone, and Pattern Recognition by Peel, cannot be recommended too highly. Check them out and you’ll be taken to wild and very beautiful frontiers of electro-percussive sound.

Confluence (L→R - Julie Bevan, Michael Hall, Chris Prosser, Simon O'Rorke), outside the notorious Fred's, Wellington 17th Feb 2013. (Photo- Michael Hall)

Since 2011, Simon has been active mostly again as a synthesist, carving out another new sonic space in the free improv quartet Confluence, along with with musical polymath Chris Prosser (violin), Wellington’s doyenne of Braziliana, Julie Bevan (nylon-string guitar), and jazz reedist Michael Hall (saxophones & clarinet).

Locally, Simon’s previous shows in California have included the Big Sur Experimental Music Festival and collaborations with Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Bob Marsh, John Shiurba, and Brian Eubanks.

Would you buy a used skatchbox from these guys? Music For Hard Times, duo of Paul WInstanley (L) & Tom Nunn (R)

Simon will be joined by fellow Aotearoan, “eelectric” bassist and “eelectronic” musician Paul Winstanley, and instrument-inventor Tom Nunn, who often play together as the virtuoso free-improv duo Music For Hard Times.

Paul Winstanley performing at Berkeley Arts Festival, 16 Oct 2012 (photo by Michael Zelner)

Paul Winstanley is an improvising electric bass player from New Zealand who specializes in extended techniques. In addition to trying to make his bass sound like electronics he is interested in making electronic music that sounds like natural environments. He has several solo projects including Sci Hi (electronic feedback), Speed Cook (music from sound samples and non-musical sounds) and The Complete Recordings (artificial simulations of field recordings).

One of Paul WInstanley's outlandish solo albums, Who Trusts Crucicble ? Crucible Trusts No-one

Paul lived in Auckland, New Zealand for 10 years where he was part of the growing local and national experimental/improvising music scene, playing in groups w/luminaries like instrument inventor Phil Dadson, percussionist John Bell, radical concert brass band The NZ Dominion Centenary Concert Band, folk icon Fats White, abstract electronic supergroup Plains and improvising electronic trio Audible 3. Paul was a founding member of Auckland improvising collective vitamin_s (Wikipedia, website), which has drawn improvisatory trios from a pool of 100+ members for a weekly concert series for over a decade. Paul was also active in the Houston avant-improv scene, before settling in San Francisco.

Tom Nunn playing his invented instrument, The Crab

Tom Nunn (Bold Italic interview, bio), has designed, built and performed with original musical instruments since 1976, and has built over 200 instruments, including his latest obsession, the visually arresting Skatchbox.

Your mind on Tom Nunn's Lukie Tubes Resonance Plates... Are You Experienced?

His instruments typically use commonly available materials, are sculptural in appearance, use contact microphones for amplification, and are designed specifically for improvisation with elements of ambiguity, unpredictability and nonlinearity.  Tom has performed extensively throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, as well as in other parts of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and New Zealand, both as soloist and with other musicians.  Tom also performs with T.D. Skatchit, RTD3, Ghost in the House, Music for Hard Times (duo with Paul Winstanley) and has appeared on a number of recordings, including his solo CD, Identity (2007), T.D. Skatchit & Company (2009) and Skatch Migration (2010) (Edgetone Records).  In 1998, he published Wisdom of the Impulse: On the Nature of Musical Free Improvisation.

As a duo, Music For Hard Times is more than the sum of its formidable parts and has not only performed regularly throughout the Bay Area over the last two years, but has recorded a series of brilliantly unclassifiable albums at Tom Nunn’s instrument-inventor’s laboratory and experimental music venue/studio, The Nunnery. Check out these one-of-a-kind sonic adventures at their label, Docking Station.

Joe Lasqo & Morgana perform w Jim Ryan's Green Alembic in the sfSoundSalonSeries at Center for New Music, San Francisco, 15 Apr 2014 (Photo by Carly Hoopes)

It’s my great pleasure and honor to join these eminent colleagues for your listening enjoyment.

Māori Carving, Ohinemutu Marae Meeting House, Rotorua, North Island, Aotearoa/New Zealand (photo by Ceri Watkins)

Join us for a glorious afternoon of electronic, extended, invented, antipodean improv – kia ora!

Joe

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