Friday, October 28, 2011

Change to Venue Info, etc., on Previous Post

My duo w/Kristin Slipp, twins of el dorado, will in fact be performing at the Highwire Gallery on November 20, not the Greenline Cafe - please see my End o' 2011 Calendar. Also, I have the full lineup listed, which will include Split Red (as ever), with Travis Laplante and the Pirog/Verrastro Duo performing as well! OK.

Monday, October 24, 2011

News News News

Some pretty exciting happenings abound recently. First off, I'm pretty happy for my friends in Many Arms - they are set to release their most recent recording, named Beyond Territories, on Tzadik! These guys are a pretty serious unit - if you haven't seen or heard them, just take a look-see and listen.

Also, Wishgift, a kick-ass prog-punk group from Chicago, will be playing on Wednesday at Death by Audio in Brooklyn. I'm excited. You should be too. Details here.

Lastly, but not least-ly, there's a show I'm pretty psyched to be a part of this week - on Thursday night, trumpeter and composer Brad Henkel will present a new piece for sextet at the Launch Pad in Brooklyn. Please check out Brad's calendar for more details.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Photos: Ad Faunum at Gallery 263

Some photos from last week's show by Sophie.

End o' 2011 Calendar

A little calendar action for you all. Here's what's going on, so far, for the rest of the year. I'm pretty excited about all of these performances - they include a CD release performance by my quintet Ad Faunum, and a reincarnation, of sorts, of my duo with Kristin Slipp, now named 'twins of el dorado'.

Keep yer eyes peeled for the release of Ad Faunum on Not Two Records this year, as well as a release by the Bailly/Millevoi/Moffett Trio at the beginning of 2012!

Thursday, October 27, 8:00pm: w/Brad Henkel's new sextet @ Launch Pad (721 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn). Also being performed that night is Nathaniel Morgan's work for 8 percussionists and a solo dance work by Brooke Herr.

Friday, November 18, 8:00pm: Bailly/Millevoi/Moffett Trio @ Highwire Gallery (2040 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia). Other performers TBA.

Sunday, November 20, 7:30pm: twins of el dorado (duo w/Kristin Slipp (vox)) @ Highwire Gallery, Philadelphia - plus Split Red, Travis Laplante, and the Pirog/Verrastro Duo. $6 admission.

Friday, December 9, 8:00pm: CD release performance by Ad Faunum. Opening set by Kristin Slipp / Dov Manski duo.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ad Faunum CD Release

So I officially have my first release coming out this fall on the Polish label Not Two! The release is the self-titled debut of Ad Faunum, my dual-bass, microtonal improv quintet. It features Noah Kaplan (sax), Giacomo Merega (electric bass), Jacob William (double bass) and Luther Gray (drums). I may be stating the obvious, for those of you who know these guys and the sounds they make, but I'll say it anyway - they are all extraordinary musicians and are a total pleasure to work with. It's the kind of group in which I am in awe of the players that surround me. A great, if sometimes intimidating, position to be in as a "leader" (I still sometimes have trouble with this distinction, as the music is totally collective and improvised). The album is a solid hour of improvised tracks, all recorded at Firehouse 12 studios on one brisk day in New Haven last year. There are actually a handful of tracks that don't appear on this release... but perhaps I can put some of them out in the future - in case anyone is curious, here's an unreleased track.

The release date is pending, but I'll post it once I have the official date.

Here are the dates for the two Ad Faunum shows currently on the books:

Saturday, October 15 @ 7:30 p.m.: Gallery 263 in Cambridge, MA.

Friday, December 9, two sets starting at @ 8:00 p.m.: Douglass Street Music Collective in Brooklyn, NY. Also performing will be one of my favorite duos: Kristin Slipp and Dov Manski (check out their bandcamp page).

Monday, August 8, 2011

August Calendar

A handful of shows will be happening this month. One of them is the premiere of my apartment's "house band" Hairy Messiah (a.k.a. Harry Messiah).

August 10, 8:30: Hairy Messiah performs with special guest Dana Jessen (bassoon). Hairy Messiah is Joe Moffett (tpt), Matt Plummer (tbn), Wes Matthews (pn/kbd) and Kevin McFarland (cello). Also performing, Giacomo Merega (e. bass) and Eli Keszler (drums).

Douglass Street Music Collective
295 Douglass St.
Brooklyn, NY

August 12, 7:00: Bird Fly Yellow. Also performing, String 4tet: Nathan Bontranger (cello), James Ilgenfritz (bass), Al Margolis (violin), Ben Shirley (guitar); and Duo: Adam Matlock and Carl Testa - accordion, string bass, electronics.

Uncertainty Music Series
@ Bru Cafe
141 Orange Street
New Haven, CT

August 13, 8:00: Bird Fly Yellow; Genghis Complex.

The Spotty Dog

440 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534

August 25, 8:00: Ad Faunum: Joe Moffett (tpt), Noah Kaplan (sax), Giacomo Merega (e. bass), Jason Nazary (dr). Additional performers TBA.

Douglass Street Music Collective
295 Douglass St.
Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June "Calendar"

A quiet month at the moment, but a couple fun performances will be happening nonetheless. First will be my solo trumpet performance at the Douglass Street Music Collective. This is taking place on Wednesday, June 8, at 8:00. Contrary to one of my earlier posts, I will not be performing "Obstructions for Trumpet." Still, some of those ideas have leaked into my current playing and will surface sub- or not-so-subconsciously, I suspect. I am very happy to be joined by Buckminster, who will be performing at 9:00.

Later this month, I will perform at International Waters in Philadelphia with the Johnny DeBlase Quartet. This will be happening on Saturday, June 25.

As usual, keep posted for more details!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Recordings: Past and Future

Here are some updates on my myriad recording sessions. My quintet Ad Faunum, with Noah Kaplan (sax), Jacob William (b), Giacomo Merega (e b), and Luther Gray (dr) will be released later this year on Not Two. More information, such as the album title, release date, etc. will be announced. Stay tuned!

Bird Fly Yellow recently went into the studio to record its full-length debut. We spent a day at Trout Recording and had a very fruitful session. We will be re-entering the studio to mix the session within a month’s time, and we hope to release the album by next Summer, 2012.

Alban Bailly, it turns out, is not only a guitar wizard but a great home-recording engineer as well. He, guitarist Nick Millevoi and I recorded a fully-improvised trio session in Alban's basement in April and are very pleased with the result. We will be mixing this one ourselves, and we’ll see if we can get it released for public consumption in the near future.

This weekend, I will be meeting up with my good friend Jeff Kimmel to do a couple performances and record a duo session as well. Jeff, who recently saw the release of a trio album, tilting, with Jacob Wick and David Moré, is one of the best bass clarinetist-improvisers around, and putting a little something on tape with him will be a great pleasure.

Finally, I'll be recording with the Johnny DeBlase Quartet on June 26, which performed not long ago at the Highwire Gallery in Philadelphia. The recorded material will consist of Johnny's compositions and, of course, lots of improvising.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May Calendar: Super Message Body

This is how May is shaping up so far: Well.

May 7, 10:00: w/ Jeff Kimmel (bass clar), Marc Riordan (dr), and Brian Labycz (synth) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago. Also performing: Wingbridge.

May 8: Duo recording w/ Jeff!

May 9, 7:30: Duo performance w/ Jeff at Myopic Books, Chicago.

May 28, 8:00: Performance of a piece by Brad Henkel, "Shopping List for the World Ends" for 4 trumpets, 2 guitars, and narrator. Also featuring performances by Mariel Berger's quartet and Dan Peck (tuba). Show takes place at Jonathan Wood Vincent's UWS apt.: 201 W. 86th Street Apt. 806 (The Belnord), New York, NY

Follow them links!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rant in All Clefs

Since free improvisation is not, de facto, avant garde anymore, we shouldn't assume that what we're making is somehow innovative or new. Currently, this mode of performing is problematic because it can act as a haven for perfectly talented and learned people to make music that lacks the furor and prescience of truly avant-garde music, while there still being the assumption that it is somehow "different" from other kinds of music. And by furor or prescience, I'm not referring necessarily to volume, density, or speed. What I mean is a personal or personal-political furor (because the personal is political and the act of collective improvising has political implications), or the prescience of a music that leads one (performer and audience member alike) to think in a more sensitive or simply different manner. So let's do it. Let's go somewhere truly exciting and take an audience with us.

Part of the issue is the inherent revolutionary attitude that is presumed by free improvisation. It is, for example, a valid question to ask whether this kind of music must actually do something new, every time. Can't we simply be good at it? But when I ask this I come to the conclusion that for it to be good it must at least be vigorous, which, in a way, aligns it with other forms of music (isn't all truly "good" music simply a perfect expression in its time, extending beyond its temporal locus?).

There is a much larger discussion to be had outside of this post. But I should take this moment to point out that there are people who specialize in free improv that do not rest on its history in order to prove its relevance. Let's be sure to follow their lead, in the spirit of what these performers do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Happenings

I am excited. Not just because I'm excitable, but mostly because there are happenings that merit... excitement. Bird Fly Yellow will be performing twice this coming weekend, and will also be recording at the end of the month. And April 15 will see the return of Gleason's Twins, my duo with vocalist Kristin Slipp.

Big thanks to Matt Plummer, Bonnie Lander, Owen Stewart-Robertson, Brad Henkel, and Derek Beckvold for all their work in putting these events together. (If I missed anyone, please accost me, preferably on the street.)

April 9, 8:00: Sunshine Soldier / Pink Brown / Masri, Cohen Duo / Bird Fly Yellow

International Waters
532 S. 48th St.
Philadelphia, PA

April 10, 8:30: Bird Fly Yellow / OS-R, Niggenkemper, Gray / Sunshine Soldier

Douglass Street Music Collective
295 Douglass St.
Brooklyn, NY

April 15, 8:30: [Music + Words]: Gleason's Twins / Ben Syversen Trio / Box Lunch

Douglass St. Music Collective
295 Douglass St.
Brooklyn, NY

April 30: Bird Fly Yellow recording at Trout Studio in Brooklyn.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I remember Joe Morris talking to me about a “pivot” where a given moment in an improvisation is like a triangulation that references points immediately before and after in time, or above, below, left, or right, etc. in space. Listening back to some recordings from my last year in school, it seems that it was definitely having an effect on me – I’m trying to recapture this idea in my current playing, as I sometimes find it’s lacking (did I forget?). The idea, if memory serves, is one way of dealing with “line,” where the line continues (as it does naturally because it exists in time), but I as the improviser do not coddle (or swaddle) it. If the line of music is a child, you have to let it go out and play. The line of course is not only mine but mine in relation to others’ – a klangfarbenmelodie of fragmented swing, blips, ringing tones, etc.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thingness: A Little Leslie Scalapino

I've been reading an earlier series by Leslie Scalapino, hmmmm. I'm finding myself falling into her work more and more, after a brief hiatus. There is something quite tangible about this writing, where I can simultaneously relate to the emotion in the work while at the same time be strangely freed of its inherent heat. She utilizes decidedly biological symbols in this series (the water lily, the fish, and, like George Oppen, the anemone) that act to objectify and thus cool narratives that arise from “extreme” emotional or socio-economic states.

Or, as in covering a contortionist with a blanket, allow one to see the shape discarded of the uncomfortable and unflattering tangle of the body.

The narratives are folded. I read first the happening - say, of searching frantically for someone in a park at night - and then the symbolic overlay brings me away from the intensity of the first-hand experience. With Scalapino often acting as a conduit of another's reflection on an historical (personal) action, there is a further distancing of the narrative by degrees, further cooling it, giving it a certain solidity, tangibility, and "thingness."

It is a hunk of obsidian.

The series is available via the linked site above, the Electronic Poetry Center at Buffalo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Difficult Fish, or A Post About Everything

I've been sitting on this post for a little while now. It's a bit half-baked, but nonetheless has been what I've been feeling swimming around my brain for the past month.

The difficulty being that, when living in New York and practicing any art, one has to do more of everything, with less time to do it. I’m finding myself in this challenging position. “Everything” means not having a sole focus on practice. I want to see more performances, of friends as well as people I don't know personally, of "up-and-coming" musicians as well as those "established."

Also, I would like to spend more time online in a constructive capacity. “Constructive” almost literally – building a repertoire of words to support the framework of my musical tree house. That includes the music of others, of course. It is always important - and maybe now more than ever, amid a recession and all the challenges stemming from it - to support one another.

So how does a person accomplish everything?

New York is a difficult fish. Even if you're hungry and want to eat you first have to catch it and know how to cook it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Addendum on "Obstructions for 'Solo' Trumpet"

You may ask why I put the word "solo" in quotes for this piece. I can't divulge everything, because I don't want to ruin any surprises, but let's just say the music I'll be making on June 8 will have one foot in the tradition of solo instrumental improv, and one foot kicking (or softly nudging) its counterpart repeatedly. There will be doppelgangers, voice walls, and hopefully a macked-out ride (for solo instrumentalist, of course).

The tentative titles for the pieces are as follows:

Obstruction #1: Wall
Obstruction #2: Mutes
Obstruction #3: Solo for Four Voices
Obstruction #4: Background Music

Oh Fun

I’m not going to even talk about how long it’s been since I last posted something on my blog. Oops!

Below is a list of some upcoming shows that I’d like you to know about. There are a lot of "TBAs," so be sure to check back for said announcements.

March 24, 8:00: Moffett/Kaplan/Merega/Nazary @ Doulgass St. Music Collective w/ Henkel/Carlson duo.

April 9, 9:00: Bird Fly Yellow @ International Waters (Philadelphia) w/ Henkel/Carlson/Stardrum and others, TBA
April 10, time TBA: Bird Fly Yellow @ Douglass St. Music Collective w/ Henkel/Carlson/Stardrum
April 30: Bird Fly Yellow is in the studio!

May 7, 10:00: w/ Jeff Kimmel (bass clar), Marc Riordan (dr), and Brian Labycz (synth) at Heaven Gallery in Chicago. Also performing: Wingbridge.

May 9, 7:30: w/ Jeff Kimmel at Myopic Books, Chicago.

June 8, 8:30: Obstructions for “Solo” Trumpet @ Douglass St. Music Collective. Also performing: Buckminster.

More dates with Bird Fly Yellow to be announced – looks like we’ll be in Washington DC and Baltimore in June. Check our website for updates: