9:00 – Adam Lane / Mark Whitecage / Lou Grassi “Drunk Butterfly”
Mark Whitecage – alto saxophone, clarinet
Adam Lane – double bass
Lou Grassi – drums
10:30 – Michael Dessen Trio “Between Shadow and Space”
Michael Dessen – trombone
Christopher Tordini – double bass
Tyshawn Sorey – drums
9:00 – Stephen Gauci “Basso Continuo”
Stephen Gauci – tenor saxophone
Nate Wooley – trumpet
Ken Filiano – double bass
Mike Bisio – double bass
10:30 – Dual Identity
Steve Lehman – alto saxophone
Rudresh Mahanthappa – alto saxophone
Liberty Ellman – guitar
Matt Brewer – double bass
Damion Reid – drums
8:00 – The Empty Cage Quartet “Stratostrophic”
Jason Mears – alto saxophone, clarinet
Kris Tiner – trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Kikuchi – drums, percussion, electronics
Ivan Johnson – double bass
Co-sponsored by the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT)
9:30 – Dennis González / Rachiim Ausar Sahu Duo
Dennis Gonzalez – trumpet
Rachiim Ausar Sahu – double bass
Co-sponsored by the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT)
8:00 – Elliott Sharp / Scott Fields “Scharfefelder”
Elliott Sharp –¬ acoustic guitar
Scott Fields- acoustic guitar
9:30 – Tony Malaby’s Tamarindo with William Parker and Nasheet Waits
Tony Malaby – tenor and soprano saxophones
William Parker –¬ double bass
Nasheet Waits – drums
8:00 – Sean Conly’s Re:Action
Joe Fiedler – trombone
Michaël Attias – alto and baritone saxophones
Sean Conly – double bass
Pheeroan Aklaff – drums
9:30 – Michael Blake “Hellbent”
Michael Blake – tenor saxophone
Marcus Rojas – tuba
Charlie Burnham – violin
Calvin Weston – drums
Adam Lane / Mark Whitecage / Lou Grassi
In addition to being a superb bassist, Adam Lane is a composer with superior skills. Drummer Lou Grassi and saxophonist Mark Whitecage are better known as improvisers, but as it turns out they have wicked composer chops too. “Drunk Butterfly”, the trio’s first record (on Clean Feed) draw on the scores from all the three members of this trio. There’s improvisation – astonishing improvisation – but listen to the moving structures, buildings morphing like clouds in the sky. There is a democratic division of authorship in the band and of, shall we call it, “performership” as well. This is not simply the gathering of a soloist with a rhythm section. The trio demonstrates a rare quality of collective thought. And, curiously enough considering the free jazz creds of the musicians, be-bop flavors every track (in fact, the first piece is titled “The Last of the Beboppers) and the music swings like crazy. You can dance to it.
Michael Dessen Trio
With a unique blend of adventurous improvisation, intricate compositions, spacious electro-acoustic soundscapes, and polyrhythmic flow, the Michael Dessen Trio charts a fresh path through the currents of contemporary music. Led by composer-improviser Michael Dessen on trombone and laptop, the trio also features two phenomenal young musicians, Tyshawn Sorey on drums and Christopher Tordini on bass. On “Between Shadow and Space”, their 2008 release on Clean Feed Records, the trio uses departure points from poetry, visual art, and politics to catalyze intense introspection alongside exuberant blowing.Dessen made his leader debut in 2007 with Lineal, an album of original compositions that featured veteran improvisers such as Mark Dresser, Susie Ibarra, and Vijay Iyer. Having studied with Yusef Lateef, George Lewis and Anthony Davis, and with sideman recording credits that include Yusef Lateef among many others, Dessen is also a member of the collective Cosmologic quartet, whose three releases and international tours have been been praised by critics for their unique sound.
Stephen Gauci “Basso Continuo”
The name “Basso Continuo” refers not to early music but rather to the double double bass backbone Mike Bisio and Ken Filiano (Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on the CD) provide to Stephen Gauci’s quartet. On this remarkable group these sub-sonic kindred spirits interweave to form a latticework that supports the multitude of sounds that tenor saxophonist Stephen Gauci and trumpeter Nate Wooley draw from their instruments and imaginations. Somehow the pair squeeze their oversized axes into every nook and cranny the music creates. They are here, then there, lurking, then striking.
In sharp contrast to the faux-baroque name of Gauci’s quartet, the title of the album and each of the tracks have Indian overtones, perhaps bringing to mind John Coltrane’s late spiritual works. And of course Gauci plays the tenor saxophone, and so, like all who followed Coltrane, owes a debt to the tenor’s great master. Gauci’s more immediate indebtedness, however, is to his former teachers, “mainstream” greats Joe Lovano and George Garzone. His front-line running mate, Wooley, is one of the most daring experimentalists of present day improvisation and a brass master in his own right. These two teams —the pair of provocative horn players and the contemporary basso continuo — make a fantastic and unexpected combination.
Dual Identity represents the future of the alto saxophone. Co-led by Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa, (both voted Rising Stars of the Alto Saxophone by the Downbeat International Critics Poll and widely regarded as the most remarkable new voices on the instrument), Dual Identity is a state-of-the-art quintet that defines the absolute cutting-edge in composition and improvisation coming out of New York City’s contemporary jazz scene.
The Empty Cage Quartet
The Empty Cage Quartet consists of four musicians — saxophonist Jason Mears, trumpeter Kris Tiner, percussionist Paul Kikuchi and bassist Ivan Johnson — who have been praised consistently by critics as one of the most powerful and substantial new jazz groups to emerge from the American West Coast. Recorded during a hot summer in Los Angeles, Stratostrophic, their first record on Clean Feed, is a fiery set of original compositions that ranges from shuffle swing to free jazz blowouts, minimalist percussion loops to complex modernist gestures, funky stomps, odd-meter marches, robotic grooves, heavy rock, and nearly everything in between. The music is vigorous and methodic yet tender and reflective, dead-serious yet open to the occasional wry, sideways irony. As Wadada Leo Smith expresses in his liner notes, these young musicians are certainly on a path “to reach the whole truth of a creative music”.
Dennis Gonzalez / Rachiim Ausar Sahu
Trumpeter Dennis González has recorded 30 CDs as a leader. Among his partners we find John Purcell, Prince Lasha, John Blake, Pheeroan ak Laff, Alvin Fielder, Kidd Jordan, John Carter, Michael Sessions, the brothers Nels and Alex Cline, Louis Moholo, Elton Dean, Keith Tippett, John Stevens, Dudu Pukwana, Paul Rogers, Mark Sanders, Jim Dvorak, Charles Brackeen, Frank Lowe, Andrew Cyrille, Malachi Favors, Roy Hargrove, Fred Hopkins, Oliver Lake, Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, Henry Grimes, Ahmed Abdullah, Mark Helias, Ellery Eskelin, Sabir Mateen, Roy Campbell, Jr., Olu Dara, Douglas Ewart, Famoudou Don Moye, Hamid Drake, Mike Thompson, and many more. His trio Yells at Eels, with sons Aaron and Stefan, is celebrating its ninth year of existence. Rachiim Ausar-Sahu, best known for his work with Abdullah Ibrahim, and for his multi-denominational choir, Voices of the Faith, is a highly respected bassist, composer, lyricist and educator. The Brooklyn born and raised native has toured much of the world over the last twenty-five years. Formerly a Professor of Jazz Studies and Jazz Performance at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, he is currently Musical Director for the Pangea Theater Company in New York City. He played with such different musicians as Mary Lou Williams, Barry Harris, Phyllis Hyman, Onaje Allan Gumbs, and Andrei Strobert.
Elliott Sharp / Scott Fields “Scharfefelder”
Listening closely to the duo of Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields one can hear a compact history of modern composition and improvisation. Although the duo has a sound all its own, under the surface you can sense traces of “New Music,” minimalism, free jazz, and blues. For this duo, the two composer-instrumentalists focuses on the interactions of two acoustic guitars, the pure unprocessed sound of metal strings shaking wood. This is intimate music. The CD was recorded live to tape in a small room with the two musicians facing each other. Both of the musicians have long been interested in composition, improvisation, and borders between them. That’s why, without discussing “rules” for the project, Sharp and Fields each packed their compositions for the duo with a mixture or conventional notation, graphic notation, and structures for improvisation. The duo’s first CD, Scharfefelder, was released on Clean Feed in April 2008.
Tony Malaby’s Tamarindo with William Parker and Nasheet Waits
“He is sonic, he is time, he is gesture,” writes contrabassist Mark Helias about Tony Malaby in his liner notes for “Tamarindo.” Helias knows his stuff. Malaby’s reputation as a complete tenor and soprano saxophonist continues to grow and his modesty and absolute dedication to his music have become legend. Without making a fuss he has become one of the most spectacular musicians on the New York scene. It’s not difficult to understand why he is so valued as a sideman and so respected as a leader. Unlike some saxophonists, his playing appears egoless. Malaby doesn’t use more notes than necessary to say what he has to say, he never shouts to be heard, and he gets out of the way of other players. This behavior reflects his personality, although he prefers to credit Tai Chi for his temperament. If the ancient Chinese martial art has indeed influenced his music, his music’s spirit is strongly rooted in jazz history. That said, Malaby is not burdened by the past; for him, tradition is food for creative work but nothing more. His companions on this wonderful trio — the much-in-demand rhythm section of William Parker and Nasheet Waits — are, like Malaby, acutely aware of the past, yet inventors of the future.
Michael Blake “Hellbent”
Hellbent features NY based saxophonist/composer with a powerful trio of master musicians. The music they play is passionate and urgent as if a force unto itself. Blake teams up with fellow Lounge Lizard alumni and Ornette Coleman drummer Calvin Weston, tuba virtuoso Marcus Rojas and string innovator Charlie Burnham on violin. All About Jazz wrote this about their recent concert in Seattle “They are hellbent on having fun and creating music that speaks to the heart and soul as well to the body and the mind.” Since forming the group in early 2007 Hellbent has toured Canada, USA and Italy. The band has performed primarily with Steven Bernstein on trumpet who may make a special guest appearance at the Clean Feed festival.
Sean Conly’s Re:Action
There aren’t many jazz bands lead by the guy playing the bass, but the tradition is strong (remember Mingus?), so strong that we can feel it in the DNA of the music performed by Re:Action. This quartet formed by Sean Conly consists of the free jazz drumming legend Pheeroan Aklaff, the still underrated trombonist but rock solid presence on the New York scene, Joe Fiedler (Tony Malaby plays on the CD), and a saxophonist in fast ascension to international fame, Michael Attias. As with many other jazz musicians of his generation, Sean began to play rock as a young teenager, but through the discovery of the music of Charles Mingus (of course), Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Scott Lafaro and The Revolutionary Ensemble, he quickly turned his attention to jazz in it’s many different forms. A student of Rufus Reid, he soon established himself as a sideman with big names like Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill, James Moody, Stefon Harris, Regina Carter, Nicholas Payton and Ray Barretto, but also as an equal voice among the younger innovators, from Anthony Coleman to Russ Lossing. In a recent interview Sean said “I have always enjoyed the challenge of playing a wide variety of music as there is a lot you can learn from others, but at heart my favorite thing is to compose and play my own music”, and the new Clean Feed recording, his first as a bandleader, is just that: music based in the idea of action and reaction, with the scores functioning as aural plots to be elucidated on by the players, music written “to let people play the way they play”. It is important to say that Re:Action’s first gig ever was voted one of the best concerts of the year by All About Jazz magazine and that the music of the CD is all first or second takes without overdubs – facts that only serve to give you an idea of the in the moment freshness you will find on this fantastic Quartet.