Darren Johnston, originally from Ontario, Canada, moved to San Francisco in 1997, where he has been living ever since. As a performer, Johnston has worked with innovative musicians and composers such as guitarist Fred Frith, clarinetist Don Byron, bassist Marcus Shelby, bassist Herbie Lewis, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and others.
Inspired by his work as a sideman with Fred Frith, Johnston studied at Mills College in Oakland, CA, where he earned a Master's in composition. At Mills, Johnston studied with Frith, Chris Brown, Alvin Curran, Annie Gosfield, Joelle Leandre, and Maggie Payne. Johnston's time at Mills was instrumental not only in exposing him to the compositional techniques and music of masters from Brahms to Schoenberg, to Pauline Oliveros, but also exposed him to many improvisational techniques outside of those used in the traditional jazz canon, which in many ways have improved his abilities in traditional "straight-ahead" jazz.
Johnston has received commissions to write for dance, most notably for the local San Francisco company Robert Moses's Kin, and has also been commissioned to write for the gaming company Electronic Arts, but mostly he writes for his various projects and those of others in which he participates.
Johnston's own groups currently include the Darren Johnston Trio; the Empty Chamber Ensemble; the Saint-Jude Memorial Dance Band; and the eight-piece United Brassworkers Front - Johnston's longest running project.
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
760 Howard Street San Francisco, CA 94103
Saturday, Jun 22 2013 1:00 PM
Darren Johnston & The Trans-Global People’s Chorus Letters to Home – World Premiere
Community Music Center
544 Capp Street SF
Saturday, Jul 27 2013 7:30 PM
12th Annual Outsound New Music Summit The Bay Area's New Sound Festival for underground and experimental jazz, electronics, noise art, spoken word & more! The Axiom - World premiers of fiery jazz composition, improvisation, and new music for the 2013 Summit Finale Rent Romus' Lords of Outland w/guests Hasan Razzaq & L.A. Jenkins, Lewis Jordan's Music at Large w/India Cooke Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack w/guests Darren Johnston, Jeb Bishop Outsound Presents' presentation of Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack is supported by Presenting Jazz, a program of Chamber Music America funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack Timothy Daisy - percussion, Anton Hatwich - bass, Jen Clare Paulson - viola, Jason Stein - bass clarinet, Kyle Bruckmann - oboe/English horn, special guests Jeb Bishop - trombone, Darren Johnston - trumpet Wrack will premiere the entirety of ""…Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire,"" a 2012 CMA New Jazz Works commission still in progress. The core quintet will be augmented by two guest musicians: trombonist Jeb Bishop (reinstating a founding member of the ensemble) and trumpeter Darren Johnston. This addition of a brass section will not only dramatically expand Bruckmann's compositional palette, but also strengthen the Chicago-Bay Area axis (Johnston is a key figure in San Francisco jazz with strong ties to Chicago - including a working group with Bishop) and Bruckmann's role within the music community he now calls home. The score will take the form of an over-arching modular framework featuring many hallmarks of my compositions – parallel and tangential layers of polymetric riffs, intricate atonal counterpoint, and improvising subgroups of the ensemble – but on a larger scale than anything I’ve achieved to date. The piece is inspired by the fiction of Thomas Pynchon – specifically "V." (1963), "The Crying of Lot 49" (1966), and "Gravity's Rainbow" (1973). These novels are peppered throughout with the rollicking, ribald, sardonic lyrics to imaginary songs. They come accompanied by evocative suggestions of style: sea shanties, drinking songs, marches, blues, Tin Pan Alley. Kyle came to find it amusing and provocative to think of them as a nonexistent but deeply resonant Great American Songbook, refracted through the shattered lenses of postmodernism. A selection of these 'songs' will be set instrumentally; not just as melodic material, but embedded structurally in ways that abstractly reference the real Great American Songbook's relationship with the jazz tradition. Pynchon’s books are rife with references to and pulse with the energy of much contemporaneous New Thing jazz (for example, there’s a character named McClintic Sphere who plays a white saxophone), which the ensemble will also enjoy using as a stylistic grounding and jumping-off point.
Oboist and composer Kyle Bruckmann founded Wrack in Chicago in 2002 as a vehicle for his compositions in the Creative Music tradition, drawing together inspirations from free jazz, European free improvisation, classical modernism, and particularly the legacy of the AACM. The original incarnation included four multi-faceted improvisers from that vibrant city's busy scene: Jeb Bishop (trombone), Tim Daisy (percussion), Kurt Johnson (bass) and Jen Clare Paulson (viola). The debut record was released on Red Toucan in 2003. Bruckmann moved to San Francisco later that year, but has maintained the ensemble long distance. When he returned to Chicago for a 2005 homecoming visit, Bishop was unavailable and Johnson had moved out of town. Bass clarinetist Jason Stein and bassist Anton Hatwich stepped in for a regional tour and recording session that resulted in a 2006 release on 482 Music. This lineup has remained constant ever since, with periodic Midwestern performances and a 2010 West Coast tour. While Wrack's cross-country personnel has made more frequent outings difficult, 2012 was marked by key developments propelling them towards 'mid-career' status. Their first European tour was anchored by an April appearance at the Ulrichsberg Kaleidophon festival in Austria. Their third album, Cracked Refraction (Porter Records) was followed quickly by On Procedural Grounds (New World), a collection of Bruckmann's compositions for varied ensembles, with the half-hour title piece uniting Wrack with the venerable Rova Saxophone Quartet and live electronics pioneers Tim Perkis and Gino Robair. In July, Wrack was awarded Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development grant
Outsound Presents' presentation of Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack is supported by Presenting Jazz, a program of Chamber Music America funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Lewis Jordan's Music at Large Lewis Jordan - alto saxophone, India Cooke - violin, Karl Evangelista - electric guitar, John-Carlos Perea - electric bass Lewis Jordan will debut a suite of new works entitled "only children" at the Outsound New Music Summit. The work, is developed for quartet (saxophone, guitar, bass/violin, percussion), and will incorporate scored and improvised sections in parallel and include text. The structure of the piece will create a context for group improvisation to nurture and grow the thematic material.
Born in San Francisco, raised in Chicago, with the blues, while learning to associate creative musicians with the advancement of society as we know it. An international touring and recording musician, composer, and poet since 1971, Jordan was a founding member of United Front, a seminal San Francisco Bay Area ensemble known for its originality, aggressive imagination and cultural synthesis. As a solo artist and in collaboration, he has performed his work in musical and theatrical settings. With his independent productions of Music at Large, he has he has focused on creative compositional structures for improvisation and presented artists from a range of disciplines—dance, theater, and poetry along with music. He seeks out performers who strive for modes of expression that honor their own unique traditions while speaking to the urgency of the present that binds us together. In his tenure he has performed with such luminaries as Charles Tyler, Wilbur Morris, Jackie Prentice, Mark Izu, Carl Hoffman, Anthony Brown, Sachiko Nakamura, Brenda Wong Aok, Danny Glover, and Nobuko Miyamoto.
Filipino-American guitarist/composer Karl Evangelista (b.1986) ranks among a new wave of creative musicians grounded in jazz, 20th century experimentalism, and popular song, exploring the place of multiculturalism and ethnic co-existence in an increasingly post-cultural, trans-idiomatic cultural space. As the creative force behind boundary breaking group Grex, Evangelista has been called “essential current-and-future listening, his music "a near-seamless blend of modern jazz, contemporary structuralist composition, indie rock, and blues rock” (Tiny Mix Tapes). This complex, powerful aesthetic fosters an “otherworldly experience” that is “completely original” (Eugene Weekly).
Rent Romus' Lords of Outland CJ Borosque- trumpet, analog electronics, Ray Schaeffer - 6-string electric bass, Philip Everett - drums, autoharp, electronics, Rent Romus - alto, soprano, C-melody saxophones w/ special guests Hasan Razzaq - saxophones & L.A. Jenkins - electric guitar Rent Romus' Lords of Outland will present "The Proceedings of Dr. Ke" a suite of original compositions inspired by the essays of experimental psychologist Dr. Charles Ponce on what he termed Blade Runner Psychology. This suite of original compositions will be performed by his group the Lords of Outland featuring special guest artists L.A. Jenkins on guitar and Hasan Abdur Razzaq on saxophone and cello both from Columbus Ohio. Romus' works utilize jazz traditions, and avant-garde sensibilities. Much of his compositions are inspired by literary works of contemporary science fiction or science fact writings. The writings of Dr Ponce straddle the fence between science and science fiction expanding Jungian psychology into the modern world by introducing futurist elements. It’s these elements that define the parameters of Romus' Compositions, which are meant to be invoking of both the futurist theme of Charles Ponce’s work and also his mystic interpretations of the words set to music.
Hasan Abdur-Razzaq , musician and painter (Montgomery, Alabama-b.1949), and based in Columbus Ohio, is both a prolific visual artist, and a lifelong devotee and practitioner of free jazz. This event will combine both practices through an exhibition of paintings, solo performances on the alto saxophone and cello, and projection of visual imagery. Musically, Razzaq comes from the Cleveland scene of the late 1960’s that produced the Ayler Brothers, and cellist Abdul Wadud, amongst others. His work combines elements of ecstatic free jazz with periods of more reflective sounds. Travel to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and study of African rhythms through hand drumming, has contributed to his sound through a consciousness of global musical culture.
L.A. Jenkins is a modern jazz guitarist and composer. His relaxed approach to his art is always about the music and the collaboration he forges with other like minded musicians. Originally a self-taught guitarist, he eventually studied music composition–specifically the harmolodic approach to song composition ala Ornette Coleman. His compositional work follows in the legacy of Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Bill Laswell, Leroy Jenkins, Ornette Coleman and David Torn. He wishes “to advance the ideal of artistic freedom being unhindered by cultural assumptions about the individual and enforced as limiting expectations as it relates to categories and genre.” Thus he dips his “toe” (so to speak) into many styles of creative music. L. A’s, current interest is playing in the genre of modern jazz/free improvisation, ambient/ experimental, avant-garde, and film compositions. L.A. has collaborated with percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, bassist Tom Abbs, and saxophonist Michael Cary/to name a few.
Rent Romus is a saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, music and performing arts producer, and community leader living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is heavily involved in exploring outside the confines of standard music forms of composition and improvisations in a wide variety of musical settings. He is also focused in presenting and supporting the local experimental and avant-garde community. From his very beginnings as a student of Jazz while being exposed to the twilight tutelage of Stan Getz he found himself drawn to the outer realms of music. From 1986 to present day Rent Romus has recorded and released twenty six recordings as a leader featuring a cross section of new up and coming musicians as well as seasoned veterans of the improvised arts which have included Chico Freeman, John Tchiai, Vinny Golia, Thollem McDonas, Jason Olaine, Steve Rossi, Stefan Pasborg, Toyoji Tomita, Dave Mihaly, Scott R Looney, Bob Marsh, Jim Ryan, and Ernesto Diaz-Infante to name a few.