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Lisa Mezzacappa

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Lisa Mezzacappa is a double bassist, composer, collaborator and musical instigator. Her music lives in the intersection of improvisation and composition, and her projects often integrate improvisation-infused composition into public spaces and cross-disciplinary works. She studied bass with Michael Formanek and Peter Spaar, studied improvisation with Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman and John D'earth, and has workshopped with the Sun Ra Arkestra, Bob Moses, Art Baron, Meredith Monk, Terry Riley and David Murray, among others. Lisa has performed at countless Bay Area venues including Intersection for the Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SFMOMA, and the de Young Museum, San Francisco; as well as the Earshot Jazz Festival, Seattle; and the Montreal Jazz Festival; Canada.

Lisa has been artist-in-residence at Djerassi Resident Artists Program (2008), Headlands Center for the Arts (2006), the Banff International Jazz Workshop (2000), and the Painted Bride Arts Center (2000). She holds an MA in ethnomusicology from UC Berkeley (2003), and a BA in music from the University of Virginia (1997). Lisa has been awarded grants from American Composers Forum, the City of Oakland and Meet the Composer. She currently performs in nearly a dozen original jazz, pop and chamber ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives.

Current projects include Bait and Switch, Lisa's new garage jazz quartet; duo B., a drums and bass duo with Jason Levis; Aaron Bennett's free jazz-meets-metal band Go-Go Fightmaster; CYLINDER, an improvising quartet with Darren Johnston, Aram Shelton and Kjell Nordeson; the trombone reggae band Joseph's Bones; the Beth Custer Ensemble; Scott Larson's ska-roots ensemble Franco Nero; Aaron Novik's Thorny Brocky; Phillip Greenlief's cinema noir trio Citta di Vitti; Cory Wright's creative jazz trio Green Mitchell; and assorted Graham Connah groups. Sometimes she performs with other lovelies such as Myra Melford, Ross Hammond, Mari&233; Abe, Dina Maccabbee, the John Schott/John Hanes duo, Nathan Clevenger, Kasey Knudsen, David James, Ben Goldberg and Smith Dobson Jr.

For Gold Record Studio (2007-8), she co-hosted, with Jon Brumit, a free public recording studio for six weeks at an Oakland neighborhood flea market, assuming the role of record producer, audio engineer and musical instigator. For Earworms (2006-08), a collaboration with installation artist Deborah Aschheim, she composed and recorded 18 pieces, with more than a dozen musicians, for a series of sculptural installations exploring the relationships between music, memory and language. Moths Drink the Tears is a new digital poetry/music collaboration with poet Oni Buchanan.

As curator and ringleader, Lisa programs the annual JAZZPOP music series at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and organizes the quiet films/loud bands film and music series at 21 Grand, Oakland.


Upcoming Events:

Berkeley Arts

2133 University Avenue

Wednesday, Apr 23 2014 8:00 PM

Dana Reason Project

Dana Reason, solo piano

Dana Reason will first present new compositions from her most recent unreleased recording. Pieces include: My Hands are Tied; Beethoven's Broken Tooth (a 10 minute meditation on Beethoven's Opus 53); Black is the Color (a re-imagining of the folk tune by Luciano Berio- Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair) and Yes/Oui-Non/No, Peut-etre, as well as others.

9 pm

Dana Reason - piano
Phillip Greenlief - saxophones
Lisa Mezzacappa - bass

Dana Reason is a Canadian-born pianist, composer/improviser and researcher.

Reason was part of The Space Between trio with Pauline Oliveros. She has performed with Fred Frith, George Lewis, Vinny Golia, Cecil Taylor, Mark Dresser and Joelle Leandre, and is documented on 12 recordings.

Her research on women improvisers and composers "The Myth of Absence" can be found at Wesleyan University Press and Columbia Jazz-Studies On-line. Reason holds a B.Mus (McGill University); MA in Composition (Mills College); and Ph.D in Critical Studies/Experimental Practices, UC San Diego. She is the director of CIAPR (Center of Improvised Arts, Performance and Research) in Prague and Popular Music Studies at Oregon State University. Her music can be heard at

Berkeley Arts - 2133 University Avenue, between Shattuck & Oxford

Studio Grand

3234 Grand Ave,

Thursday, Apr 24 2014 9:30 PM

Lisa Mezzacappa'S INTERLOPERS
Murray Campbell, violin
Crystal Pascucci, cello
John Finkbeiner, acoustic guitar and banjo
Lisa Mezzacappa, acoustic bass
Tim Perkis, electronics

Bay Area bassist Lisa Mezzacappa's string band The Interlopers is inspired as much by the songs of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys as the string quartets of Bartok and the free jazz epiphanies of Billy Bang. After so many years of playing with saxophones, trumpets and drum sets, Mezzacappa has recently found herself called back to the string family, where so much acoustic fun can be had with subtle textures, blending timbres and explosive rhythms. The group is composed of some of the Bay Area's finest improvisers, navigating Mezzacappa's squirley compositions and unusual arrangements of the Shaggs, Bartok and others.

Re-imagining Bartok

West Coast reed wizards Greenlief and Wright use Bela Bartok's 44 duos as a springboard for improvisation and an exploration of folksong material. Combining the earthy lyricism of the material with imaginative arrangements, the duo weaves in and out of these short works to link peasant themes with solo and duo improvisation to combine music of the past with in-the-moment musical commentary of today.


1525 Webster

Monday, Apr 28 2014 9:00 PM

NEW MUSIC at LeQuiVive Gallery presents

Randy McKean - reeds
Cory Wright - reeds
Murray Campbell - violin, oboes
Lisa Mezzacappa - double bass


Shelton / Padouvas / Brown
An improvising trio with Aram Shelton, alto saxophone & bass clarinet; Theo Padouvas, cornet; Scott Brown, bass.

Doors open at 8pm

$10 suggested donation

Studio Grand

3234 Grand Ave,

Friday, May 2 2014 10:00 PM


Wallace Enterprises VS. Marshall Incorporated

Eli Wallace, piano and keyboard Joshua Marshall, saxophone
Lisa Mezzacappa, bass Jason Hoopes, bass
Jordan Glenn, percussion Mark Clifford, percussion

This evening of music pits two improvising trios against one another, each acting as its own unit able to develop “intra” and “inter-” dimensional relationships within each group and between the two trios. A sui generis occasion showcasing the debut of two enticing enterprises, waves of sonorous contention will be waged, perhaps without resolving, resulting in a tempestuous and spontaneous musical narrative. Collectively, these musicians draw upon a wide range of influences from indie rock, to free jazz, to noise rock, to avant-garde classical music, as they each contribute their own formidable voice to the proceedings.


468 19th Street

Saturday, May 3 2014 9:30 PM

Jon Raskin Trio + The Lost Trio

Jon Raskin - Alto Sax
Lisa Mezzacappa - bass
Vijay Anderson - drums

The Lost Trio

Phillip Greenlief - tenor saxophone
Dan Seamans - bass
Tom Hassett - drums

The Jon Raskin Trio performs original compositions by Jon Raskin and a side range of interests that include works by Roscoe Mitchell, Irish Traditional tunes, Charles Mingus and John Tchicai.

Jon Raskin is a founding member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet and is an active composer, improviser, curator and plays saxophone, electronics, concertina and jaw harps.

Lisa Mezzacappa is a San Francisco Bay Area-based bassist, composer, and musical instigator. An active collaborator and curator in the Bay Area music community, she leads her own groups Bait & Switch, Nightshade, the Lisa Mezzacappa Trio and the Tangle Trio, and co-leads the ensembles duo B., Cylinder, the Mezzacappa-Phillips Duo, and the Caribbean folk band Les Gwan Jupons. Lisa has released her music on the Clean Feed, NoBusiness, Leo, NotTwo, Evander, Odd Shaped Case and Edgetone record labels, and has recorded as a sideperson for the Tzadik, Kadima and Porto Franco labels. She collaborates frequently on cross-disciplinary projects in sound installation, film/video, sculpture and public music/art.

Vijay Anderson is a freelance drummer, bandleader, composer, and teacher who lives and works in Oakland, California. He has been performing professionally in the Bay Area since 1997. He holds a MFA in music performance from Mills College, where he studied with Roscoe Mitchell, William Winant, David Bernstein, and Fred Frith. He earned his BA in music performance from S.F. State, studying under Eddie Marshall, Francis Wong, Hafez Modirzadeh, and Wayne Wallace.

Anderson has performed and recorded with such diverse, outstanding musicians as Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalists Lynn Johnston and Vinny Golia, Bay Area composers/performers Ben Goldberg, Sheldon Brown, John Schott, Graham Connah, Darren Johnston, Smith Dobson V, Lisa Mezzacappa, Aaron Bennett and Ava Mendoza, and Austria-based saxophonist/composer Marco Eneidi. He also has worked extensively with Brooklyn based bass player/composer Adam Lane as part of Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra, the Adam Lane Trio featuring Vinny Golia, and Adam Lane’s Blue Spirit Band featuring Avram Fefer and Roy Campbell.

The Lost Trio is currently celebrating 20 years of music making with the new release of their upcoming CD, KNOWMONK - an idiosyncratic reading of of the America's greatest 20th century composers. Unlike any other Monk tribute recording to date, the trio has surprises for their long-term fans and new audiences alike. For this performance, they will present a few gems from the new record, balanced out with their nearly-surreal repertoire that veers from Italian film music and Pop to original compositions and compositions by jazz masters typically overlooked by most groups. Come check out a trio whose recordings have topped several "best of the year" lists for multiple releases and bask in their "loose-limbed soaring lyricism" (Andrew Gilbert, SF Chronicle).

Berkeley Arts

2133 University Avenue

Thursday, May 22 2014 8:00 PM

duo B. (Levis/Mezzacappa)
Cory Wright’s Green Mitchell Trio

duo B.
Lisa Mezzacappa, acoustic bass
Jason Levis, drums

duo B., the improvising and composing ensemble of Berlin-based percussionist Jason Levis and Bay Area bassist Lisa Mezzacappa, has been experimenting with the gloriously vulnerable duo format for ten years. Levis and Mezzacappa play graphic scores, music for experimental films, and original compositions and structured improvisations that explore gesture, texture, tunefulness and propulsive momentum.
Listen here:

"...mysterious, complexly textured improvisations that sometimes take shape as the aural equivalent of abstract expressionist paintings, whether the ethereal, mystical canvasses of Mark Rothko or the jittery, splatter techniques of Jackson Pollock.” — Derk Richardson, KPFA radio host and music critic

Green Mitchell Trio
Cory Wright, tenor sax and clarinet
Lisa Mezzacappa, acoustic bass
Jason Levis, drums

Reeds player Cory Wright assembled the bay area based Green Mitchell Trio with bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and drummer Jason Levis in order to realize a growing collection of music he has been writing for this instrumental configuration. The group is a kinetic, versatile unit that can climb through compositional complexities, swing from the outer limbs of jazz, and plummet into the groundlessness of spontaneous soundspace... and the possibility of hopping on a passing groove is never out of the question.
Listen Here:

Berkeley Arts

2133 University Avenue

Sunday, May 25 2014 8:00 PM

8 pm paul hoskin - solo contrabass clarinet

Paul Hoskin and his solo world purposely attempts to alter one's sonic understanding. Dynamics and harmonics are the evident frameworks for Paul's exploration. The less-than-evident aspects involve a concrete devotion to the re/arranging of melodic notions. In other words, one goes home humming something that they have never heard. Paul Hoskin--contrabass clarinet.

9 pm bristle
randy mc kean - reeds
Cory Wright - reeds
murray campbell - violin, viola
Lisa Mezzacappa - bass

Bristle continues to conduct and refine its experiments of combining
whack improvisational ideas with intricate chamber structures. New
and evolving pieces for this reeds & strings quartet from composers
Wright & McKean explore the world of sounds from 60s freebop and
boogaloo to invasive advertising jingles and the English fox hunt.

Tom's Place

3111 Deakin Street

Friday, May 30 2014 7:30 PM

Mix 'n Match Improv Night with visiting guests Alison Blunt (vln, UK) and Gianni Mimmo (sax, IT) with Lisa Mezzacappa (cb), Scott R. Looney (pn) and Tim Perkis (elect)

Berkeley Arts

2133 University Avenue

Saturday, May 31 2014 12:00 PM

NextNow presents: All Tomorrows' After=Parties - A day of performances Noon until 11PM at the Berkeley Arts Festival Space Live improvised music in support of the Homeless Action Center continuing their great work. New music community gives to the greater community:

Ze Bib! - (Robert Lopez, Shanna Sordahl)
Emily Hay & Friends - (Emily Hay, TBD)
Lisa Sangita Moscow – solo Sarod, Vocals.
Ethel Dare - (Sung Kim, Brian Pedersen, Randylee Sutherland)
Wallace/Evangelista Group - (Eli Wallace , Karl Evangelista, TBD)
Jim Ryan w/Cartoon Justice – (Jim Ryan, Mika Pontecorvo, Kersti Abrams, Greg Baker, Mariko Miyakawa, Eli Pontecorvo, ...)
Looney-Mezzacappa-Robinson Trio - (Scott R. Looney, Lisa Mezzacappa, Donald Robinson)
Cloud Shepherd – (Andrew Joron, Joe Noble, Brian Lucas, Mark Pino)
Bill Wolter (solo Guitar)
Bridge of Crows - (Greg Baker, Kersti Abrams, Mika Pontecorvo, Mariko Miyakawa, Elijah Pontecorvo, ...)
Earth Blind (Nick Obando, Michael Dale, Aaron Levin)
Tri-Cornered Tent Show (Philip Everrett, Ray Schaeffer, Anthony Flores, Joshua Allen)
The Ruminations (Bob Marsh, Chistina Stanely, Markus Hunt, Mark Pino, Rent Romus)
Ear Spray (Carlos Jennings, Ann O'Rourke, Mark Pino)
Phillip Greenlief – tenor Sax.
Architect/Enchantress (Mark Clifford, Nava Dunkelman, Aaron Oppenheim, Jacon Pek, Tim Kim, Rent Romus, Joshua Marshall)
(links to the performers will follow soon )

CDs on which Lisa Mezzacappa appears:

duo bthese things seem natural to usEvander MusicEm 048
KippleFlashes of Irrational HappinessEvander MusicEM 032