Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Tue, Jan 28 2014 7:30 PM

Tom's Place
3111 Deakin Street Berkeley
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On this first night of the three day Tom's Place Winter Festival, Legendary Barnstormer of Improvised Music Jack Wright and his son, bassist Ben Wright stop in at Tom's Place to meet & greet & make sounds of all descriptions with 3/5 of Grosse Abfahrt -- Matt Ingalls, Tim Perkis & Tom Djll, with the added considerable luster of bassist/electronicist George Cremaschi, late of the Bay Area, now Czech Republic-based. Those of you who know the intimate, inspiring atmosphere of Tom's Place hardly need encouraging. For those who don't know, come and find out for yourselves.

JACK WRIGHT is either a very serious musician or else, uninterested to carry that burden, he could hardly be considered serious at all. In the eighties he called himself "non-commercial, not interested in the marketplace," what today is known as diy. His wide vocabulary comes from reaching out as widely as possible for new experience, and playing with anyone who asks. He seeks to know his music as if for the first time, rather than demonstrating a pre-constructed and self-approved aesthetic. He is motivated to put his love of playing in front of people.
Jack has been a full-time saxophonist of improvisation since 1979, though he began playing as a ten-year-old in 1952. He quit, basically because he couldn't play chord-change jazz. In the long hiatus that followed he studied and reflected on history, philosophy, culture, which he continues to do. He taught and quit that, engaged in radical politics and quit that when the left lost its revolutionary edge, began playing again as a free improviser. He has been regularly discouraged but has not stopped. Now he is known to a few people and seeks to keep the low profile, which is the easy way to go, business-wise. He used to rage and stomp around like a Dionysian; now he can make soft and squeaky sounds, mixed with occasional lion roars and dog barkings. He wears shorts, a beard, long hair, and a hat. He mostly sits crouched down, with the bell of his horn pressed against his bare thigh and muted sometimes into silence. He plays in public only with people who interest him musically and personally, but that's still a lot of people, since he plays a lot of different ways, from free jazz to nothing recognizable as saxophone music. He may be obscure but he comes close to doing exactly what he wants in his life, and that is no simple matter for any of us.

�GROSSE ABFAHRT is a project I undertook to explore a number of problems posed by freely improvised music. The first and most obvious of these is the problem of ensemble size, which I wanted to tackle head-on: Grosse Abfahrt starts with a core group of five players (Gino Robair, John Shiurba, Tim Perkis, Matt Ingalls, and Tom Djll). GA is all about the encounter between this core group and musicians from far away. These �outsiders� confront the core group with strong identities and aesthetics of their own, resulting in sonic and social cross-examinations.
�GA ensembles are usually of seven to ten players. In this range arises a teeming ecosystem for individual sound-agents to emerge and make a statement against the ensemble backdrop, and for the entire ensemble to assemble long-form structures that transcend the productions of conventional improvised-music sociality (another problem the group addresses). How these ensembles are collected takes up another problem: that of the conflict between fluency and comfort among improvising compadres. Fluency between players� languages and approaches is desirable, of course; however, it can lead to complacency. Another goal of Grosse Abfahrt is to explode this complacency onstage.� � Tom Djll, 2008

GEORGE CREMASCHI is a composer, performer, teacher and sometime organizer. Using mostly contrabass and electronics, and working with free improvisation and a wide variety of non-idiomatic compositional approaches and techniques, his work attempts to dissolve the boundaries between music, sound art and noise, and extend their existing language, vocabulary and discourse.
He has worked with, and composed for, a long list of distinguished improvisers, dancers and choreographers, installation artists, poets, filmmakers, folk musicians, theater groups, orchestras, rock bands and pop divas. Some of his current projects include the bands KRK (w/Matthew Ostrowski), Rohr Rohr (w/dieb13 and Gino Robair), Lambs Gamble (w/Fritz Welch and Eric Boros) and a trio with L� Quan Ninh and Fr�d�ric Blondy. He is also the founder (w/Petr Vrba) and director of Pra�sk� Improvizačn� Orchestr (PIO), a 15-member group working with conducted and free improvisation, and graphic scores.
As an interpreter, he has performed works by many composers including Andriessen, Braxton, Cage, Cardew, Feldman, Mingus, Oliveros, Penderecki, Tenney, Xenakis, etc, and has appeared on over 40 recordings on the Apestaartje, Beak Doctor, Black Saint, Emanem, Evander, Evolving Ear, Leo, Music & Arts, Nine Winds, Rastascan and 482 Music labels. Born in New York where he studied music and composition, he lived for many years in California and currently lives in Prague, Czech Republic where he teaches film sound at FAMU.

Cost: Slippery slope
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Audio samples in which musicians at this event play:
Videos featuring musicians playing at this event
Tender Buttons at Second Act, SF, 2016; live video processing by Bill Thibault