Other Minds Festival 25: Moment’s Notice
April 2-5, 2020 @ Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater, 4th floor of the Veterans Building
April 2-5, 2020 @ Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater, 4th floor of the Veterans Building
Other Minds OM continues its dedication to shining a light on contemporary and experimental music with its 25th festival, Moment’s Notice. The festival will be 4 nights honoring the art of improvisation, presenting an astonishing convergence of the world’s leading contributors to the history of creative and spontaneous music.
Running from April 2 through April 5 at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco, Moment’s Notice will present performers whose artistry manifests consistent innovation and experimentation, including both seminal icons of music of the latter 20thcentury, such as Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, William Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, as well as younger artists whose work highlights a continuance and intersection between the classical and the avant-garde jazz spheres including Myra Melford, Mary Halvorson, Jen Shyu, Zeena Parkins, Darius Jones, Joëlle Léandre, and many others.
Opening Gala: April 2, 2020 @ 8pm
Myra Melford, piano
Mark Dresser, bass
William Winant, percussion
Zeena Parkins, harp
Ikue Mori, vocals and electronics
William Parker, bass flutes and brass;
Hamid Drake, percussion and voice;
Patricia Nicolson, dance and voice
The Sky is Trembling
Concert 2: April 3, 2020 @ 8pm
Roscoe Mitchell, woodwinds, percussion
Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet
Junius Paul, bass
Vincent Davis, drums
Mats Gustafsson, sax
Joe McPhee, sax
Jen Shyu, piano, Korean gayageum, visuals
Concert 3: April 4, 2020 @ 8pm
Joëlle Léandre, bass
Lauren Newton, voice
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet
Jesse Gilbert, video
Reflections and Meditations on Monk
Darius Jones, alto sax
Amirtha Kidambi, voice
Angels and Demons (based off the poetry of Sun Ra)
Concert 4: April 5, 2020 @ 4pm
Mary Halvorson, guitar
Sylvie Courvoisier, piano
Elliot Sharp, 8-string guitar
Anthony Braxton, sax
Jacqueline Kerrod, harp
Artist Bios: Concert 1
Myra Melford‘s skillful, impassioned musicianship weaves subtle silken thread through histories, cultures, and idioms as numerous as they are diverse. World-renowned as a pianist, educator, composer, and curator, Melford’s ambition is to integrate pedigree with nascence in music-making environments which rely on trust and spontaneity. She’s received honors from the Guggenheim and Doris Duke Foundations and has ranked in multiple DownBeat polls. In addition to teaching as Professor of Composition and Improvisational Practices at UC Berkeley, Myra regularly performs with Snowy Egret (her quintet featuring Ron Miles, Liberty Ellman, Stomu Takeishi, and Tyshawn Sorey) as well as in ensembles with Nicole Mitchell, Joëlle Léandre, Ben Goldberg, Miya Masaoka, and Zeena Parkins.
Mark Dresser‘s self-proclaimed “obsession” is, happily enough, also his instrument of choice: he does not merely “play” the double-bass so much as speak it, expressing its every discernible nuance through use of extended technique and inventive amplification. His impressive oeuvre as an instrumentalist and bandleader boasts over one hundred forty recordings, highlights of which include projects with Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemmingway, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Myra Melford, Matt Wilson, Nicole Mitchell, Bob Ostertag, and Joe Lovano. In addition to being a board member of the International Society of Bassists and the International Society of Improvised Music, Dresser is also amongst the foremost scholars of the contrabass, having been selected by the Fulbright Fellowship to study the instrument in Italy, and since holding numerous teaching positions at universities in the U.S., including his current appointment at the the University of California, San Diego.
Our bodies, the organic rhythm of daily life, and the inexorable momentum of the natural world are integrated into an ever-emergent symbiotic ecosystem in the works and life of the utterly singular dancer, Oguri. A co-founder of the Body Weather Laboratory (alongside Roxanne Steinberg), Oguri has worked to involve his Butoh-inspired somatic vocabulary in cross-disciplinary pursuits which suggest an artistic vision untroubled by matters of scale (to any extreme). He is artist-in-residence at the Electric Lodge in Venice, has served on the faculty at Bennington College, and has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, The Getty Center, the Japan Foundation, and the Doris Duke Fellowship.
William Winant‘s incomparable virtuosity as a percussionist has emboldened composers as esteemed as Steve Reich, John Zorn, and Roscoe Mitchell to entrust him with the task of realizing some of history’s most demanding scores – a task he regularly executes with astonishing aplomb. Such efforts were awarded with a Grammy nomination for his recording of John Cage’s 27′ 10.554” for solo percussion in 2016. His precision and expertise serve as a deep foundation bolstering a profoundly compositional improvisatory dialect, which he has contributed to music featuring fellow legends including Frank Zappa, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Annea Lockwood, Sonic Youth, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Kronos String Quartet.
The work of Zeena Parkins is driven by a spirit of immaculate rigor and boundless creativity, making her one of the most sought-after artists in a stunning variety of disciplines: artistic and academic alike. Her innovative harp-technique is rivaled only by her inventive harp-design, as she employs both idiom-agnostic strategies for extending the sonic possibilities of the acoustic harp and electric instruments of her own making. Her 30+ year career has been decorated by honors as prestigious as the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Award; multiple international residencies and museum features; and of course, innumerable collaborations with visual artists, filmmakers, dancers, and fellow musicians calculating Ikue Mori, Björk, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, Kaffe Matthews, and Mandy MacIntosh. She currently holds the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition at Mills College.
Composer, performer, and media artist Ikue Mori first came to prominence behind the drum kit for the pioneering no wave band DNA, flanked by Arto Lindsay and Tim Wright. She has since crafted one of the most distinct and acutely sensitive voices in the world of experimental improvisation through use of self-programmed drum machines and laptop. Her inimitable, scintillating electronics have proven to be an essential element to the works of John Zorn and she has collaborated with countless artists world-wide, including Dave Douglas, Susie Ibarra, Zeena Parkins, Sylvie Courvoisier, Fred Frith, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame.
Hailed by the Village Voice as “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time,” William Parker‘s accomplishments as an instrumentalist, composer-improviser, educator, and author have garnered him a reputation as not only one of the most skilled practitioners of the art of improvisation, but also one of its most investigative minds. The sheer depth of his knowledge with regards to the field is staggering, and the music he makes with projects like the In Order to Survive Quartet and the Little Huey Creative Orchestra evinces a fathomless wisdom. A seminal icon of both the New York improvisation scene and the European avant-garde, Parker’s bass playing can be heard in his work with cross-continental icons like Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Peter Brotzmann, Milford Graves, Peter Kowald, and David S. Ware.
Easily one of the most sought-after percussionists in the world of jazz and improvised music, Hamid Drake incorporates an extensive battery of Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African instruments into his setup, affording him a creative flexibility which enlivens any and all musical environments to which he is a contributor. Drake’s career as a creative percussionist finds its roots in his relationship with Fred Anderson, whose workshops provided a venue to explore the intricacies of improvisation as an art and share ideas with AACM members like George Lewis. He has since charted out a remarkable journey, playing and recording with Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark, Mahmoud Gania, and William Parker amongst countless others.
Patricia Nicholson‘s medium is dance, but her tireless dedication to art at-large merits terms more akin to “visionary” when attempting to describe her creative work. As a performer, she channels the energy and gestalt of free jazz in naturally-flowing movement patterns which take inspiration from traditional schools of dance while deliberately running obliquely to them. She primarily works with live musicians, the likes of which have included William Parker, Yoshiko Chuma, Don Cherry, Matthew Shipp, and KJ Holmes, but has also recently begun moving in harmony with multi-media art, spoken word, and theater. She’s also served as a curatorial bedrock, organizing important events like New York’s Vision Festival and leading as founder and director of Arts for Art since 1995.
Artist Bios: Concert 2
Roscoe Mitchell is an internationally renowned musican, composer and innovator serving until recently as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College. His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music. Mr. Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and the Trio Space. His oeuvre boasts hundreds of albums and original works, ranging from passionate, forceful improvisations to ornate orchestral music, and his honors include distinction as an NEA Jazz Master, the United States Artist Award (2019), the Doris Duke Artist Award and Audience Development Fund (2014), a CMA Presenting Jazz grant (2010), the Shifting Foundation Grant, and grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer.
In his own words, Ambrose Akinmusire “aspires to create richly textured emotional landscapes that tell the stories of the community, record the time, and change the standard.” Born and raised in Oakland, California, Akinmusire’s command of the trumpet as a limitless sonic focus has led him to “reach beyond” conventions of genre and idiom, as he seeks to radically expand the scope of musicianship as we understand it. He is among creative music’s most soaring young talents, receiving honors from the Doris Duke Foundation, the MAP Fund, the Kennedy Center, and the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition (which he won in 2007). His collaborators include Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanzsa Spalding, and Jason Moran and his music has graced the stages of both the Montery and Berlin Jazz Festivals.
Chicago born and raised, Junius Paul has quickly established himself as one of the world’s most impressive rising talents, contributing his expertise on both upright and electric basses to the music of history’s most recognized acts, including Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, Roy Hargrove, Curtis Fuller, Donald Byrd and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He performs regularly in a wide variety of genres, “ranging from jazz to hip-hop, house, funk, classical, and gospel” and is a fixture of the international touring scene, with notable appearances at the Southport Weekender Festival in England, the Sons d’hiver Festival in Paris, and the Ghana Jazz Festival. His exciting debut album as a bandleader releases in November of 2019 on the International Anthem label.
Vincent Davis traces his passion for music back to his childhood: growing up in a home constantly filled with music, he felt compelled to study drums and percussion at the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of teacher and mentor Manty Ellis. His adoration of sound in all its intricacies is immediately apparent in the music he’s made with artists as diverse as Roscoe Mitchell, Marilyn Crispell, Arthur Blythe, Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake, Jodie Christian, and Scott Fields. He is the founder of the ensemble Laws of Motion, percussionist on more than 30 recording sessions, and a member of the AACM.
“Intensity” is the first word to come to mind when considering the aerophonic firebrand Mats Gustafsson. Sweden-born and Austria-based, Gustafsson’s saxophone playing as both a solo-artist and collaborator with Sonic Youth, Merzbow, Joe McPhee, Barry Guy, Otomo Yoshihide, Peter Brotzmann, and Christian Marclay (to name a few) has graced stages and sound-systems throughout six continents over the course of a career spanning more than 2000 concerts and 250 record productions. He’s also worked in numerous cross-disciplinary pursuits with dancers, artists, and poets while producing international festivals and devoting time to his own record labels Slottet, OlofBright Editions, Crazy Wisdom and Blue Tower Records.
In his own apt words, Joe McPhee is a “multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, conceptualist, and theoretician.” Inspired by the florid improvisational voice of saxophonist Albert Ayler, McPhee’s gorgeous tone intones in conjunction with what he calls “sideways thinking” or a “a process of provocation” to resolve queries presented by fellow improvisers in ways that only he ever could. He can be heard playing members of the saxophone and trumpet families alongside Ken Vandermark, Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, Dominic Duval, and Jay Rosen. Over the course of 50 years, his enduring ambition has been to “reach for music’s outer limits.”
A starfire polymath and font of artistic ingenuity, Jen Shyu‘s performance practice is literally unclassifiable on account of the sheer breadth of her expertise. Her spellbinding creations incorporate her award-winning vocal talents, virtuosity on multiple instruments, expression through movement, and visionary stage-design to inspire and exhilarate audiences world-wide. Her solo performances and work as a vocalist and instrumentalist with the likes of Nicole Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, and Chris Potter have brought her to the most highly-esteemed stages in the world, including Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center, the Ojai Festival, the National Gugak Center, and the National Theater of Korea. Her multiplex talents have earned awards from the Guggenheim Fellowship, The United States Artists Fellowship, and the Doris Duke Foundation. At present, one can anticipate her performances to feature some combination of piano, violin, Taiwanese moon lute, Chinese er hu, Japanese biwa, Korean gayageum, Korean soribuk, and Korean kkwaenggwari.
Artist Bios: Concert 3
Joëlle Léandre is a master-architect whose medium is idea-craft. Impeccable musicianship and a singular talent for the seamless integration of a panoply of techniques make her amongst Europe’s leading bassists in both the world of new music and free improvisation. She’s performed with l’Itinéraire, 2e2m, and Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Intercontemporain and has realized works specifically composed for her by Cage, Scelsi, Lacy, and Clementi among others. Improvisatory collaborators include Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Irene Schweizer, Barre Phillips, Steve Lacy, John Zorn, and India Cooke. At present, her oeuvre boasts over 100 recordings, teaching appointments at Mills College, and residencies in Berlin and Kyoto.
Lauren Newton‘s spiraling, clarion vocalise is a recombinant force, de-contextualizing syllabic sounds and rearranging breath-born sororities in accordance with the sort of logic of poetics that makes possible interactive improvisatory performance. She’s worked with luminaries as diverse as Anthony Braxton, Jon Rose, Vladimir Tarasov, Joëlle Léandre, and Aki Takase and has lent her considerable talents to the Vienna Art Orchestra and the European Chaos String Quintet. Her sparkling creativity has led her to cross-disciplinary ventures such as radio plays, dance productions, and the performance of challenging contemporary works written for her by A. Hölszky, B. Konrad, W. Dauner, H.J. Hespos, and H. Zerbe.
The music of Wadada Leo Smith is comprised of brilliant flurries of pearlescent orbital light, each a well of potential to be drawn from by anyone brave enough to call out in their own unique voice. A trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer-improviser, and scholar, Smith’s music arises from an admiration of each individual’s tone-colors and a systematized creative practice which has contributed to the formation his original musical language, Ankhrasmation. He is amongst the most prolific and celebrated musicians of the AACM, receiving honors and distinctions from the Doris Duke Award, DownBeat Magazine, the Jazz Journalists Association, and the Pulitzer Prize (for which he was a finalist in 2013). Additionally Wadada Leo Smith has a proud history teaching and mentoring at universities nation-wide, including The University of New Haven, Bard College, and CalArts, from whom he was awarded and honorary doctorate and is now celebrated as Faculty Emeritus.
Amirtha Kidambi’s unparalleled ingenuity as a vocalist draws deeply from variegated, interstitial streams: studies in Carnatic music, formal training in classical music including forays into the experimental avant-garde, and a zeal for the free jazz of Alice and John Coltrane all converge to produce a vocal technique acutely sensitive to the sonority of each phoneme in and of itself. Kidambi’s voice and harmonium playing lead with august gusto in Elder Ones (her quartet with Matt Nelson, Max Jaffe, and Nick Dunston), which Ben Ratliff of the New York Times has referred to as “a gauge for how strong and flexible the scene of young musicians in New York’s improvised and experimental music world can be.” In addition to leading Elder Ones, Kidambi serves on the faculty of the New School, regularly performs with Mary Halvorsen, Darius Jones, and Lea Bertucci and has collaborated with Tyshawn Sorey, Matana Roberts, and Ingrid Laubrock amongst many others.
The music of Darius Jones gales and glistens as his superlative melodic sensibility and superior command of the saxophone work in concert to produce spellbinding, air-enriching improvisations. Based in New York City since 2005, Jones is widely regarded by critics (including writers for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and DownBeat) as an exquisite musician who’s time-large, entirely singular artistry simultaneously engages African-American music’s rich history while presenting a compelling vision of its present, extending to the beyond in recording projects “evocative of Black Futurism.” His peerless creativity as a composer and performer has brought him to stages as elevated as Carnegie Hall and ensembles featuring all-time greats such as Gerald Cleaver, Oliver Lake, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Mike Reed, Nasheet Waits, Marshall Allen, Tyshawn Sorey, Amirtha Kidambi, Steve Lehman, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Fay Victor, Matthew Shipp, and many others.
Artist Bios: Concert 4
Recently announced as a 2019 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Mary Halvorson’s inimitable musicianship has taken the New York creative music scene by storm, reformulating and revolutionizing traditional conceptions of the electric guitar’s role in jazz and improvisation in ways that have rippled out across the world. A prolific composer and bandleader, Halvorsen leads nigh-innumerable ensembles featuring some of the world’s finest talents including Ches Smith, Jonathan Finlayson, Ingrid Laubrock, Susan Alcorn, Amirtha Kidambi, and Tomas Fujiwara. She’s also contributed inspiration and innovation in equal measure to ensembles in collaboration with Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Jessica Pavone, Tomeka Reid, and John Zorn amongst countless others. In addition to her prestigious MacArthur fellowship, Halvorson has received considerable accolades from publications as diverse as JazzTimes, City Arts, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, NPR, Village Voice, and DownBeat.
Sylvie Courvoisier‘s absolute mastery of the piano as an expressive, resonating body has propelled her to the forefront of New York’s creative music scene as one of its most versatile improvisers. Since her arrival in Brooklyn in 1998, she has appeared on more than 50 records (leading or co-leading in excess of 30) and has extensively toured the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Japan with the likes of Kenny Wollesen, Drew Gress, Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori, Evan Parker, Tony Oxley, Joëlle Léandre, Ellery Eskelin, Yusef Lateef, Ingrid Laubrock, and John Zorn. Universally acclaimed for her deep insight into the lofty architecture of sonic space, she has received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Chamber Music America, and the New York Foundation for the Arts in addition to several honors from her birth-home, Switzerland.
Elliott Sharp is an iconic figure of New York City’s music and art scenes on account of his wide-reaching talents as a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and bandleader. His uninhibited creativity on the guitar finds focus from his affinity for synthesis, as he incorporates concepts from mathematics and the hard-sciences into his compositional and improvisatory practice alike. He has worked with Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt, Debbie Harry, Ensemble Modern, the Kronos String Quartet, Jack deJohnette, Oliver Lake, Sonny Sharrock, and Christian Marclay amongst many others. His music, including scores and sound-design for feature films, documentaries, and television networks, has been honored by the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Parson’s Center for Transformative Media, and the prestigious Berlin Prize in Musical Composition.
One cannot overstate the enormity of the impact Anthony Braxton has had on the worlds of contemporary composition and creative musicianship at-large. A legendary AACM member and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Braxton’s work is a comprehensive, systematic exploration of the artistry of sound, focusing on “core principles of improvisation, structural navigation, and ritual engagement – innovation, spirituality, and intellectual investigation.” His music is expressed in nigh-infinite variety, ranging from watershed solo-performances on woodwinds to the operatic epics of his Trilllium cycle. Distinguished as Professor Emeritus at Wesleyan University, Braxton’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the aforementioned MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, an NEA Jazz Master Award, and honorary doctorates from Université de Liège (Belgium), and New England Conservatory (USA).
Jacqueline Kerrod‘s mellifluous, exquisitely sensitive harp-playing has graced the stages of the world’s most vaunted venues, including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the Apollo Theater, SF MoMA, and the Royal Albert Hall. Her virtuosity is matched only by her versatility, making her a favored performer not only in the realm of written music (running the gamut from Mozart to contemporary works written for her) but in experimental improvisation circles as well. She frequently improvises with MacArthur Foundation award-winner Anthony Braxton, and her music has been featured in conferences and festivals all over the world, ranging from the American Harp Society National Conference in New York City to the Harare International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe.