Free improvisation

AMN Reviews: André Darius & Paul Mimlitsch – Renga [Plus Timbre PT012]

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0122015Renga is a form of linked, short verse written by two or more poets together. André Darius and Paul Mimlitsch creatively interpret the idea of the collaborative series of brief pieces with their duo release titled, appropriately enough, Renga. The fourteen short tracks—each averaging about two minutes in length—are improvisational miniatures for Mimlitsch’s bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet and Darius’ electric upright bass and voice. The music is largely a kind of constantly moving, engagingly free lyricism with frequent excursions into pure sound and timbre, particularly on the tracks featuring Darius’ vocalizations. Mimlitsch’s reedy low register growls and ruminations contrast nicely with the brighter sounding yet similarly low-pitched electric upright bass.

AMN Reviews: Gianni Mimmo & Daniel Levin – Turbulent Flow [Amirani AMRN032]; Gianni Mimmo & Alison Blunt – Lasting Ephemerals [Amirani AMRN037-LP1]

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Two unusual and refreshing duets for reeds and strings, both of them featuring soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo.

Mimmo, a resident of Pavia in northern Italy, started out on tenor saxophone and passed through alto and baritone before settling on the soprano after hearing Steve Lacy play live with Bolognese poet Adriano Spatola. Although Lacy was an important early formative force in Mimmo’s development, the latter’s influences and aesthetic grounding go beyond jazz and even free improvisation to embrace contemporary art music as well as visual and media arts and, perhaps more importantly, poetry. Mimmo’s playing reflects an interest in the symmetries between voice and the soprano saxophone—both of which are powered and limited by the measure of breath—and is centered on a melodicism always on the verge of alluding to speech and its variable rhythms.

R-4077400-1354467939-6427.jpegThe aptly titled Turbulent Flow pairs Mimmo with the dynamic American cellist Daniel Levin. All nine tracks masterfully realize the concept of the duet as being as much about setting voices against each other—in the abrasions of parallel planes rubbing surfaces, or in the direct confrontation of collision on the perpendicular—as it is of having them blend harmoniously. Conflict and complementarity are built into the weave of the interplay between the two, with Levin’s muscular, physical engagement with timbre framing Mimmo’s buoyant complexes of sound. Both players build and relieve tension through a variety of textural strategies such as layering rapid runs up and down the sax on top of thickly impastoed cello chords and glisses; opening up transparent spaces through contrastingly quiet contrapuntal passages; mounting a flurry of upper register notes on the soprano over the cello’s obliquely walking pizzicato. This is about the beauty of angles, some of whose edges are quite sharp.

LastingEphemerals_Mimmo_Blunt_album_cover_art_2014If the sonic geometry of Turbulent Flow is broadly planar, the interplay between Mimmo and UK violinist Alison Blunt is one of supple and intertwining lines. This set of duets, recorded at St. Leonard’s Shoreditch Church in London in the summer of 2013, embodies a quieter and more reflective mood than that of Turbulent Flow. Much of the music is a matter of putting line against line. Both players shape melodies out of spontaneously constructed tone rows, with Blunt moving smoothly between single note lines and harmonically rich—and sometimes unsettling–multiple stops. Color contrasts between reed and string are largely supplementary to the improvised polyphony, but when the two instruments overlap in pitch, particularly in the upper register, each unhesitatingly asserts its own identity with stridence.

As the one constant binding both of these very different recordings together, Mimmo’s voice inevitably is thrown into high relief. It consistently coheres around an often free-flowing line that has at its core a lyrical logic that keeps it rooted in song, even as it moves through pantonal note sequences, registral leaps and serrated rhythms. Extended techniques such as key clicks and overblowing serve somewhat the same function in regard to the main line as backlighting for an object—they make clearer the essential profile of the thing in question, which for Mimmo is always the melody.

AMN Reviews: Adriano Orrù – Palimpsest [pyr106]

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A palimpsest—a manuscript page scraped of existing writing in order to receive new writing—represents something of an adaptation of old materials to new purposes. As such, it’s an appropriate image for this new release from Sardinian double bassist Adriano Orrù. Once an electric bassist, Orrù here takes up his old instrument again and puts it to new uses in this set of ten improvised duets created through file-sharing.

The duets collected here embrace a diversity of instrumentation: Three are with Silvia Corda on prepared piano and toy piano; three feature Mauro Sambo on gongs and other percussion and electronics; and four match Orrù with Paolo Chagas on bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and flute. Each pairing is characterized by its melding of distinctive voices into a cohesive whole. The duets with Sambo tend toward a kind of ineffably angular atmospherics, with the exception of Scrape Off, a cut up and multitracked sound collage Sambo constructed from samples of Orrù’s bass. Exploiting her instruments’ sometimes chiming, sometimes muted timbres, Corda sets out deliberately paced chords, displaced accents and percussive dissonances that provide an apt framework within which Orrù’s drones and upper register, atonal lead lines can flourish. Chagas, even when playing out, brings an inherent sense of lyric narrative to his parts. His interactions with Orrù are especially provocative, whether it’s a matter of his shakuhachi-like flute being recontextualized by Orrù’s subtly changing harmonic support, or his soprano sax offsetting the electric bass’s chromatic melodies and microtonal glissandi. Throughout the set Orrù stretches the electric bass’s voice while still maintaining its essential qualities. His sound is notable for its clear highs and resonant lows, which impart a crispness and depth to his quick runs, chords and arpeggios.

AMN Reviews: Udo Schindler & Elisabeth Harnik: Empty Pigeonhole

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Udo Schindler & Elisabeth Harnik: Empty Pigeonhole [cs247]

Since 2009, the German multi-wind player Udo Schindler has held monthly concerts at his home. The concert of 26 October 2012, pairing Schindler with Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik, is presented in this intriguing, multi-faceted release.

The title of the CD is well-chosen. The music that takes shape across these two long tracks doesn’t fit into the constraints of any stylistic pigeonhole. And this comes as no surprise: Both musicians are notably versatile in their choices of sounds and in the ways that they bind together and respond to the different moments in which they find themselves. Harnik makes use of every part of the piano, whether by tapping and rattling directly on the strings or wood, phrasing in ecstatic leaps of interval and dynamic, or putting out cascades of notes in measured motion upward and downward. Schindler, for his part, moves adeptly from soprano saxophone to bass clarinet to contrabass clarinet to cornet, at times functioning as the soloist in a sonata and at other times as a weaver of esoteric sound textures. Empty Pigeonhole Part 1 moves with a paradoxically emotional logic from section to section, each of which is defined by a mood as well as by instrumental color and the blend of conventional and unconventional technique that both players offer. Empty Pigeonhole Part 2 is more about texture and color as manifested by the exploration of primal sound elements, though it is expansive enough to include an explosive soprano sax solo over a piano pedal point.

AMN Reviews: Patrick Crossland & Alexander Frangenheim – Ape Green

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Patrick Crossland & Alexander Frangenheim: Ape Green [cs243]

It isn’t every day that one runs across a duo of trombone and double bass. Even so, the two instruments’ differences in timbre and overlap of range make them potentially compatible partners. This potential is well-realized in this collection of improvised duets by Patrick Crossland on trombone and Alexander Frangenheim on double bass.

Throughout the set, Crossland and Frangenheim fully explore the richness of sound available to them both collectively and individually. Frangenheim brings out the extensive timbral possibilities inherent in his instrument, plucking, bowing, tapping and rattling until a complete sound profile of the double bass accumulates from his individual gestures. His use of different bow articulations are especially noteworthy, and allow the bass to play interlocutor to Crossland’s expressively vocal-like inflections, which are by turns grousing, inquisitive, lyrical, ruminative and declarative. Each player’s aural space interlocks with the other’s, creating a shared middle ground in which the roles of lead and backing line constantly shift. In the process—which both balances on and grows out of the mutually reinforcing qualities of contrast and likeness–each makes apparent the unique and defining characteristics of his particular voice.

Although the CD is organized into twelve relatively brief tracks, the momentum and continuity are such that, as with a well-written book, it’s hard not to take in the whole in one sitting.

Los Angeles / SoCal Scene

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Morton Subotnick
Cover of Morton Subotnick


Friday, March 23, 8:30pm
The supremely gifted cellist Frances-Marie Uitti makes a rare Los Angeles appearance for the debut of Michael Jon Fink’s new cello concerto, written especially for her pioneering technique of playing with two bows simultaneously, and chamber ensemble. Known for a prodigious career of dismantling longstanding musical boundaries, Uitti follows with another world premiere by Greg Moore, and works by Lisa Bielawa, Jonathan Harvey, Giacinto Scelsi, Karen Tanaka, and Ken Ueno, most written for Uitti’s incredible interpretations. REDCAT, Located in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, 631 West 2nd St., downtown Los Angeles | $20 / $16 students

From Beyond Baroque:

Friday, March 23, 9pm
Beyond Baroque presents Beyond Music series with wildUP! – Brooklyn to LA. : New music from one coast to the other coast: Brooklyn/ LA featuring music by Timo Andres, Art Jarvinen, Chris Kallmyer, Missy Mazzoli, Andrew Norman, Andrew Tholl, and Frederic Rzewski. The music of right now, right this very moment, is being created in basements and recorded in living rooms in high definition. wildUP! : their music is raw, unabashed, and they made it themselves. wildUp! presents two concerts about the music being composed now in LA and Brooklyn. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice | $15 advance / $20 door

From Beyond Baroque:

Saturday, March 24, 3pm
Beyond Baroque presents Beyond Music series with wildUP! – Brooklyn to LA. : New music from one coast to the other coast: Brooklyn/ LA featuring music by Timo Andres, Art Jarvinen, Chris Kallmyer, Missy Mazzoli, Andrew Norman, Andrew Tholl, and Frederic Rzewski. The music of right now, right this very moment, is being created in basements and recorded in living rooms in high definition. wildUP! : their music is raw, unabashed, and they made it themselves. wildUp! presents two concerts about the music being composed now in LA and Brooklyn. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice | $15 advance / $20 door

From FaceBook:

Saturday March 24, 7pm
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art presents the closing event of GOTHIC, with music by Trestles (electronics +), Toaster Music, and The League of Vampiric Bards. OCCCA, 117 N. Sycamore St., Santa Ana | Free

From Southwest Chamber Music:

Saturday, March 24, 8pm (7:30pm pre-concert talk)
Southwest Chamber Music continues their Cage 2012 Celebration with a concert featuring John Cage works including Lecture on the Weather, Score (40 Drawings by Thoreau), and 23 Parts. Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School, 200 South Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles | $38 / $28 seniors / $10 students

From Sundays Live:

Saturday, March 24, 8pm
Music at Boston Court presents the Thies-Krajacic Project: Spontaneous Inventions. Featured performers of the TKP are Damjan Krajacic (flute), Robert Edward Thies (piano), Michael Valerio (bass), and Steven Schaeffer (drums). Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 North Mentor Ave., Pasadena | $25 / $20 seniors and students

Saturday, March 24, 8pm
Pomona College Faculty Chamber Music presents Annabel Guaita (piano) and Alfred Cramer (violin) in a concert of Music of Norway, selections by 20th-century atonal polyphonic composer Fartein Valen and others. Pomona College, Bridges Hall of Music, 150 E. 4th St., Claremont | Free


Saturday, March 24, 8:30pm
The Los Angeles new music high-fliers meet up with the godfather of techno Morton Subotnick for a live revisit to the electronic music pioneer’s iconic works, rendered with new technology. From the landmark Silver Apples of the Moon (1966) to A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur (1977), Subotnick worked with Buchla synthesizers and tape recorders to create new electronic works meant for the home environment—and later adapted his music for live performance. Now equipped with Ableton Live on his Mac and the new Buchla 200e, he performs with the California E.A.R. Unit—collaborators since 1980—and draws on elements of Silver Apples and Sky in an evening of “spontaneous performance and decision-making.” REDCAT, Located in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, 631 West 2nd St., downtown Los Angeles | $20 / $16 students


Sunday, March 25, 1pm (12:30 load in)
SASSAS and the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock present soundShoppe, a monthly unstructured sound workshop/noise jam for experimental musicians and sound artists. soundShoppe offers a means by which sound artists can hangout on a regular basis and informally explore their medium together. soundShoppe offers experienced sound musicians an opportunity experiment with different instrumentations and approaches and play outside of their comfort zone. soundShoppe also presents the opportunity for novice sound artists to interact with more experienced ones. Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock | Free

From the wulf:

Sunday, March 25, 8pm
the wulf presents Casey Anderson: Solo, Many, All – two new pieces (solo live electronics, the other participatory) concluding with an open discussion based on a prompt. The event will shift from an exclusive format (solo) to one in which everyone present is placed on an equal playing field (all). The live electronics piece is rooted around Anderson’s current interest in instrument design for/around chaotic data networks, while the participatory piece is based on a poem about a poem about a painting owned by a poet, and will feature something like writing, breathing, tearing paper (etc.). Concluding the event will be an open discussion on exclusivity. the wulf, 1026 South Santa Fe Ave. #203, downtown Los Angeles | donations accepted

From Monday Evening Concerts:

Monday, March 26, 8pm
Monday Evening Concerts presents Jazz Encounters, music as extreme action; music rooted in popular styles. This concert will feature pieces by Stefan Wolpe (Quartet for Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone, Percussion and Piano)(Piece for Oboe, Cello, Percussion, and Piano), Evan Johnson (ground), Peter Ablinger (Parker Notch), Peter Ablinger (weiss/weisslich 4), and Evan Johnson (Supplement), performed by Daniel Rosenboom (trumpet), Eliot Gattegno (saxophone), Nicholas Terry (percussion), Vicki Ray (piano),
Gareth Davis (clarinet), Ariana Ghez (oboe), Jason Lippmann (cello), and Donald Crockett (conductor). Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School, 200 South Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles | $27

From Athenaeum:

Tuesday, March 27, 7pm
The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and San Diego New Music present the Formalist Quartet in concert. This evening’s program will feature pieces by Harold Budd (String Quartet 2001), Toru Takemitsu (Landscape 1), Leos Janacek (String Quartet No. 1), and others. The Formalist Quartet is Andrew Tholl (violin), Mark Menzies (violin, viola), Andrew McIntosh (violin, viola), and Ashley Walters (cello), who will perform this evening with special guest Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist (soprano). Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla | $25 members / $30 non-member, available here

From LA Phil:

Tuesday, March 27, 8pm
Keith Jarrett: An Evening of Solo Piano Improvisations. Experience the music of Keith Jarrett in the pristine acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall as he celebrates the release of Rio, one of the finest live solo recordings of his career. <a href=”Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles | $43 to $150, available here

From FaceBook:

Wednesday, March 28, 8pm
Wicked Dreams Celebration! presents at triple bill at the EL Cid Restuarant, featuring Noah and the MegaFauna, Tears of the Moosechaser, and Timur and the Dime Museum, and special guest Maesa Pullman. El Cid Restuarant, 4212 Sunset Blvd., Silverlake | $5

From The Last Bookstore:

Thursday, March 29, 7pm
The Last Bookstore presents the End of Quarter Blowout, A multi-level event in which performances flow through three conjoined floors of the Spring Arts Tower (The Crocker Club, The Last Bookstore (natch), and the Mezzanine. Featuring!: Double G and the daKAH Orchestra, NineNet, Killsonic, Poetry Noise Orchestra, and HMS Soundsystem with special guests Robert F. Leng and Tom Steck of Other Criteria, multiple smaller esnsembles, theater installation curated by Poor Dog Group, and a diverse collection of friends and contributors of The Last Bookstore. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St. (ground floor), downtown Los Angeles | Free

From the wulf:

Thursday, March 29, 8pm
Giacomo Fiore will present a night of recent music for classical and just intonation guitar, with and without live electronics and other trickeries. Works by Lou Harrison, Larry Polansky, Ron Nagorcka, and Toshio Hosokawa. Born in Italy in 1983, Giacomo has been playing and studying music in the U.S. since 2003. He lives in San Francisco and looks forward to his debut at the wulf. the wulf, 1026 South Santa Fe Ave. #203, downtown Los Angeles | donations accepted

San Francisco Bay Area Scene

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Gloria Cheng
Cover of Gloria Cheng

From Bay Improviser:

Thursday, March 22, 8pm
OutSound presents the Luggage Store New Music Series, this week featuring a set at 8pm with Sarah Elena Palmer (vocals, processing), and at 9pm with Ann/Marianne, featuring Ann O’Rourke (cymbals, drums, found objects, effects) and Marianne Tomita McDonald (Scottish harp). Luggage Store Gallery, 1007 Market St. (@ 6th St.), San Francisco | $6-10

From CNMAT, Berkeley:

Thursday, March 22, 8pm
CNMAT presents pianist and Regent’s Lecturer Gloria Cheng in a performance, demonstration, and discussion of new works for piano and live electronics. The pieces have been composed for this occasion by UC Berkeley graduate composers Sivan Eldar, Dan Van Hassel, and Jen Wang. CNMAT, University of California Berkeley, 1750 Arch St., Berkeley | Free

From Bay Improviser:

Friday, March 23, 6:30pm
In 1975, California-based Dutch Conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader disappeared under mysterious circumstances at sea while attempting to cross the Atlantic in a small craft. Filmmaker Rene Daalder uses this story as the basis for a sweeping overview of contemporary art and an epic saga of the transformative powers of the ocean in his 2008 film Here is Always Somewhere Else: The Life of Bas Jan Ader. Before the screening, immerse yourself in a recording of ARP’s meditative electronic musical work Odyssey (For Bas Jan Ader). In conjunction with the exhibition State of Mind: New California Art circa 1970. Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley | Free to $7

Friday, March 23, 8pm
Artists’ Television Access presents an evening of electroacoustic audio-visual improvisation with Bill Hsu (electronics, interactive animation), Tony Dryer (contrabass), Jacob Felix Heule (percussion), and special guests from Norway. Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia St., San Francisco | $6-10

Friday, March 23, 8pm
Open Sound West at CNMAT presents Jacob Zimmerman’s Lawson and Zachary Watkins’ Positively Right On. The Lawson Ensemble, formed in the fall of 2009, features Jacob Zimmerman (alto sax), Theo Padouvas (trumpet), Rob Ewing (trombone), Michael Coleman and Dan VanHassel (keyboards), and Dan Good (electronics and trumpet). Positively Right On by Zachary James Watkins is a new work written for Ava Mendoza and John Shiurba who are also the performers (electric guitars). CNMAT, University of California Berkeley, 1750 Arch St., Berkeley | $10 / $5 UC Berkeley students

Friday, March 23, 9pm
Free Jazz/Free Punk band, LIBERTAS, will be performing live at The Starry Plough. Also performing will be THE ECONOMEN (MINUTEMAN tribute) and BRIAN KENNY FRESNO. Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave. (@ Prince), Berkeley |

Saturday, March 24, 1pm
Sculpting Air – Vocal Workshop: Theresa Wong will lead a workshop exploring the voice through raising awareness of the body. During the workshop, the following topics will be explored: using the breath, singing long tones, awareness of body tension, the location of vibration frequencies and creating sounds via focusing awareness on the body. Simple games of conducting via free movement gestures will be used to generate vocal sounds including textures, melodies, text and noises to allow the voice to take flight into its infinite expressive qualities. To reserve a spot, email tree_wong (at) Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Ave., Berkeley | $30-60 sliding

Saturday, March 24, 4pm
Heavy Disciplne and Good Bellies Cafe present a double bill Saturday, with Aram Shelton (reeds) and Mark Clifford (vibes), along with Retro Blue, a new band with Jim Ryan (vocals, sax, flute) and Esten LIndgren (double bass). Good Bellies Cafe, 4659 Telegraph Ave. (@46th), Oakland | donations encouraged

Saturday, March 24, 8pm
The Swarm Gallery presents an evening with India Cooke (violin) and Cloud Shepherd – Andrew Joron (theremin), Brian Lucas (electric bass/tapes), Joseph Noble (flutes/reeds), Mark Pino (‘cloud kit’ percussion) share their experiences in sonic space travel. Swarm Gallery, 560 2nd Street (Jack London Sq. area), Oakland | sliding scale

From CNMAT, Berkeley:

Saturday, March 24, 8pm
Cal Performances, CNMAT and the Department of Music present the Eco Ensemble, UC Berkeley’s professional performance group dedicated to new music by established and emerging composers. Featured on this evening’s program is Martin Matalon (Tunneling),
Liza Lim (Songs Found in Dream), Aaron Einbond (What the Blind See), and Nico Muhly (Clear Music). University of California Berkeley, Hertz Hall, Berkeley | tickets start at $30, available here

From Yoshi’s, SF

Saturday, March 24, 10:30pm
Yoshi’s San Francisco presents the Eric McFadden Trio, in concert. Thoughout his illustrious career, singer, songwriter and guitarist Eric McFadden has steadfastly rebuked the Sirens of commerce, instead heeding the fearless, uncompromising Muses inside his head. Yoshi’s San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco | $18

From Bay Improviser:

Sunday, March 25, 4:30pm
ODC Dance Commons will host San Francisco Contemporary Music Players: Contemporary Insights: Music and Conversation, as they perform Katharina Rosenberger’s scatter 2.0.  Scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion, scatter 2.0 is the ensemble’s first performance of music by this innovative composer. Katharina Rosenberger will visit San Francisco to discuss her work with Steven Schick and the audience at this event, as well as at the pre-concert talk the following evening, Monday, March 26, 8:00 p.m. at Herbst Theatre. ODC Dance Commons, 351 Shotwell Street (between 17th and 18th Streets), San Francisco | $10

Sunday, March 25, 7:30pm
OutSound presents the SIMM Series, featuring at 7:30, the duo of Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, English horn, electronics) and Lance Grabmiller. At 8:30pm, the Mirror Trio (sextet) will perform, featuring Jacob Felix Heule, Tony Dryer & Guro Skumsnes Moe (contrabass), and Håvard Skaset. Musicians Union Hall, 116 9th St. (@ Mission), San Francisco | $10 / $8

From FaceBook:

Monday, March 26, 7pm
Nebraska Mondays at Luna’s Cafe presents the Know Hassell Project with Foothill Jazz Trio. Nebraska Mondays is the weekly underground jazz/electronic/poetic/creative music spot, hosted by Ross Hammond. Luna’s Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento | $5-20 sliding

From Bay Improviser:

Monday, March 26, 8pm
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present Zone 4: in which momentum and position co-exist within the physicality of a musical performance. The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, conducted by Artistic Director Steven Schick, will perform a concert of music by Katharina Rosenberger, Brian Ferneyhough, Olly Wilson, Geoffrey Gordon, and Heinz Holliger. Wilson and Rosenberger will participate in a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m., hosted by Schick. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, San Francisco | $30 / $25 seniors / $10 students box office info

Wednesday, March 28, 7:30pm
Tuesdays at Tom’s Place will host the Barney Childs Festival, evening one of a two-day celebration of his music performed by his students and collaborators. Tuesdays at Tom’s Place, 3111 Deakin St., Berkeley | Free, donations requested