AMN Reviews: Sandy Ewen / Rebecca Novak / Carol Sandin Cooley – Garden Medium (2016; Balance Point Acoustics)

When it comes to improv, there is free, and then there is free. Garden Medium, the debut album from Sandy Ewen, Rebecca Novak and Carol Sandin Cooley, falls into the latter category. In addition to playing their respective instruments, these three ladies make liberal use of extended techniques to coax out idiosyncratic elements as well.

Ewen compels sounds from her prepared guitar as a basis for the album, Novak adds cornet and autoharp, and Cooley focuses on electronics. All three also provide found object noises. The result is a set of non-repeating themes across eight improvisations, featuring more scraping, scrobbling, and percussiveness than actual notes.

Rather than music in the tradition sense, Garden Medium is about texture and atmosphere. This trio evokes a rich and varied soundscape, with an unfettered sense of experimentalism. I suspect that any performances of this or similar material would have a compelling visual aspect so that the listener could see how this distinctive material is actually created.

Chicago Scene: April 23-30, 2016

Kahil El'Zabar at Chicago's Ethnic Heritage En...

This is a weekly overview live avant performances in the Chicago area.  Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, April 23rd 2016

7:00PM at the Rhythm Room, 1715 Maple Ave, Evanston IL, 847.491.9723 (Free)
Jimmy Bennington Colour and Sound Trio

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures with Hamid Drake, Joshua Abrams, others TBA

9:30PM at the Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia, 773.227.4433 ($12)
Jim Becker, Joe Adamik, Glenn Kotche, Darin Gray

Sunday, April 24th 2016

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont (wheelchair-accessible)
Karuna : Hamid Drake, Adam Rudolph

Monday, April 25th 2016

7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10-$5)
Tom Rainey Solo

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444 (wheelchair-accessible)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Thursday, April 28th 2016

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Dave Rempis, Mars Williams
Big Shoulders : Ben LaMar Gay, Mars Williams, Steve Marquette, Anton Hatwich, with Marie Casmier and guests

Friday, April 29th 2016
7:30PM at the Promontory, 5311 S Lake Park, 312.801.2100 ($35-$15)
Proclamation! The Black Composer Speaks
Fulcrum Point — music by Kahil El’Zabar, Alvin Singleton, Jeffrey Mumford, Jessie Montgomery

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($22)
Avishai Cohen Quartet with Jason Lindner, Tal Mashiach, Justin Brown

Saturday, April 30th 2016

7:00PM at the Rhythm Room, 1715 Maple Ave, Evanston IL, 847.491.9723 (Free)
Jimmy Bennington Colour and Sound Trio

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Twin Talk : Andrew Green, Dustin Laurenzi, Katie Ernst — Record release
Paul Giallorenzo, Julian Kirshner, Anton Hatwich

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:,,,,,,,,,,,,

Newsbits: Sandra Weiss / Third Coast Percussion App / Peter Brötzmann / Alison Miller / DarkMatterHalo and Wadada Leo Smith / Live Music Lowers Stress

Peter Brötzmann playing the tarogato

Jazz Right Now reviews Sandra Weiss at 65Fen in Brooklyn.

Third Coast Percussion has released an IOS app that allows you to play with the parameters of a Steve Reich composition.

The Peter Brötzmann Quartet will perform in Orlando, Florida on May 10.

The Chicago Reader features and profiles drummer Alison Miller.

DarkMatterHalo will perform with Wadada Leo Smith this August in New York.

And last but not least, a new study concludes that going to concerts can lower one’s stress levels. I suppose that this can depend heavily on the concert and who else is in the audience.

San Francisco Scene: April 23-29, 2016

Top of the Transamerica building, downtown San...

From the Bay Improviser Calendar:

Sat 4/23 7:00 PM Octopus Literary Salon [2101 Webster St. #170 Oakland]
Gold Age & Quattuor Elephantis
Gold Age plays avant jazz informed by their collective backgrounds and mutual interest in challenging traditional concepts of jazz through the use of adventurous harmonics and inventive forms.
Quattuor Elephantis represents an intelligible entirety, dynamic and volatile, perceived through the kaleidoscopic effluence of the Four Cosmic Pillars.

Sat 4/23 7:30 PM Canessa Gallery [708 Montgomery St SF]
S(eye)LENCE – An evening of exursions into sight and sound with:
Jack Hertz – Quadraphonic Sound
Bill Thibault – Immersive Video

Sat 4/23 8:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
John Bischoff and Vorticella
A shared evening of new music with solo electronics by John Bischoff and structured improvisations by Vorticella (Krys Bobrowski, Erin Espeland, Brenda Hutchinson and Karen Stackpole)

Sunday, April 24

Sun 4/24 2:00 PM The Nunnery [3016 25th. St SF]
John Hanes/Steve Adams – electronics duo – secret musical impulses in free-ranging improvisations. Ross Hammond – guitar equal parts jazz, folk, blues, spirituals and world music.

Sun 4/24 2:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Adam Marks: De Profundis
New York pianist Adam Marks launches his term as a curator at the Center For New Music with a diverse program. Featured composers include Ted Hearne, Andy Akiho, Jason Charney and Lia Cimaglia. Closing the program will be Frederic Rzewski’s epic oratorio for speaking pianist, “De Profundis.”

Sun 4/24 7:30 PM SIMM Series @ The Musicians Union Hall [116 9th St @ Mission SF]
7:30 pm EGW Trio
Karl Evangelista/Francis Wong/Jordan Glenn
8:40 pm Recycling Club
Joshua Allen/Philip Everett/Ray Schaeffer

Monday, April 25

Mon 4/25 7:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Composer Meetup
The composer meetup is open to anyone! We will have three presenters offer their work for discussion from 7 to 9 PM.

Mon 4/25 9:30 PM Studio Grand [3234 Grand Ave, Oakland]
zBug featuring Sheila Bosco, Timothy Orr, Sean Price – Birthday Bash | Oakland Freedom Jazz Society presents

Wednesday, April 27

Wed 4/27 8:00 PM Mills College Littlefield Concert Hall [5000 MacArthur Blvd Oakland]
Mills College Contemporary Performance Ensemble Concert – Works by Pierson, Moran, Cummings, Nucci, Carson, Neumann, and Rieman

Thursday, April 28

Thu 4/28 7:30 PM CCRMA [660 Lomita Dr. Stanford CA 94305]
Please join us as Juraj Kojs preforms E-Slovakia T. This is an interdisciplinary work combining sound and movement in a real-time controlled environment, contemplating the experiences from Juraj’s native Slovakia. A set of wireless sensors (developed at Aarhus University, Denmark) are attached to the body of the performer, assisting in a creation of a unique artistic content. Slovakian ancient bass-pipe fujara, insistent vocalizations and folk-inspired piano tune are interwoven into a story of an immigrant. Ancient soundscapes unfold—poignantly, into a technology-infused presence.

Thu 4/28 7:30 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Now Hear Ensemble: Not for the Ears Alone
The Now Hear Ensemble will present the first installment of the “Not for the Ears Alone” series, featuring music that exploits the potential for creativity using both the stage space and the performers’ bodies. These works make powerful musical statements, yet they are best experienced with eyes wide open. For this show, we will make use of chalkboards, a boombox, animated videos, sandpaper, samplers, and toy guitars.

Thu 4/28 8:00 PM Luggage Store Creative Music Series [1007 Market Street SF]
8pm Rachel Austin – voice, electronics
9pm French Radio
Andrew Way – anti-turntables, efx, etc, Jim Kaiser – bicycle wheel, Bruce Anderson – guitars(MX80)

Thu 4/28 8:00 PM Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [701 Mission St @3rd SF]
Pamela Z performs her intermedia perfomance work Memory Trace as part of YBCA’s New Frequencies Festival at Yerba Buena Center For the Arts at 8pm in San Francisco, CA

Thu 4/28 8:00 PM Berkeley Arts [2133 University Avenue Berkeley]
Steel Bridge Trio and Ochs Robinson Duo.
Steel Bridge Trio: Aram Shelton, Safa Shokrai, Tim Daisy
Ochs Robinson Duo: Larry Ochs, Tenor and Sopranino Saxophone / Don Robinson, Drums

Friday, April 29

Fri 4/29 7:30 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
New Playlist: Nicholas Phillips plays American piano music
Wisconsin-based pianist and fierce new music advocate Nicholas Phillips presents an evening of recent American piano music, including works by Muhly, Greenstein, Snider, and Garrop, as well as local composers Lucas Floyd and Mark Winges.

Fri 4/29 8:00 PM Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [701 Mission St @3rd SF]
Theresa Wong: The Unlearning / Edward Schocker: The Crossing Pt. 1
Friday’s performances feature cellist/composer Theresa Wong and found object/instrument makers Edward Schocker & Thingamagigs Performance Group.

John Luther Adams on the Echoes Podcast

Source: Echoes.

John Luther Adams is the Pulitzer and Grammy award winning composer whose work is always connected to the environment. As the Composer-in-Residence at the 2016 Big Ears Festival, the expanse of compositions by John Luther Adams was on display from massive symphonic works to ambient electronic installations, to outdoor percussion performances. The two things linking it all are a love of nature and sound. The composer built his reputation as the music laureate of Alaska and the Arctic, drawing much of his inspiration from the dramatic and stark geography there. But now he’s moved to Mexico. We take a walk through a musical wilderness with John Luther Adams. He talks about his award-winning composition, Become Ocean, and how he left Alaska because it was too dark and the landscapes that inspired him were melting away due to Global Warming.