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April 2009 Archives

April 3, 2009

Tonight at MONA


Robert Anderson - 5 string violin
Jacob Szekely - 5 string cello
Christopher Garcia - drums/percussion

Harry Scorzo - violin
Michael Vlatkovitch - trombone
Christopher Garcia - drums/percussion

Cryptonight and MONA present two trios led by Christopher Garcia, a musician/composer who specializes in drumset, marimba, and percussion of India and ancient Mexico. His drumming is unusual in that it incorporates various styles, rhythms and their permutations, and reflects a fluency with odd time signatures and sonic textures which he seamlessly incorporates into his performances.

Opening the concert will be Eartha Austria. EA members Robert Anderson (5 string violin) and Jacob Szekely (5 string cello) have been pushing the boundaries of bowed string improvisation since their time as members of the widely acclaimed SuperNova String Quartet. Not satisfied with trying to just amplify acoustic instruments and play them in an electric setting, they turned to new instruments and have developed a new musical voice with bowed strings.

They stumbled upon Christopher Garcia, (best known for his work with Continuum, DeMania, Frank Zappa alumni -The Grande Mothers Re:Invented, and Michael Vlatkovich) at a performance of Harry Scorzo's Vio-Fonik in 2007, and they have been rehearsing/recording and performing ever since.

The repertoire currently consists of original music and original interpretations of compositions by Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Hunter, Led Zeppelin, Pat Metheny, Frank Zappa, and "tweaked" jazz standards, where anything can -- and does -- happen.

The second half of the concert will be a dynamic trio led by violinist Harry Scorzo, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, and drummer/percussionist Christopher Garcia. All three musician/composers write for the ensemble, and will harness their zany improvisational talents to interact with the neon sculptures at MONA.

The concert will take place at the Museum of Neon Art, 136 W. 4th St., in Downtown LA's burgeoning arts district. Parking is available on the street, and in adjacent parking lots. Tickets are $10 at the door. Free parking is available on the street, or in two paid lots 1/2 block away.

Friday Night April 3rd - 8PM
Museum of Neon Art
136 W. 4th St., LA 90013
Tel. (213) 489-9918

April 7, 2009

Bad News from the Bakery (updated)

Folks, when The Jazz Bakery loses its lease, you know sh*t has gotten bad for this music we love here in Los Angeles. Off Ramp's John Rabe recently interviewed owner Ruth Price on the situation.


In a timely manner, before said lease goes bye-bye (on June 1), the annual Horace Tapscott Tribute Concert had moved its stakes from UC-Dominguez Hills to the Bakery on April 26 for two shows. Check out the players involved:

Piano - Mahash
Bass - Roberto Miranda, Nick Rosen
Drums - Koran Harrison, Makela Session
Percussion - Bill Madison
Flutes - Kafi Roberts, Maia
Sop Sax - Jesse Sharps
Alto Sax - Michael Session, Tracy Caldwell
Tenor Sax - Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq, Randel Fischer, Ralph Gibson
Bari Sax - Amos Delong Jr.
Trumpet - Steven Smith, Richard Grant, John Williams
Trombone - Phil Randlin, Rembert James, Issac Smith
French Horn - Fundi Legn
Spoken word - Kamau Daaoud, J.J. Kabasa
Vocals - Dwight Trible

Lord have mercy. With the return of Jesse Sharps and Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq, Ark bandleaders from the 1970s, this should be an amazing concert.


It's been little over 10 years since Mr. Tapscott's passing. He would have been 75 this April 6th. Coincidentally, April 6 also saw the release of the latest issue (#34) of the maverick music mag Waxpoetics, which features a 10-page article on Horace and the Arkestra. Many pictures included!

There are also several live musical events, many of them Arkestra/Tapscott related, coming up this month:

12 April, 8pm – Extraordinary vocalist Dwight Trible’s annual Easter celebration at -- guess where? -- the Jazz Bakery.

17 April, 8:30pm – at the World Stage in Leimert – The live oral history series World Stage Stories continues with an interview with drummer/label owner Alphonse Mouzon. Upcoming interviewees include pianist John Beasley (May 8) and vocalist Bill Henderson (May 22).

19 April, 3pm – Benefit for ailing, great L.A./Arkestra pianist Nate Morgan at the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill, 6122 Sunset, at Gower, across from CBS.

April 10, 2009

Fearless Leader About Town

The Hat! [photo courtesy of Peak]

He recently celebrated a triumphant mini-tour commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Cryptogramophone Records, performed the epic 12-suite "Images of Los Angeles" at the Jazz Bakery with Motoko Honda's Sound Escape Project AND bought a nifty and hip new jazz hat. Now our label head Jeff Gauthier now has taken it upon hisself to get involved in some cool new activities: co-curating the 2nd Annual Angel City Jazz Festival with our pal Rocco Somazzi. (Check out the tentative bill of oft-killer performers they've come up with here.) He also pops up on a bewitching new CD by vocalist Takako Uemura called Reminiscence, a supple collection of traditional Japanese lullabies performed with an extended Crypto famdamily of Alex Cline, Joel Hamilton, Dan Morris, Will Salmon, Sara Schoenbeck and David Witham. Many of the same players will be performing at Alex Cline and Will Salmon's new Open Gate Theatre series called Flicked – showing old silent movies with new live music. This month's flick is Fritz Lang's ultimate worker-revolt tale Metropolis and will be screened at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts at 7pm on April 19 with improvisational music by Will, Alex, Jeff, Bill Casale and G.E. Stinson. For $5 bucks, easily the deal of this, the cruelest month!

Snooks Eaglin
John "Jack" Fragomeni Jr.
Duane Jarvis
Ralph Mercado
Manny Oquendo
Harrison Ridley, Jr.
Bud Shank
Lyman Woodard

April 15, 2009


Veteran music nerd and longtime Rolling Stone contributor David Fricke throws Nels Cline some L-O-V-E in the magazine's new issue.

Hmmmmmm... [photo by Peak]

Das Vilco's untitled new record drops sometime in late June, but their new live tour DVD Ashes of American Flags drops even sooner than that: April 18, which is also the much-hyped date for National Record Store Day. Check out this exclusive live clip of "Side with the Seeds" from the DVD. A Wilco-less Mr. Nels will also be featured TODAY on WXPN's venerable live music program World Cafe with David Dye.

Alex circa, uhhhhh....1980? [photo by Mark Weber]

Alex Cline will celebrate "Day After Record Store Day." At 7pm on April 19 he'll add his fierce percussion skill set to a live improvised "re-scoring" of Metropolis, Friz Lang's classic 1927 dysopian fantasy. He will appear with guitarist G.E. Stinson, flautist Will Salmon (whose instrument will "speak" for Maria, the film’s protagonist), violinist Jeff Gauthier and bassist Bill Casale.


Two weeks later on May 3 at 7pm, Alex and Will Salmon will present the third in his spring series of Sunday evening concerts. The evening opens with a true Battle of the Lungs: Steve Adams & Vinny Golia, two old friends and hard-core veterans of the jazz and New Music world. Virtuosi Adams (ROVA Saxophone Quartet, collaborations with Ken Filiano, the Bill Horvitz Band and others) and Golia (local uncompromising bandleader-composer-teacher-avant guardian-elder statesman) will present a dazzling multi-horn display of open, sophisticated, intense, subtle, varied, and expressive improvisational adventure. The resonant acoustics of the Center for the Arts should emerge as their wonderful helper and friend as their sonorous interactions swirl around and stunningly fill the space. A rare, dynamic, and intimate meeting.

The second set features Alex with keyboardist/ulitmate tech head Wayne Peet and mad trumpeter John Fumo: also old friends who have played in each others’ bands and in countless others’, running the gamut from the jazz mainstream and avant-garde to arena-level pop to film music to Latin jazz and pop to New Music. One thing they have never done is play together in a trio. Alex, who initiated the project, began playing with Fumo in the early eighties and Peet in around 1980. In their May concert debut, the three of them, under the moniker of Dot Org (so named partly in honor of Peet’s 1970s-vintage Yamaha organ that is featured as a prominent voice in the group’s sound), will collectively explore the expansive, the loosely-structured, the atmospheric, the drivingly rhythmic, the lyrical, and the obtuse ends of the spontaneous music spectrum, drawing on chemistry that is tried and true. Recommended!

Both shows will take place at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock (one block west of Eagle Rock Blvd.). Admission is $10, students, seniors, and series performers half price. Free parking is plentiful. Further information can be obtained by calling (626) 795-4989.

Meanwhile Alex's Continuation and Nels' Coward continue to rack up the great reviews!

"Cline Every Mountain"
"What Would You Do for a Clinedike Bar?"
"California InCline" (santa monica reference)
"No Cline on the Horizon"

HAPPY %#@$!*&^>?+ TAX DAY!

April 17, 2009

Master Classic

The Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival is this weekend, and the local paper The Beacon has an interview with one of the featured artists, Crypto pal Peter Erskine.

April 28, 2009

Friday at the Museum of Neon Art

Friday Night May 1st - 8PM
MONA and Cryptonight Present
Susan Rawcliffe, Scott Wilkinson, Brad Dutz


Friday Night May 1st - 8PM
Museum of Neon Art
136 W. 4th St., LA 90013
Tel. (213) 489-9918
Tickets are $10 at the Door

Susan Rawcliffe - clay flutes, trumpets, & sound sculptures
Scott Wilkinson - ethnic wind instruments
Brad Dutz - percussion

The primary focus of Many Axes is the creation of music by exploring the potential of unusual instruments and instrumental combinations. Sonic structures emerge from spontaneous musical communication among the members of the group; very little is written down or
predetermined. Many of the instruments were designed and made by ceramic artist Susan Rawcliffe, who will be playing the Plasma Didgeridoo pcitured below. Don't miss hearing and seeing this amazing instrument surrounded by the fabulous neon art at MONA!

The concert will take place at the Museum of Neon Art, 136 W. 4th St., in Downtown LA's burgeoning arts district. Parking is available on the street, and in adjacent parking lots. Tickets are $10 at the door. Free parking is available on the street, or in two paid lots 1/2 block away.


April 30, 2009

Glad Tidings from the Great House

"Did you all see what just happened?" said Jesse Sharps from the Jazz Bakery stage last Sunday night. He was referring not just to the mass of musicianship displayed during the 10th Annual Horace Tapscott Tribute Concert, but to the eerie confluence of events that led to Leimert Park poet Ojenke reading off the roll call of Tapscott's students/collaborators in the Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra (PAPA). When he read the name of Ark pianist Nate Morgan, who is currently on the mend from a stroke, the side door opened and -- unbeknownst to the incanting poet -- in came Mr. Morgan in a wheelchair with his posse of family and caregivers. Nate quietly sat in a baseball cap and watched the stage as 21 of his best friends and colleagues lit into one of Morgan's own compositions, the brassy and swinging "Mrafu," which featured a young longhaired pianist named Austin Peralta, a senior (!!!) from the Crossroads School sitting in for Morgan on the song's shimmering and challenging solo intro.


The Tapscott tribute was the unofficial second part of a duo of gigs last week that brought together most of the musicians from the Leimert Park/Watts/Crenshaw scene encapsulated by Tapscott and the Ark. (Go here for our pal Greg Burk's account of the Nate Morgan benefit concert last week in Hollyweird.) We spotted so many familiar faces in the audience it was hard to keep 'em all straight! We said hello to violinist and John Coltrane collaborator Michael White, producer/radio host Carlos Nino, historian/Tapscott biographer Steven Isoardi and writer/salonist Mimi Melnick, as well as members of Tapscott's prodigious family, including wife Cecelia, who gave us a big smooch and hug. Gotta love that lady!


The tribute started a bit late with an introduction by Executive Baker Ruth Price, who introduced Tapscott's granddaughter Raisha on flute and great-granddaughter Madeline on piano. Taspcott's love of children and family was mirrored by the duo's warm-hearted version of the song "Children." Then Ojenke took the stage with his ropes of grey-dreaded beard and read the Ark "roll call" -- including Gary Bias, Lester Robinson, Leroy Brooks, "Black Arthur" Blythe, Everett Brown Jr., Al Hines, Linda Hill, Azar Lawrence, "Butch" Morris -- while Roberto Miranda and Nick Rosen duelled with bowed and pizzicato bass and percussionist Taumbu revelled in a randy drum showcase. Then the rest of the Ark, directed by Mr. Sharps, slowly took the stage, among their ranks trombonist Phil Ranelin, French horn player Fundi Legohn, flautists Kafi Roberts and Maia, trumpeters Steve Smith and Richard Grant and a downright dangerous saxphone section that included Tracy Caldwell, Michael Session (looking quite the hep elder statesman in a bright blood-orange vest and African cap), Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq and Randall Fischer. The stage was so densely packed that many players simply had to step out of the way (moving their music stand with them) while someone behind them soloed. Vocalist Dwight Trible stood to the side offstage almost in the dark and incanted and wailed to a nearly 15 minute version of "Justice" -- the highlight of which was a face-melting trombone workout by tie dyed daishiki-clad Isaac Smith. By the end, Trible was bathed in sweat, and the audience was shrieking out its approval and even, yes, ululating.

PAPA at UCLA, 1981 [photo by Mark Weber]

(What is it about the Ark that can make sounds so mournful while at the same time seeming so celebratory and rapturous? We vote for its signature sound: where a bandleader like Ellington emphasized the brass section, Tapscott seemed to favor putting the woodwinds to the fore of the mix, creating a delightfully indescribable Salvation Army band roil that could be described as "a stampede from an army of avenging and forgiving angels." Truly nothing like it.)

Next, Mr. Sharps conducted the orchestra on his big band arrangement of Nate Morgan's "Mrafu," which featured among others muscular bass solo from Mr. Miranda. Jesse then joined the ensemble on bamboo flute and soprano sax for the biggest surprise of the evening, the epic "The Thin Line," which was last performed 22 years ago. (There is a recording that exists from 1987 of Tapscott conducting the tune with an orchestra from Humboldt -- "which may be either Humboldt, California or Humboldt, Germany," related Steve Isoardi). The song is one of Tapscott's more difficult compositions, moving through at least five seperate movements, all of them radically different in mood and timbre. The band even threatened to seize up with the difficult score halfway through -- but managed to land the mothership back home. It was a fascinating high-wire act to see the musicians -- young and old both -- grapple with the dense score. And well worth it.


Coincidentally, Jesse Sharps will be returning to LA over Labor Day weekend to conduct and play with The Gathering at the Angel City Jazz Festival, co-curated by our very own Cryptogramophone Fearless Leader Jeff Gauthier. Check out these vids of Mr. Sharps in action:

Performing in 2007 at the late, great Crenshaw club The Underground Railroad

Performing Abdul Salim's "Song for My Children" at Mimi Melnick's Jazz Salon in 2007

And check out the cool video from the first Nate Morgan benefit last December at the World Stage in Leimert Park:

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