IT’S HARD TO SUM UP the wealthy and diverse Bay Space new music scene. It may very well be time to quote a few of the many artists deserving wider consideration like digital musicians/voice shamans Alexandra Buschman and Danishta Rivero Castro (and their band, Las Soucias), or percussion wizard Karen Stackpole. I might spotlight the behind-the-scenes organizing work of Lease Romus, a composer/improviser and saxophonist who by some means finds the time to run two collection—the Baggage Retailer New Music Collection (the longest operating inventive music collection within the Bay), and the SIMM Collection on the Musician’s Union Corridor—his label Edgetone Data, and the Outsound New Music Summit.
Or I might have fun Tom Nunn, an instrument builder and improviser who inspired and influenced numerous musicians and embodied the welcoming perspective that defines our scene. He invented greater than 100 percussion devices that look as stunning as they sound. He explored microtonality and was fascinated with vibrating surfaces. He organized ongoing classes, eagerly invited anybody over to play, and supplied concert events in his dwelling studio/storage. He attended the reveals of his friends and mentees and approached you with a smile after your gig to reward or ask questions. Nunn handed away on June 19, and his loss continues to be felt all through the neighborhood and past. The day after his passing, I posted a brief tribute on social media and improvisers from all around the world paid their respects with glowing commentary.
Spearheaded and led by Romus, the Outsound New Music Summit shares the spirit that Nunn possessed and extra, providing performances that skate the parameters of publish jazz, electro-acoustic improvisation, instrument builders forging new sound languages, and out-rock. Since I moved right here within the fall of 1979, I’ve come to think about this scene as a supportive and inspiring surroundings that resists style boundaries, and has created sources like BayImproviser—a listing of gamers, venues, labels, and extra—whereas organizations like Jazz within the Neighborhood have labored to make sure that extra venues are paying musicians a residing wage.
This summer season welcomed Outsound’s nineteenth iteration and introduced the Bay’s model of maverick new music to the soulful Finnish Corridor in Berkeley, presenting eight teams over 4 nights, two of which boasted maximum-capacity crowds. Opening evening featured Rob Ewing’s Lengthy Tone Sally, a fourteen-piece ensemble of fantastic trombonists (one bass, 13 tenors) taking part in a composition of the identical title divided into 4 elements with interludes that includes freely improvising quartets. Within the principal sections, the gamers sustained a single observe in unison, straying for brief sequences to discover timbre, muted sounds, vibrato, or intervals that created shimmering vibrations arising from the higher partials (overtones). I’m reluctant to assign a story to open works, or to music normally, however I couldn’t assist however consider Ewing’s basis pitches because the deteriorating pillars of institutional constructions. (See the demise of Mills School and the San Francisco Artwork Institute for 2 of the newest infrastructural failures to rock the Bay Space artwork scene.)
That very same night, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, a bunch that I’ve been following for greater than forty years, performed their demanding scores with virtuosic consideration to the subtleties of their sound language. The group options Bruce Ackley (soprano saxophone), Steve Adams (alto), Larry Ochs (tenor) and Jon Raskin (baritone), and its members have been lively in pushing the boundaries of their composition techniques because the band fashioned in 1978. High quality of consideration is every little thing, and the 5 works—together with a free improvisation to set issues in movement, a examine in gestural sounds—launched an encyclopedia of improvising methods and intuitive transitions. The depth of their listening set every new part in movement, sans cues.
On Saturday evening, instrument builder and sound artist Krys Bobrowski and percussionist Karen Stackpole supplied a journey by means of cloud lots of vibrating glass and metals. Bobrowski carried out on kelphorn—a wind instrument made from dried sea kelp—and her latest invention, Gliss Glass, a set of three glass beakers mounted on stands, every linked to a tube outfitted with a valve. Elevating and reducing the beakers or adjusting the valves permits totally different quantities of water to enter the containers. Bobrowski then glides her fingers alongside the rim or strikes the perimeters with rubber mallets or her fingers, attaining percussive sounds that create glissandos (pitches that slowly rise or fall) relative to the fluctuating water ranges. Stackpole performed in tandem on a number of gongs from her in depth assortment with fingers, mallets, wood sticks, steel rods, and rubber balls, creating impressions of the steel being tickled, caressed, or erupting like lava. When gamers have their stage of sensitivity and may ship deeply nuanced communication, the viewers’s sense of time, not measured by pulse or a beat, spreads out like units of waves.
The second set featured composer Ven Voisey’s Scaffold, which he carried out with Danishta Rivero Castro, Alexandra Buschman, and David Lim—all on dwell electronics and voice. When writing for improvisers, how a lot management ought to a composer impose? The piece’s sections—this system states Scaffold has 4, I counted six—supplied a silence earlier than every cue sounded (muffled voices by means of megaphones, a drone, a pulsating pitch), urging the gamers to thicken the sound layers, leading to crescendos that returned to silence earlier than beginning once more. The results of the sound language parameters set by Voisey was that these distinctive improvisers had been overly restricted. The aspect of shock, a useful asset in improvisation, was stunted by the composition’s repetitive construction.
Sunday evening introduced us ZBUG, an improvising ensemble led by David Leikam that includes saxophonist Patrick Cress, trumpeter Doug Ellington, and drummer Timothy Orr, accompanied by Christina Braun, a dancer from the Butoh custom who has chops and a thoughts of her personal. She skirted the boundaries of the gamers, dancing into their midst with humor and agility because the gamers started by marking their territory and roles till the halfway level when issues achieved coherence, actual stream, and lively interaction. The possibility to listen to each a seasoned group like ROVA and ZBUG, a bunch that deliberately shifts personnel in each efficiency, gave this listener the sense of an arc that begins with a primary assembly and displays the rewards ensembles obtain with forty years of arduous work and dedication. It’s additionally indicative of Romus’s intention to offer listeners with the total breadth of the improvised music expertise.
Sunday evening additionally supplied a tribute to Nunn, who had been scheduled to carry out with collaborator David Michalak in Nunn’s T.D. Scatchit and Firm, a bunch that routinely invited revolving collaborators. The eponymous scatch-boxes are a collection of devices made by Nunn of discovered gadgets mounted on cardboard packing containers with contact mics connected. Michalak improvised on a number of of the devices with Ackley on soprano saxophone, Aurora Josephson singing, and Stackpole on percussion—all longtime buddies and collaborators of Nunn’s. I’m glad we’ve his devices, his recordings, and his e-book, Knowledge of the Impulse (1998), which illustrates how improvisation works. With its thorough cataloging of practices, historic backgrounds, and references, it does what Nunn at all times did: let individuals into and permit them to higher perceive this music of the second. Nonetheless, I want we’d been given a tribute that extra absolutely celebrated the person.
On the ultimate night, Tri-Cornered Tent Present—Philip Everette behind a desk teeming with Moog packing containers and units, Ray Schaeffer on electrical basses, and Anthony Flores on drums—slayed us with unruly electronics accompanied by beefy beats. Their sound peeled the paint and took no prisoners. Moira Scar’s set was a Darkish Wave picnic in hell accompanied by circus soundtracks imagined by Bela Lugosi. Lulu Gamma Ray (trombone, synthesizer, voice), Roxy Monoxide (saxophone, guitar, voice), and Bil Bowman (drums) evoked early Stooges-era punk that dissolved into industrial noise and out of the wreckage got here throbbing synth sounds that will make Siouxsie’s banshees blush. The post-rock crew served it up simply the way in which I prefer it, and my face harm from smiling as I left the constructing.
The Outsound Music Summit was held from July 29–August 1 in Berkeley, California. Recordings of the performances might be streamed on Youtube.