Our inaugural show is curated by drummer Chris Icasiano and will take place on Wednesday, August 13th. The first group of the evening will feature a new trio with Seattle jazz veteran Jeff Johnson on bass, Ivan Arteaga on saxophone, and Icasiano on drums. Following, will be drummer Jen Gilleran’s ensemble, who will be performing a live soundtrack to vintage film. Closing out the evening will be Fluke, a quartet led by pianist Brian Kinsella that plays all original compositions. This is sure to be an amazing night of music!
All the performances are funded by your generous donations and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the support!
Vermillion Gallery - 1508 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
$5-15 suggested donation
8:00-8:45 - Jeff Johnson, Ivan Arteaga, Chris Icasiano
9:00-9:45 - Jen Gilleran with Neil Welch, Christian Pincock, and Simon Henneman playing live music to vintage film
10:00-10:45 - Fluke (Brian Kinsella, Gregg Belise-Chi,
Chris Symer, Chris Icasiano)
9/10 - Ivan Arteaga
10/8 - Simon Henneman
11/12 - Evan Woodle
12/10 - Christian Pincock
Burn List, a new collaboration from Seattle’s scorching new music scene features trumpeter Cuong Vu, tenor saxophonist Greg Sinibaldi, keyboardist Aaron Otheim, and drummer Chris Icasiano. Marking the meeting of two distinctive generations of creative new music in Seattle, each member of Burn List have uniquely contributed their musical DNA to the city’s musical lineage. Having been on the forefront of the scene as established veterans, Vu and Sinibaldi each offer unique compositional approaches and styles that have helped shape the newest generation of musicians in Seattle. Icasiano and Otheim are, in part, products of those contributions and they form Burn List’s paired-down rhythm section combination of keyboard and drums, pushing to create a new sonic approach to the music and group improvisation.
The Chapel Performance Space in Wallingford
(4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle, WA)
with Mount Eerie
Doors at 7:30pm / Music at 8:00pm
$10-15 suggested donation
A donation of $20 will include admission and a CD.
“Do computers improvise?” - netcat’s interactive audio installation and record release show at the Ballard Jazz Walk
netcat is T&C’s newest family member and features keyboardist Andrew Olmstead, chango and percussionist Brandon Lucia, and cellist David Balatero. As part of the Table & Chairs label showcase at the Ballard Jazz Walk on Friday, April 18th, they will be debuting an audience-interactive audio installation that aims to answer the question: “Do computers improvise?” This is an interactive installation, which means all Jazz Walk attendees are encouraged to engage and participate in the music-making process by connecting and interacting.
Here’s how you connect:
The concept is to create music out of the chaotic web of communication that our smartphones transmit. Anyone who wishes to participate can join the wireless network at the installation. Any time you receive an email or browse a website, our software will add a part to an ongoing piece of music. Here, the computer is the improviser - netcat has instructed it how to make certain sounds, but ultimately the computer, based on your smartphone interactions, will decide what to play and when.
Here’s how you interact:
The second idea is to allow participants to interact with their surroundings through light and movement to generate sound. The Chango, a custom instrument that netcat developed, generates sound based on what the camera sees – it interprets light and motion to make music. The installation features a darkened room outfitted with multiple video cameras connected to the Chango. Participants are supplied with handheld lights and are encouraged to interact by shining light throughout the room, to create sound.
Along with the installation, netcat will be releasing their first album titled “Cycles Per Instruction,” which explores this idea of computers improvising, as well as human-computer interactions and the complexity of technology. In addition, the album includes programs that generate speech sounds and lyrics based on computational models of human language. In contrast to use of technology, the band also improvises alongside their computer-based counterparts.
Remember, there is a special T&C discount to the Jazz Walk if you sign up to receive our mailing list here.
Table & Chairs is very excited to announce that we will once again be part of the Ballard Jazz Festival, which will take place April 16th to 19th in Seattle’s historic Ballard neighborhood! We are absolutely honored and humbled to again be included as part of this ever-growing and important Seattle mainstay. This year is extra special because we have more bands involved than ever and are planning a showcase to end all showcases!
Also, we have discounted tickets for the Jazz Walk (4/18 which includes the showcase to end all showcases) for sale only through our mailing list, so sign up here if you’re not already a part!
2014 Ballard Jazz Festival Schedule:
Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 – The Brotherhood of the Drum
Conor Byrne Pub - 5140 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107<br/? 8:00pm
$15 cover/ 12$ adv
The festival opens at the Conor Byrne Pub, one of Seattle’s oldest watering holes, on Wednesday, April 16th, with an event called The Brotherhood of the Drum. It is an evening that features drummer-led and drum-centric bands in all their glory. Luckily for us, Oakland-based T&C group Cavity Fang, led by keyboardist Michael Coleman, has three drummers! This will be Cavity Fang’s first performance in Seattle and they will be sure to mesmerize their unsuspecting victims at the Brotherhood of the Drum. The other members of Cavity Fang include Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Luke Bergman on guitar, and Jordan Glenn, Evan Woodle, and Chris Icasiano on drums.
Also performing that evening will be Chicago-based drummer Dana Hall and the newest addition to the UW jazz faculty Ted Poor. Guaranteed to be an awesome show!
Thursday, April 17th, 2014 – The Guitar Summit
Conor Byrne Pub - 5140 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
br/$15 cover/ 12$ adv
The following evening, Thursday, April 17th, is the Guitar Summit, where there is one instrument to rule them all. Our friend Gregg Belisle-Chi will be leading his group Colouri, performing a set of newly recorded tracks. The original music of Colouri reflects the sensibilities of the traditional jazz idiom, while embodying the passion and fire of collective improvisation. The rest of the members of Colouri include Carmen Rothwell on bass, Andrew Swanson on saxophone, and Christopher Icasiano on drums. Originally assembled to play and honor the music of the late Paul Motian, the quartet has since begun composing original music inspired by the spirit and melodic vitality of Motian’s oeuvre. Focusing on collective improvisation, Colouri is at once quiet as they are deft, and delicate as they are wild.
Also performing this evening are Origin Records artists Mimi Fox and Corey Christiansen. Mimi’s newest record Standards, Old and New pulls classics from the American songbook as well as the contemporary pop canon, while Lone Prairie, Corey’s newest recording, takes on traditional cowboy songs and presents them in an exciting new light!
Friday, April 18th, 2014 – Ballard Jazz Walk
Featuring the Table & Chairs record label Showcase
Salmon Bay Eagles Club - 5216 - 20th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107
$30 day of show / $24 online before April 1st
This year’s Ballard Jazz Walk is shaping up to be the most impressive yet! On this evening, 10 venues in Ballard open their doors to the jazz walk, where a single ticket-price will get you in to all of them, with music going from 6:00pm to 2:00am! Not only will this be the best jazz walk in BJF history, T&C will be presenting our most exciting label showcase to date. Here’s what you can expect:
We will be hosting four distinctive and cutting-edge bands, all promising to deliver the most unique jazz walk experience.
Opening the show at 8:00pm will be the newest addition to the T&C family: netcat, the mind-blowing collaboration between cellist David Balatero, synthesizer master Andrew Olmstead, and Changoist/percussionist Brandon Lucia. This is a very special performance for netcat because they will be presenting a fully interactive installation piece that involves the participation of the attendee’s mobile devices as well as the listeners’ interaction with light. In addition, this performance will double as netcat’s record release show.
Following netcat at 9:00pm will be the second performance for Cavity Fang. We were so excited that Michael Coleman and the other Oakland folks were able to make it up to Seattle that we couldn’t resist letting them play twice! Don’t worry, though, if you already caught them at the Brotherhood of the Drum because the Cavity Fang folks have an extra special treat for their jazz walk performance!
The second half of the show will be kicked-off by the sonic onslaught of Japanese Guy. An exploration in improvisation as writing and recording, Japanese Guy’s music moves between heaving rhythms and shades of introspectiveness. The material works its way through peaks and valleys all while continuously being reassessed live by the musicians. Performances are meant to breathe and exist on their own as microcosms of texture and sound while guitarist Skyler Skjelset, keyboardist/saxophonist Andrew J.S., and drummer Chris Icasiano rely on each other directly to create a sonic landscape – both while performing live and from the tracking room floor to tape.
And last, but not least, King Tears Bat Trip will melt your face off. The instrumentation includes a guitar outfitted will all G-strings tuned to the same note, the otherworldly sounds of tenor saxophonist Neil Welch, Chango (a computer generated instrument, built by Brandon Lucia himself), and, of course, four drummers. Yup. You heard correct. This will mark KTBT’s second Ballard Jazz Festival performance, as they were a headliner at the 2012 Brotherhood of the Drum. This KTBT performance will also be to celebrate and preview their new record, which is being release by our fellow Seattle record label brethren Debacle Records.
Saturday, April 19th, 2014 – Swedish Pancake Jazz Brunch
Nordic Heritage Museum - 3014 NW 67th St
Seatings at 11:00am and 12:30pm
Non-Museum Members: $15 / Museum Members: $12 / Family of 4: $40 / ALL AGES
This is always a fun event and is sure to get you in the mood for the Mainstage concert in the evening. This year, T&C’s own Jacob Zimmerman Quintet will be performing for the eager brunch-goers. Recently awarded Earshot Jazz’s Golden Ear award for 2013 Emerging Artist of the Year, Jacob is an extremely versatile and integral part of the local creative-music community. He studied music at the internationally renowned Garfield High School, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and Mills College in Oakland. His teachers have included Roscoe Mitchell, Jerry Bergonzi, Joe Morris and Anthony Coleman.
The Jacob Zimmerman Quintet will be performing classic bebop music from the 40s and 50s while featuring some of Seattle’s best up-and-coming jazz talent.
We are very excited to announce the fourth annual Table & Chairs-sponsored Cry & Roar Festival. This year, it will take place on January 31st through February 2nd at Cafe Racer in the Ravenna neighborhood. Each night, music will start at 8:00 PM and there will be a suggested donation of $5 to $15 at the door, which will help support the artists. RSVP on Facebook here!
On January 31st and February 1st, a “traditional” set of concerts will take place, with multiple bands playing consecutively. On Sunday February 2nd, the Racer Sessions will bring together everyone who attends the performance that night in a musical experience. We hope that everyone at the session that evening will pick up their horns and join us in an extended piece, which will celebrate the community that has been cultivated over the years at Cafe Racer. Following the group performance, the free improvisation session will take place as usual until 10:00 PM, at which time a secret special guest will take the stage for a toe-tapping end to the festival.
This year’s festival is particularly exciting because Kim Cass (Oakland) and netcat (Seattle) will be playing, both new to the Table & Chairs roster.
Carmen Rothwell is a current senior at the University of Washington, where she is studying Jazz Performance on the double bass. At this year’s Cry & Roar festival, Carmen will be performing a solo set of double bass music. Her compositions are always heartfelt and full, despite the single, low voice of her instrument.
Sequoia Ensemble was formed in the spring of 2011 as a part of the curatorship by Levi Gillis at the Racer Sessions. Since then it has developed into an amalgam of influences, as much Americana as Avant-garde. A warm and sometimes gritty array of horns is paired with ambient electronic imaginings, drawing on the group’s vast timbral possibilities to create intricate and provocative soundworlds. The lyrical quality of much of Gillis’s writing for the group is augmented by the unique wildness that can only be found in free improvisation. These forays into a wide range of sounds create an exciting and varied concert experience.
Since 1985, Shoup is a mainstay of that city’s improvised music scene. By his own account, Shoup “grew up listening to black music in the South, the blues and jazz and R&B,” and was “introduced to free jazz in the late ’60s in Atlanta”. Although his “voice is definitely influenced by African-American music” he “felt like free jazz was the domain of black musicians.” Hearing Britain’s Music Improvisation Company, “he simultaneously discovered free improvisation and his calling as a musician.” “It wasn’t jazz-based,” he would say in 2003. “They were trying to find some new ways of improvising. I realized that was the kind of music I wanted to know about, and the only way I could know more about it was by playing it.”
netcat is Andrew Olmstead, Brandon Lucia, and David Balatero. Their music explores the intersection between complexity, computers, and free improvisation. Playing cello, synthesizer, drums, and chango, the band interacts with custom sound generation software through long-form textural compositions. netcat’s debut album, Cycles Per Instruction will be out in early 2014.
Mr. Cass is an active freelance bassist and composer living in Oakland. He is currently recording a self titled solo project set to be released on Table and Chairs this year.
The music presented in “Kim Cass” is a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds. With a strong focus on polyrhythmic material, Mr. Cass uses multiple synthesizers to record his music. Each piece is started on paper, and there are virtually no computers used while writing and recording it. Each song has a constant pulse, yet hints at other dimensions of the beat. The pitch content is largely randomized, and then harmonized accordingly. Mr. Cass plays upright bass on his compositions, and his forthcoming album will also feature his skill on the parlor guitar. With Mr. Cass’s original artwork, select scores of the material, and liner notes by a special guest, “Kim Cass” is promising to be a memorable debut album.
Carmen Rothwell—Solo Double Bass
Kim Cass (Oakland)*
"Cry & Roar"— a curation of the Racer Sessions
After Party performance by SECRET SPECIAL GUESTS
* Designates newly signed to Table & Chairs
Table & Chairs is very excited to be collaborating with Pinkish and the Portland-based Creative Music Guild for our October 24th show at the Columbia City Theatre. T&C artist Neil Welch met with guitarist/composer Ryan Miller of Pinkish to discuss the fully creative world that his music occupies.
Many of our T&C artists have recorded in more natural environments like the woods, or maybe just a craftsman-bungalow dugout basement. I know you’ve recorded in both of these Northwest treasures. I’d love to hear how you approach to composing and ultimately producing your music.
My approach to composing and producing my music is simply to grow as much as possible everyday. This includes growing my relationship with the guitar and making every attempt to stoke my imagination. Improvisation has always been a vital element of composition for myself and every group or project that I’ve been involved with. New and exciting environments absolutely make for an exciting performance experience which absolutely influences whatever compositions I’m working on. I recorded all of the acoustic guitar tracks for “Hex Fortunes” entirely in my bathroom because I loved the sound of the room!
Your band Pinkish will be playing at the October 24th Apparitions show. How did all of you meet and come to be a band?
I’m incredibly excited for Pinkish to perform this month in Seattle. I’ve been playing with the incredible Andrew Jones for the past year playing mostly duo and our own compositions. Andrew is wonderful, we played as a duo for the Creative Music Guild’s Outset series in January and I sincerely hope that it was one of many collaborations with Mr. Jones in the near future and in my lifetime! I met the amazing Kyle Shipp and Grant Pierce at a house show in Portland not more than 6 months ago. The lineup was Anteater, Grammies and The Wisherman - As it turned out we had many friends and musical aspirations in common (also we all studied at PSU). There was very little time before we all played together and formed Pinkish.
Pinkish uses much more space and fewer grooves than a lot of your other projects. As a band, are exploring these open textures something that you have discussed, or is this more your natural approach together?
I think that the space that is created in our compositions simply comes from a place of wanting to leave room for each member to explore their own sound while rising and falling with each other. It is absolutely the natural approach to our collective writing but we have so many ideas and new tunes in the works do that may change soon!
You describe Pinkish as an experimental jazz group. Ryan, in your own music I hear many different influences but experimental jazz isn’t one of the first that comes to my mind. Is this specifically a musical area that Pinkish talked about wanting to explore, and is this an area that you yourself work in fairly often?
This is a tough question! I guess I will start to say that I think genre classifications are really not of the greatest importance to me. I get a bit perplexed at the notion of classifying the music that I’m a part of! I’ve never really felt like the music I’ve made has been particularly tied to any one specific genre. That being said, I have listened to and studied “jazz” and “experimental” music much more so than any other genre. I think I’d be safe to assume that the same is true for the other members of Pinkish. Grant Pierce, Kyle Shipp and I have all studied Jazz performance at PSU (although we didn’t meet at PSU). Andrew Jones also studied jazz performance at ASU. I think that while we have never actually talked about the kind of music that we would make as a collective - it just made sense to call it “experimental jazz.”
Many of our readers know that Seattle’s T&C artists work closely with the Racer Sessions weekly series here. Could you talk a bit about the Creative Music Guild in Portland, and how this collective has influenced your work?
The Creative Music Guild is amazing and I am forever grateful to be a part of the organization! I am inspired by my friends and local performers more than anything. It is utterly astounding to get be such an intimate witness to so many amazing CMG performances and to be involved with the guild as a board member! In my opinion, CMG shows are some of the most wonderful shows that happen in Portland! I am honored to be witness to our performance planning efforts and to be a part of our amazing organization! I am inspired by friends more that anything and since I have been a part of the CMG I have gained more amazingly talented friends and acquaintances than ever. The CMG has absolutely influenced who I am as a musician, and I dearly wish that it continues to do so forever.
Coming back to your own music now, I know that many artists are reluctant to pigeon-hole themselves into a genre, but I’m curious to know where you hear yourself fitting into the scheme of it all. Right now I’m personally in the middle of a long-term, daily recording project thats really re-defined my playing. I wonder what similar landmark moments you or your bands have had over the years?
I’ve had many “landmarks” in my playing and in my confidence as a composer and performer. I spent the better part of a decade writing, recording and performing with drummer Michael Dillon (With Eyes Abstract). Michael and I began playing together when we were both 17 years old and we recorded two full length albums and two EP’s together. We spent an incredible amount of time playing together at an early age and grew up very much in influence of each others playing. He is undoubtedly my biggest influence to date simply because we grew up composing together. Mikey and I discontinued With Eyes Abstract (WEA) in 2010 and since then I have been concentrating primarily on composing and performing with Phil Cleary (drumset) and Jon Scheid (electric bass) in our group U SCO (usco.bandcamp.com). Jon and Phil are absolutely incredible musicians and they just happen to be my best friends in the world. U SCO is an entirely collaborative effort and our compositions are completely the result of the sum of our exhaustive rehearsals and live performances. U SCO is recording our second full-length album in December and I’m incredibly excited about it!
In many of your own songs one rhythmic cycle morphs into another in really captivating ways. You also blatantly cut from one rhythmic world into the next. This brings to mind math-rock bands like Battles to me as much as it does the minimalist music of Steve Reich. Could talk about the strong persistence of rhythm in your music? Where is this coming from?
Some of my earliest influences are in-fact “math-rock” bands! I discovered Don Caballero’s “Don Caballero 2,” “American Don” and Hella’s “Hold your Horse Is” at a very developmental stage in my playing thanks to a mutual friend and wonderful guitarist and recording engineer, Stephan Hawkes. Needless to say - I fell in love. The “math-rock” format of rhythm changes and sheer intensity of playing shook me then as it does now. I can indeed say that I was just as infatuated with Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 musicians” not more than a year later. Rhythm comes from so many different places, it is the pulse of one’s thoughts and the beats in our imagination. The persistence of rhythm in my compositions simply comes from my relationship with the guitar and the intensity or feelings that I had at the time when I wrote the piece!
See Pinkish live at the Apparitions show this month.
Hello, friends! We are very excited to present an exciting Halloween inspired show, which we are calling Apparitions. It will take place at Seattle’s historic Columbia City Theater on Thursday, October 24th, 2013 at 8:00pm, and will feature performances by some of your favorite T&C artists! Keep scrolling for the details.
Opening the show will be the brand new duo comprised of alto saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman and pianist Gus Carns. Performing all original music, the duo features a unique brand of rhythmically complex improvisations. Their music is restless yet relaxed; precise yet spacious; with chaotic musical structures navigated in a flowing, intuitive way.
Following will be the newest addition to the T&C family: Burn List, a new collaboration featuring trumpeter Cuong Vu, tenor saxophonist Greg Sinibaldi, keyboardist Aaron Otheim, and drummer Chris Icasiano. This performance will be a little sneak preview for their debut album, which will be released by T&C in the Winter of early 2014. Be on the lookout!
This Fall concert will be especially fun because we are proud to be hosting a wonderful new Portland-based noise group Pinkish, which features Andrew Jones (Upright Bass), Ryan A. Miller (Electric Guitar, Electric 12-string Guitar), Kyle Shipp (Electric Guitar) and Grant Pierce (Drum set). Portland is pretty wonderful, we realized, and has some amazing musicians, so we decided it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with Portland’s Creative Music Guild and have them send a band up here to throw down!
Finally, we have King Tears Bat Trip. Yeah. Did I mention that Ted Poor will be a special guest? Yeah.
Looking forward to seeing you all at the show! To purchase advance tickets, click here!
NYC trombonist, composer and Table & Chairs artist Andy Clausen launches a LONG overdue West Coast tour in support of his 2012 release, "The Wishbone Suite."
Andy (who still does not have a driver’s license!!) and his cohorts will pile in his family van and navigate their way down to LA and back, with a few stops along the way:
Fri. July 5th at 8:00 p.m. at Backspace, 115 NW 5th Ave in Portland
Sat. July 6th at 8:00pm at 1078 Gallery, 820 Broadway in Chico
Mon. July 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Luna’s Cafe, 1414 16th St in Sacramento
Tues. July 9th at 8 p.m. at the Center for New Music, 55 Taylor St in San Francisco.
Wed. July 10th at 8:30 p.m. at Lou’s Village, 1100 Lincoln Ave in San Jose
Thurs. July 11th at 9 p.m. at Blue Whale, 123 astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301 in Los Angeles
Sat. July 13th at 9:30 p.m. at Duende, 468 19th Street in Oakland
Sun July 14th at 4:30 p.m. at Berkeley Jazz School, 2087 Addison St in Berkeley
Andy Clausen - Trombone
Ivan Arteaga - Clarinet
Aaron Otheim - Accordion
Gus Carns - Piano
Chris Icasiano - Drums
For more information, or to receive updates from the road, please visit:
What folks are saying about the record:
"Brilliant release by trombonist Clausen…finds a way to fuse these disparate musicians and their seemingly ill-fitting instruments into an alluring, whimsical, and just-plain-cool mix of jazz, classical, and experimental music. Challenging music that doesn’t shy away from also being pretty. Pick of the Week." - Dave Sumner, eMusic
"improvisational brushstrokes through elements of classical composition, frenzied syncopation, flashes of pop structure, and buoyant, melodic themes." - Gwendolyn Elliott, Seattle Weekly
"…the fluidity with which the band moves between composed and improvised approaches is truly staggering at times. Beautifully orchestrated by Clausen for a mixed ensemble of trombone, clarinet, piano, accordion and drums, the album ranges from lush melodies with Romantic-era harmonies and broad improvisations to swelling ensemble writing and energetic group interplay. There’s a bright future ahead for Clausen, based on this made-in-Seattle release by a group of talented young musicians." - Earshot Jazz
"Throughout the suite there is a folk song directness and simplicity of melody married to grander harmonies, an expression of unfiltered childhood experience washed—in a painterly sense—with the wisdom gleaned from Clausen’s musical studies. The mood of a chamber ensemble (one that is not averse to having some wide-eyed fun, or that hasn’t lost any sense of wonder) prevails. At nineteen years of age, Clausen displays some youthful wisdom in presenting his music before the end of his formal education, choosing rather to strike a creative spark while the memories and emotions are still sharp. These compelling tunes, songs that speak to the innocence and intensity of youthful experience, are arranged and played marvelously on his auspicious debut." - All About Jazz
Bay Area keyboardist and composer Michael Coleman has been on the Table & Chairs radar for quite some time. Some of you may remember an epic show at The Mine in February of 2011 where Michael’s group Beep! shared the bill with Heatwarmer and Chemical Clock. And perhaps some of you may have listened closely to Michael’s beautiful synth contributions to the debut Lawson album.
Beyond his impressive list of performance/recording credits, Michael is a restless creative spirit; a true artist never satisfied with yesterday’s solutions. Since the label’s inception T&C has been quietly observing his activities, waiting until now to pounce!
T&C is extremely proud to release the debut album from Michael’s latest project CavityFang, officially out on Tuesday July 2, 2013. The album will be available as a digital download, as well as a beautifully packaged compact disc. Check out the interview below for some really great insights into how “Urban Problems” came to be.
Jacob Zimmerman: You’re involved in so many different projects (Beep, Arts & Sciences, Young Nudist, Lawson, Kapowski, Chris Cohen…) and you seem to be coming up with new ones all the time! What compels you to keep starting new bands?
Michael Coleman: I sometimes think of music as a series of experiments. I’m always searching for new sounds and trying to realize some idea that’s been floating around in my head. Each group represents an exploration of a new idea or feeling. Instead of having one or two groups and taking them in a bunch of different directions, I like the idea of having a different band for each experiment. And in the process of exploring some musical territory, new things are revealed both about that specific group and myself.
JZ: Why is the record called Urban Problems?
MC: I wanted the artist SNEAL to create the artwork for the album. Each of his pieces include text in addition to the image and I always love the way they work together. It made sense that whatever text ended up on the artwork for the album should also be the name of the album. He gave me about 7 or 8 possible covers and Urban Problems really stuck out to me. I think it works as a title because it fits the energy of the music. Also living in Oakland for almost a decade has put me in close proximity to a lot of crazy urban situations. And lastly, as Oakland and other American cities become gentrified, the idea of “urban problems” begins to mean different things to different groups in the city. Is it rich, white tech people complaining about the lack of parking or Mexican immigrants worrying about being stopped by police? That’s interesting to me.
JZ: CavityFang is unquestionably an all-star ensemble, can you describe the superpowers of each musician?
MC: This is the most fun question to answer!
Ava Mendoza not only has a technical mastery over the guitar, but she has an extremely wide pallet of sounds and colors at her disposal. I would put parts in front of her and within minutes, she would find the right sound for each section. Her sound on Dreamzzz is wonderful and her solo at the end of Koala and Joey is super shredding.
Cory Wright can play any woodwind very well. I’d heard him play baritone with The Wiener Kids and I knew that he would be perfect for this band. For CavityFang, he plays the role of the bass much of the time as well as stepping out as the main soloist on several tracks. He’s one of the most melodic soloists I know and he blends flawlessly with the other instruments. And check his flute playing on This Will Be Your Bed!
Sam Ospovat is one of the hardest working and determined musicians in the Bay Area. I’ve played in bands with him for about 6 years now and I’ve watched him develop his musical voice and become a totally unique drummer. He can lay down nasty grooves or create beautiful textures equally well and always works to make a drum part that is both compositionally interesting and understated. Listen for his polyrhythms at the end of Armadillo. Too good.
Jordan Glenn is another master drummer. He’s a true group player in the sense that everything he plays and every sound he uses supports the rest of the band and the song. He’s also extremely inventive and is constantly surprising both himself and the rest of the band. The sounds that he makes at the beginning of Armadillo get me every time.
Hamir Atwal is known in the Bay Area jazz scene as having both the best feel and the sweetest touch on the drums. When he locks up with Sam on the groove during Dreamzzz, it’s pretty magical. And as the lead drummer on Rara, he just keeps pushing the energy higher and higher.
JZ: What are some of the most prominent influences on the CavityFang music?
MC: I was listening to a lot Captain Beefheart at the time and the Deerhoof record Runners Four. I also became obsessed with a few videos from Haiti of Ra Ra music. I transcribed my favorite and we did an arrangement of it. I think I also drew a lot of inspiration from my friends. There are hints of Sam’s Piki project as well as the music of Lawson and bits of Aaron Novik’s music.
JZ: The great Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof) engineered and mixed the record. You’ve recorded and played music with him quite a bit, what do you like about working with Eli?
MC: As an engineer, Eli is extremely inventive and creative. No situation is too weird or difficult for him. For example, we decided to record the whole group in the same room. This poses obvious problems in terms of isolation and bleed but instead of worrying about that, he put a mic in the middle of the room and one out in the hallway and decided to embrace a more live sound. He also enjoys recording to tape and for this record, the music never saw a computer until the mastering process. He treats recording and mixing in a very musical and improvisational way.
JZ: What else is on the horizon for CavityFang, and for you in general?
MC: I’d love to do some small tours with this group. It will be a logistical nightmare but well worth the headaches. I’d also love to write another batch of pieces exploring some other elements of the drums and percussion. I’m also considering augmenting this group with a bass player and another horn player and playing music that I’ve written for other groups. Apart from CavityFang, I’m hoping to release my solo record this year and possibly do some performances of that music. I’m scared to do it but I’m slowly building up the courage!