Today is an important day. It is the first day on which I received electronic mail from the Center for New Music (C4NM) announcing forthcoming events. On my first visit to the C4NM Web site, I clicked on the button on the home page to be added to the mailing list; and it appears that I am now beginning to enjoy the benefits of having done so! I look forward to future announcements through this channel.
Having already written about the recital that “vocalizing pianist” Lisa Moore will be giving this Sunday (July 20) afternoon, I want to turn my attention to a series I have been meaning to follow more closely since it was launched. This is the Best Coast Jazz Composers Series curated by Lisa Mezzacappa, which I first learned about at the beginning of this year thanks to avant-garde jazz clarinetist Ben Goldberg. I have previously described Mezzacappa as “bassist and arts organizer,” to which I would add that she is also a composer whose interest in improvisation synthesizes her experiences with both chamber music and jazz.
The Best Coast Jazz Composers Series has now advanced to its eighth concert at C4NM. This will feature the original work of clarinetist Aaron Novik, who will be performing both solo and with a group that will include Mezzacappa on bass along with Mia Bella D’Augelli on violin, Crystal Pascucci on cello, Aram Shelton and Kasey Knudsen on saxophones, Mark Clifford on vibraphone, and Jordan Glenn on drums. The C4NM concert will mark the beginning of a weekend mini-festival Novik has arranged to celebrate his 40th birthday, as well as his 15+ years of leading ensembles and writing music in the Bay Area.
Minimalist chamber music has been only one of the influences on Novik’s work. Others include Balkan music, heavy metal, and klezmer. In February of 2012, Tzadik released Novik’s Secret of Secrets album, each track of which explored a different aspect of Jewish mysticism through chamber music settings strongly influenced by heavy metal. Since then he has turned his attention to smaller and more intimate sound worlds, which will be the focus of his ensemble work at C4NM. He will also perform his set of solo compositions for clarinet, Hotel of 13 Losses.
Two further Best Coast Jazz Composers concerts have been announced for August. The ninth concert in the series will consist of two sets led by Darren Johnston and Sam Boshnack, respectively. Johnston is trumpeter, whose trio joins him with violin virtuoso Matt Szemela and Doug Stuart on acoustic bass. For the C4NM gig, this trio will be joined by Kanoko Nishi performing on both koto and piano. Johnston has regularly invited guest improvisers for these “plus one” concerts to provide opportunities for his trio to expand their own approaches to improvisation.
Trumpeter Samantha Boshnack is based in Seattle. She will perform in a quintet whose other members are Beth Fleenor (clarinets and voice), Alex Chadsey (keyboards), Isaac Castillo (acoustic bass), and Max Wood (drum set and other percussion). Her quintet features some of Seattle’s most accomplished improvisers, and it will be making its Bay Area debut following the release of their CD Exploding Syndrome this past March.
The tenth concert in the series will take place immediately after the ninth on the following evening. Oakland-based reed player and composer Cory Wright will be performing with his quintet, the Cory Wright Outfit. Mezzacappa plays bass for this quintet, whose other members are Darren Johnston on trumpet, Rob Ewing on trombone, and Jordan Glenn on drum set and vibraphone. His program will present new compositions for duo, trio, and quintet configurations.
All Best Coast Jazz Composers Series events begin at 7:30 p.m. Novik’s concert will take place next Friday, July 25, the “double bill” of Johnston and Boshnack will play on Friday, August 15, and the Corey Wright Outfit will follow on Saturday, August 16. Tickets for all concerts at $15 for general admission and $12 for C4NM members. Tickets will only be available at the door. C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, about half a block north of the corner with Market Street.