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This coming week will bring two consecutive nights of avant-garde improvisation

Warren Stringer, Joe Lasqo, and Rent Romus jamming at the Luggage Store Gallery in December of 2012
Warren Stringer, Joe Lasqo, and Rent Romus jamming at the Luggage Store Gallery in December of 2012
by Peter B Kaars, courtesy of Joe Lasqo

At the end of last month, I reported that the SIMM (Static Illusion Methodical Madness) Music series curated by Outsound Presents would begin the new year with a concert of solo piano improvisations by Thollem McDonas. This Sunday night gig will introduce a week of two further evenings of adventurous explorations of the sonic domain, and this embarrassment of riches will take place on two consecutive nights. The Center for New Music (CNM) will host the first event on Wednesday, followed by the next Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series concert organized by Outsound Presents on Thursday. Each of these events will offer two separate sets, each a little less than an hour in duration. Here are the specifics:

Wednesday, January 15

For the first set, which will begin at 8 p.m., McDonas will give another performance, this time as part of the Bloom Project duo with saxophonist Rent Romus. This duo works with numerous textual and graphical scores but also devotes considerable time to free improvisation. They describe their results as “an organic construction and expression of combining disparate and divergent stylistic histories with a sense of refreshing immediacy, intensity, and spontaneous inventiveness.”

McDonas will then return for the second set at 9 p.m. to perform with a more diverse collection of musicians. His piano work will be complemented by that of Joe Lasqo, who will alternate between piano, his real-time-signal-processing enabled laptop, and percussion. They will be joined by ROVA saxophonists Bruce Ackley and Steve Adams, as well as two very imaginative “meta-percussionists.” Cheryl E. Leonard concentrates on natural sounds that are as likely to be animal (hyenas, whales, and elk) as mineral (as in the set of chimes made from icicles that she performed at the Exploratorium last year). Nava Dunkelman’s diversity, on the other hand, is multi-cultural as a result of her having a Jewish-American father and an Indonesian mother. Her approaches are thus as likely to draw upon Japanese taiko technique as the drum cadences of an American marching band. If all that were not enough, the musicians will be joined by dancer Nan Busse performing in response to their improvisations.

This concert will take place at CNM, located at 55 Taylor Street, located about half a block north of Market Street. This particular event will be curated by ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs. General admission will be $12 with an $8 rate for CNM members.

Thursday, January 16

The first set will again begin at 8 p.m. Lasqo will again be performing with all of his equipment, and Busse will again be dancing. This time, however, she will also contribute to the musical improvisation by performing on didgeridoo. Two other musicians will participate, Jaroba, with an assortment of his invented wind instruments, and trumpeter CJ Borosque, who works with no-input electronics. Real-time “image-jamming” will be provided by multimedia artist Warren Stringer, using his own software as he did when accompanying Lasqo and Romus improvising at the Luggage Store Gallery in December of 2012.

The second set at 9 p.m. will be a solo performance by Daniel Blomquist, who works with sampled sounds and electronic processing. Blomquist seems to have been very successful in keeping any information about himself out of cyberspace. However, he has a page on SoundCloud to which his has uploaded (as of this writing) ten tracks. The tags for these pieces include “Noise,” “Ambient,” “tape,” and “experimental.”

Outsound Presents’ Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series is the longest standing experimental music series in the Bay Area. Performances have been taking place weekly on Thursday nights since 1991. The venue is located at 1007 Market Street, near the corner of Sixth Street (the opposite side of Market from CNM). Admission is on a sliding scale between $6 and $10, but no one is refused for lack of funds.

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