Philadelphia Improvisation and Experimental Music Calendar

11.  22.  19

Friday             8:00PM

Maas Building

Variant 6 + Square Peg Round Hole

1325 N Randolph St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, USA
Bowerbird is pleased to present an evening featuring a new collaborative work by between vocal group Variant 6 and instrumental / percussion trio Square Peg Round Hole.
Philadelphia vocal sextet Variant 6 are staunchly devoted to performing new music, commissioning and collaborating with a wide variety of forward-looking composers and ensembles, yet they achieve such feats using peerless techniques and approached dating back to Renaissance and Baroque eras. Its peerless choristers and soloists—all of whom also belong to the acclaimed choir the Crossing—eschew historical divides, finding dazzling ways to unite the past and future, complementing a mastery of medieval music with fluency in global traditions, whether traditional Georgian choral sounds or Tuvan overtone singing, and contemporary pieces that deploy fascinating extended techniques and idiomatic sprawl.

11.  23.  19

Saturday             11:00AM

The Discovery Center

Discovery Day w/ Basquiat Blues & Aaron Pond

3401 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19121
For our November community day, The Discovery Center is bringing you the hottest jazz and improvisation in Philadelphia. Basquiat Blues, featuring Heru Shabaka-Ra and Mike Watsun of the Sun Ra Arkestra, playing alongside Philly musicians Carlos Santiago and Tom Kraines. It will open with Improvised music will be performed by Aaron Pond and fresh homemade sourdough (w/ garlic butter) will be provided onsite. This event is 100% Free.
Bird walks will be held in between sets. Set times forth coming.
Basquiat Blues
Heru Shabaka-Ra, trumpet
Watsun, bass clarinet
Carlos Santiago, violin
Tom Kraines, cello
Opening-
Aaron Pond- Voice, Kalimba, Tea Kettle+ Beard Trimmer

11.  23.  19

Saturday             8:00PM

The Rotunda

William Hooker/Elliott Levin/Luke Stewart trio & Sirius Juju

4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
William Hooker /Elliott Levin/Luke Stewart trio:
William Hooker (drummer,composer and poet) has created works that range from jazz and “new” music to experimental genres. He has released over 70 CDs as a leader. Mr. Hooker has performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Edgefest Jazz Festival, The Vision Festival, The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, The Wadsworth Atheneum, Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Walker Art Center,the first on MTV, The Kitchen, Roulette, Real Art Ways. He has also presented his work at the JVC Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, CMJ Music Festival,Vilnius Jazz Festival, Experimenta Argentina,The Knitting Factory and the Victoriaville Music Festival.
Sirius Juju:
“This outfit seemed to have taken some cues from the far-East trance of John Coltrane with shades of Eric Dolphy. Instead of hitting a down beat to start, they gradually drifted from random soundchecking to subtly teasing out a motif with horns and kamancheh. They feel no pressure to jump straight in when a light drone can set the mood most effectively.
Patient focus was the central theme for a continuous hour to follow. Steady rhythm patterns would ebb until they created a mantric trance before gradually shifting again. Two electric basses (a new format for this show) took turns holding root lines or adding lighter shadings around the edges. The whole thing would have seemed like an attentive free improvisation if it weren’t for the trumpet and saxophone circling each other in well-coordinated lockstep. However loosely sketched it was, it made an hour where time stretched almost until it couldn’t be sensed at all. ” – Geno Thackara/All About Jazz

11.  30.  19

Saturday             5:00PM

Bob and Barbara's

Vernon Reid, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, G. Calvin Weston

1509 South St, Philadelphia, PA
35 years after he first formed the Grammy-winning band Living Colour, Vernon Reid remains one of the greatest and most distinctive guitar players alive today.
At this very special and intimate show at the legendary Bob & Barbara's Lounge on South Street, Reid teams up with two extraordinary musicians -- bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer G. Calvin Weston -- for an instrumental experience that puts the power in power trio. They call this trio: FreeFormFunkyFreqs.
Jamaaladeen Tacuma became part of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time in the 1970s, and he’s also worked with everyone from Jeff Beck to the Roots to Carlos Santana. Tacuma is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
G. Calvin Weston has been playing drums since he was six years old, and he became inspired by musicians he saw like Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five and James Brown at the Uptown Theatre. Weston became part of Coleman’s Prime Time at the age of 17, and he’s also toured with James “Blood” Ulmer, Tricky, and Billy Martin, to name a few.

12.  10.  19

Tuesday             8:00PM

Vox Populi

João Castro Pinto, Bhob Rainey & Apologist

319 NORTH 11TH STREET 3RD FLOOR PHILADELPHIA, PA 19107
João Castro Pinto:
João Castro Pinto started his activity as a composer / performer of experimental music, and as a sound and intermedia artist, in the second half of the 1990s. His production comprehends the domains of soundscape composition, intermedia, live electronics improvisation (solo and with instrumentalists), electroacoustic / acousmatic music and radio art. Castro Pinto has presented his work extensively in Europe, America and Asia.
Bhob Rainey:
Bhob Rainey is an award-winning composer / performer, saxophonist, and sound designer. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was instrumental in defining the “lowercase” or “EAI” movement in non-idiomatic improvisation, exemplified by his work with trumpeter Greg Kelley in Nmperign. In 2000 he founded The BSC, an improvising large ensemble, in which he developed techniques for an improvisational discipline that were eventually outlined in his 2011 publication, Manual. He has performed globally and collaborated with numerous improvisers of both the (then) current and previous generations, including Axel Dörner, Andrea Neumann, Günter Müller, Michel Doneda, Lê Quan Ninh, and many others.
Apologist:
Apologist is Rose Rae, a native Philadelphian making music with synthesizers and field recordings. “Apologist exists as a strong presence, but with a whole different demeanor. The strength exists like a knot in your throat, wrenching your insides and keeping you from speaking. It’s more like an ugly-crying sorry than it is a hole punched in drywall. There is an odd comfort in bawling ones eyes out to the point of feeling physical pain that is so much stronger than the stupidity of physical anger and damage. It’s beautiful and it’s hurt, like walking out on to your steps barefoot to see a first snow. You know it’s cold, but you are willing to face the consequences.”- David Coccagna

12.  11.  19

Wednesday             8:00PM

University Lutheran

American Dream Bearthoven

3637 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
This superb New York chamber trio deftly applies the instrumentation of the classic jazz piano trio to dazzling new contemporary writing. Pianist Karl Larson, percussionist Matthew Evans, and bassist Pat Swoboda achieved an early apotheosis in 2018 with American Dream, concert-length commission from the Brooklyn composer Scott Wollschleger, which according Bandcamp Daily, “toggles between Morton Feldman-esque contemplation and pointedly fractured, multi-planar collisions to indicate both the hope and deep disappointments of contemporary America.” Written in 2017, the work for piano, double bass, and vibraphone cycles through incrementally transforming harmony and melody—starting one place, and ending up another without drawing attention to the journey. The piece only gained resonance within the increased division and disenfranchisement in the US, its meditative, often fraught dualities reflecting disparate visions of the title concept—whether utter disenchantment or guarded vitality. Gas Station Canon Song and We See Things adroitly bookend that work, with fractured elements of each obliquely contained within American Dream. This evening’s program opens with Trio, a commissioned work by Katherine Balch—currently composer-in-residence with the California Symphony—which the trio premiered at Pioneer Works in April of 2019.

12.  12.  19

Thursday             8:00PM

The Art Dept

Aaron Novik’s No Signal & Strange Parts

1638 East Berks Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Aaron Novik:
Aaron Novik is a recent New York transplant that lived and performed in the bay area (San Francisco, Oakland etc.) for 17 years.
There he lead the bands Gubbish, Kipple, Floating World, Love Triangle Elementary School, Simulacra, Thorny Brocky and made records under his own name as well, including the album “Secrets of Secrets” which was released on Tzadik records in 2012.
Strange Parts:
Upon meeting in Philadelphia in 2007, Attia Taylor and Corey Duncan vowed to make music together. It was not until years later when Duncan had moved home to Seattle and Taylor had taken a job in New York that the pair began working on material via email. Over three years of bicoastal collaboration Strange Parts was born. The project brings together the minimal pop sounds of Taylor’s solo work and the classical infused art pop of Duncan’s project Oh! Pears. This unlikely union combines to create a melodic art pop sound, rich with body moving grooves and toe tapping hooks, drawing inspiration from the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, Ebo Taylor, Billie Holiday, Broadcast, and writer Hermann Hesse.

12.  20.  19

Friday             8:00PM

Vox Populi

Estamos Trio (Thollem/Escobar/Tamez) & Keir Neuringer

319 NORTH 11TH STREET 3RD FLOOR PHILADELPHIA, PA 19107
Estamos Trio:
Estamos Trio is an exploratory music ensemble formed through the cross-border Estamos Project founded by Thollem in 2010.
Experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar is a performer, improviser, sound and intermedia artist from Mexico City. Her work focuses primarily on sound, the voice, the body, and their interrelations to physical, social, memory and present spaces.
Mexican creative drummer/composer and independent artist Milo Tamez. Specialized in solo extended-prepared drum set percussion, Tamez had produced compositions exploring into a new percussive poetics, cinematic experiences and tour de force drumming manifestos; he also had collaborated with composers premiering new music works for solo drum set percussion.
Thollem is a pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author and teacher. He’s spent his life skirting and erasing the edges of boundaries musically, culturally, geographically. His work is ever changing, evolving and responding to the times and his experiences, both as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of artists across idioms and disciplines.
Keir Neuringer:
Keir Neuringer is a Philadelphia-based saxophonist, composer, and writer whose work is underpinned by interdisciplinary approaches and socio-political contextualizations. He is best known for a personal and intensely physical saxophone technique, revealed through long form solo improvisations, as well as collaborations with a multitude of world-renowned and underground practitioners in jazz, avant-garde, noise, classical, theater, and dance disciplines. He has traveled extensively to present his work, appeared on numerous festival stages, and given workshops throughout Europe and North America.

12.  20.  19

Friday             8:00PM

The Rotunda

Sarah Hennies: Contralto

4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
Sarah Hennies: Contralto
plus Flourish with Ashely Tini
Ithaca composer and percussionist Sarah Hennies presents a cinematic version of her stunning 2017 video work Contralto, a bracing yet tender meditation on gender dysphoria viewed through the lens of transgender women finding a comfortable new speaking voice. Based on her experience in Ithaca College’s Voice and Communication Modification Program for People in the Transgender Community, the composer gathered seven diverse transgender women to perform vocal exercises designed to aid in so-called, “voice feminization.” Contralto is an intimate glimpse into the participants articulating stock phrases, singing notes, and sharing personal details to present a powerful example of the harrowing difficulties involved in the process.
To open the evening Hennies and Philadelphia percussionist Ashley Tini—who is among the musicians on the cinematic version of Contralto—will perform the composer’s Flourish (2013), for two vibraphonists positioned on opposite sides of the same instrument. The work presents different modes of stasis, from relentlessly pulsing mallet strikes to billowing clouds of overtones and spooky interference patterns.

01.  17.  20

Friday             8:00PM

The Rotunda

Ikue Mori + Charmaine Lee

4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
Since her emergence in New York’s No Wave scene in the late 1970s as a percussionist in DNA, Japanese native Ikue Mori has used auto didacticism to forge one of the most singular aesthetics in contemporary music. Since switching from a richly intuitive approach to drums to electronics during the 1980s she’s refined an elusive, liquid sound that translated her rhythmic vocabulary into a shape-spilling mass of daydreaming gurgles, bloops, smears, rattles, and fractals that’s at once serene and unsettling.
New York improviser and composer Charmaine Lee has quickly become a force in experimental music circles in the last few years, parlaying her voice with staggering extended technique and electronics to create a forceful, elusive practice that shares more in common with noise and experimental approaches than conventional singing. Her wordless, cacophonous improvisations viscerally transmit ultra-high- pitched frequencies, manic vocal fry, and guttural shrieks manipulated with distortion, feedback, and objects like glass and water to deliver an unsettling attack that is simultaneously brittle and violent. Mori and Lee will each perform solo, followed by a duo set—a young partnership marked by exquisite tension, piercing timbre, and quicksilver exchange.
Scroll to top