Chuck Bettis has been living and working in New York City since 2002. Originally from the DC, he grew up going to hardcore shows, integrating himself into the underground world of DIY shows and home recordings. His primary instruments are electronics and throat and he has a long history of collaboration with artists like Mick Barr, Matmos, Ikue Mori and Mike Pride. On today's show we go back to Chuck's early days in DC to how he became a member of NYC's downtown scene to how he began making music with laptops to his newest project with Brandon Seabrook. This is a great talk with one of the sweetest musicians around.
For episode 111, it is a tremendous honor and pleasure to welcome one of the greatest musicians of the past fifty years, Bill Frisell. In addition to being one of the most important and vital guitarists of his generation, Bill Frisell is also one of the kindest and most humble people that we've ever had on the podcast. For this episode Bill takes me back to his childhood studies of the clarinet in Denver to becoming the house guitarist of ECM Records, to his days in Naked City, to his recent return to New York City. Bill is an absolute genius and mensch and this is a wonderful conversation that I am beyond psyched to present.
Brian Chase is one of the greatest musicians that I know and he is also one of my best friends. I love this sweet cat. He is perhaps best known for his work with the band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and for the past several years, has been interacting deeply with many of New York's greatest improvisers, from Zeena Parkins to Anthony Coleman, Susie Ibarra to Alan Licht. For this talk, we go back to Long Island to Brian's first encounters with the drums, listening to his grandfather play the concertina and his very Long Island Bar Mitzvah. As a special treat, we preview a track from our upcoming duo record "Sutures" at the end of the episode. BRIAN CHASE!!!!
Eli Keszler is a wonderful and utterly unique composer, percussionist and visual artist. He studied music at the New England Conservatory and has performed with Joe McPhee, Anthony Coleman and Oren Ambarchi and many others. For this conversation we discuss Eli's early days as a jazz head, his immersion into the world of visual art, improvisation and much much more. This is a great conversation, the kind of talk that was the impetus for this podcast. Enjoy.
MV Carbon is a cellist/multi-media artist who has been active in broad range of creative activity since the mid 90s, including film, sound art, installations and clothing design. She has toured frequently with her band Metalux in addition to collaborating with some of the greatest musical thinkers of the last fifty years, including Tony Conrad and Charlemagne Palestine. For this conversation we talk veganism, Chicago, Tony Conrad, what happens after you die and a whole lot more. This is a good one.
For episode 107, it is my great honor to speak with trumpeter, bandleader and composer Frank London. Since the 80s Frank has been at the forefront of the klezmer revival, a stalwart of the downtown scene of improvisers and a scholar of Jewish history. For this talk Frank takes me back to his early days in Long Island, his hippy days in Boston to his work with his seminal band, the Klezmatics. This is a conversation that I have wanted to happen for a long time and I am delighted to finally be able to share it.
Lester St. Louis is a young cellist & composer who you will be hearing a lot from in the coming years. Born in Queens, he has been living in Brooklyn since he was seventeen, immersing himself in the city's music scene. He has performed with Joe Morris, Dre Hocevar, Chris Pitsiokos and others, has presented several solo concerts, programs a music series in Brooklyn and for the past several years has managed the Lower East Side venue Spectrum.
Since the early 90s, Susie Ibarra has been one of the most exciting and compelling composer/performers to come through the world of New York experimental music. As a drummer, there is really no one like her, a top notch improviser who turns her kit into a fine tuned orchestra. She's worked closely with Ikue Mori, John Zorn, Sylvie Courviosier, David S. Ware and many more and continues to inspire drummers all over the world. For this talk, Susie takes me back to her upbringing in Texas, where as a teenager she opened for the Flaming Lips, her early days in New York, and much much more.
James Ilgenfritz is a bass player and composer who has been living in New York City since 2003. He is also one of the first musicians that I met and played with upon my arrival. He has worked closely with Lukas Ligeti, Elliott Sharp, Anne Gosfield and more. Since his move to New York he has also been incredibly active as a curator and organizer. For this talk, we go back to the first few years in New York, as well as the challenges that James faced from 2008-2013, his newest work with his label Infrequent Seams and much much more.
Aaron Siegel was born in Maryland, educated in Michigan and has been living in New York City since 2001. He has studied with Alvin Lucier, Ron Kuivila, Anthony Braxton and Bunita Marcus among others. In addition to composing and leading his own ensembles, since 2011, he has co-lead Experiments In Opera, with whom he has produced over 30 new operatic works since its founding in 2011. Aaron is a multi-faceted composer/performer, a unique individual and great guy.
Based in New York, Tim Berne is a prolific band leader and saxophonist who has been a central figure in the city's creative jazz scene for over forty years. Since the very beginning, his work has been marked by intense creativity, soulfulness and a dogged spirit of independence. Among the many bands that he has lead over the years are Blood Count, Hard Cell, Paraphrase, Big Satan and others. On a recent Saturday, during an intense snow storm, I visited Tim at his home in Brooklyn, where we discussed his personal history, the current state of the NY jazz scene, his two new releases on Screwgun Records and a whole lot more. As an added bonus, today's episode features a twenty five minute mini episode with pianist Matt Mitchell, discussing his new recording of interpretations of Tim Berne tunes for solo piano.
Originally from the Bay Area, Miya Masaoka is a multi-faceted composer/performer who has been making a mark on the international music scene for the past three decades. Her main instrument is the koto and her work sits comfortably at the intersection of composition and improvisation, instrumental virtuosity and technological investigations. She has worked closely with Bang On a Can, Zeena Parkins, Pamela Z and Larry Ochs, among many others. She is a true original and I am delighted to share this conversation.
For our 100th episode we get into it with guitarist, writer, college professor, David Grubbs. David is a veteran of bands Gastr del Sol, the Red Krayola and Bastro. He has worked with Pauline Oliveros, Tony Conrad, Nate Wooley and many more. In addition to his musical output, he is a published author and is a tenured professor at Brooklyn College. For this talk, David takes me back to his early days in Louisville, his time in Chicago in the 90s, his work as an educator and the process of writing his new book.
Born in New York and raised in San Francisco, Liberty Ellman is a wonderful guitarist who has been making a name for himself in contemporary jazz circles for the past twenty years. He has worked closely with an array of modern luminaries including Henry Threadgill, Vijay Iyer, Butch Morris and Tyshawn Sorey. In 2015 he released a new trio recording, his first nine years. For this talk Liberty takes me through his upbringing in a musical home, collaboration, working as a guitarist and much more. A good talk with a good guy.
Born and raised in Philadelphia and now based in Brooklyn, Matt Hollenberg is an extremely talented and inventive guitarist. He plays in the bands Cleric, John Zorn's Simulacrum and his newest project, Shardik. For this talk, Matt tells the history of Cleric, getting the opportunity to work with musical heroes and the importance of creating context for one's work. A good talk.
Brandon Lopez is my kind of dude. He's a young bass player, who attended the New England Conservatory and since 2013, has been living and gigging regularly in New York City. He's got a sick sense of humor and an even sicker musicianship to match. For this talk, we discuss his upbringing in a cemetery, his non-traditional musical education, new methods of musical distribution and a whole lot more. A good talk with a great cat, who you'll be hearing more from for years to come.
Steve Swell is a trombonist who has been living and working in New York City since 1975. A veteran of the bands of Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor and William Parker, Steve has been forging a singular voice on the trombone and has become a crucial member of the Downtown scene in the last forty years. For this talk, we go back to his roots in New Jersey, New York in the 80s and talk about the current living/working conditions of the twenty first century musician in New York City.
Simon Hanes is a gifted and incredibly busy young musician, who has recently settled in Brooklyn. Since his time at the New England Conservatory, Simon has hit the ground running, helming several ambitious and wildly creative projects, such as Guerilla Toss and Trigger. His most recent project, Tredici Bacci, is a fourteen piece mini orchestra that pays homage to Italian soundtracks from the 1960s & 70s. Their newest record, "Amore Per Tutti", is available NNA Tapes and is a wildly creative and well executed recording, featuring guest vocals from Charlie Looker, JG Thirlwell and Jennifer Charles. For this episode, Simon talks the pleasures and pains of leading a fourteen piece band with a DIY aesthetic.
Greg Fox is a remarkable drummer, a hard worker with an open mind & heart, who spends equal amount of time in avant rock and metal bands as he does free improvising with some of New York's greatest musicians. As a member of Zs and Liturgy, among many others, he has played a crucial role in some of the most cutting edge music to emerge from the Brooklyn underground in the past ten years. For this talk, Greg and I discuss growing up in New York City, touring, 9/11, improvising, weed, Milford Graves and a whole lot in between. This is a good one.
Cellist Michael Nicolas, without exaggeration, exists at a level of musicianship that very few people ever get to. A former student of Fred Sherry and a graduate of Julliard, he has worked extensively in the past decade with the International Contemporary Ensemble, John Zorn, Third Sound and most recently, as the cellist for Brooklyn Rider. He just released his debut solo album "Transitions" on the Sono Luminus label, and starting December 13th, he will be in residence for six nights at the Stone in New York City. For this talk, Michael and I discuss his early years as a cellist, his entry into contemporary music, and more recently, his entry into the world of free improvisation.