James Brandon Lewis is a virtuosic and creative saxophonist originally from Buffalo NY, now living in Brooklyn. He studied at Cal Arts and has worked closely with Chad Taylor, Dave Douglas, Gerald Cleaver, Joe Lovano and many more. His playing is a thoughtful and powerful and clearly the result of a lifetime of practice and dedication. For this talk we cover a lot of ground, starting with his early days in upstate New York up to his current projects. A great dude.
Theo Bleckmann is a vocalist and composer of startling virtuosity and clarity. In his twenty five year long career he has worked with everyone from Laurie Anderson to Uri Caine, Philip Glass to Ann Hamilton, John Hollenbeck to Sheila Jordan. He leads several projects and most recently presented Schubert’s song cycle “Die Winterreise” on an ice rink, with skaters from the Ice Theatre of New York. Theo is a wildly creative individual and a complete joy to spend an afternoon with.
Michael Foster is a young and intense saxophonist who has been blowing minds and fucking people up in New York City since his arrival in 2012. At the fore of his output is a confrontational musicality that deals with equal parts queer identity and a commitment to the most extreme technical aspects of his instrument. He stays active across a broad range of projects and in 2018 his curatorial platform Queer Trash is in residence at Issue Project Room. For this one we get into sax talk, identity politics, Japanese literature and a whole lot more. Good shit.
Kelly Moran is an exceptional pianist and composer originally from Long Island, now based in Brooklyn, NY. Her current work focuses on performances for both prepared and unprepared solo piano. A student of 20th century composition, her output contains healthy amounts of lyricism and dissonance, beauty and black metal aesthetics. For today’s conversation we get into a lot of it, from Cage to Krallice, Sakamoto to Kayo Dot. Check it.
Taylor Ho Bynum is a cornetist, bandleader, curator and administrator who has worked closely with Anthony Braxton, Mary Halvorson, Tomas Fujiwara, Bill Dixon and many others. He lives in New Haven, CT and stays incredibly active across a broad range of musical activity. He is the director of the jazz and creative music ensembles at Dartmouth College and the executive director of Anthony Braxton's Tri Centric Foundation. For this talk, we discuss a wide range of things from arts administration to pop music, Prince to Ives. A good one.
A proud Detroit native, Norman Westberg is an exceptional and creative guitarist based in the East Village. Since their inception and throughout their evolution, Norman has played in one of my favorite bands, Swans. Just off the heels of their final performances in Brooklyn, Norman came over in the middle of an intense NYC blizzard for a talk about his childhood in Detroit, Swans, his solo work, gear and blowing things up. Norman is a legend and this talk was a true honor and pleasure.
Chris Cochrane has been living and working in New York City since 1980. As a guitarist he has worked with artists like John Zorn, Zeena Parkins, Marc Ribot and virtually every other improviser to come through the Downtown scene in the last three decades. In addition to his musical output, Chris is active as a social worker, helping people from NYC's impoverished neighborhoods navigate the ever confusing insurance system. He's a great guy and has led a most singular path as a creative individual in the modern world. This conversation was a long time coming and is definitely one of my favorites in this whole series.
Pete Simonelli is a Brooklyn based poet and voice artist who has been performing with his band Enablers since the early 2000s. Originally from Stockton CA, Pete started out in San Francisco in the early 90s, engaging with all aspects of the city's rich culture of history, poetry, music and art. His work with Enablers is singular and utterly addictive, a combination of complex, technical, imaginative rock and evocative spoken word that transports the listener to landscapes not commonly found on popular music. This conversation with Pete was a god damned joy and I am delighted to share it with you.
For episode 142, we check in with a true original, M Lamar. Born and raised in Mobile, AL and based in Brooklyn, his work is personal, dramatic, confrontational and utterly unique. With an operatic vocal style and deeply personal lyrics, M Lamar has electrified audiences all over the world with his concert length pieces. For this talk, things get a little weird as we discuss growing up in the south, lynching & castration, art school, porn and a whole lot more. Good shit.
Chris Forsyth is a Philly based, Jersey born guitarist of enormous range and creativity. He cut his teeth in New York City, working with improvisers like Nate Wooley, Daniel Carter, Loren Connors and Mike Pride, as well as his long running band Peeesseye. He relocated to Philadelphia in 2009 and, inspired by the likes of his friends Jack Rose and Steve Gunn, began focusing on solo guitar playing. Since then he has been working steadily with his band, the Solar Motel Band. For this talk, we get into it, discussing everything from the Grateful Dead to working in restaurants, improvising to band leading. Good shit.
Based in Sydney, Australia, Oren Ambarchi is a gifted composer, multi-instrumentalist and improviser who has been traveling the world, crafting a most singular musical vision for the past twenty five years. He's also an enthusiastic listener and avid record collector, a gourmand and happens to be one of my favorite musicians around. On a quick visit to New York for performances with Alvin Lucier and Loren Connors, Oren dropped by for a candid conversation about his early days as an Hasidic student in NYC, record collecting, learning to play guitar, running his own record label and a whole lot more. I love Oren's music deeply and am delighted conversation got to happen. After our talk, Oren and I headed over to Russ & Daughters Cafe and gorged on smoked fish and chopped liver.
Anna Webber is a composer/performer, saxophonist/flautist who has been living in Brooklyn since 2008. Originally from British Columbia, her playing is marked by a subtle virtuosity and keen sense of rhythm. Her band Simple Trio, with John Hollenbeck and Matt Mitchell, is one of the best and most original in the current Brooklyn scene. She's worked with Jen Shyu, Dan Weiss, Harris Eisenstadt and others. Anna studied music at McGill University in Montreal before moving to New York City in 2008. She holds master’s degrees from both Manhattan School of Music and the Jazz Institute Berlin.
Randall Dunn is a musician, producer and sound engineer who for the past twenty years has been lending an utterly unique approach to the records of some of contemporary music's most exciting artists. In addition to being the mastermind of Master Musicians of Bukkake, he's worked closely with Eyvind Kang, Earth, Bill Frisell, Oren Ambarchi, Wolves in the Throne Room and was a major contributor to the Sunn O))) masterpiece "Monoliths and Dimensions". He recently located to Brooklyn after two decades in Seattle and continues to stay active as a premiere sound alchemist.
Kyle Bruckmann is a composer, oboist and bandleader from Danbury CT who has been living in the Oakland since 2003. Since the mid 90s he has collaborated with many of contemporary music's most forward thinking musicians including Fred Lomberg-Holm, Oxbow, Greg Kelley and Damon & Naomi. With his bands Wrack, EKG and Lozenge he has released records on 482 Music, Another Timbre, Porter and New World Records among others. For this talk we cover a lot of ground from his early days in Danbury to his time in Chicago up until his recent activities in the Bay Area. A good man.
Gyan Riley is an absolute virtuoso of the nylon string guitar, an extraordinary musician who plays with great detail and elegance. Originally from California, he has been based in Brooklyn for the past several years. He has worked closely with John Zorn, Secret Chiefs 3, Timba Harris, Wu Fei and has a long standing duo project with his father, composer Terry Riley. Gyan is the real deal and a joy to talk to. Dig.
Colin Stetson is an unbelievably talented saxophonist who has been on a very personal musical journey since a young age. An undisputed virtuoso, he has been blowing the minds of audiences around the world with his solo concerts since the early 2000s. His personal language is incredibly lyrical, using extended sax and extra musical mic'ing techniques to add multiples layers of complexity and soul to his work. He's worked closely with the Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Tom Waits, Sara Neufeld and most recently with the quartet Ex-Eye. This conversation took place just a few weeks ago and was an utter delight.
A composer/multi-instrumentalist of startling range and clarity, Patrick Higgins has been blowing minds on the NYC scene for the past decade. He's active across a broad range of creative activity and is also a funny motherfucker. For this talk, we get into it: Zs, string quartets, growing up in NYC, the pain of recording studios and a whole lot more. GET IT.
For episode 134, I talk to a cat whom I've known for a long time and should have been on the show ages ago. Tomas Fujiwara has been in New York since the mid 90s and has cut a most impressive career as a drummer, working with artists such as Matana Roberts, Mary Halvorson, Anthony Braxton and Taylor Ho Bynum. More recently, he's stepped out as a band leader and this Friday, his newest album"Triple Double" comes out on the Firehouse 12 label. Tomas is a wonderful human being and I really, really enjoyed this conversation.
Jaimie Branch is a trumpet player/band leader of great virtuosity and sensitivity. She's also funny as shit. For this talk we discuss her extraordinary debut record "Fly or Die" as well as her early days on Long Island, her move to Chicago and much much more. A good one with a solid and beautiful musician.
For listeners of this show, trumpet great Dave Douglas hardly needs an introduction. For the past thirty years he has been at the forefront of New York's composer/performers, a tireless musical seeker who draws equally from classical and jazz, pop and roots music, musique concrete and blues. He has traveled the world with some of 20th century's greatest artists as well as a long and impressive list of his own ensembles, featuring a growing list of the brightest up and coming musicians. Dave is also a podcaster and he and I have a lot to talk about. Strap in for a good one.