History | Past Performers | Reviews

16th Seattle Improvised Music Festival
June 23, 24, 27 & 28, 2001
Various venues - see individual listings below
Admission to all events at the door
24-hour festival information line: (206) 985-9757

The 16th festival has wrapped up and was one of the finest to date. The festival organizers extend their heartfelt thanks to the cast of international, national, and local improvisers for their tremendous performances, to our crew of volunteers for making everything run so smoothly, and to the audience members for demonstrating their support of improvised music in Seattle. See you next year!

Saturday, June 23

Bob Ostertag (SF) / Frode Gjerstad Trio (Norway)
Seattle Art Museum Auditorium, First Avenue at University Street, 8 pm, $10

Co-presented by the Seattle Art Museum.

Electronic improviser and composer Bob Ostertag began performing in the mid-1970s with the ensemble Fall Mountain and with Anthony Braxton's Creative Music Orchestra, after which he settled in New York City and began working with musicians including John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, and Fred Frith. In July 1980 he underwent a life-changing experience when he traveled to Nicaragua where the Sandinista movement had just overthrown the Somoza dictatorship, with the idea of recording Nicaraguan music; he has been an outspoken political activist ever since. In 1989 he adopted the sampler as his primary instrument, and two years later released "Sooner or Later," based on a recording of a Salvadoran boy burying his father; the composition's extreme emotional intensity (something not typically associated with electronic music) makes it a landmark work. In 1992 the Kronos Quartet commissioned a new work from Ostertag, "All the Rage," on the theme of AIDS, premiered at Lincoln Center; his related work "Burns Like Fire" was performed by using gestures in space with infrared wands designed by synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla to manipulate the sound. Ostertag next formed the Say No More Quartet with Mark Dresser, Gerry Hemingway, and Phil Minton, a group based on an innovative compositional process of taking recordings of the members' improvisations, both separately and as an ensemble, as the source material for musique concréte computer pieces, which in turn become the basis of scores for the group's live performances. In 1996 he began a collaboration with Tokyo-based turntablist Otomo Yoshihide. In 1997 he worked as an artist-in-residence at the prestigious STEIM electronic music studio in Amsterdam, where he invented The Window, a novel instrument consisting of a video camera and a suspended sheet of edge-lit Plexiglas, played on a dark stage by drawing shapes with one's fingers on the glass while the video camera feeds the image to a computer which generates musical data from the shapes. In 1999 Otertag began working with a laptop computer and his own audio performance software, which he uses in performance with controllers including joysticks, game pads, and drawing tablets. Just weeks after the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Ostertag and lighting designer Richard Board toured his "Yugoslavia Suite" in the Balkans, including Serbia; the timing of the tour and the political nature of the work generated considerable attention in the region, where performances were covered on national television and Ostertag and Board were even briefly arrested in Serbia.

Frode Gjerstad has for many years been the most dedicated free jazz player in Norway, and is one of the few Norwegian musicians playing modern improvised music outside the "ECM-school." He has played with many of the finest international improvisers, including Barry Guy, Derek Bailey, Peter Brotzmann, Borah Bergman, Rashid Bakr, Wilber Morris, Billy Bang, William Parker, Hamid Drake, and Bobby Bradford. From 1981-94 he worked with Spontaneous Music Ensemble founder John Stevens. with whom he co-led the trio "Detail" with Johnny Dyani and later Kent Carter on bass. He is also active working with a group of young Norwegian musicians in the Circulasione Totale Orchestra, and in duos with Peter Brotzmann and Welsh percussionist Steve Hubback. Gjerstad has been very active in the Norwegian Jazz Musicians Federation and the Norwegian Contemporary Music Federation. He was voted Jazz Musician of the Year in Norway in 1997.

Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love first started playing with Frode Gjerstad about 10 years ago, when he was 15 years old. Since then, he has become one of the most active musicians of the new generation in Norway. He has also played and recorded with international sax-players Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, and Ian Ballamy.

Oyvind Storesund plays the acoustic bass with the group "Cloroform," which combines improvisations, sampling, hip-hop, and modern sounds.

Sunday, June 24

Jin Hi Kim (Korea/USA) / John Butcher (UK) / Greg Kelley (Boston) / Elizabeth Falconer (Seattle)
Seattle Art Museum Auditorium, First Avenue at University Street, 7:30 pm, $10

Co-presented by the Seattle Art Museum. Jin Hi Kim will also present a lecture on Korean traditional music at SAM at 6 pm, with support from the Korea Society.

Jin Hi Kim is highly acclaimed both as a komungo (a fourth-century Korean fretted zither) virtuoso and for her cross-cultural compositions, which she has performed with the Kronos Quartet, the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, the Xenakis Ensemble, and the America Composers Orchestra. She is active worldwide as one of the leading compositional voices of a new Generation East, which is rooted deeply in the rich Korean musical tradition as well as an evolving distinctively Pan-Asian/American compositional approach. She has toured and lectured in more than 40 countries, performing komungo and her bicultural compositions called "Living Tones." In 1987 Kim was invited by avant-garde guitarist Henry Kaiser to improvise on komungo with him in the San Francisco Bay Area. This initial foray into improvisation resulted in a decade of creative activity with leading improvisers in jazz and avant-garde music throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. She has performed with leading improvisers from such as William Parker, Oliver Lake, Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, James Newton, Joelle Leandre, Evan Parker, Hans Reichel, Rudiger Carl, and Elliott Sharp. She also collaborated with virtuosos of the Indian sitar, Japanese koto, African drum, and Australian didgeridoo on her CD project "Komungo Around the World," one of 15 CDs on which she appears. She built the world's only electric komungo, interfaced with a computer. Jin Hi Kim received a 2000-2001 composer fellowship from the American Composers Orchestra, with whom she presented the World Premiere of "Eternal Rock" for Komungo and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on March 18. Peter Watrous of The New York Times wrote, "...virtuoso Jin Hi Kim promises thoughtful, shimmering East-West amalgams in combinations that are both new and unlikely to be repeated."

UK saxophone virtuoso John Butcher is known for his phenomenal extended techniques and uncanny ear for microsonic detail. He has performed with important international improvisers such as Elton Dean, Joe Gallivan, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Chris Burn, Trevor Watts, Lol Coxhill, Alexander Balanescu, Fred Frith, Gerry Hemingway, Reggie Workman, Veryan Weston, and Paul Lovens, among many others. He was a member of the final version of John Stevens's Spontaneous Music Ensemble, performs in a longtime trio with guitarist John Russell and violinist Phil Durrant, and is an occasional member of the Fred Van Hove t'nonet, King Ubu Orchestru, Derek Bailey's Company, and Polwechsel. He works regularly with Chris Burn in the remarkable 11-piece group Ensemble.

Since graduating from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1995, trumpet player Greg Kelley has fast become an integral member of the Boston/New York new music and improvisation scenes, garnering much praise for his unique vocabulary of extended techniques and timbral manipulation. He has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, working with Pauline Oliveros, Anthony Braxton, Le Quan Ninh, Phil Minton, Joe McPhee, Keiji Haino, Eddie Prévost, Kevin Drumm, Donald Miller, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Gino Robair, and Michael Zerang, among others. His collaboration with Bhob Rainey, nmperign, has earned much critical acclaim, including Top Ten and Best of the Year accolades for their recordings from The Wire (UK), Blow-Up (Italy), and Signal To Noise (USA). "(Greg) manages to eak sounds out of his trumpet that range from quiet organic rumbling to buzzing, almost electronic-sounding waves." - Michael Rosenstein, Cadence

Elizabeth Falconer began koto studies in 1979 and received a master's license from the prestigious Sawai Koto School in Japan, where she studied with koto masters Nagane Utayumi, Sawai Tadao, and Sawai Kazue. Since returning to the U.S., she has given numerous performances of contemporary, classical, and improvised music with collaborators including Stuart Dempster, Ellen Fullman, Phil Gelb (shakuhachi), and Chris Cutler. She has performed new works by composers including Kyle Hanson, Lynette Westendorf, Garrett Fisher, Jarrad Powell, Jackie Gabel, William O. Smith, and Christian Asplund, and has performed with her teacher and mentor Sawai Kazue at the Kennedy Center, The Bang on a Can Festival in New York, the Moers Jazz Festival in Germany, and most recently Benaroya Hall in Seattle. She has several releases on her own Koto World label and on the Sparkling Beatnik, Paras Recordings, Narada, Animal Dreams, 16 Visions, and Music and Arts labels, including her award-winning "Koto Tales" series of folktales with koto accompaniment. She directs Seattle's Taka koto ensemble, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting Japanese music.

Wednesday, June 27

Barre Phillips, Hans Burgener & Martin Schütz String Trio (France, Switzerland) / Reuben Radding's Special Quartet (Seattle)
Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park, 7:30 pm, $10

Co-presented by the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

A true giant of improvised music, Barre Phillips was born in San Francisco in 1934 and first became established in the U.S. in the 1960s, when he recorded with jazz legends Don Ellis, Archie Shepp, Bobby Hutcherson, Marion Brown, and many others. In 1967 he moved to London, where he formed the highly influential exploratory jazz group The Trio with reed player John Surman and drummer Stu Martin. In 1968 he recorded a solo album, Journal Violone, which was the first LP to consist entirely of improvised music for unaccompanied double bass. He went on to record a series of classic albums for the ECM label, including Mountainscapes, Three Day Moon, Journal Violone II, and Aquarian Rain, and has appeared on more than 100 records to date. Among the countless artists Barre has played with on stage or record are Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, Chick Corea, George Russell, Lee Konitz, Albert Mangelsdorff, Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Bley, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Ornette Coleman, Joëlle Léandre, Cecil Taylor, Irene Schweitzer, and Kazue Sawai. During his New York years he played in big bands led by Maynard Ferguson and Louis Bellson, with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, and with singers Gloria Lynn, Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee, Bobby McFerrin, Jay Clayton, and Colette Magny. He has also composed music for a dozen feature films, a score of ballets, and theater music for several contemporary plays.

Hans Burgener began playing the violin when he was six and, after studying at the conservatory of Bern, Switzerland, played in various classical orchestras, folk groups, rock groups, and jazz-rock bands. In 1981 he cofounded the Werkstatt für Improvisierte Musik (WIM Bern), and since then he has primarily been involved in improvised music. Between 1986-91 he worked with dancers Franca Horisberger, Eva Fuhrer, and Susanne Müller and artists Ruedi Schwyn, Jürg Nigg, Moritz Bösiger, Res Flückiger, and Urs Gehbauer. Among the musicians he has worked with are Barre Phillips, Martin Schütz, Hans Koch, Michael Lytle, Fredy Studer, Kazue Sawai, Tetsu Saitoh, Michel Doneda, Alain Joule, Joëlle Léandre, Peter Kowald, Richard Teitelbaum, Günter Müller, and Carlos Zingaro. He has performed at festivals throughout Europe and in South Africa.

In addition to performing in the Burgener/Phillips/Schutz String Trio, Swiss cellist Martin Schutz is a member of the trio Kock/Schutz/Studer and a regular partner of conductor and cornet player Butch Morris. He has performed improvised music throughout Europe and North America with such noted players as Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Andrew Cyrille, Tom Cora, Jason Hwang, J.A. Deane, and Shelley Hirsch, and has composed music for theater, dance, and film.

Reuben Radding's Special Quartet

Contrabassist Reuben Radding spent the bulk of his career in New York City, where he studied with virtuoso bassist Mark Dresser and became a busy stalwart of the 'Downtown' scene, performing frequently with a who's who of modern creative musicians including John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Dave Douglas, Susie Ibarra, Andrea Parkins, Roy Campbell, Susie Ibarra, Assif Tsahar, Daniel Carter, and many others. He toured Europe as a member of Marc Ribot's SHREK, and with his own group, Myth Science, a Sun Ra-inspired quintet that released several CDs on the Knitting Factory Works label. He was also co-leader of the experimental world music trio Refuseniks with Ted Reichman and John Hollenbeck. Currently living in the Pacific Northwest, Radding leads the group Street of Crocodiles, co-leads the Creative String Trio, and recently has performed with Gregg Keplinger's Lost Valentine, Wally Shoup, Eyvind Kang, Stuart Dempster, Amy Denio, Carlo Actis Dato, and Wayne Horvitz. "The Seattle scene's new bassist of the moment." (Seattle Weekly)

Saxophonist and bass clarinetist Greg Sinibaldi is an improviser and composer currently living in Seattle. He holds a bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with famed microtonal composer/improviser Joe Maneri and with George Garzone, Jimmy Giuffre, and Ran Blake. Blending modern classical music and improvisation, he has developed a unique and personal style. In a performance at the Festival at Sandpoint, working with Gunther Schuller, the Spokane Chronicle wrote, "If Tipper Gore could hear this guy play, she'd blush and slap a Parents Music Resource Center warning label on his horn." He is leader if the improvisatory Greg Sinibaldi Trio, whose music is influenced by the avant-garde tradition, with an inovative mix of improvisation, jazz, and contemporary classical music. He also performs with the Degenerate Art Ensemble and Street of Crocodiles. He is currently working on an orchestral composition commissioned by the University of Washington.

Percussionist Bob Rees earned degress in Percussion Performance and Developmental Music from eastern Washington University and studied for 10 years with Marty Zyskowsky, principal tympanist with the Spokane Symphony. He was a Yamaha/MTNA National Percussion Award winner in Milwaukee in 1992, and a guest performer with Zephyr Contemporary Music Ensemble from 1994-97. He performed Toshiro Mayazumi's Xylophone Concerto with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra in 1993 and commissioned "Wildlife" for two marimbas by composer Dr. David Jones in 1995. He is vibraphonist with jazz quintet the Don Goodwin Group and performs regularly throughout the Northwest with jazz-rock group BeeCraft.

Clarinetist Jesse Canterbury has performed new music and improvisation in a variety of different contexts and in a number of different ensembles. He was a member of the Tallahassee-based New World Ensemble and of the Austin-based trio Coherent. He has worked with George Lewis, Butch Morris, the Shaking Ray Levis, Walter Thompson, Philip Gelb, Matthew Sperry, and Gino Robair.

Thursday, June 28

Nels Cline (L.A.) / Toshi Makihara (Philadelphia) / Wally Shoup (Seattle) Trio / Eyvind Kang & Tucker Martine (Seattle) I-Spy, 1921 Fifth Ave. (alley entrance), 9 pm, $10

Nels Cline is one of the most versatile and imaginative guitarists active today. Combining jaw-dropping chops with a keen musical intelligence, Cline displays an encyclopedic mastery of guitar styles that encompasses delicate lyricism, sonic abstractions, and skull-crunching metallic flights. Since the 1970s, Cline's guitar excursions have ranged from probing, reflective balladry to knotty riffing to bracing freeform assaults. In addition to various configurations of the Nels Cline Trio, he has performed frequently with his brother, drummer Alex Cline, and the constellation of creative musicians associated with reedsman Vinny Golia's adventurous 9 Winds record label. He has also collaborated with ex-Minuteman Mike Watt, avant country-rockers Geraldine Fibbers, Sonic Youth guitar terrorist Thurston Moore, and drummer Gregg Bendian, with whom he released a remarkable remake of John Coltrane's thunderous "Interstellar Space." He was recently named Outstanding Jazz Artist of 1999 by Bam Magazine, and Best New Genre/Uncatagorizable Artist of 1999 at the L.A. Weekly Music Awards. Sparks are sure to fly in this, his is his performance with Wally Shoup and Toshi Makihara.

Born in Japan and based in Philadelphia, Toshi Makihara is an innovative percussionist and unique sound artist whose original improvisational style combines masterful percussion technique with vaudeville humor, a Zen-influenced use of silence and gesture, and a dazzling range of discovered/invented sound media ranging from bicycle wheels to feather dusters to coiled slinkies, all used in unexpected ways. He has performed with many outstanding artists including LaDonna Smith, Davey Williams, Tom Cora, Peter Brotzmann, John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Jon Rose, William Parker, and Gianni Gebbia. His recordings include the Grammy-nominated Another Shining Path with saxophonist Gary Hassay and bassist William Parker, and an upcoming release by the Thurston Moore-Wally Shoup-Toshi Makihara Trio."

Wally Shoup is a compelling and passionate saxophonist and veteran free improviser who has been involved in playing and organizing since 1974. He is among a handful of Americans who have devoted themselves exclusively to the practice of free improvisation. He has played with a wide range of American improvisers, including Davey Williams, La Donna Smith, Jack Wright, Toshi Makihara, Thurston Moore, John Oswald, Lesli Dalaba, Jeffrey Morgan, and Paul Hoskin, and with European improvisers John Russell, Alan Wilkinson, John Jasnoch, Paul Hession, and Mick Beck. He is leader of the explosive Seattle-based improvising trio Project W, with whom he has made two recordings and appeared as opening act for Sonic Youth on their Thousand Leaves Tour in Seattle; Project W's debut recording was named one of the top 10 releases of 1996 by Cadence magazine. His 1999 tour of the Northeastern U.S. with Thurston Moore and Toshi Makihara is documented on the CD Hurricane Floyd on the Sublingual label.

Eyvind Kang & Tucker Martine

Composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist Eyvind Kang began learning violin at age 6 and has since performed and/or recorded with Bill Frisell, the Sun City Girls, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Wayne Horvitz, Joe McPhee, Arto Lindsay, Ikue Mori, Michael Bisio, Saadet Türküz, Graham Haynes, Susie Ibarra, Kato Hideki, Calvin Weston, and numerous others. His astonishing, eccentric debut album 7 NADES on John Zorn's prestigious Tzadik label was described by Zorn as "One of the quirkiest and most indescribable of sound sculptures from a new generation of experimentalists," and made many 10 Best lists of 1996. An avid fan of underground esoterica, Kang's follow-up CD, Theater Of Mineral NADEs, was a fascinating blend of medieval crumhorns, ecstatic arrangements, lilting melodies, unusual concepts, and virtuosic violin stylings. His latest Tzadik release, The Story of Iceland, presents incredibly complex sound sculptures filled with meticulous detail, power, and vision, and features a rare appearance by Indian violinist Kala Ramnath, a bizarre cult anthem, and a piece scored for gamelan. Eyvind currently divides his time between Seattle, New York City, and wide-ranging world travels, including a recent extended stay in India.

Tucker Martine has been swimming in the Seattle musical gene pool since 1993, when he moved to the Northwest from Nashville. His work includes collaborations with such respected figures as Sam Rivers, Julian Priester, Eyvind Kang, Wayne Horvitz, the Seattle Chamber Players, Climax Golden Twins, Bill Frisell, Aiko Shimada, Dappin Butoh, Danny Barnes, Jeff Greinke, Fred Chalenor, and numerous others. He also plays drums and electronics in his acclaimed group Mount Analog and operates Flora Avenue Studio in Seattle. For his festival performance, Tucker will employ "a big mess of electronics which will be used to manipulate (Eyvind Kang's) violin signal."

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