Really excited to see this page up, here's to more stuff from Mika Pontecorvo's productive side of the musical world!
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017
Set will start at 10 PM Pacific Time.
POST SCRIPT: This appearance was postponed due to car issues, and will be rescheduled to a later date.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
These are probably the last recordings that we made. Joe Noble will be uploading archival stuff from time to time.....
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Eli's is also a really fine place in which to play music, as Surplus 1980 found out on the evening of 5/26. We were part of a really cool bill that featured Shame Waves, Naked Lights, and XDS along with our sounds.
Surplus opened the show in the excitement of featuring new bass player HL Nelly. There were likely some nervous vibes being felt, but thankfully they did not equate any kind of train wreck action. On the contrary, it felt to me that everything ran pretty damn smoothly. More than that: it felt on. Our relatively brief five song set consisted of Moe!'s tunes worked out within the past year and a half or so, my favorite being the groovy Motivated Song About Procrastination, with its neat bridge figure of steeple-like time patterns and swooping double time ending. That one's a hoot. An older song, Morale Is High, always challenging, seemed to have been played almost flawlessly. It's one that you're glad if you've gotten through it without stumbling. Thankfully, we finished it on our feet. Additionally, I seem to have shaken off 2016's curse of clamming during Failure of Commitment. Seems as though that one's form is known to me again.
All told, Surplus 1980's set felt tight and inspired. For me, it was one of those sets wherein even the minor gaff of dropping a stick could not impede the force of the flow. Kind of a victory for Surplus 1980, I'd say. What a pleasure to see friends and acquaintances and play on a bill with a clutch of really fine, inspiring musicians and their bands.
An A+ night in the cool late May air of the (b)East.
Below: Welcome to Surplus 1980, HL, hope that you'll stick around for a while
Moe! and Melne set up
Friday, May 26, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
As per usual, Pure Finder did two sets, live and raw and accompanied by our hosts. The consensus seemed to be that the first set was a bit scattered and that we all gelled during the second. As for me, I really liked both. Andrew and I exchanged texts of personal memories to be read. These passages seemed to provide central focuses for each of the two.
During the first I also had fun getting re-acquainted with my ratty circuit bent Casio keyboard and UB's extensive cowbell collection, which was scraped and hit. Perhaps I hogged the space a bit with these tones? Crimony! Towards the end of this one, I got crazy scraping a chair across the concrete floor for a raw drone. It felt like a Bright Moment to me.
The second set continued with the drone feel, with all four of the assembled sound technicians locking in to each others' sounds pretty adeptly. It was during this one that Andrew read my text, a memory from long ago that's haunted me. It felt sort of liberating to have that out in the world. Thanks, man. I tried to use my old tal box, but its batteries were futzed; it emanated some cool drones in its worn out condition, though. These were paired with water-less waterphone on my end. This all felt good, paired with a bit of red wine and loose vibes of a lovely spring day.
It's always a blast to send out signals from UB on DFM!
Below: Andrew, Ninah, and Das
Below: my gear for the show
Friday, May 12, 2017
Dig on the killer dystopian beauty from cover artist Ahmadreza Heidaripoor!
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
OK, on the the music. CDP was supposed to have consisted of Amanda, Josh Marshall, Tom Djill, and myself last night, but on account of the raging cold that's currently plowing its way through the area, Tom had to recuse himself. This late development had us all a bit nervous, I think. Despite a collective bummed out feeling from the remaining three of CDP, we agreed to soldier on and do the best that we could.
For me, that turned out to be not bad at all. After cracking sets from Lucio M. Trio and Anton Hatwich Quartet, CDP overcame some scary last minute technical glitches and dove in to a four song, thirty minute set of Amanda Chaudhary's Avant Pop charts. These heads are really fun to play. I tell you, North Berkeley BART is a tune that just plays itself. Such good writing. I dream of releasing a 7" of that one. Our overall feel was somewhat amped up and maybe a bit on the frantic side. I figure it was stage nerves and the absence of Tom forcing us to push a bit harder. At least, that's what was driving me. Might have played a bit too loud, but, then again, I was able to follow Amanda's hand signaled conducting moves for dynamic cues within the improvised sections of our songs. I was stoked to make it pretty much blemish-free through a brand new one, Marlon Brando. 12/8 shuffles are tough to sustain! Josh got in some nice, ripped tenor honking and some sweet soprano moves, and Amanda took on the added pressure of trying to fill in for Djill's presence with aplomb. I managed to record the set on my phone, and it sounds pretty crackly and most definitely live.
All told, I'd say it was a pretty good hit, despite the fact that CDP was missing a key ingredient of our fledgling sound. Hopefully we'll have some more gigs in which we can continue to hone it.
Below: another long-gone piece of Mission history; drums
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Friday, April 28, 2017
It seemed as though we did indeed get our play on, too. Although the set felt a bit short to me at 27 minutes or so, we got into some pretty cool soprano sax/drum set Free Jazz call and response action, with some pretty ripped arpeggio from CJ. It felt like I was able to keep pace with her fast pacing during that action, and managed to get some looser, more Bluesy licks in during the sax's quieter moments. These sax/drums duets were accompanied by two all-percussion pieces, which, to me, had the sound of John Cage's percussion stuff. Hopefully they approximated that complexity, too. I actually, off the cuff, dedicated the first one to Mr. Cage.
It was cool to play to a supportive, albeit small-ish, audience within the intimate space of the Luggage Store Gallery. As always, thanks to Outsound for getting us on to one of their bills.
Below: CJ sets up, drums, and another "moody" 6th @ Market shot
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Monday, April 24, 2017
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
My vocals on a cover of Nico's Julius Caesar (Memento Hodie) are not the greatest, but that's OK I guess. My last show with Jim Ryan before he left the Bay for D.C. He is missed.
I'd been looking forward to Cartoon Justice's set at the venerable Nebraska Mondays for a while. Mika, Kersti, Eli, and myself all manged to get there in time for a quick set up and a timely start. Our set consisted of four pieces, two of which we'd rehearsed: these were grooved, pattern based songs, inspired by Ornette's Harmelodics and Miles's Free Funk. I felt pretty comfortable on them, rockin' out at times but trying to mesh energy with dynamics. I guess that Mika's guitar got a bit overpowered, so maybe I still need to work on that. We did one shorter improvisation where I stuck to brushes and a mostly Blues feel; at times I felt lost, but Eli guided me back with his bass tones. We finished with a longer improv that featured the multi-talented Tony Passarell on some great soprano sax flights that intertwined with Kersti's alto in neat ways. It seemed as though Cartoon Justice got to our ideal sound, one that I've termed Shamanic Jazz. Sadly, no one recorded, so those now belong exclusively to the Akashic Record.
Below: drums and Pontecorvos
A few days back, Tony Passarell contacted me and asked if I'd be up for subbing for 4th World's drummer Martin Birke. Obviously, I took him up on the offer. It was great fun to try to fit in with this cool group's Ambient-flavored Improvised Music. I enjoyed locking in with bassist Paul Relvas as he got to know a really nice new fret-less bass. Also cool was guitarist Stephen Sullivan's textural playing. At times we achieved what I felt were some rad ECM-type sounds. Once, I looked over at Stephen's pedal board and it was at a setting called "Scuba Diver"! I found that funny! Diver down!!!
Along top of this rhythm section, Tony played cornet, soprano, percussion, and generally lead the band into various sound zones. Tony's talents are endless, and it was a real pleasure to share a stage with him.
All told, a fun night of musical activity in the always chill Luna's Cafe. Many thanks to those that stuck around and listened.
Below: live shots by Russ Tucker. Thanks, Russ!
Monday, April 10, 2017
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Gary Piazza has this one up at his page, too, but I wanted up on mine.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
This was one of Matt's last gigs with Ovipositor. I feel that at that time, after several local shows and a short tour up to Bellingham WA and back, our sound had really gelled.
Surely the mutual affection for the late lamented Jason Batzer remains.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
After this set, Joe Lasqo had some really nice words for me.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
I recall this being a fun show. Jim and I spent several weeks rehearsing for it.
Jim now lives near Washington, D.C. with his wife Millie. He's playing regularly at Rhizome, along with leading a Gilles Deleuze discussion group there! Go Jim!
Monday, April 3, 2017
This was Cosmists first live show, Nov. 2012 at Studio One in Oakland CA.
The mood of the evening was incredibly manic as I recall. This seemed to have to do with the Presidential election that was mere days away. My, how things have changed.
Cosmists were a fun band for several years.
Thanks to Andrew Joron and CJ McCaslin for taking that ride with me.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Friday, March 31, 2017
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
This was my first ever solo show. I put a lot of preparation in for it.
Hard to believe it was three years ago!
Many thanks to Charles Smith for recording this set.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
A fun way to wrap it up, too.
Andrew and I were not able to get a rehearsal for Pure Finder's first gig of 2017 in. However, we did formulate a plan: keep things stripped down and simple. As such, I brought only a few percussion items: waterphone, singing bowl, 18" roto tom, a few small gongs. Enough gear to have to make only one mercifully short trip from my parked car on 6th St. to the Luggage Store's interior. Andrew had three very small synth-type modules. Easy.
We started out with some pretty quiet sounds, as per plan; this lead to a few more dense spaces. I had fun coaxing long tones out of the singing bowl, mic'd and plugged in to the house pa, with a long screw. Andrew got percussive blips and chatters. After a bit of this action, I switched to the roto tom, getting bending notes from its very malleable head.
This action cruised a long for a while until mad genius sound producer Philip Everett joined us on his synth rig, still set up from his Skull Krusher set. Louder trio interaction was the result. We generated some real mayhem! Totally fun and noisy! Call it Pure Krusher I guess!
Inside of this maelstrom, I stopped to read a few short lyrics from Tu Fu. I wasn't sure how that would go down, but Andrew didn't mind, thankfully. The set ended with a nice organic full stop, after which I recited my haiku for Herbie Lewis. It was on my mind to do so for some reason.
Another fun night of music at the Luggage Store, thanks to Outsound.
I have no gigs lined up for April, so may have to go quiet here for a while. We'll see....
Below: minimal set ups for Pure Finder
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Anyway, as for the Lingua Incognita Session #3, it was a fun community event. I think that I've been lucky enough to play with all of the members of the group: Mika Pontecorvo, Eli Pontecorvo, Kersti Abrams, Amanda Chaudhary, Jack Hertz, Jaroba, Josh Marshall, CJ McCaslin, Aaron Levin, and Tim Orr at least once respectively. This is the scene that I'm in now in many ways. I like that. Definitely starting to know these peoples' sounds. It was great especially to pair up with Tim and Aaron on drums. Those guys teach me a lot.
We must have done about four pieces, all based upon Mika's Miles-influenced sketches. Some seemed better realized than others. For a relatively large sized group, it seemed as though we mostly listened and interacted. I recall some really cool, swelling woodwind ensemble figures and spaced out synth solos. Mika also got some really grungy guitar tones going. At times I felt as though the pieces stretched a bit too long: one can only take so much heaviness before needing a pause! That said, I had a nice time playing a small back line with that had a really sweet Zildjian ride cymbal. It was fun to dig in to that cymbal, especially during this kind of pseud-Latin figure that I lead off one tune with.
All told, a fun evening of community music in a nice, comfortable space. Thanks to Mika for putting it together!
Below: Mika tunes
Below: Tim Orr sets up to break it down
Sunday, March 12, 2017
As for Hare & Arrow's second ever performance, it went through a few changes in planned personnel, but settled with Sung on two of his beautiful self-designed instruments, the Ozokuri and Thee Nuns Horn, and Dan Gottwald on the Divine Horseman. All are stringed, with the later being this amazing variation of the hurdy gurdy, hand-cranked and full of deep drone tones. Dan and Sung are pretty visionary with their aesthetics. I was pretty blown away to be playing alongside them and their creations.
In rehearsing for our set, we spoke about leaving tons of space for the drone of the Divine Horseman to emerge from. Additionally, I changed up my drum set up: no hi hat, double bass drum, minimal cymbals, and an added concert bass drum. I also rocked the wrench that Moe! Staiano gave me last year.
Definitely a lot of low end on my part. My role was essentially to color, shift, and comment, but not drive the music. I felt as though I fulfilled my mission for the most part. Indeed, at the end of the set Sung announced that I'd "played with great restraint"! In my perceptual experience of our somewhat short set, I tried to get away from certain habits that I've developed within improvisational music, instead really trying to leave gaps and moving my own line within the form. Not sure if this was achieved, but I know that a satisfying, relaxed feeling was with me throughout.
For me, it was a night of clear thinking and playing under the cool full moon of March.
Hopefully the projected quarterly series of music at Hare and Arrow Arts Factory will continue. I'll go even if my name ain't on the bill!
Below: the Divine Horseman and my amended drum kit with large concert bass drum