Goggle consists of four accomplished composer/performers who have worked for years together, inspiring and challenging one another deeply in terms of innovation of compositional structure and instrumentalism. The resulting music is unique, heartfelt, quirky and complex, drawing from a wide array of musical styles and ideas. Goggle Quartet will be performing throughout the summer in California and New Mexico.
Goggle is the latest incarnation of a revolving group of players. The nucleus formed at Mills College in Oakland, California, in 1987 when graduate students Randy McKean and Dan Plonsey, inspired by a mutual love of the work of AACM stalwarts Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, the World Saxophone and ROVA quartets, lured unsuspecting saxophonists into playing their original compositions, featuring quirky rhythmic schemes and extended techniques. Chris Jonas joined them in 1989, bringing a love of active, overlapping structure and melody. McKean and Jonas moved to NYC in 1992, but the group continued with Plonsey and Bostonian Steve Norton, performing and recording as the Great Circle Saxophone Quartet in the mid-1990’s. By the 00’s, Jonas’ former Oberlin schoolmate and instrumental hot-shot Cory Wright was pulled into the orbit as part of a touring saxophone sextet Plonsey formed to perform his music. Though subsequent relocations sent Jonas to Santa Fe and McKean, Plonsey and Wright to the San Francisco Bay Area, they have continued to collaborate and work together in various combinations, including the groups Daniel Popsicle and Bristle.
Chris Jonas (soprano sax – Santa Fe, NM) works primarily as a composer, documentary filmmaker and video artist. He has written numerous commissions for new music ensembles, soundtracks, new circus, documentaries, and installations. Among Jonas’ recent commissions are multiple large-scale pieces for the Santa Fe Opera, “IN SITU” performances for SITE Santa Fe biennials, live soundtracks for silent films, large scale chamber works, and documentary soundtracks. Jonas is now at work on a number of new projects including a multiple year intermedia and music piece GARDEN with ensembles the San Francisco-based Del Sol String Quartet (Garden I “Night”) and NYC’s TILT Brass (Garden II “House”) and a most recently a large scale commission, “The Gulf” with Philadelphia’s new music choir, The Crossing. During his ten years in NYC, Jonas worked with many of today’s most adventurous band leaders, including Butch Morris, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor and William Parker. Jonas is a 2009 United States Artists award winner, a winner of the Meet the Composer/Commissioning USA award and a Rockwood Fellow. His is co-founder of the NM-based arts and social justice non profit, Littleglobe and President of the NYC Tri-Centric Foundation.
Randy McKean (alto sax, clarinets – Bay Area, CA) leads or co-leads several bands, including the chamber jazz quartet Bristle (w/Cory Wright, Lisa Mezzacappa & Murray Campbell), the improv trio Pluck Vim Vigour (w/Ross Hammond), avant-folk duo Sawbones (w/Maxima Kahn), and the acoustic-electronics duos Wild Horsey Ride (w/Wes Steed), Zap! (w/David Dvorin) and The Gargantius Effect (w/Campbell). He has composed works for string quartet and symphony orchestra. McKean’s releases include the CDs Wild Horsey Ride, Bristle’s Bulletproof (Edgetone), So Dig This Big Crux (Rastascan), the Great Circle Saxophone Quartet’s Child King Dictator Fool (New World), and the electronic release Gargantius Effect +1+2+3 (w/Han-earl Park, Gino Robair & Scott Looney). He studied with trumpeter Paul Smoker and composers Anthony Braxton, David Rosenboom, and Maggi Payne. He currently lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Grass Valley, CA.
Dan Plonsey (tenor sax, clarinets – Bay Area, CA) is a composer, saxophonist, and math teacher. He has written a surprisingly large number of pieces, mostly for his own ensembles, of which Daniel Popsicle (a group of 15) and New Monsters/Monstrosities (Quintet) are currently active. He has received several commissions, most recently “Leave Me Alone!” an opera with libretto by Harvey Pekar, which was performed at Oberlin in 2009; “Dan Plonsey’s Bar Mitzvah,” a collaboration with Mantra Plonsey and Eric Kupers was performed the following year, commissioned by the Jewish Music Festival; and “Student Work”: 27 songs with texts about Geometry written by students, in performance this summer. In 2010, Plonsey was awarded a United States Artists fellowship. His most recent CD, Football Season, an eight-quarter composition for small brass band, just came out in April, 2013.
Cory Wright (baritone sax, winds – Bay Area, CA) has been involved in both the jazz and creative music worlds for the past 20 years, including time spent in New York, Los Angeles and his current home in the San Francisco bay area. His recent projects [the Green Mitchell Trio and the Cory Wright Outfit] reflect his interest in blurring the distinction between composed and improvised material and in combining the harmonious with the atonal, and groove with the arrhythmic. Cory has played in ensembles lead by Anthony Braxton, Vinny Golia, Eddie Gale, Adam Rudolph and Yusef Lateef. He is currently a member of bay area groups Bristle, Wiener Kids, Daniel Popsicle, and the Oakland Active Orchestra.
improviser John Ingle is originally from Memphis, TN and now resides and works in San Francisco. His music is informed and influenced by contemporary concert music, improvised music, electronic music, jazz, various Asian folk music traditions, and the blues and gospel of his native Southeast US. He collaborates with electronics innovator Laetitia Sonami, and in duo with NYC-based composer/dulcimerist Dan Joseph and is a founding member of the sfSoundGroup. John’s solo saxophone music emphasizes multiphonics, vocal harmonics and subtle control of extended saxophone techniques, while his chamber music explores such musical parameters as spiral time, linear pulse, and non-linear harmony, and indulges in both simple resonance as well as complex timbre and auditory sleights-of-hand.
Kjell Nordeson, percussionist, divides his time between Stockholm and San Francisco. He has a BA from Stockholm University, and has studied classical percussion at Ingesund School of Music with Bjˆrn Liljeqvist, former principal percussionist of the Stockholm Philharmonic. Together with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, he formed AALY Trio in 1986. AALY Trio became one of the leading groups in the Swedish experimental scene in the 90ís. Nordeson has toured extensively in North America, Europe, North Africa and Japan with various groups. He has performed with Peter Brˆtzmann, Barry Guy, Ken Vandermark, Joe Morris, William Parker, Paul Rutherford, Gerry Hemingway, Frank Gratkowski, Stefano Scodanibbio, and many others. Since 2004, Nordeson has been active in the San Francisco Bay Areaís thriving community of free-improvised, experimental and new music. He regularly plays with musicians Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin, Greg Goodman, George Cremaschi, Scott Looney, Damon Smith, John Ingle, sfSoundGroup, Aram Shelton, Darren Johnston, Lisa Mezzacappa and many others.