Saxophonist and composer Jason Robinson returns to the Bay Area to reunite with long time musical collaborator and bassist Scott Walton in two new configurations featuring a stellar lineup. The first will showcase various Robinson compositions and will feature Darren Johnston (trumpet), Steve Adams (alto sax), Robinson (tenor sax), Walton (bass), and John Hanes (drums). The second configuration adds electronics pioneer Tim Perkis for a set of improvised explorations. A Californian by birth, Robinson spent his formative musical years in the Bay Area (1990s) and San Diego (2000s) before moving to western Massachusetts to teach at Amherst College. Now a part of New York’s and Boston’s creative music scenes, Robinson is excited to return to the Bay Area for an evening of exploratory music.
The music of American saxophonist and scholar Jason Robinson (“rugged and
scintillating,” New York Times) thrives in the fertile overlaps between improvisation and composition, acoustic music and electronics, tradition and experimentalism. Initially a devotee of post-1960s jazz and creative music, Robinson is celebrated for bringing together various historical directions in jazz–bebop, post-bop, the avant-garde–with an improvisatory and compositional sensibility drawn from and extending the languages of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Lester Young. His musical interests, however, span far and wide. He is a critically acclaimed distinctive voice in a new generation of creative musicians in equal dialogue with jazz, popular music, experimental music, and electronic music. Robinson’s primary group is his New York-based Janus Ensemble, which ranges in size from a quintet with reedist Marty Ehrlich, guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer George Schuller, to the full nine-piece version of the group with the addition of reedist
JD Parran, trombonist and tubist Bill Lowe, tubist Marcus Rojas, and drummer Ches Smith. The group’s latest release is Tiresian Symmetry (Cuneiform, 2012), which was supported by a tour of the US Northeast and Canada in February 2014, including appearances at the 25th season of the Magic Triangle Concert Series at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Casa del Popolo in Montreal, Roulette in Brooklyn, and elsewhere.
Robinson has released 14 albums as leader or co-leader and appeared on nearly 50 albums in total. He performs regularly as a soloist (acoustically and with electronics), with his group the Janus Ensemble, and in a variety of collaborative contexts. He has performed at festivals and prominent venues in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and throughout Europe and/or recorded with Peter Kowald, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Amiri Baraka, Drew Gress, Rudresh
Mahanthappa, Myra Melford, Nicole Mitchell, Marty Ehrlich, Eugene Chadbourne, Earl Howard, Toots and the Maytals, Groundation, Bertram Turetzky, Mark Dresser, John Russell, Roger Turner, Gerry Hemingway, Marco Eneidi, Lisle Ellis, Raphe Malik, JD Parran, Dana Reason, the La Jolla Symphony, SONOR (UCSD), and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, among others. As a scholar, Robinson’s work investigates the relationship between improvised and popular musics, experimentalism, and cultural identity. He has published articles and
reviews in Ethnomusicology, Jazz Perspectives, and Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation. Robinson is an Assistant Professor of Music at Amherst College and holds a Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego.
Steve Adams is active both as a composer and a performer on saxophones, flutes and electronics. Steve is best known as a member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, with whom he has played for over twenty five years and released more than twenty five recordings. He has performed with Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers, Dave Holland, Roscoe Mitchell, John Zorn, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Tin Hat Trio, Yo! Miles with Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith and Ted Nugent, as well as many other classical, jazz, rock, dance and theater groups. Steve has appeared on more than fifty recordings, and has five recordings as leader or co-leader on the 9 Winds and Clean Feed labels. His piece Cage (for John Cage) was performed at the 1993 Bang on a Can festival, and his piece The Gene Pool was commissioned in 1993 by Meet the Composer and performed at their festival “The Works” in Minneapolis in 2002. He performed Edmund Campion’s
Corail for saxophone and live electronics with the Berkeley Symphony and at the Ojai Music Festival, and was a member of the 25th Anniversary performance of Terry Riley’s In C, which was released on New Albion. Steve also is a member of the electronics duo Hanes/Adams, the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Matt Small’s Crushing Spiral Ensemble and the Bill Horvitz Band, as well as leading his own groups. His duo with Scott Walton has just released the CD Cookies for Cyrano on pfMENTUM. He received a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2000, and teaches at Mills College.
Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter, bandleader, composer, improvisor, vocalist, and songwriter Darren Johnston has composed for, collaborated with and recorded alongside an extremely diverse cross-section of world class artists. His interests rotate around composing instrumental music, writing songs, and performing all styles of jazz,
experimental and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, and the Arab world. His primary ensemble as a leader, Broken Shadows, is an attempt to unify all of these interests into one truly unique style of roots/art/dance music that defies category. As a composer, he has received commissions to write for small jazz
groups, big bands, string quartet, chamber ensembles, a multi-generational chorus utilizing body-percussion and choreography, and more. He has written for dance companies such as Axis Dance, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Robert Moses’ Kin, Liss Fain, and others, as well as for short films. He has performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as Fred Frith, ROVA Sax Quartet, Meredith Monk, Myra Melford, James Tenney, Ben Goldberg, Matt Wilson, Mark Dresser, Marshall Allen, Marcus Shelby, and others.
Tim Perkis is a well-known figure in the worlds of improvised and electronic music. Over the course of decades he has played his unique computer-based electronic instruments with hundreds of musicians, including many of the leading players in free improvisation from Europe and the US. He is also a founding member of several electronic music ensembles, including FuzzyBunny, Splendor Generator and the legendary computer network band The Hub. Recordings of his music are available on the Artifact, Tzadik, New World and EMANEM labels, among others. His documentary film NOISY PEOPLE(2007) and NOISY PEOPLE podcasts (2015) are available at noisypeople.net.
Scott Walton is a bassist and pianist whose music negotiates the terrain between jazz, free improvisation, and the classical avant-garde. He has recorded with Vinny Golia, Steve Adams, Myra Melford, Tim Perkis, Nels Cline, Anthony Davis, and Bobby Bradford, and has performed with George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, John Carter, JD Parran, and Al Cohn. Current projects include duos with Steve Adams, Tim Perkis, and Gilbert Isbin, the Michael Vllatkovich quartet, Jeff Gauthier’s Goatet, the Bill Horvitz Sextet, and Alex Cline’s Flower Garland Orchestra.
John Hanes has been playing drums in the Bay Area for over 30 years. From Diamonda Galas to Etta James, from Starbucks commercials to Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man” soundtrack, from Oakland Opera Theater’s production of Anthony Davis’s “X, the Life and Times of Malcolm X” to industrial rockers Chrome, John has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists across a broad spectrum of genres. Since 2000, John has entered the world of experimental music and free improvisation, playing in a number of bay area ensembles; and electronic music, performing on laptop solo as Organ of Qwerty and in Hanes/Adams, a duo with Rova Sax Quartet’s Steve Adams.