Shelton Ochs Quartet – Two Night in July

This past weekend was full of music – I played two shows & had a recording session with the Shelton Ochs Quartet – where I’m joined by Larry Ochs (of ROVA saxophone quartet),  Kjell Nordeson (of Cylinder, Exploding Customer, AALY Trio among many others) and now Mark Dresser (of many things including John Zorn & Anthony Braxton). I’m obviously the rookie of the bunch.  Larry has been very generous and has pushed this project along and got Mark to come up from San Diego to play these local shows. We’re set to play  at the Stone in New York in September, so this was a way for us to dig into the music before we get there.

Playing with Mark was great – he’s got so much background in playing the new music, on so many levels, that it could be daunting if I thought about it too much. It’s sinking in a bit after the fact, which is a good thing, particularly because playing with him was such a good experience and totally comfortable. The energy he brings to the music is HIGH. He expects clarity in the charts and intention of the music. These are more good things.

We had a rehearsal on thursday at my space in Oakland, and an extended soundcheck / rehearsal at Duende on the Friday afternoon before our show there that night. We got a lot done in a few short rehearsals. The show on Friday went well – had a decent turnout, and we really dug into the music, a third of which was brand new, and all had changes from past performances. Dresser! It was the first time in I don’t know how long that I played with someone who did so many things that I’m not used to hearing. Larry totally brought it, and Kjell’s drumming has become even more focused since he moved down to San Diego to study percussion and pursue his PHD at UCSD.

The Saturday show at Center for New Music had a different energy – we cut two pieces of mine that just don’t seem quite ready for primetime. More ideas than finalized compositions. We still spread it into two sets, as 8 pieces with extended improvisation lends itself to a lot of music. But the focus was even more. Though the vibe & energy of Duende added to our energy, the listening room aspect of CNM allowed us to explore the music in a very different way.

After this weekend, I’m extra excited about the shows in New York in September – the 7th & 8th – 10pm both nights at the Stone.

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Ton Trio II at Duende – May 18, 2013

Ton Trio II is my newest trio with the young bassist Scott Brown and the “secret weapon” drummer Alex Vittum. We’ve been playing as a trio since early December 2012 at a monthly show at the Layover, a bar in downtown Oakland that is now having creative jazz type music on Monday nights thanks to Fernando Carpenter from VAMP records.  A few months back Jeff Parker contacted me about doing a show together, and things aligned for a night at Duende, a new Basque themed restaurant that is also in downtown Oakland, and has a dedicated performance space for our kind of music. (It’s a great time here in Oakland – places actually opening up that respect this kind of music!)

The space is in the upstairs area, and while sound comes in from the restaurant area, the character of the space makes it worth it.  Ton Trio II played the first set, and we went through seven of our tunes. The room felt good and we played one of the best sets we’ve had to date. Making it all the better, we had a really great turnout, including a lot of friends.  Jeff’s Trio with Chad Taylor (drums) and Chris Lopes (bass) sounded excellent. They have such a connected way of playing together – and there’s a lot of nuances that you can miss if not paying full attention.

Omid Zoufonoun made a very nice two camera video of our set. Keep an eye out for it on the youTube