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Venue:
The Rotunda4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: Free Admission
Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 8:00pm

Andy Laster's Sounds of Cairo

Andy Laster, clarinet + saxophone
Curtis Hasselbring, trombone
Alex Waterman, cello
Kermit Driscoll, bass

Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present this special performance by Andy Laster's Sounds of Cairo, an all-star quartet with Alex Waterman, Kermit Driscoll, and Curtis Hasselbring that performs arrangements of early twentieth-century Egyptian popular songs by Jewish composers Zaki Murad and Dawud Husni, among others. These secular songs were mainly performed in Men’s clubs by small ensembles comprised of a singer, zither, fiddle and sometimes a flute and frame drum. The concert will also feature some of Laster’s chamber jazz compositions that utilize the ensemble’s unusual instrumentation and rhizomic approach to improvisation.

Andy Laster was born in 1961 and studied music at Seattle's Cornish Institute.  The saxophonist and composer moved to New York City in 1985 and soon became involved with many of the most exciting downtown jazz musicians.  Over the years he has performed with Dan Froot's Dancing Saxophone Quartet, Orange Then Blue, Bobby Previte's Weather Clear, The Julius Hemphill Sextet, Phil Haynes' Four Horns and What?, Hank Roberts' Birds of Prey, Pink Noise Saxophone Quartet, New & Used, Lyle Lovett, and many others.  His first album, Hippo Stomp (with Drew Gress, Phil Haynes, Michele Rosewoman, and Frank Lacy) was released in 1989.  For his next album, 1991's Twirler, the line-up consisted of Gress, Haynes, Hank Roberts, and Herb Robertson.  In 1997, his Beckett-inspired album Interpretation of Lessness was released and featured Erik Friedlander, Cuong Vu, and Kenny Wollefsen.  The New York Times' Ben Ratfliff called it "one of the recent gems of the downtown improvising scene."  Laster also leads the group Hydra (with Herb Robertson, Drew Gress, Tom Rainey, and Brad Shepik) which has released two albums thus far, Hydra (1994) and Polyogue (1995).

For this unique ensemble inspired by early 20th century Egyptian composers, Laster has assembled some of the finest musicians working in jazz and experimental musics.  Cellist Alex Waterman has worked with artists such as Elliott Sharp, Marina Rosenfeld, Keith Rowe, and Helmet Lachenmann.  He is a founding member of the Plus Minus Ensemble, has composed music for several ballet and dance companies, and is currently writing a book on innovative composer Robert Ashley.

Trombonist, guitarist, and composer Curtis Hasselbring has worked with Slavic Soul Party, Cuong Vu's Vu-Tet, Satoko Fujii, Josh Roseman, the Jazz Passengers, Frank London, Trevor Dunn, John Hollenbeck, Chris Speed, Mary Halvorson, Matt Moran, Satoshi Takieshi, Mat Maneri, and many more.  His current projects include New Mellow Edwards, Decoupage, and Curha, and he has contributed to over 50 recordings.

Bassist Kermit Driscoll has performed and/or recorded with The American Composers Orchestra, Chet Baker, Bang-On-A-Can All-Stars, John Cale, Bill Frisell, John Hollenbeck, Tony Malaby, The New York Philharmonic, Buddy Rich, Elliott Sharp, John Zorn, and many others.  He has worked on over 25 Broadway shows, scored many films, and teaches music at SUNY Purchase College and Sarah Lawrence College.