On Canvas

Over the summer, ANW presented Darcy James Argue's spectacular "steampunk" big band, Secret Society, at the International House. This performance was the band's first US appearance outside of New York and, thanks to WHYY's On Canvas program (which has also featured performances from Andrew Bird, Lionel Loueke and Extra Golden), we can relive the excitement. Thanks to all who came out to support that event. Watch the entire episode here.

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Byram's World

As Tim said today, "It's going to be Sunday before you know it." Let's hope it doesn't come too soon. In any case, we're overwhelmingly eager to present Friday and Saturday's Composer Portrait: Tim Berne at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Without hyperbole, Tim's work - especially all those late 90s live performances of Bloodcount and Big Satan that we saw at the Old Office - was a major influence on our excitement to present improvised music in Philadelphia. This one is real special. And, honestly, it may be quite some time before most of these pieces are performed live again, so do yourself a favor and join us. 

Please note! The public discussion between The New York Times' Nate Chinen and visual artist Steve Byram - whose work graces the covers of Berne's entire Screwgun Records catalog - is pushed back from Friday to Saturday, December 12 from 6:30-7:30pm. But still free! read more

Where is Brooklyn?

"And this music has root in this form just as man has broken away from the earth gravity to seek other forms of matter so has the form of expression in all communicated thoughts, Don Cherry is a man of creative inventiveness and it would be unnatural for him not to seek and bring about the new forms in his talent as a composer and performer the compositions as well as the titles are all in the form of the new thing, in music of the improvising world." -Ornette Coleman, from the original liner notes of Blue Note Records' Where is Brooklyn? by Don Cherry

We don't know what, precisely, Ornette is talking about here, but we're sure he's right! We do know, however, that ANW has commenced our Composer Portrait: Don Cherry season-long celebration with Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy's exciting performance (which included Cherry tunes The Thing, Awake Nu, and others). If you missed it, don't fret. Celebrating their 10th anniversary, Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra visits Philadelphia for the first time to perform Cherry's "Relativity Suite" (still unreleased on CD). The piece, commissioned by the Jazz Composers Orchestra Association  (under the leadership of Carla Bley) 40 years ago and recorded on Valentine's Day 1973, is an ambitious suite undoubtedly influenced by Cherry's work with Pakistani vocalist Pandit Faquir Pran Nath, also a major influence on Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Lee Konitz.

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Just A Guy Who Knows

Just A Guy Who Knows is a new 21-minute short film that was directed, shot and edited by Mike Ercolini and Dan Scofield.  Many of us know Dan as one-fourth of the Philadelphia quartet Shot x Shot. (And, by the way, we just announced this mind-blowing event with said ensemble.)  Anyway, the short film is about legendary saxophonist Sonny Simmons, who we featured last season in a duet performance with Bobby Few.  That gig was named one of Wire Magazine's best concerts of 2008. Simmons is well known for his collaborations with the leading figures in the jazz avant-garde including Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner - the list is endless and beyond impressive. Enjoy!

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Tin Anniversary

Last Friday we commenced our 10th anniversary season with the Mary Halvorson Quintet (right).  She later told us that she'll be taking the quintet (with John Hebert and Ches Smith) into the studio late this year, so keep an eye out for that.  Thanks to all who persevered an exceptionally miserable day. For those who missed it, there is a good chance Mary will return in some capacity before the season concludes.  In any case, Mary's quintet was an incredible introduction to what is sure to be a monumental year for Ars Nova Workshop. read more


Anti-Jazz: The New Thing Revisited 

In 1961, Down Beat magazine published a review of a John Coltrane performance referring to the music as "anarchistic" and as "a horrifying demonstration of what appears to be a growing anti-jazz trend." This review documented one of the most controversial moments in the history of jazz: the advent of Free Jazz or "The New Thing."  

IHP and ANW's four-concert series, Anti-Jazz: The New Thing Revisited, celebrates the 50-year trajectory of Free Jazz. The series, while bearing in mind landmark contributions such as Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz and John Coltrane's Ascension, is a glimpse at the current state of the phenomenal Free Jazz continuum featuring many of the founding visionaries and iconoclasts - including the Sun Ra Arkestra, Bill Dixon, Bobby Bradford and the Art Ensemble of Chicago - along with an emerging generation of distinguished instrumentalists. 

Purchase your tickets to the entire series today!

Rashied Ali (1935-2009) & Joe Maneri (1927-2009)

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the passing of drummer and Philadelphia native Rashied Ali (July 1, 1935 - August 12, 2009) and microtonal composer and musician Joe Maneri (February 9, 1927 - August 24, 2009). Both were exceptional and unstoppable forces within the pantheon of modern jazz, and always a privilege to be around. They leave behind some of the most impactful contributions to jazz and improvised music within the past fifty years.

Over the past ten years, ANW had the opportunity to work with both musicians, experiencing their rigor and passion first hand. All were very special moments. read more

Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio

Recorded during a one-day session in December 2003, Expansion captures the tectonic force realized by the trio on the band's then-recent fall 2003 tour, but also exposes the introspective sides of the musicians. Featuring a variety of pieces (the band locks into a tight 13/8 time as well as it goes free), Expansion highlights Burrell's iconoclastic composition style and well as his sensibility for the entire history of jazz.

Burrell penned six new pieces for the session that represent a broad approach to jazz composition. read more

Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio | Expansion


1. Expansion
2. Double Heartbeat
3. Cryin' Out Loud

4. They Say It's Wonderful
5. About Face
6. In the Balance
7. Coup d'Etat

All compositions and arrangements by Dave Burrell (Lanikai Sounds Publishing Co., BMI), except #4 by Irving Berlin (Irving Berlin Music Co., ASCAP), arrangement by Dave Burrell. read more

Giant Steps

Welcome to the new Ars Nova Workshop website! We couldn't be more pleased with our friends at Canary Promotion + Design, who have also done design work for Johnny Brenda's, The Colbert Report and Miro Dance Theatre. Please be patient as we populate the site with nearly ten years of archival data, update our store, and much more.  And check back often for announcements in conjunction with our 10th anniversary season.