Philadelphia City Paper Preview

We're pleased to have a bunch of our upcoming activities previewed in this week's Philadelphia City Paper. So no need to take our word for it. read more

Bushman’s Revenge/Cortex in the Philadelphia City Paper

"Decades ago, jazz established itself as an invasive species in Scandinavia, flourishing to such a degree that we’re now re-importing it at an increasing rate. Tuesday, Ars Nova Workshop presents a double bill of younger Norwegian bands with divergent takes on the avant garde. Bushman’s Revenge is a guitar, bass and drums power trio that has as much psych-prog in its DNA as it does fiery free jazz. Led by trumpeter Thomas Johansson, the two-horns and rhythm section quartet Cortex is more firmly entrenched in the jazz idiom, albeit irreverently jostling one era against the next. Brassy swing is filtered through an Ayler breakdown, or Ornette angularity suddenly bounces into a bebop flurry." -Shaun Brady, Philadelphia City Paper

Fall (and Beyond)

Thanks to those who joined us recently for the Norwegian-Chicago collaboration of VCDC. We're keeping our fingers crossed for a spring return of saxophonist Frode Gjerstad with his friend, legendary trumpeter Bobby Bradford. More soon. We have just one concert in November and another in December, so no excuse to miss the final two events in 2013. 

Free Ts at VCDC

Join us on Sunday for the Philadelphia debut of VCDC featuring our friends Frode Gjerstad and Fred Lonberg-Holm. We have a few small (mens and womens) ANW t-shirts we'll be giving away to ticket buyers (who can fit in them!). Hope to see you then.

Spring 2013: An Update

Ars Nova Workshop has reached the halfway point of its Spring 2013 concert season; it has been a great one so far! Thanks for joining us for the performances by Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor, the Whammies, Kris Davis's Capricorn Climber, Ches Smith & These Arches, and most recently, the spectacular sold-out show at Philadelphia Art Alliance with the Billy Hart Quartet. It was the perfect way to welcome the quartet for its first ever Philly date. The season continues. Due to reasons beyond our control, we had to cancel dates with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow, and with Jasaon Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms. But we're happy to announce some new additions to the calendar. ICP Orchestra, the Engines and the Craig Taborn Trio are up next, and we've just added performances by Odean Pope and Andrew Cyrille in duo, a double-bill with the Sun Ra Arkestra and Mike Reed's People, Places and Things, Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee in duo, and the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. Check out a summary of our upcoming events below. To purchase tickets, and for more information about the performers, please refer to the “Events” page of the ANW website. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news. read more

Spring 2013

Ars Nova Workshop is thrilled to announce the second half of our 13th season! We have two more shows remaining this year – Unfold Ordinary Mind on December 9, and the Frode Gjerstad Trio with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten's The Young Mothers on December 14 – and then we take a month off, returning on January 14 with the Philadelphia debut of Barry Altschul's Threedom Trio.

ANW will be presenting many groups making Philadelphia debuts in the New Year, including The Whammies, Kris Davis's Capricorn Climber, the Billy Hart Quartet, and the Craig Taborn Trio. ANW will also welcome back to Philadelphia Ches Smith & These Arches, the ICP Orchestra and The Engines.

Check out a summary of our Spring 2013 season below. To purchase tickets, and for more information about the performers, please refer to the “Events” page of the website. And don't forget to follow Ars Nova Workshop on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news. read more

Machine Gun

In May, 1968, the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann brought together seven emerging European experimental musicians for what is now considered to be one of the most critical recording sessions in the history of improvised music.

The “Machine Gun Sessions” featured several improvisers whose soon-to-be-celebrated careers were just beginning: the British saxophonist Evan Parker, the Dutch reedsman Willem Breuker, the German bassists Peter Kowald and Buschi Niebergall, the Swedish drummer Sven-Åke Johansson, the Dutch drummer Han Bennink, and the Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove. Released in 1968 by Brötzmann's BRO label, and reissued three years later on FMP (the label founded by Brötzmann, Kowald and Alexander von Schlippenbach), Machine Gun is arguably the most brutal, beautiful and enlightened recording of the early Free-Jazz period.

In celebration of the 44th Anniversary of this legendary moment in the history of Free-Jazz, Ars Nova Workshop is excited to present several Machine Gun-related performances this Fall. (Prepare for another Philadelphia appearance by a Machine Gun musician next Spring. Hint: He's Dutch and he plays drums).

The season begins on Tuesday, September 4 at the International House, as Peter Brötzmann performs in duo with the Chicago vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz (with an opening set by the drummer Chris Corsano and the guitarist Bill Orcutt).

Then, on Tuesday, October 2, ANW presents the final Philadelphia performance by the Willem Breuker Kollektief. When Breuker, also a founding member of the Instant Composers Pool with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink, died in 2010, his will stated that this 10-piece ensemble he founded in 1974 could embark on only one more tour following his death. This is it.

Finally, on Saturday, November 10, ANW presents a very rare solo performance by the pianist Fred van Hove. Following his participation in the legendary “Machine Gun Sessions,” van Hove went on to create the renowned avant-garde musician collectives the Werkgroep Improviserende Musici, the Musica Libera Antverpiae and the Musica Libera Belgicae.

We look forward to seeing you on September 4! For more information about these events, and the rest of Ars Nova Workshop's Fall Season, please go to: www.arsnovaworkshop.org. For the latest news, follow ANW on Twitter and Facebook.

Fall 2012

 

Ars Nova Workshop is excited to announce our Fall 2012 Season! We plan to commence our 13th year as Philadelphia's leading presenter of jazz and experimental music with a bang, and it all begins at the International House on September 4 with a night of duos featuring legendary German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann with vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, and guitarist Bill Orcutt with drummer Chris Corsano.

This season we will be presenting new ensembles making their first Philadelphia appearances, such as the bassoonist Katherine Young's Pretty Monsters and the Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten's The Young Mothers, and several very rare performances by legendary and renowned European experimental musicians, including the last Philadelphia concert by the Willem Breuker Kollektief, a solo set by the Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove, and the saxophonist Frode Gjerstad's all-Norwegian trio.

Below you will find a summary of our Fall Season. Please refer to the event pages to the right for more details, including information about purchasing tickets, and don't forget to follow Ars Nova Workshop on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news. Be sure to survive the summer heat, because we hope to see you all in September!

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Muhal Meets The Warriors Part 4/4

Leading up to the April 28th premiere at Montgomery County Community College of a new piece written by Muhal Richard Abrams for Bobby Zankel's Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, music writer Shaun Brady (JazzTimes, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Inquirer) will be contributing a series of blog posts about the project. This is the second installment of Brady's four-part series.

A Conversation With Muhal Richard Abrams and the Warriors Of The Wonderful Sound

On April 28 at Montgomery County Community College, Bobby Zankel’s big band the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound will premiere a new piece written for the ensemble by legendary pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams. Recently named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and a member of Downbeat Magazine’s Hall of Fame, Abrams is a co-founder of the hugely influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and a composer whose work and influence spans the diverse history of classic, modern and avant-garde jazz. At 81, he continues to wield an enormous influence through his recordings and teachings, not least through some of modern jazz’s most important musicians.

At a recent rehearsal with the Warriors, Abrams explained how he would spontaneously cue soloists during the performance with a telling assertion: “Your decisions will be generated by what I hear,” he told the band. After a pause he added, “Which is how it should be.”

WRTI’s J. Michael Harrison spoke to Abrams about the project during a break, a partial transcript of which is below. Afterwards, however, I spoke to three of the longest-tenured Warriors about the experience. Saxophonist Daniel T. Peterson said that Muhal “exudes positivity and energy. I’ve always considered him a piano player, of course, but I’ve also noticed that he’s a coordinator, someone who puts people and situations together. That’s been very clearly part of this process. He’s been working with us and drawing from that and using it in creative ways and thinking of different ways to make the piece very personal.”

In comparison with recent compositions for the band by saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Coleman, pianist Tom Lawton said, “The three of them have been completely different from each other. Each of these people has their own language; we have to bend to that somewhat, but I think this project has been the easiest to be ourselves while still doing that.”

Saxophonist Elliott Levin, whose relationship with Zankel dates back to 1974, when both played with iconoclastic pianist Cecil Taylor, called Abrams’ piece “some of the hardest saxophone stuff I’ve ever played. You have to concentrate from beginning to end. It’s a very clear piece but very, very challenging. I think it’s pushing everybody to be a better musician. It’s not easy to put all those elements together and make it musical the way that this is. I think it’s going to be an event, something really special.” - Shaun Brady read more

Muhal Meets The Warriors Part 3/4

Leading up to the April 28th premiere at Montgomery County Community College of a new piece written by Muhal Richard Abrams for Bobby Zankel's Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, music writer Shaun Brady (JazzTimes, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Inquirer) will be contributing a series of blog posts about the project. This is the second installment of Brady's four-part series.

A Conversation With Vijay Iyer

On April 28 at Montgomery County Community College, Bobby Zankel’s big band the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound will premiere a new piece written for the ensemble by legendary pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams. In the weeks leading up to the event, we’ll be discussing Abrams’ influence and legacy with some of modern jazz’s leading figures. 

Pianist Vijay Iyer’s wide-ranging discography runs the gamut from his ground-breaking trio work to his long-standing collaboration with alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, the jazz/South Asian fusion ensemble Tirtha to the collective trio Fieldwork with fellow innovative composers/improvisers Steve Lehman and Tyshawn Sorey. His trio’s acclaimed CD Historicity earned him a 2010 Grammy nomination, and their recent follow-up, Accelerando, further evolves their expansive approach. In his Harlem home, Iyer recalled one early encounter with Abrams, at a gig by the initial incarnation of Fieldwork (with Aaron Stewart and Elliot Humberto Kavee). 

Vijay Iyer: The first Fieldwork gig ever was in 1999 at the Alterknit, which was this horrible little prison cell of a room in the basement of the Knitting Factory with café tables and metal folding chairs. I remember there at the front table were Muhal, Henry Threadgill, and Andrew Hill sitting right in front of us. That was basically one of the scariest gigs of my life, but it was so nice to see that these guys who’ve been such important creative forces still cared about what people like us were doing, especially since we weren’t even on the map. Afterwards, I talked to Muhal because I was so grateful that he came but at the same time I was sort of mortified to be seen in a room like that, or that people of their stature had to come into that space. It was not dignified. He said really nice things about the music, and I said, ‘We’re just trying to get out of this room.’ And he said, ‘Well, play your way out.’ Which is to say, the music contains within it the ingredients for self-transformation. And I can honestly say thirteen years later, that’s what happened.

How did you initially discover Muhal’s music? 

VI: In the nineties, when I was living in Berkeley CA, I used to buy a lot of used CDs from this place called Amoeba Records. I noticed that somewhere in the ‘A’ section there was a guy who put out a lot of records on Black Saint/Soul Note Records, so I just started acquiring some of these albums because they were connected to other artists that I was familiar with and really interested in. People like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Threadgill. They all talked about Muhal in really exalted terms, so I started checking out the albums. His level of achievement as a composer was staggering considering that you didn’t really see him ‘on the scene’ as much as everybody else.

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