In 1995 the SIMF celebrated its 10th year – and the impressive growth of Seattle’s creative music community – with five wildly varied nights of music over two weekends on May 12-13, and 19-21 at five of Seattle’s premier music venues: the Tractor Tavern, the OK Hotel, the Odd Fellows Ballroom, MOE, and Jazz Alley. This festival had more of a regional focus than earlier editions, with improvisers from British Columbia, Oregon, California, and Montana augmenting an impressive array of local talent. It was also the first time that the SIMF collaborated with allied organizations such as co-presenter Earshot Jazz, as well as the Jack Straw Foundation (Sonarchy Live Radio Hour), and radio station KCMU. (Dennis Rea)
It was co-organized by Eric Amrine, Patrick Barber, Adam Griffen, John Hawkley, Deanna Holdren, Dennis Rea, Charley Rowan, Wally Shoup, and Phil Woodruff, with assistance from Jeff Greinke, Robert Hinrix, Eric Hoffman, Herb Levy, and Mark Sullo. The poster was designed by Scott Martin/Urban Design. Set lists for specific dates and venues are currently unknown.
Eric Amrine, guitar (Amrine/Keplinger/Rea, NAO); Rob Angus, electronics (Greinke/Angus); Brent Arnold, cello (Arnold/Drury/Passarell, Thing Some Q); Zev Asher, electronics/toys (Roughage); Christian Asplund, viola (Thing Some Q); Daniel Barber, percussion (Blowhole); Patrick Barber, bass (Blowhole); Nate Bastuschek, euphonium (NAO); Brendan Bell, bass/reeds (Bügsküll); Dan Bertolet, bass (Infant Music); Mike Bisio, bass (Bisio/Blakeslee/Golia/Knodle); Rob Blakeslee, trumpet (Portland; Bisio/Blakeslee/Golia/Knodle); BLOWHOLE (D. Barber, P. Barber, Long, Willis); Dan Blunck, sax (Random Abstract); Tim Blunck, trumpet (Random Abstract); BÜGSKÜLL (Vancouver; Bell, Byrne, Day, Griffen, Yu); Sean Byrne, guitar (Bügsküll); Johnny Calcagno, guitar/mandolin (NAO); Stephen Thomas Cavit, drums (Free Consulation); Paul Chuey, sax (Free Consulation); Ken Clare, sax (DisBand); Lesli Dalaba, trumpet (Dalaba/Goldston/Kang/Ring); Aaron Day, guitar (Bügsküll); Steve DeMars, drums (Infant Music); Loren Dempster, cello; Andy Diaz, trumpet (Infant Music); DISBAND (Clare, Jacobs, Knodle, Moore Dionne, Smart, Westendorf); Andrew Drury, percussion (Arnold/Drury/Passarell); Jason Fitzgerald, ? (Hyperlung); Stephen Flinn, drums (Pagan Babies); Craig Flory, clarinet (Flory/McGrath, NAO); Mark France, guitar (Portland; Minus); Scott Francis, ? (Hyperlung); Henry Franzoni, guitar (Portland; Minus); FREE CONSULTATION (Cavit, Chuey, Masters); Phil Gelb, shakuhachi (Florida; Gelb/Robair/Sperry); Lori Goldston, cello (Dalaba/Goldston/Kang/Ring); Vinny Golia, reeds (Los Angeles; Bisio/Blakeslee/Golia/Knodle); Scott Granlund, sax (NAO); Jeff Greinke, ? (Greinke/Angus); Adam Griffen, guitar (Seizure Salad); Michael Griffen, violin (Bügsküll); Troy Grugett, sax (Oregon; Soma); Sue Ann Harkey, prepared guitar (Harkey/Hinrix); John Hawkley, misc. (Metal Men); Jeff Hengst, flute (Hengst/Silberman); Steve Hernandez-Effingham, voice (Sokkyo); Rich Hinklin, bass (Utterance Tongue); Robert Hinrix, guitar (Harkey/Hinrix, NAO); Deanna Holdren, banjo/percussion (Seizure Salad); Peter Hook, guitar (Utterance Tongue); Francois Houle, clarinet (Vancouver BC; Houle/Williamson/Wilson); HYPERLUNG (Fitzgerald, Francis, Little, Stone, “Travis”); INFANT MUSIC (Bertolet, DeMars, Diaz, Mahoney-Flake); Bernie Jacobs, sax/flute/voice (DisBand); Robert Jenkins, guitar (NAO); Frank Junk, invented instruments (Utterance Tongue); …KAGEL… (Jeffrey Taylor, Doug Theriault, James Wood); Eyvind Kang, viola (Dalaba/Goldston/Kang/Ring, Thing Some Q); Gregg Keplinger, drums (Amrine/Keplinger/Rea); Jim Knodle, trumpet (DisBand, Bisio/Blakeslee/Golia/Knodle); Neal Kosaly-Meyer, trumpet (NAO); Susie Kozawa, misc. (Sokkyo); Detonator Beth Lawrence, voice (Seizure Salad); Pete Leinonen, bass (NAO); Oliver Little, ? (Hyperlung); Ernst Long, trumpet/electronics (Blowhole); Maxim Mahoney-Flake, sax (Infant Music); Kenny Mandell, sax (Pagan Babies); Ken Masters, guitar (Free Consulation); Jeff McGrath, trumpet (Flory/McGrath, NAO); METAL MEN (Hawkley, Muhs, Neighbors); Rob Millis, guitar (Otalgia); MINUS (Portland; France, Franzoni, Trenkel); Pamela Moore Dionne, voice (DisBand); Eric Muhs, misc. (Metal Men); Eveline Müller, percussion (Seizure Salad); Mari Murao, dance (Sokkyo); Yoko Murao, dance (Sokkyo); Cliff Neighbors, misc. (Metal Men); Bob Nell, piano (Montana); Tari Nelson-Zagar, violin (Thing Some Q); NEW ART ORCHESTRA (Amrine, Bastuschek, Calcagno, Flory, Granlund, Hinrix, Jenkins, Kosaly-Meyer, Leinonen, McGrath, Powers, Rea, Rowan, Setzer, Shoup, Stevens, Vale); Dave Nolet, guitar (Pagan Babies); Tim Olive, bass/guitar (Vancouver; Twerdocleb); OTALGIA (Millis, Taylor, Vallier); PAGAN BABIES (Flinn, Mandell, Nolet); PANDEMONIUM (?); Keith Parry, percussion/misc. (Vancouver; Twerdocleb); Tony Passarell, sax/trumpet (Arnold/Drury/Passarell); Derek Pope, bass (Random Abstract); OTALGIA (Millis, Taylor); PAGAN BABIES (Flinn, Mandell, Nolet); Tony Passarell, sax/trumpet; PORK QUEEN (Vancouver; Schanfarber, ?); Greg Powers, (NAO); Ross Rabin, bass (Birmingham, AL); RANDOM ABSTRACT (D. Blunck, T. Blunck, Pope, Rosati, Zigmund); Ian Rashkin, bass; Dennis Rea, guitar (Amrine/Keplinger/Rea, NAO); Eric Ring, keyboards (Dalaba/Goldston/Kang/Ring); Gino Robair, drums (Bay Area; Gelb/Robair/Sperry); Mike Rohaly, electronics (Vancouver; Twerdocleb); Gene Rosati, guitar (Random Abstract); ROUGHAGE (Asher, Sanja, Spybey); Charley Rowan, keyboards (Rowan/Shoup, NAO); Justice Schanfarber, electronics (Pork Queen); Dan Scollard, bass (Oregon; Soma); SEIZURE SALAD (A. Griffen, Holdren, Lawrence, Müller); Sumiko Sato, piano; Marybeth Saunders, voice (Sokkyo); Beverly Setzer, clarinets (NAO); Scott Severson, drums (Utterance Tongue); Wally Shoup, alto sax (Rowan/Shoup, NAO); Anne Silberman, voice (Hengst/Silberman); Chuck Smart, drums (DisBand); SOKKYO (Hernandez-Effingham, Kozawa, M. Murao, Y. Murao, Saunders, Sugai); SOMA (Oregon; Grugett, Scollard, Storrs); Matthew Sperry, bass (Gelb/Robair/Sperry, Thing Some Q); Mark Spybey, electronics (Roughage); Brad Stevens, clarinet (NAO); J. Michael Stone, drums (Hyperlung); Dave Storrs, drums (Oregon; Soma); Esther Sugai, flute (Sokkyo); Jeffrey Taylor, guitar (…Kagel…, Otalgia); Doug Theriault, guitar (…Kagel…); THING SOME Q (Arnold, Asplund, Kang, Nelson-Zagar, Sperry); Dave Trenkel, guitar/keyboards; “Travis”, ? (Hyperlung); Dave Trenkel, guitar/keys (Portland; Minus); TWERDOCLEB (Vancouver; Olive, Parry, Rohaly); UTTERANCE TONGUE (Hinklin, Hook, Junk, Severson, Wallace); Harlan Mark Vale, drums (NAO); John Vallier, drums (Otalgia); Brendan Wallace, trumpet (Utterance Tongue); Lynette Westendorf, piano (DisBand); Joe Williamson, bass (Vancouver; Houle/Williamson/Wilson); Hyla Willis, violin/voice (Blowhole); Tony Wilson, guitar (Vancouver BC; Houle/Williamson/Wilson); James Wood, guitar (…Kagel…); James Yu, drums (Bügsküll); Dave Zigmund, drums (Random Abstract); Sanja Živković, voice (Vancouver; Roughage)
“I remember the event, I remember the Metal Men show (electric pickle and swinging speaker), I remember Blowhole and Roughage, and Bugskull and …Kagel… (which Jeffery played in for that show), but can’t remember our set. I guess I saved the good drugs for when we went on. But from the time period it is safe to say Otalgia was Climax Golden Twins before they were Climax Golden Twins – prepared guitars, found sounds and objects, and percussion. Jeffery Taylor, Robert Millis, John Vallier. Perhaps the show was booked before we had fully decided on CGT as our name. Interesting to see the variety of bands – including the more tribal (Utterance Tongue), loud and weird (Metal Men), rock improv (Blowhole, Roughage, etc.) – and the variety of venues…” (Robert Millis, email Dec. 28, 2020)
Listen to a sixty-minute recording of the New Art Orchestra performing live on Sonarchy Radio on KEXP-FM in conjunction with the festival, recorded by Doug Haire.
Review by Paul de Barros, Seattle Times, May 5, 1995:
Never Know What You’ll Get at Improvised Music Fest
There are only two rules at the Seattle Improvised Music Festival: Musicians have to make up everything on the spot – i.e., they have to improvise – and they can play only 20 minutes.
Everything else is open – instrumentation, genre, style, and material. On any given evening, the audience might hear shakuhachi players, cellists, saxophonists, or vocalists. The genre might be jazz, fringe rock, contemporary classical, or completely unclassifiable noise-making.
The quality? It can range from pure epiphany to stupefyingly dull. That’s the risk you take, with improv. And it’s usually worth it.
With 35 performances over two weekends (May 12-13 and 19-21), the festival has come into its own, reflecting the explosion on Seattle’s contemporary music scene. Organizers have reached out, by inviting musicians from Oregon, Montana, British Columbia and California; by collaborating with other organizations, such as Earshot Jazz, Jack Straw Productions, and The Rocket; and by spreading the events around town, at five different clubs, the Tractor Tavern, Moe, the OK Hotel, Jazz Alley, and the Oddfellows Hall.
“There’s a real renaissance of creative music in Seattle,” says festival organizing committee member Dennis Rae. “Seattle grew this subculture that was weaned on grunge music. These people have busted loose and have started investigating all kinds of offshoots.”
Free-jazz fans will be delighted to see award-winning Montana pianist Bob Nell on the Earshot night at Jazz Alley (May 21), along with Los Angeles reed improviser Vinny Golia, in his Northwest configuration with Mike Bisio, Rob Blakeslee and Jim Knodle.
Opening night at the Tractor features the Thing Some Q String Quintet, with creative music violinist extraordinaire Eyvind Kang, plus Brent Arnold, Christian Asplund, Tari Nelson-Zagar, and Matt Sperry. Trumpeter Lesli Dalaba teams up with cellist Lori Goldston (who recorded and toured with Nirvana), keyboardist Eric Ring, saxophonist Craig Flory and Kang on May 13, at the OK Hotel. Canadian reed improviser Francois Houle, whom Coda Magazine called “one of the most significant composers, band leaders, and clarinetists,” also will be on hand that night.
Up from San Francisco on May 19 is percussionist Gino Robair of the Splatter Trio, performing with Phil Gelb (shakuhachi) and bassist Matt Sperry. The improvised-music scene has tended to be small and ingrown, so it was a pleasure, says Rae, to “discover” a local group like Free Consultation (Stephen Cavit, Paul Chevy), which plays May 19.
An open Improvisers Session on May 19 honors festival founder and bass clarinetist Paul Hoskin, whose wild free improvisations at the Oddfellows Hall are fondly remembered.”