SIMF #21 – 2006

The 21st Seattle Improvised Music Festival took place on February 8-12, 2006 at Gallery 1412. It was curated by Gust Burns, Angelina Baldoz, and Bob Gallup. Set lists for specific dates are not currently available.

Participating artists:

Angelina Baldoz, trumpet; Mike Bullock, bass/electronics (Boston); Gust Burns, piano; JP Carter, trumpet/electronics (Vancouver, BC); Jessica Catron, cello (Los Angeles; Tights Band); Adam Diller, clarinet; Doublends Vert (Diller, Lewandowski, Swafford); Phillip Greenlief, reeds (Bay Area); Dave Hirvonen, guitar/electronics (Portland); Dave Kendall, laptop (Los Angeles; Tights Band); Andrew Lafkas, bass (NYC); Annie Lewandowski, accordion; Manuel Mota, electric guitar (Lisbon); Vic Rawlings, cello/electronics (Boston); Ernesto Rodrigues, violin (Lisbon); David Rothbaum, electronics (Los Angeles; Tights Band); Jonathan Seilaff, clarinets/electronics (Portland); Leif Sundstrom, electronics/turntable (Portland); Tom Swafford, violin/viola; TIGHTS BAND (Los Angeles: Catron, Kendall, Rothbaum); Theresa Wong, cello (Bay Area)

The Burns/Hirvonen/Rawlings/Rodrigues set on Feb. 8 was released on a CD on the Creative Sources label in Lisbon. Two other sets featuring Ernesto Rodrigues are also available for streaming on BandCamp:

(27:29) Vic Rawlings, cello/electronics / Ernesto Rodrigues, viola / Jonathan Sielaff, bass clarinet / Leif Sundstrom, electronics

(30:08) Gust Burns, piano / Manuel Mota, electric guitar /Ernesto Rodrigues, viola / Jonathan Sielaff, bass clarinet

Preview by Paul de Barros in Seattle Times, February 10, 2006:

Improv Music Festival ends Sunday – Jazz etc.

Ever so slowly, Chris Cogburn ceremonially scraped the edge of a cymbal across the head of his snare drum, creating a resonant, otherworldly roar.

Gust Burns pulled his fists, hand over hand, down a swizzle stick inserted vertically between the strings of his piano, creating a sound like the one a crystal glass makes when you rub a wet finger around the rim.

Jonathan Sielaff blew his clarinet into a drum, creating an echo chamber for the low pitch.

That was the scene a couple of weeks ago at Gallery 1412, where the free-improvising Burns/Cogburn/Sielaff trio gave a sort of preview of the 21st edition of the Seattle Improvised Music Festival.

The internationally respected festival kicked off Wednesday with three trio performances and continues through Sunday, with a total of 19 performances over five days. All performances are at Gallery 1412, at 1412 18th Ave., Seattle.

Festival organizers Burns and trumpeter Angelina Baldoz have reached out to several U.S. cities, as well as Vancouver, B.C., and Lisbon, Portugal, to ensembles that play together regularly, as opposed to the sometimes mix-‘n’-match approach of years past.

The 2006 festival bands share an interest in “post-minimalism,” a search for what comes after the quiet (often pretty) music that explores the texture and quality of sound itself, a trend that has swept many free-improv communities.

Of particular interest are Ernesto Rodrigues (viola) and Manuel Mota (electric guitar), from Lisbon, whose music is said to reference everything from post-serialism to Delta blues.

Burns, 27, is from Tacoma, and has a versatile background that takes in jazz, contemporary classical music and hip-hop.

Free-improv can be abstract and demanding, so an audience of 15 to 20 is considered just fine at the gallery, though festival shows — a nice way to get an introduction to this music — often draw 50-100 listeners.

Sometimes it helps to hear the musicians themselves talk about how the music is made.

“When I lived in Oakland,” said Cogburn, originally from Springfield, Ore., sitting in the
gallery one afternoon with Burns and Sielaff, “I lived with Marshall Trammell, the free-jazz
drummer. When I first heard him, I thought he didn’t know what he was doing. After a few
months, I remember walking to work, and he was playing and I heard a phrase that I recognized,
in the middle of all this tumultuous sound and I went, like, ‘Oh, that’s a pattern that he plays, that
has its own logic and its own sense of time and its own integrity. That’s the first time I ‘heard’ ‘out’
music. After that, I couldn’t do anything else.”

Seattle Improvised Music, which presents the festival, has finally received official nonprofit status, so it can now solicit grants and tax-deductible donations. The change comes just in time. This is the last year the festival will enjoy the support of a generous private donor.

Seattle Improvised Music is a separate entity from Gallery 1412, an artists’ cooperative.

Coming up at 8 o’clock tonight is a duo with Portland guitarist David Hirvonen and Sielaff, followed by a Burns solo set and the Tights Band, from Los Angeles, featuring Jessica Catron (cello), David Rothbaum (laptop) and David Kendall (analog synthesizer).

At noon Saturday, Boston cellist Vic Rawlings offers a free workshop, followed by performances all day Saturday and Sunday.