SIMF #23 – 2008

The 23rd Seattle Improvised Music Festival took place over two weekends on February 8-10 and 15-17, 2008, presented by Seattle Improvised Music and Nonsequitur. Friday and Saturday evening concerts were held at Good Shepherd Center Chapel in Wallingford; Sunday concerts and workshops were held at Gallery 1412 on Capitol Hill. The festival was curated by Gust Burns. In addition to the evening concerts, there were workshops given by Gregory Reynolds on Feb. 9 and Wade Matthews on Feb. 16.

Participating artists:

Tetuzi Akiyama, electric guitar (Tokyo); Liz Allbee, trumpet (Oakland); Jeffrey Allport, percussion (Vancouver, BC); Gust Burns, piano; Greg Campbell, percussion; Mark Collins, contrabass; Lesli Dalaba, trumpet; Christopher DeLaurenti, homemades; Jean-Paul Jenkins, electronics (Portland); Jason Kahn, percussion/electronics (Switzerland); Wade Matthews, electronics/field recordings (Madrid); Gregory Reynolds, alto sax (NYC); Stéphane Rives, soprano sax (Paris); Jonathan Sielaff, bass clarinet (Portland); Greg Sinibaldi, woodwinds; Jozef van Wissem, lute (Brooklyn); Tyler Wilcox, soprano sax

Friday, February 8
Solo – Gregory Reynolds
Trio – Jeffrey Allport, JP Jenkins, Jozef van Wissem
Duo – Tetuzi Akiyama, Jozef van Wissem

Saturday, February 9
Workshop – Gregory Reynolds
Duo – Tetuzi Akiyama, Jeffrey Allport
Trio – Tetuzi Akiyama, Mark Collins, JP Jenkins
Solo – Jason Kahn

Sunday, February 10
Duo – Jeffrey Allport, Gregory Reynolds
Trio – JP Jenkins, Jason Kahn, Gregory Reynolds
Duo – Gust Burns, Jason Kahn

Friday, February 15
Duo – Liz Allbee, Christopher DeLaurenti
Trio – Liz Allbee, Wade Matthews, Greg Sinibaldi
Solo – Stéphane Rives

Saturday, February 16
Workshop – Wade Matthews
Duo – Gust Burns, Stéphane Rives
Trio – Liz Allbee, Jonathan Sielaff, Tyler Wilcox
Duo – Wade Matthews, Stéphane Rives

Sunday, February 17
Trio – Greg Campbell, Lesli Dalaba, Wade Matthews
Solo – Liz Allbee
Quartet – Christopher DeLaurenti, Wade Matthews, Stéphane Rives, Tyler Wilcox

Preview by Paul de Barros in Seattle Times, February 8, 2008:

Get your February fill of fantastic, fun festivals – Jazz etc.

There are two festivals coming up you should know about — the Seattle Improvised Music Festival and the Portland Jazz Festival.

Even though it doesn’t start until next weekend, if you’re interested in the Portland spree, get your tickets now. It’s a blockbuster that may well sell out.

The first weekend alone features both Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, two giants of the avant-garde; that’s a bit like having retrospectives of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline on the same exhibition.

Portland’s first three nights also include pianist Myra Melford’s Be Bread (with trumpeter Cuong Vu), the SF Jazz Collective (with Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas and Miguel Zenón), the Bad Plus, pianists Tord Gustavsen and Bill Charlap, the Classical Jazz Quartet (with Kenny Barron and Stefon Harris), the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, saxophonist Tim Berne and bassist Glenn Moore. And that’s just the first weekend.

The festival starts at noon Feb. 15 (with Coleman playing at 7:30 that night) and continues through Feb. 24. The bulk of the programming is on the weekends.

Radio station KPLU-FM is offering a train/hotel/ticket package both weekends.

Apart from its top-tier programming, PDX is just flat-out fun. Almost everything takes place within walking distance downtown.

Supported by the city and downtown hotels (to give a boost to usually flagging winter business), the festival showcases not only Portland’s excellent theaters and clubs, but gives patrons a chance to stroll the Pearl District, drop in on Powell’s Books or have a gourmet meal between shows.

There are also plenty of free and educational events, among them onstage interviews with Coleman, Taylor and Melford and a panel discussion on “The Shape of Jazz to Come.” (Full disclosure: I’m pleased to be a panelist and interviewer.)

Closer to home, the Seattle Improvised Music Festival, now in its 23rd year, starts tonight.

SIMF takes a look at — or rather, a listen to — music created in the moment, but also music created at the edges, approaching sound the way a postmodern visual artist might broach the material world.

The 2008 edition brings musicians from Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, France and, of course, the U.S. Concerts take place at 8 p.m. today-Sunday and Feb. 15-17 at the Chapel Performance Space and at Gallery 1412.

What would a piece sound like if it were really, really slow, with lots of space between the sounds — a sort of Butoh dance for the ears?

That’s part of the investigation between Japanese guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama and Dutch Renaissance lute player Jozef van Wissem on their album “Hymn For a Fallen Angel.”

If you like Morton Feldman, you’ll love these guys, who use microtones and overtones to gently create an often-humorous sense of anticipation in their sparse, call-and-answer narratives.

And at the other end of the spectrum: What if sound just didn’t stop, but became a sort of wavering, gradually shifting spatial entity as well as one existing through time? American synthesizer player and visual artist Jason Kahn, now based in Zurich, explores that and other notions on his album “Fields.”

Akiyama and Kahn both play this weekend, with each other and with other artists.

The entire SIMF roster includes festival artistic director Gust Burns (piano), Gregory Reynolds (alto saxophone), Jean Paul Jenkins (guitar), Jeffrey Allport (percussion), Mark Collins (bass), Chris DeLaurenti (phonographs, electronics), Liz Allbee (trumpet, electronics), Wade Matthews (woodwinds, synthesizers), Greg Sinibaldi (reeds), Stéphane Rives (saxophone), Jonathan Sielaff (clarinet, banjo), Greg Campbell (drums), Tyler Wilcox (reeds, electronics) and Lesli Dalaba (trumpet).