Asphalt Orchestra Joins the Pixies at Capitol Theatre
Bang on a Can's exhilarating marching band Asphalt Orchestra has been invited to join the Pixies on their 2014 winter tour, bringing selections from the radical performance Asphalt Orchestra Plays the Pixies: Surfer Rosa (honoring the groundbreaking album's 25th anniversary) to The Capitol Theatre (149 Westchester Avenue, Port Chester, NY) on January 19 and New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC, 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ) on January 21. Asphalt Orchestra's flash sets will open for the Pixies at 7:20pm and 8:50pm both nights, in and throughout the theaters.
Praised as "inventive, idiomatic arrangements" (The New York Times), Asphalt's Surfer Rosa discovers a new direction for exhilarating acoustic music by paying tribute to a modern monument. Taking the originals both literally and inspirationally, Asphalt Orchestra's rendition transforms screaming electric guitars into brass exhortations, searing vocals into a chorus of saxophones, and a lone piccolo takes on shrieking feedback while a 3-piece percussion section thrashes and grooves.
The Pixies released Surfer Rosa - the band's first full-length record - in 1988. A cult hit then, the album's influence has grown to mammoth proportions over the years; it is now considered one of the most important recordings of its time. Name-checked by Kurt Cobain, Billy Corgan, and PJ Harvey as a major influence, Surfer Rosa still sounds current today. With production by Steve Albini (who later produced In Utero and a host of other classic records), Surfer Rosa is raw, dirty, and utterly captivating.
Asphalt Orchestra's shows are driven by its virtuosic and uniquely physical music performance. Making innovative use of the stage, hall, or surrounding landscape not chained to instruments and equipment that normally limit musicians' mobility, the band's choreographed performances knows few boundaries. Along the way, Asphalt Orchestra explores and reveals a new form altogether - a mobile-musical-dramatic ensemble, bringing their unstoppable sound and exceptional talent to the stage.
Asphalt Orchestra tackles Surfer Rosa fresh from collaborations with David Byrne and St. Vincent, Yoko Ono and Goran Bregovic, and from covering Björk, Zappa, Mingus and Meshuggah. Since its debut, stretching 10 packed nights at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in New York over the summers of 2009 and 2010, Asphalt Orchestra has performed across the US and Canada, at London's Barbican Centre, the TED Women conference in Washington DC, New York's Alice Tully Hall and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more. Created by the founders of the "relentlessly inventive" new music presenter Bang on a Can (New York Magazine), Asphalt Orchestra brings together some of the most exciting rock, jazz and classical players in New York City who The New York Times called "12 top-notch brass and percussion players."
Asphalt Orchestra is:
JESSICA SCHMITZ, piccolo
Described as an "intrepid entrepreneurial player" by New York Magazine and "graceful and athletic" by The New York Times, Jessica Schmitz has collaborated internationally across a wide spectrum of musical arts as a flutist, curator, and producer. Jessica has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player with groups including Bang on a Can, Alarm Will Sound, Signal Ensemble, So Percussion, Ne(x)tworks, Sequitur, American Modern Ensemble, and Gamelan Dharma Swara. She has worked with composers such as Steve Reich, Yoko Ono, Meredith Monk, Tyondai Braxton, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Goran Bregovic, Helmut Lachenmann, and Steve Mackey, among many others, and has commissioned dozens of new works premiered throughout the US and abroad. As an active curator and producer, Jessica has partnered with organizations including Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can, Warsaw Autumn, Wordless Music, MATA, Juilliard, and Unsound Festival. www.jessicaschmitz.com
JAS WALTON, soprano saxophone
Jas Walton is a Brooklyn-based saxophonist, woodwind artist, arranger, and composer. He performs with a broad range of musical groups in many different genres and styles, including jazz, afrobeat, pop, classical, traditional rhythm & blues, rock, and modern/improvisational jazz. In 2013, he joined Antibalas, New York's premier Afrobeat ensemble, with whom he performed across Australia and New Zealand. His other major projects include EMEFE, a New York-based Afrobeat band led by Antibalas drummer Miles Arntzen, and Father Figures, a five-piece jazz, rock, and improvisational collective. For EMEFE, which has been described in All About Jazz as having a "fresh, inventive take" on Afrobeat, he is also a composer and the primary horn arranger. With Father Figures, he has played at the Kennedy Center for the Arts, and will be featured on an upcoming "Tiny Desk Concert" on NPR. He performs regularly with Josh Garrels, Mokaad, and Red Baraat, and has performed with Jean-Michel Pilc, Alan Ferber, and Superhuman Happiness. He is also an associate with Mason Jar Music, a creative collective of musicians and filmmakers.
KEN THOMSON, alto saxophone
Ken Thomson is a Brooklyn-based clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer. In demand as a composer and freelancer in many settings, he moves quickly between genres and scenes, bringing a fiery intensity and emotional commitment to every musical situation. Called "the hardest-working saxophonist in new-music show business" by Time Out NY, he co-leads the Asphalt Orchestra. His oldest running co-led project, Gutbucket, has toured to 19 countries and 32 States over 13 years. Slow/Fast, his quintet dedicated to his compositions and the cracks between contemporary classical music and jazz, has just recorded a second CD; its first (2010) garnered a long-form review in The New York Times highlighting the "intricately wrought and incident-steeped" compositions and "gutsy precision of the playing." He is a faculty member at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, and performs and records with the heralded modern chamber orchestra Ensemble Signal. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, and others, and has received awards from ASCAP and Meet the Composer. He is a Conn-Selmer Artist, and endorses Sibelius software. He is currently working on a second Slow/Fast CD; a CD of string quartets with JACK Quartet will be released this year on Cantaloupe Music. www.ktonline.net
PETER HESS, tenor saxophone
Peter Hess has lived in Brooklyn since 1997 as a composer and performer (clarinets, saxophones, flutes and percussion). He is a member of Balkan Beat Box (Crammed Disk), Barbez (Tzadik Records), Slavic Soul Party, World/Inferno Friendship Society, and has toured extensively in the US, Europe, Mexico, Japan, and South America. Leader of avant-balkan quartet Guignol, Peter also co-leads Collide saxophone quartet and is a founding member/composer of Anti-Social Music. He has also appeared with Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Darmstadt Ensemble, and James Jabbo Ware (AACM). Peter is an active session player and arranger for numerous indie rock bands including TV on the Radio, the Hold Steady, Son Volt, the Virgins, Songs:Ohia, Hem, and many others, appearing on over 80 records and film scores. His arrangements for woodwinds and strings can be heard on Bored to Death (HBO) and Make 'em Laugh (PBS). He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (96). http://peterhessmusic.tumblr.com
BEN HOLMES, trumpet
When not playing with Asphalt Orchestra, trumpeter Ben Holmes leads the Ben Holmes Quartet, which plays new jazz music inspired by his study of music from many different times, places and people. He also co-leads Tarras Band (a klezmer group in the classic mid-20th century American style, dedicated to the repertoire of the great Yiddish-American clarinetist Dave Tarras), and a folk/classical/pop/improv duo with the accordionist Patrick Farrell. As a side person, he has amassed considerable experience in the contemporary Jazz and World Music scenes, having recorded and/or performed with Slavic Soul Party!, Justin Mullens' Delphian Jazz Orchestra, Banda de los Muertos, Brooklyn Qawaali Party, the Frank Carlberg/Nicholas Urie City Band, One Ring Zero, Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beat Box, Vampire Weekend and many others. www.ben-holmes.com
STEPHANIE RICHARDS, trumpet
An emerging voice to the world of new and improvised music, trumpeter and composer Stephanie Richards is an innovative musician residing in the space between music and performance art. Originally from Canada, Stephanie's theatrical tendencies often result in compositional collaborations of sight and movement, as reflected in her most recent work premiering music for twelve choreographed musicians and carousel. Stephanie has worked with a diverse mixture of artists ranging from improvisational pioneers Henry Threadgill and Butch Morris to composer Helmut Lachenmann and performance artist Mike Kelly. She has also enjoyed performing with Kanye West and Common and comedian Denis Leary. Championing new music, Stephanie has premiered works across North America and the UK and held residencies at Stanford University and the University of San Diego. She is a recipient of the International Trumpet Guild Young Artist Award and holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, McGill University and the California Institute of the Arts. She is Director of the Berkeley-Carroll program at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and acts on the curatorial executive committee with Dave Douglas' Festival of New Trumpet (FONT). www.stephrichards.com
TIM VAUGHN, trombone
A nine-year veteran of the New York scene, Tim Vaughn has performed and recorded with various ensembles encompassing a broad range of musical styles including Balkan, Afro-Cuban, Latin-American, pop, rock, avant-garde and straight-ahead jazz at venues including Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the main stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival. In 2009, Tim received a master's degree in jazz from the Manhattan School of Music. He is now a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music's pre-college division, and also teaches through the New York Pops orchestra's musical outreach program, conducting master classes at various schools in the region. Tim is currently a member of Slavic Soul Party, Gato Loco, Sugartone Brass Band, and Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra, and has performed with Bobby Sanabria's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Asphalt Orchestra, Folklore Urbano, and various big bands in the city. Tim's freelance career has continued to propel his technique and approach through immersion in various styles of world music and improvisation.
JEN BAKER, trombone
Jen Baker is a NYC-based trombonist who champions new music, often featuring multimedia aspects. As a soloist, she has appeared at festivals around the world as both a performer and masterclass teacher. Jen has premiered numerous solo and chamber works, including her self-composed First Nation's Ley, Concerto for Multiphonic Trombone in San Francisco. As a founding member of Bang on a Can's Asphalt Orchestra and the musical theatre work, Beowulf, she has toured internationally and nationwide. She has also performed with TILT brass, S.E.M Ensemble, SFSound, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and has worked with a variety of artists including Yoko Ono, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, Susan Marshall, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She is featured on the soundtrack to Werner Herzog's Oscar-nominated Encounters at the End of the World, and can also be heard on Blue Dreams, an album of her own solo multiphonic compositions. www.baker7jenz.com
KENNETH BENTLEY, sousaphone
Kenneth Bentley was born in Austin, Texas in 1976. Raised in Round Rock, Texas, Kenneth studied with Steve Bryant at The University of Texas at Austin and graduated in the spring of 1999 with a Bachelor's degree in Orchestral Performance. During his summers at UT Austin, he worked for the Walt Disney Company at the theme parks in California, Paris and Tokyo. In the fall of 1999, Kenneth moved from Texas to New York City to study at the Manhattan School of Music with Toby Hanks. In May of 2001, Kenneth completed his degree program and received a Master's degree in Classical Music from MSM. Kenneth is a founding member of the Sugartone Brass Band based in New York City. He played on Sugartone's first album Live in Brooklyn (2008) and performed and produced the band's second album Fourth Man Down (2012). Kenneth joined the YoungBlood Brass Band in 2004, touring America and Europe from 2004-2007 and 2009. As a member of YoungBlood, he recorded on two of the band's albums: Live. Places. (2005) and Is that a Riot? (2006). Currently, Kenneth freelances in New York City and serves as music director at the Trinity Baptist Church in the Bronx, NY. Kenneth also performs with Howard Fishman and the Biting Fish Brass Band, the Gothic Brass Quintet (formally of St. John the Divine Cathedral in Manhattan) and plays sousaphone for the Asphalt Orchestra.
SUNNY JAIN, snare drum
Voted as a rising star percussionist in the 2012 and 2011 Downbeat magazine critics poll, Sunny Jain is a drummer, dhol player and composer. He is recognized as a lead voice in the burgeoning movement of South Asian-American jazz musicians and founded the Brooklyn Bhangra party band, Red Baraat. Jain also drums and dhol for Junoon, the biggest rock band to emerge from South Asia. Jain has also performed/recorded with Rez Abbasi, Kiran Ahluwalia, Salman Ahmad, Joey Baron, Kenny Barron, Marc Cary, Samir Chatterjee, DJ Rekha, Kyle Eastwood, Peter Gabriel, Grupo Fantasma, Norah Jones, Andres Levin, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Marching Fourth Band, Q-Tip, Soul Rebels, Martha Wainwright, Kenny Wollesen, and many others. Jain has been a recipient of composition and performance grants from the Aaron Copland Music Fund, Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, globalFEST and received the Arts International Award in both 2005 and 2003 to enable touring India with his jazz group, Sunny Jain Collective. In 2002, Jain was designated a Jazz Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State and The Kennedy Center, for which he toured West Africa. Jain is the author of 2 instructional drum books for Alfred Publishing (The Total Jazz Drummer and Drum Atlas: India). www.sunnyjain.com
NICK JENKINS, bass drum
Born in Charleston, SC, Nick Jenkins is a percussionist and composer with an extensive musical presence along the East Coast. A graduate of the College of Charleston, Nick plays an integral role in driving the pulse of the Charleston music scene, co-founding, recording and touring genre-blending bands such as Morimoto, Run Dan Run, Leah Suarez's Toca Toca, Lindsay Holler's Western Polaroids, Short Shorts, and Jack of Knives, among others. Nick is a recent recipient of the New Music Collective's "New Works Program" Commission Award (Summer 2009). He also volunteers with Charleston's Jazz Artists of Charleston. Reaching outside of SC, Mr. Jenkins took his first international tour with Toca Toca playing alongside former Duke Ellington drummer, Emmanuel Abdul Rahim. http://paperjenkins-bands.blogspot.com
YURI YAMASHITA, percussion
Percussionist Yuri Yamashita has worked across a wide variety of musical and artistic forms in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. In 2011, Yuri appeared as a soloist to play percussion concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony under the baton of Edo de Waart. Most recently, she was thrilled to perform with the British iconic band Duran Duran for Trident's See What Unfolds Live in New York City. Yuri has been working closely with the composer Tan Dun performing with the orchestras throughout the world such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Munich Philharmonic, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Santa Fe Opera, Teatro Carlo Felice, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Yuri has played with many new music groups including Asphalt Orchestra, Wordless Music Orchestra, VisionIntoArt, Newspeak, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, collaborating with numerous composers. On Broadway, Yuri frequently appears playing the balcony percussion part at The Lion King. Other Broadway credits include Mamma Mia!, Sister Act, and Spamalot. In addition to playing percussion, Yuri has a passion for singing Brazilian music: as a singer-percussionist, she enjoys performing combining the beauty of its language and the richness of Brazilian rhythms. A native of Kobe, Japan, Yuri graduated from The Juilliard School, Mannes College of Music, and Kobe College.
About Bang on a Can:
Bang on a Can is dedicated to making music new. Since its first Marathon concert in 1987, Bang on a Can has been creating an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. With adventurous programs, it commissions new composers, performs, presents, and records new work, develops new audiences, and educates the musicians of the future. Bang on a Can is building a world in which powerful new musical ideas flow freely across all genres and borders. Bang on a Can plays "a central role in fostering a new kind of audience that doesn't concern itself with boundaries. If music is made with originality and integrity, these listeners will come" (The New York Times).
Bang on a Can celebrated 25 years during the 2011-2012 season, having grown from a one-day New York-based Marathon concert (on Mother's Day in 1987 in a SoHo art gallery) to a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. "When we started Bang on a Can in 1987, in an art gallery in SoHo, we never imagined that our one-day, 12-hour marathon festival of mostly unknown music would morph into a giant international organization dedicated to the support of experimental music, wherever we would find it," write Bang on a Can Co-Founders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. "But it has, and we are so gratified to be still hard at work, all these years later. The reason is really clear to us - we started this organization because we believed that making new music is a utopian act-that people needed to hear this music and they needed to hear it presented in the most persuasive way, with the best players, with the best programs, for the best listeners, in the best context. Our commitment to changing the environment for this music has kept us busy and growing for the last 25 years, and we are not done yet."
Current projects include the annual Bang on a Can Marathon; The People's Commissioning Fund, a membership program to commission emerging composers; the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who tour to major festivals and concert venues around the world every year; recording projects; the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival - a professional development program for young composers and performers led by today's pioneers of experimental music; Asphalt Orchestra, Bang on a Can's extreme street band that offers mobile performances re-contextualizing unusual music; Found Sound Nation, a new technology-based musical outreach program now partnering with the State Department of the United States of America to create OneBeat, a revolutionary, post-political residency program that uses music to bridge the gulf between young American musicians and young musicians from developing countries; cross-disciplinary collaborations and projects with DJs, visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers and more. Each new program has evolved to answer specific challenges faced by today's musicians, composers and audiences, in order to make innovative music widely accessible and wildly received. Bang on a Can's inventive and aggressive approach to programming and presentation has created a large and vibrant international audience made up of people of all ages who are rediscovering the value of contemporary music.