Ars Nova Workshop Reveals Fall 2023 Season Lineup

Learn more about the upcoming lineup of events here!

By: Sep. 05, 2023
Ars Nova Workshop Reveals Fall 2023 Season Lineup

 Ars Nova Workshop has announced its fall 2023 season, featuring more than two dozen acclaimed artists spanning the broad spectrum of exploratory and experimental music. Ars Nova Workshop (ANW) will celebrate its 23rd season - and its first anniversary in its first-ever permanent home, Solar Myth - with an unparalleled line-up that includes pioneering legends and rising stars; torchbearers of the avant-garde tradition and innovators discovering new sonic terrain; concerts honoring the storied past and performances charting the way into an unpredictable future.

“I’m excited about the ways that this new season continues and advances the mission that Ars Nova has championed for more than twenty years,” says ANW founder and Executive and Artistic Director Mark Christman. “As an organization we hope to connect listeners, to challenge listeners, and to elevate this work. With Solar Myth, we can also nurture a community and contribute to Philadelphia’s historic legacy of jazz, improvised music and wide-ranging experimentation.”
As ever, ANW’s fall 2023 season weaves together the varied strands of modern creative music: the calendar includes artists representing generations of members from Chicago’s influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM); carrying on the envelope-pushing experiments of New York’s Downtown scene; hybridizing the fringes of rock, noise, ambient and electronic music and free improvisation; and blurring the borders between traditions from around the globe. 
Philadelphia legends and institutions will be honored throughout the season. On November 4, the Nova Award will be presented to living legend saxophonist Odean Pope at ANW’s fourth annual fundraising event, featuring renowned Philly saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins. Special events include partnerships with Asian Arts Initiative, fellow presenting organization R5 Productions, and the Philly Music Fest. Solar Myth will also continue to serve as the home base for the iconic saxophonist and Sun Ra Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen as he approaches his 100th birthday, with special appearances throughout the season and performances showcasing the vitality of Afrofuturism on the modern jazz landscape. 
The season kicks off on Friday, September 8, with “Messages,” a suite for saxophone quartet and rhythm section by the Monk Competition-winning saxophonist/composer Patrick Zimmerli, featuring an all-star frontline of reeds players teaming Zimmerli with Chris Potter, Román Filiú O’Reilly and Ron Blake, backed by the powerhouse rhythm section of Edward Simon, Scott Colley and Timothy Angulo. Jazz and classical influences also converge on Sunday, October 8, as Susie Ibarra joins PRISM Quartet for an evening of compositions for drumset, percussion and saxophone quartet. 
On Sunday, September 10, Philly-born free jazz quintet Irreversible Entanglements (last seen sharing the Solar Myth stage for a transcendent set with Marshall Allen and Arkestra guitarist DM Hotep) celebrates the release of its new album and debut release for Impulse! Records, with an opening set by the duo of poet Ursula Rucker and guitarist Tim Motzer. Rucker was an early collaborator with The Roots, as was bassist, guimbri player and Philly native Joshua Abrams, who brings the “ecstatic minimalism” of his mesmerizing collective Natural Information Society back to town for a three-night residency featuring legendary Chicago saxophonist Ari Brown and other special guests. 
The thriving and uncategorizable Chicago scene will also be represented by drummer and DJ Daniel Villarreal (recently transplanted from the Windy City to Philadelphia) for a two-night residency, October 20-21; by pianist and early AACM member Adegoke Steve Colson, whose Universal Unity Trio appears on Friday, October 27; by the legendary post-rock band Tortoise, which ANW will co-present on Monday, November 6 at Union Transfer in partnership with R5 Productions; and by the Gabriel Meyer Creative Orchestra, performing the music of AACM icon Anthony Braxton on Saturday, December 9, in conjunction with Braxton’s own Tri-Centric Foundation.
Ars Nova Workshop came into existence in March 2000 with a concert featuring Chris Speed’s Yeah NO; on Monday, September 11, the saxophonist returns with his latest band, the Chris Speed Trio, featuring bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dave King, Speed’s bandmate in the latest incarnation of The Bad Plus. Speed was also a member of the seminal quartet Bloodcount, led by saxophonist/composer Tim Berne, who returns to Solar Myth on Thursday, November 2 with his new trio Oceans And, featuring accordionist/multi-instrumentalist Aurora Nealand and cellist Hank Roberts. Nealand’s appearance with Berne’s trio Sun of Goldfinger earlier this year was so mind-blowing that Berne quickly released it via his Screwgun Records Bandcamp page.
Saxophonist Idris Ackamoor celebrates the 50th anniversary of his pioneering Afrofuturist ensemble The Pyramids during a two-night residency September 15 and 16. Later that month tuba player Joseph Daley will commemorate the 100th anniversary of iconic saxophonist Sam Rivers’ birth with his Tuba Trio featuring Warren Smith and Scott Robinson on September 28. 
Adventurous drummer Dan Weiss leads his trio with pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Thomas Morgan on Monday, September 18, paying homage to loved ones and inspirations including Elvin Jones, Burt Bacharach, Conlon Nancarrow, and Andrei Tarkovsky. A week later, on September 25, the venue will be graced by another drummer-led ensemble, Ches Smith’s We All Break, which melds avant-jazz with Haitian Vodou traditions. The project’s second album, Path of Seven Colors, was named album of the year in 2021 by The Guardian. Chad Taylor, revered for his work with the Chicago Underground Duo and its offshoots and with the late jaimie branch’s Fly Or Die, will showcase his new trio with pianist Angelica Sanchez and guitarist Brandon Ross on a bill with the drone trio Setting, featuring members of Black Twig Pickers, Peeesseye and Megafaun.
Percussion traditions will also take the spotlight on December 1, as Brazilian percussion great Mauro Refosco (Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Byrne) will perform Free, the classic 1972 album by Brazilian icon Airto Moreira. On December 15, master percussionist Adam Rudolph conjures unique soundworlds with his hip-hop, electronica and Afro-jazz inspired project Hu Vibrational.

Bassist/bandleaders are also well represented this season: on Tuesday, September 19, bassist/conductor Nick Dunston leads his singular trio Spider Season with Kalia Vandever on trombone and DoYeon Kim on gayageum (Korean zither). International Anthem recording artist Dezron Douglas, whose collaborators range from Pharoah Sanders and Ravi Coltrane to Trey Anastasio to Makaya McCraven and Brandee Younger, brings his quintet (with Philly native George Burton on piano) on Friday, October 6. 

Flutist, saxophonist and composer Anna Webber has emerged as a composer of staggeringly diverse interests and inspirations. She brings her thrilling new quintet Shimmer Wince, whose name suggests the alternately evanescent and violently angular contours of its sound, to town on Monday, October 2. Violist Mat Maneri, one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation, arrives on Saturday, October 7 with his stellar quartet featuring pianist Lucian Ban, bassist Brandon Lopez and drummer Randy Peterson. After growing up with the influence of his father, microtonal composer and saxophone innovator Joe Maneri, Maneri has gone on to work with icons such as Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley, Paul Motian and William Parker, while forging his own distinctive marriage of jazz and microtonal music. 

On Tuesday, October 3, ANW and Asian Arts Initiative present the psychedelic drone family band TENGGER at the Pearl Street Viaduct. The  traveling musical family, made up of Pan-Asian couple itta and Marqido, create their brand of psychedelic New-Age drone magic through the use of harmonium, voice, and toy instruments and analogue synths, often joined by their son RAAI. Back at Solar Myth on December 11, the drones take on overwhelming proportions as sonic experimentalists François J. Bonnet (Kassel Jaeger) and Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O))), KTL, Khanate) converge.

The outer limits of rock, jazz, free improvisation and noise collide on several occasions this season. On October 12 and 13, ANW presents two performances by the alternately explosive and blissful improvisatory trio Glass Band featuring guitarists Steve Gunn and Bill Nace with drummer John Truscinski. Lansdowne native Gunn, acclaimed for both his contemporary guitar-driven material as well as his forward thinking songwriting, has released four transcendent albums as a duo with Truscinski, and paired with Body/Head, the duo of Nace and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, for a soundtrack to Andy Warhol’s Kiss. They came together as a trio for a rapturous outing on stage at Solar Myth in January prior to releasing their self-titled debut. 

Punk legend Mike Watt (Minutemen, Stooges, fireHOSE) teams with guitarist Mike Baggetta and drummer Stephen Hodges as mssv on Saturday, October 14, with guitarist Ava Mendoza opening. Philly guitarist Nick Millevoi adds electronica and hip-hop to his arsenal of jazz and rock influences with his new project, Digital Reaction, which celebrates its eclectic debut for Ropeadope on Saturday, October 28. 

Finally, as part of the 2023 Philly Music Fest, two of Philadelphia’s most genre-defiant artists will look back to 1973 and the 50th anniversary of two landmark albums that expanded the boundaries of jazz fusion for an already sold-out performance on Sunday, October 15. Drummer Charlie Hall of The War on Drugs will perform the music of Herbie Hancock’s psych-funk masterpiece Head Hunters with a band of Philly all-stars including bassist Anthony Tidd, while guitar wizard Chris Forsyth will delve into the spiritual jazz-rock alchemized by the meeting of Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra on Love Devotion Surrender, leading a band that includes Nick Millevoi, bassist Douglas McCombs, drummer Ryan Jewell and percussionist Mikel Patrick Avery. 

This dizzying line-up is sure to keep any inquisitive Philadelphia music fan busy for the remainder of 2023, and the new year promises to be equally exhilarating. The winter 2024 schedule promises performances by Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog; William Parker’s In Order To Survive; Peter Evans’ Being & Becoming; Nels Cline’s Consentrik Quartet; drummer/beat scientist Makaya McCraven; an all-star celebration of Sun Ra’s poetry; a pairing of South African performance art ensemble The Brother Moves On and trombonist/pianist/multi-instrumentalist Malcom Jiyane; and Baltimore avant-rock band Horse Lords, among many others.

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