Fall 2011

The summer's coming to an end, which means Ars Nova Workshop—Philadelphia's leading presenter of jazz and experimental music—is back. We concluded our 11th season back in June with the five-concert Great Black Music Festival celebrating the work of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) with performances by Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, and Wadada Leo Smith, and we're ready to charge into season 12 with six nights of live music by seven bands over the remaining months of 2011. It all begins this week with two stellar concerts at Philadelphia Art Alliance. 

On Wednesday, September 14, renowned bassist Mark Dresser and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu perform new pieces from their latest Pi Recordings release, Synastry. Then, on Friday, September 16, the Angelica Sanchez Quintet, featuring a rare stateside appearance by French guitarist Marc Ducret, present new compositions from their sophomore release, which is coming soon on the venerable Clean Feed label. Tickets are available now on the individual event pages, so be sure to pick yours up today.

Below you'll find a summary of Ars Nova Workshop's 2011 concert schedule. For further information, and to purchase tickets, please refer to the event pages. We hope to see you Wednesday and Thursday night, and many times over the next few months!

Wednesday, September 14, 8pm

Jen Shyu, voice; Mark Dresser, bass
Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street, $10
Virtuosic bassist Mark Dresser's worked with AACM founders Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill and Downtown innovators John Zorn and Tim Berne. His latest project's with polylingual vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu, who cut her teeth in the jazz scene working with Steve Coleman's Five Elements. Synastry, their Pi Recordings debut, explores new improvisatory zones for bass and voice.

Friday, September 16, 8pm

Angelica Sanchez, piano; Tony Malaby, saxophone; Marc Ducret, guitar; Drew Gress, bass; Tom Rainey, drums
Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street, $15
Each member of this all-star quintet—which includes French guitarist Marc Ducret—has a history with Tim Berne and it shows in the group dialogue: mathematical precision, evolving melodies, sharp harmonic exchanges. But as The New York Times's Nate Chinen wrote, what sets leader Angelica Sanchez apart is her “more harmonious brand of abstraction.” This is evident on their spectacular debut Life Between and you'll hear it tonight when they perform new pieces from their upcoming Clean Feed album.

Tuesday, September 27, 8pm

Artur Majewski, trumpet/electronics; Kuba Suchar, drums/electronics
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Free Admission
The Philadelphia debut of this Polish duo's presented in collaboration with New York City's Polish Cultural Institute. Majewski and Suchar formed Mikrokolektyw in 2004 aiming to map fresh territories between and beyond jazz and electronic musics, and released their debut on the venerable Delmark label last year. With hints of Don Cherry, Miles Davis, Tortoise, and ECM's glacial breeze, their sonic architecture's supported by pondering spaces, propulsive beats, digital elation and glitch, and ebullient, perpetually expanding melodies.

Thursday, October 20, 8pm

Joshua Abrams, bass/guimbri; Chad Taylor, drums
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Free Admission
The New York Times's Ben Ratliff called Natural Information Society's Eremite debut “one of the rough gems of the post-everything musical era.” Abrams, a Philadelphia native who's worked with The Roots, has been a heavy-hitter on the Chicago scene for 15+ years playing with Roscoe Mitchell, Bill Dixon, and indie artists like Bonnie “Prince” Billy and The Sea & Cake's Sam Prekop. Tonight he joins his partner from Matana Roberts's Sticks & Stones trio, Chad Taylor, who's drummed with Marc Ribot, Ken Vandermark, and Pharoah Sanders.

Thursday, November 17, 8pm

Marc Ribot, guitar; Shahzad Ismally, bass + electronics; Ches Smith, drums
Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Avene, $15
Ceramic Dog's a hard-hitting, indefinable band combining the energies of three masters of downtown New York City mayhem: guitarist-vocalist Marc Ribot (who's collaborated with Tom Waits, John Zorn, the Lounge Lizards, and Elvis Costello), bassist Shahzad Ismaily (an accomplice of Laurie Anderson, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and Secret Chiefs 3), and former West Coast experimental genius drummer Ches Smith (seen often with Xiu Xiu, Secret Chiefs 3, and Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant). The name comes from the French expression “chien de faïence,” meaning frozen with emotion—like bristling dogs the moment before they fight, or lovers immobilized in one another’s gaze. In the live moment, the band aims at that intensity, creating hypnotic moments of ecstasy, violence, idiocy, beauty; in other words – pure Rock and Roll.

Saturday, November 19, 8pm

Chris Speed, saxophone; Ted Reichman, accordion; Matt Moran, vibraphone; Drew Gress, bass; John Hollenbeck, drums; Matt Mitchell, piano; Theo Bleckman, voice
Aram Shelton, saxophone/clarinet; Josh Berman, cornet; Jason Adasiewicz, vibraphone; Jason Roebke, bass; Frank Rosaly, drums
Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street, $15
Tonight the 14-year-old Claudia Quintet celebrate the release of their sixth album, What Is The Beautiful? The Cuneiform LP features the poetry of experimental, proto-beat writer Kenneth Patchen recited and sung by Theo Bleckmann who, along with Philadelphia pianist Matt Mitchell, joins the Hollenbeck-led outfit to form a massive septet. Working in Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra and Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz has been a fixture of the Chicago scene for years, and tonight he brings his head-banging Rolldown quintet to town.