11.14.11 Empty Cage Quartet @ BlueWhale

Angel City Arts + Blue Whale present
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90012  |  213.620.0908 

JASON MEARS saxophones / clarinet
KRIS TINER trumpets / flugelhorn
IVAN JOHNSON contrabass
PAUL KIKUCHI percussions / drums

“One of the best things in Jazz to emerge in the new millennium” – Brian Marley, The Wire

“One of the most powerful and appealing jazz units currently active” – All About Jazz

“The Empty Cage Quartet embodies some of the West Coast’s finest acoustic improvisation. Transcending their influences, these four rise to the challenge of carving out their own space and sound.” – Cadence Magazine

“This music is a sinuous dance, but one where every move, every exit and entry, every bob and weave, is made with razor-sharp precision…the Empty Cage Quartet finds a new way forward for the modern-day free jazz quartet.” – SIgnal to Noise Magazine

The Empty Cage Quartet has been consistently praised by critics as one of the most interesting and original new jazz groups to emerge from the American West Coast. For nearly a decade the group has explored new ways to integrate a diverse mix of musical influences ranging from shuffle swing to free jazz blowouts, minimalist percussion loops to complex modernist gestures, funky stomps, odd-meter marches, robotic grooves, heavy rock, and nearly everything in between. Their seventh CD Gravity is out now on the Clean Feed label.

JASON MEARS, from Alaska, is a saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, improviser, and educator who is currently living in New York City. He holds a BFA in Music Education from Boston University and a MFA in African-American Improvisational Music from California Institute of the Arts, and has studied with Wadada Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, Harvey Pittel, Paul Novros, Donald Sinta, John Sampen, and Vinny Golia. Jason’s most recent projects include the Empty Cage Quartet (MTKJ), Harris Eisenstadt’s The Soul and Gone, Vinny Golia’s Music for Like Instruments (the Eb saxophones), The Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet, and the Kreative Orchestra of Los Angeles (KOLA) – an 11-piece ensemble he initiated along with drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt which “functions as a mobile laboratory for some of L.A.’s musical masterminds to publicly swap experimental compositions and performances” (Rex Butters, All About Jazz Los Angeles). Jason has made frequent interdisciplinary collaborations with filmmaker Allen Glass and dancer Miyuki Kobayashi, and has performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Frank Gratkowski, Phillip Greenlief, Jack Wright, Leroy Jenkins, Mark Trayle, Michael Vlatkovich, Jeb Bishop, Jason Roebke, Jeff Parker, Steuart Liebig, Harris Eisenstadt, and Damon Smith. He has recorded on the Clean Feed, Nine Winds, 482, and pfMENTUM labels.

KRIS TINER  is a trumpet player, composer, and improviser whose music has been described as “extraordinarily inventive” by Signal to Noise Magazine. He has performed at concert venues and festivals throughout North America and in Europe and West Africa. He appears on over 40 recordings, and his own projects have been released on the Clean Feed, pfMENTUM, Nine Winds, and Evander Music labels. In addition to numerous interdisciplinary collaborations involving dance, poetry and spoken word, visual art, film, and animation he has recorded music for radio, television, and motion picture scores and his trumpet playing has been heard on MTV, NBC, Comedy Central, and NPR. Kris is a regular member of the Industrial Jazz Group and the Los Angeles Trumpet Quartet, and he has performed and/or recorded with a broad range of creative musicians including Vinny Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, Donald Robinson, Leroy Jenkins, Gerry Hemingway, Nels Cline, Taylor Ho Bynum, Ken Filiano, Kraig Grady, Jeff Kaiser, G.E. Stinson, Steuart Liebig, Mary Oliver, Pete Christlieb, Michael Vlatkovich, Alicia Mangan, Joe LaBarbera, Harris Eisenstadt, Lukas Ligeti, Mike Baggetta, Sara Schoenbeck, and Brad Dutz. A California native, Kris holds an MFA in African-American Improvisational Music from California Institute of the Arts. He has lectured on both music and visual art, and currently teaches courses in jazz and American popular music at Bakersfield College, and is an adjunct faculty member in the music department at CSU Bakersfield.

PAUL KIKUCHI is a percussionist, composer, and instrument maker living in Seattle, WA. He holds degrees in music from Bennington College and California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with Milford Graves, Wadada Leo Smith, Swapan Chaudhuri, and Vinny Golia among others. Paul is a member of the Empty Cage Quartet, Open Graves, Tide Tables, the Toy Boats, and Orkestar Zirkonium. He leads Paul Kikuchi’s Portable Sanctuary, an ensemble that features his compositions and his sculptural percussion instruments. Aside from his primary projects, he also collaborates with many musicians, including Stuart Dempster, Byron Au Yong, Gust Burns, Bill Horist and Wally Shoup. Kikuchi has performed throughout North America and Europe at festivals such as the Pepsi Sziget Festival (Budapest, HU) Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Festival for People and Thingamajigs (SF, CA) and the Earshot Jazz Festival (Seattle, WA). His playing can be heard on a variety of record labels including Clean Feed, Tomlab, Nine Winds, Rude Awakening Presente, and pfMentum. Paul is the founder and artistic director of Prefecture Records, a small label specializing in experimental percussion-based music. In recent years Kikuchi has received artistic support and funding from Seattle’s Artist Trust, Chamber Music America, the American Composers Forum, the Jack Straw Foundation, and the Montalvo Center for the Arts. Paul is also a Feldenkrais Practitioner®.  While he works with all kinds of people to reduce pain and move more easily, his special interest is in working with artists and musicians. He is currently audio faculty at the Art Institute of Seattle.

IVAN JOHNSON from Los Angeles, completed his BFA degree at California Institute of the Arts in 2003, where he studied chamber music, jazz, composition, theory and arranging. He has studied contrabass with Charlie Haden, Darek Oles, and Peter Rofe; arranging and composition with Michael Pisaro, Marc Lowenstein and Mark Menzies; and Baroque music with Allen Vogel and Tisha Goldstein. Ivan has performed all over the United States with an eclectic group of ensembles, and made his solo debut at the 2003 Athens Music Festival in Athens, Georgia. As a musician on the progressive music scene he has premiered compositions by Marc Lowenstein, Vinny Golia, Mark Menzies, Anne LeBaron, Michael Pisaro, James Tenney, Kris Tiner, and Jason Mears. Mr. Johnson’s current projects include the Lian Ensemble – a classical Persian group which streches the boundaries of traditional Iranian music, Dark Wing plays a unique blend of world music using free improvisations and original composition for marimba, string bass, tar, setar, ney and a variety of percussion instruments, and the Nate Lapointe Band – a rootsy eclectic songwriting and improvising group. Ivan is head of the jazz program at Oakwood High School in Los Angeles, and he co-founded the Academy of Creative Music. Recently Mr. Johnson was the Assistant Music Director for the world premiere of the critically acclaimed opera “The Peach Blossom Fan,” working closely with Stephin Merritt from the Magnetic fields, and has been an Artist In Residence at Stanford University, performing music by Brian Ferneyhough, and Mark Applebaum. Mr. Johnson recently premiered his own opera “Lucid Dreams” with composer Ethan Gruska.

Empty Cage Quartet website

BlueWhale website


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