Michael Mull Octet

Michael Mull Octet

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Benefit Event for Japan at Peace Yoga

Friends, the media rolls onward to cover the latest news, but we mustn't forget the terrible happenings that began with an earthquake in Japan on March 11th this year. I am pleased to invite you all to a wonderful event a week from today to take place at Peace Yoga in downtown Los Angeles. My wife Ami Mull has been working tirelessly for the past few months organizing, recruiting, scheduling, and rehearsing for this event, and she has lined up three bands, a short dance show, and an enticing stack of raffle prizes for those who attend. The best thing: ALL proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross --- all entertainment and prizes (plus use of the venue) were donated, allowing admission/raffle ticket money to go to Japan %100! With a big event like this one, this is a rare claim; come support our neighbors across the Pacific and have a blast doing it.

I'll be performing a set with my quartet, featuring Juanma Trujillo, Emilio Terranova, and Mike Lockwood. You can find all other info below, including the event on Facebook. You are encouraged to download the flyer below and spread the word! The more people to party, the more we help those in need.

Sunday, June 5th
Doors @ 1:30pm, entertainment/raffle 2:00-6:00pm
$10 donation for admission (or more if you want!)
$2 raffle tickets (check here for a listing of awesome prizes)

Peace Yoga
903 S Main Street, Los Angeles
Click the flyer below to view closer!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gutbucket, Mahadev and a MEZE gig

Folks, it's been a wild ride since my last post. I'll run through some of the happenings here and let you know about some upcoming events I'm very excited about.

On Monday, May 9th I had the privilege of performing some arrangements with the razor-sharp, avant-rock-jazz quartet Gutbucket. Touring behind their new album Flock, Gutbucket made a stop at the REDCAT Theater in downtown LA, billing the show as "The Gutbucket Chamber Orchestra". The first half was a brilliant quartet set of pieces from Flock, while the Chamber Orchestra (of which I was a part) joined them for the second set. Check out this positive review from the LA Times.

Recruited from CalArts students and alumni, the Alto/Guitar/Bass/Drums quartet was augmented with two woodwind players, two keyboardists, percussion, cello, and additional electric bass and guitar. We performed expanded arrangements of pieces from Gutbucket's previous release, A Modest Proposal. The music was incredibly challenging and complex, but only extraneous when it wanted to be. It was a great experience to work with the guys from Gutbucket in a few days of intensive rehearsal, getting all that music together; we all hit our stride during the soundcheck, and I had a blast performing with everyone at REDCAT. Thanks to Gutbucket and all the CalArts connections for the opportunity!

This past weekend, I went into the recording studio with Mahadev, a fun world-jam quintet I've been involved in for almost a year now. We got some great stuff laid down, and will be launching a Kickstarter project soon to spread the word and try to get this thing produced and released!

Tonight, Orkestar MEZE converges on Hollywood for the rapture! We are playing at the Key Club, opening for East-European rockers Viza, and looking forward to a packed show. We go on at 9:30pm, and there are a few other bands to check out as well. You can get more details on this Facebook page.

In other MEZE news, we have surpassed our initial Kickstarter goal raising money for the album, and looking to keep the momentum through these last ten days! With more support, we can put money toward mixing, mastering, and printing the album, meaning less time before it can appear in your peasant hands! Check out the page and pledge some support for a copy of the album and other cool incentives.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Review: Dave Binney 4tet at the Blue Whale

New York-based jazz musicians pass through the LA area from time to time, and I always try to catch a good show when I can. I never pass up an opportunity, however, to see alto saxophonist David Binney. I have been a fan of his playing and compositions for several years now, and have had the opportunity to hear him perform a few times. A relentless explorer and veritable bandleader, Binney builds his set from a long list of his original compositions over the last decade (sometimes more), and unleashes his band upon the material. With a freshness and freedom often only heard in a composition's first performances, Binney and his bandmates breathe new life into the music each time, taking risks, surrendering at times, relentless at others. Binney brought a tight quartet to the Blue Whale on Saturday night, demonstrating once more the malleability of his music and the artistry of the musicians he chooses to play with.

Dave Binney brought from New York pianist John Escreet and electric bassist Tim LeFebvre, completing the quartet with LA's own Louis Cole on drums. If you are unfamiliar with Louis's music, I would highly recommend checking out some of his videos on Youtube. His style and influence was apparent throughout the night, his layered, often aggressive playing splashing against Tim LeFebvre's inventive bass. The grooves were at once tight and loose, a sublime push-and-pull against Binney's and Escreet's improvisations. Escreet demonstrated how an acoustic piano can not only function, but excel in a sound setting that would otherwise be regarded as "electric"; employing two-handed, percussive techniques, Escreet often built material not with melodies, but with rhythmic and tonal shapes and gestures.

Binney, as expected, lit the place on fire. With music that intense, it is difficult as an improviser to find the proper pacing; many soloists dive too quickly into "loud and fast and lots". Binney is a patient and thoughtful soloist in any context, but his composition-centric, "serving the big picture" abilities were highlighted at the Blue Whale as he maintained a gradual rise in intensity in each improvisation, engaging both his bandmates and the audience from start to finish. Binney's experience as a composer is also evident in his strength of idea, or motive, when improvising. Pitches alone are not considered: sound as a whole is introduced and developed.

This was not a show of technical prowess (although it was definitely apparent), but one of textural, rhythmic, and gestural exploration. Nights like Saturday remind us all that there is still plenty of new music being made that holds deep roots in the jazz tradition --- not the outward, obvious tradition of playing swing and standards, but the tradition of "live" and "living" music. As the inimitable Eric Dolphy said:

When you hear music, after it's over, it's gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.

Musicians like Binney, Escreet, LeFebvre, and Cole continue the catch-and-release of this music we so dearly love. It was beautiful to be a part of a packed house enjoying such a fresh night of music, and I believe it is a testament that we'd all like to see a little more of Dave Binney and his groups on the old West Coast. Thanks for a spectacular show, guys.