- This event has passed.
Edgefest 26: Friday, October 21
October 21, 2022 @ 6:00 pm
7 PM | Oluyemi Thomas’ Positive Knowledge
Buy tickets now!
Oluyemi Thomas, bass clarinet / saxophone
Ijeoma Thomas, voice / poetry
Kenn Thomas, piano
Joel Peterson, bass
David Hurley, drums / percussion
Jonathan Barahal Taylor, drums
Oluyemi Thomas, bass clarinet / saxophone
Oluyemi Thomas moved to Oakland from his native Detroit in 1974 after obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering from Washtenaw College in Ann Arbor. He is a master of many instruments, mainly performing on the bass clarinet, C melody saxophone, C soprano saxophone, flute, and musette. He is interested in music and instruments from all over the world and often incorporates scales and sounds not often encountered in Western music, bringing to his art a deep spirituality rooted in his Baha’i faith. Thomas often works in duo formats, most prominently with his wife Ijeoma, and in larger groupings, sometimes with his brother Kenn, who lives in Ann Arbor. His 2009 Edgefest performance with his two family members and bassist Michael Bisio was released on cd as Positive Knowledge – Edgefest Edition. In addition, he has worked with Wadada Leo Smith, Alan Silva, William Parker, Wilber Morris, John Tchicai, Henry Grimes, Roscoe Mitchell, and Cecil Taylor.
Ijeoma Thomas, voice / poetry
Singer, poet, spoken word artist Ijeoma Thomas was born and raised in Washington D.C. but is now based in Oakland, CA, together with her husband Oluyemi. She has toured the USA, Europe, and West Africa and has been an artist-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, California. Among the artists she has collaborated with are Cecil Taylor, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Miya Masaoka, William Parker, and Alan Silva. She has composed, performed and recorded with Positive Knowledge and has published many chapbooks and individual poems in local and national publications.
Kenn Thomas, piano
Pianist and keyboardist Kenn Thomas is a versatile artist who plays in various contexts, from gospel to free improvisation. He has often been heard in groups at Trinosophes in Detroit or at Trixie’s Bar in Hamtramck in collaborative groups that feature the area’s leading improvisers, but also playing solo sets or duets, most memorably with bassist William Parker at Edgefest. He has been featured on recordings with his brother Oluyemi, most recently on Positive Knowledge – Edgefest Edition, from the 2009 festival.
Joel Peterson, bass
Bassist/multi-instrumentalist Joel Peterson is well-known in Detroit and beyond, both as an accomplished bass player and as an award-winning new music and classical composer, but also as a tireless promoter of new music, most recently in his new venue Trinosophes, which has quickly become the premier venue for explorative jazz and other music styles in Detroit. He is widely recognized for his work with the Immigrant Suns, Frank Pahl’s Scavenger Quartet, BoxDeserter, Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, and, in the past, in various groups led by the late Faruq Z. Bey. His most recent project is the genre-bending quartet Chatoyant in which he plays both bass and Fender Rhodes keyboard. Their initial albums Place of Destination and Psychic Hieroglyphs have received critical acclaim.
David Hurley, drums / percussion
Drummer and percussionist David Hurley is a recent transplant to the Detroit area from San Diego, CA, where he left a legacy of celebrated groups with recordings in multiple genres of music from free jazz to progressive rock and dub music. His 2008 solo debut Outer Nebula Inner Nebula gets to the heart of Hurley’s intense percussion-based approach to the drum set. His presence on the Detroit scene has fast become familiar through hosting the biweekly Fire Music Mondays series and breakout appearances with the Oluyemi Thomas Quartet, New Olduvai Ensemble featuring Cecil Taylor alumni Elliott Levin and Tom Rollison, and the James Cornish Light Opera at the Strange Beautiful Music Festival.
Jonathan Barahal Taylor, drums
Jonathan Barahal Taylor is a composer and percussionist born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Trained in piano and classical percussion, he shifted focus to improvised music and composition shortly after enrolling at the University of Michigan where he studied with Geri Allen, Andrew Bishop, Ellen Rowe, Michael Gould, and Sean Dobbins, and performed with acclaimed artists such as Michael Formanek, Wadada Leo Smith, Vinnie Golia, Stephen Rush, and Andrew Bishop.
As a performer, composer, and improviser, Taylor treasures the liminal feeling that intersects deafening silence and unrelenting noise. His drumming utilizes “carefully crafted chaos” (Midwest Action) and possesses “the rare ability to drive a band with constantly shifting rhythmic and melodic patterns … without ever overpowering the group” (SEMJA). This sensibility informs his original projects and collaborative pursuits, which include the art rock band Saajtak, Teiku, which reimagines his family’s unique ancestral Jewish melodies in a creative music context, Mover, a modular suite of graphic scores, and his solo drum and electronics project Your World is Fire.
8 PM | Michael TA Thompson Quintet
Michael TA Thompson was born in Miami, FL, but moved to the US Virgin Islands at the age of nine, where he began to learn to play the drums. After high school he attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston, then headed to NYC. He met trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr. who introduced him to like-minded musicians such as William Parker, Kidd Jordan, Joe McPhee, Charles Gayle, Dennis Gonzales, Oliver Lake, Matthew Shipp, Uri Caine, Henry Grimes, Jason Hwang, Ken Filiano, and many others. He played with LA-based multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia and became his drummer of choice for East Coast performances. In addition, he has played with Clypsonians, The Mighty Sparrow, The Shadow, Beckett, reggae artist Owen Gray, and other artists from classical to rap and beyond. He has recorded for television shows such as Blue’s Clues, (Nickelodeon), for commercials, and for film.
Deanna Relyea, voice
Mezzo soprano Deanna Relyea is the Founder of Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, and Artistic Director of Edgefest. Trained as a pianist at the University of Michigan, she became a singer and has amassed an impressive and varied career in art song, symphony, and cabaret contexts in the United States and Canada, with a repertoire of Kurt Weil, Victorian parlor songs, Mahler’s Second Symphony, the songs of Hugo Wolf, and contemporary works. Her interest in new music and improvisation has resulted in collaborations with a wide range of musicians and composers who have written compositions with theatrical elements especially for her. She was featured on Jason Kao Hwang’s 2016 album Voice, where she shared vocal duties with Thomas Buckner, performing the poetry of Davida Singer, Lester Afflick, and Patricia Stearns Jones set to music (an earlier version was performed at the Stone in NY).
Piotr Michalowski, bass clarinet / soprano & sopranino saxophones
Piotr Michalowski plays multiple woodwinds, focusing on bass clarinet as well as the other low clarinets, and on soprano, sopranino, and baritone saxophones. He has performed in Paris, Warsaw, Rome, Berkeley, New York, this summer in Hamburg (where he played with fellow bass clarinetist Ove Volquartz and bassist John Hughes), and earlier this month in Warsaw, recording and playing with fellow bass clarinetists Jerzy Mazzoll and Piotr Mełech. Piotr has released several CD’s, many of them with violinist Mike Khoury, and he appeared on Jason Kao Hwang’s Voice. His most recent recordings are a set of contra clarinet duets with Jason Alder (Contradictions) and a trio recital with saxophonist and trumpeter Joe McPhee and drummer Andrew Drury (Live at Edgefest).
Mara Rosenbloom, piano
Pianist and composer Mara Rosenbloom, originally from Wisconsin, has spent more than a decade in NYC, creating a distinctive body of work and establishing herself in the city’s diverse network of jazz and improvised music communities. Her trio cd Prairie Burn (Fresh Sound/New Talent), with bassist Sean Conly and drummer Chad Taylor, received resoundingly positive reviews in prominent publications such as the New York Times and Downbeat, which led to bookings at major performance spaces such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola, and NYC’s Winter Jazzfest. This was followed by the equally acclaimed Respiration by the same trio. She has also been working with a new ensemble, Flyways, exploring a new repertoire that included a setting for the poetry of Adrienne Rich.
Ken Filiano, bass
Ken Filiano is a bassist, composer, improviser, and teacher who performs around the world, fusing the rich traditions of the double bass with his own seemingly limitless imagination. A “creative virtuoso” (JazzValley), Ken has performed and recorded with a veritable Who’s Who in multiple genres, from Anthony Braxton to Pablo Ziegler. In addition to being an integral member of groups led by Taylor Ho Bynum, Jason Kao Hwang, Fay Victor, Vinny Golia, Diane Moser, Roswell Rudd, Connie Crothers, Karl Berger, and others, he leads two quartets: Quantum Entanglements and Baudolino’s Dilemma and is also co-leader of The Steve Adams/Ken Filiano Duo and numerous other ensembles. His extensive discography includes the solo CD, Subvenire and Quantum Entanglements’ Dreams from a Clown Car. Ken teaches master classes in bass and improvisation, has a private bass studio, and is a Guiding Artist and Advisor at Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY.
9 PM | REMPIS/FELDMAN/DAISY TRIO
Double Duo’s performance is generously sponsored by Deep Friendship: The Connie Crothers Legacy Project.
Saxophonist, improviser, and composer Dave Rempis has been an integral part of the thriving Chicago jazz and improvised music scene since 1997. With a background in ethnomusicology and African studies at Northwestern University, including a year spent at the University of Ghana, Rempis burst onto the creative music scene at the age of 22 when he was asked to join the leading Chicago new jazz outfit The Vandermark Five. This opportunity catapulted him to notoriety as he began to tour regularly throughout the US and Europe, an active schedule that he still maintains to the present day. Rempis’ musical expression draws on a a variety of elements. While heavily improvisational in nature, his Greek ethnicity, studies in jazz and ethnomusicology, an appreciation for the philosophical underpinnings of contemporary composition, and a love for unforgivingly strident yelps, screeches, and squeals that can encompass the ever-evolving state of human depravity all inform his work. He tours intensively with several combos and works as a presenter, most prominently at the renowned Chicago Elastic Arts Foundation.
Mark Feldman, violin
In his twenty years in New York City, violinist Mark Feldman played a dizzying number of gigs and sessions with trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Uri Caine, saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Billy Hart, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, bassist Mark Dresser, and of course, saxophonist John Zorn, with whom Feldman has had a particularly fruitful association. Feldman was a founding member of the seminal ensembles Arcado String Trio and New & Used, collaborates regularly with Sylvie Courvoisier (interpreting Zorn material and playing their own compositions). This Downtown-improv scene ubiquity (which has coexisted with Feldman’s session work with pop artists like Sheryl Crow and Diana Ross) can be seen as the third geography-based period of Feldman’s career as a musician. The first was in Chicago, his hometown, where he played in the Civic Orchestra while simultaneously doing bar gigs playing rockabilly and western swing as well as studying jazz improvisation with local sax man Joe Daley; the second was his life as a Nashville-based hired gun who toured extensively with Loretta Lynn and Ray Price. and recorded with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and George Jones. He has not played in our area often enough. Now that he has returned to Chicago we hope to hear him more often.
Tim Daisy, drums
Tim Daisy is a Chicago-based percussionist, composer and educator working in improvised and composed music. He has performed, recorded, and toured with many acclaimed musicians and ensembles from both the USA and abroad. Working in several different environments, he has composed for solo percussion, chamber groups, jazz ensembles, dance, theater, and film. Tim has worked with many of the most cutting-edge musicians currently working in the field of improvised music, received prestigious composition and performance awards. He has appeared on close to one hundred and fifty recordings as a sideman and leader, including on his own Relay label. He has performed in festivals throughout North America and Europe including the Newport Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Umbrella Music Festival in Chicago, the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Kraków Jazz Fall in Poland, and the Monterrey Jazz Festival.
10 PM | Fay Victor’s Mutations for justice
This performance is dedicated to jaimie breezy branch.
Brooklyn-born Fay Victor has lived all over the world, in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Japan, gathering experience and developing her unique all-encompassing musical style. She is an improvising vocalist, a composer, lyricist, and educator, exploring all facets of improvisational music. With roots in traditional jazz singing, Victor has developed a distinctive vocalizing, language and performing approach encompassing an “everything is everything” aesthetic, bringing in references that span the globe. Victor sees the voice as a direct and powerful conduit for language and messages in an improvising context: sometimes her vocalizations are abstract and with no recognizable words, and at other times they tell a story or express strong social and political messages. She has recorded with an array of top line musicians, and leads several ensembles, each with very different focus, from SUNG, dedicated to exploring the compositions of Herbie Nichols arrayed with her own lyrics, or In Praise of Ornette, to the eclectic and wide-ranging SoundNoiseFUNK quartet in which she explores the full range of her rich repertoire of vocal capabilities. She comes to Edgefest as part of a tour celebrating the quartet’s latest CD, We’ve Had Enough! on ECM.
Melanie Dyer, viola
Violist Melanie Dyer performs and composes in creative, improvised and through-composed music spheres. She trained with William Lincer (Principal Violist, New York Philharmonic), Lee Yeingst (Principal Violist, Colorado Symphony Orchestra), John Jake Kella (NY Metropolitan Opera) and Naomi Fellows (Colorado Symphony Orchestra); and studied viola performance at the LaMont School of Music/University of Denver. In 2011 she founded WeFreeStrings, an improvising string/rhythm collective rooted in improvised music in 2011. From 2004 – 2013, under her Bb Universe banner and in collaboration with the multi-generational, multi-ethnic Scientific Soul Sessions collective, Melanie’s Harlem home became the scene of underground public performances by this group and other large and small music ensembles. Monthly and semi-monthly events brought cultural luminaries, emerging artists, social and environmental activists, working and under-employed people together. Her wide range of collaborations include
the Sun Ra Arkestra, Dead Lecturers, Baba Andrew Lamb, Gwen Laster’s New Muse 4tet, William Parker, and Jason Kao Hwang’s Myths of Origin. WeFreeStrings has released Fulfillment, and this year’s Love in The Form of Sacred Outrage and received project support from New Music USA, Chamber Music America, and the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. A versatile artist, Melanie’s literary work appears in Gap-toothed Girlfriends: The Third Act anthology; her creative work also involves visual art including sculpture, works on canvas, textiles, and assemblage.
Luke Stewart, bass
Bassist Luke Stewart was raised in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where his youthful musical interests him to experiment with saxophone, and guitar before settling on bass guitar in a rock band. He soon became interested in jazz, but never gave up his love of rock, punk, and hip-hop. When he attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford as an international studies major, he dabbled in turntablism and electronica, too. Soon after starting college, he moved to Washington DC, where he studied audio engineering at American University, then became involved with radio programming, and eventually with presenting music at a local studio. His first avant music gig was as a last-minute sub with the Sun Ra orchestra. He has released several albums under his own name, recently including Topic with choice artists from Chicago such as Ken Vandermark, and Jim Baker, and has continued to be active in a variety of roles on the Washington scene. He has also gained wide exposure working regularly with James Brandon Lewis, Thurston Moore, and the late Jamie Branch.
Michael Vatcher, drums
Percussionist Michael Vatcher grew up in Eureka, CA, where he attended the College of the Redwoods and eventually moved to New York, where he joined the idiosyncratic band Available Jelly that included saxophonist and clarinetist Michael Moore, who was to become a lifelong friend and collaborator. The group was uniquely eclectic, combining jazz with pop and other influences. In 1979 they set off for Europe backing a mime troupe with dancers and clowns, settled in Amsterdam, and Vatcher would stay there for three decades, where his unique drumming style and wide creative interests found a perfect fit with the fertile freewheeling Dutch artistic scene. He played various instruments, including zither, dulcimer, harmonica, and electronics in jazz, fusion, pop, Afro-Caribbean, and other musical contexts, but also collaborated with theatrical and dance artists. In 2017 he moved to New York and now works with many US musicians, while regularly returning to Europe.