Bearthoven [ \'bâr-toh-vən\ ] is a piano trio creating a new repertoire for a familiar instrumentation by commissioning works from leading young composers. Karl Larson (piano), Pat Swoboda (bass), and Matt Evans (percussion) have combined their individual voices and diverse musical backgrounds, coming together to create a versatile trio focused on frequent and innovative commissioning of up-and-coming composers. Bearthoven is rapidly building a diverse repertoire by challenging composers to apply their own voice to an instrumentation that, while common amongst jazz and pop idioms, is currently foreign in the contemporary classical world.
Formed in 2013, Bearthoven has quickly established themselves as a forerunner in the New York City contemporary music scene. Commissioning over 30 new works in their first six seasons, the trio has created its own diverse repertoire ranging from the driving, post-minimal voices of Ken Thomson, Brooks Frederickson, and Shelley Washington to the atmospheric and abstracted offerings of Sarah Hennies, Scott Wollschleger, and Anthony Vine. Bearthoven’s commitment to collaboration and innovation has garnered both critical and peer acclaim and has led to featured performances on notable series including the MATA Festival, the Bang On a Can Marathon, the Music/Sound Series at EMPAC, the Princeton Sound Kitchen, and the Ciclo de Conciertos de Música Contemporánea in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The group's debut album Trios was released on Cantaloupe Music in May of 2017. Their second album, American Dream, features the works of Scott Wollschleger, and was released in February of 2019 on the same label. Bearthoven was recently selected as 1 of 24 ensembles to be a part of the inaugural New Music USA Impact Fund cohort.
LADAMA is an ensemble of women musicians (and me) from across the Americas who, as well as performing as a touring band, strive to engage youth in their respective communities in the process of music-making, dancing, composition and audio production through collaboration and performance workshops. They are Mafer Bandola (bandola llanera), Lara Klaus (percussion, drums), Daniela Serna (percussion) and Sara Lucas (voice, guitar) and me, Pat Swoboda (upright and electric bass). Together they combine the rhythms and traditional instrumentation of frevo and maracatu from Pernambuco, Brazil; joropo songs from the high plains of Venezuela; cumbia, gaita and champeta from the Colombian coast and contemporary strains of American pop, rock and jazz. Members of LADAMA specialize in, among other instruments, the bandola llanera from Venezuela, the tambor alegre from Colombia, and the pandeiro and zabumba from Northeast Brazil. Their performances include original compositions and traditional songs sung in Spanish, Portuguese and English combining disparate elements into a cohesive whole. The result is a sonic experience through which we can view our future as a world that communicates across continents and cultures, with sound and story.
The women of LADAMA met during OneBeat, a fellowship curated by Found Sound Nation and produced by the State Department’s Bureau
for Cultural Affairs which brings musicians from around the world to focus on collaboration-based compositions and social engagement as ways to promote cultural diplomacy (I did Onebeat the following year and joined the band in the following months). In order to continue their work together as music ensemble, LADAMA formed as a way to engage youth and empower women through music making in South America. As activists, educators, producers and performers in their respective countries, their mission this year has been to create deeper roots within their own communities as a music ensemble while weaving a larger, global web. Their performances have been called "transformative" and "transporting", and the audience is often asked to participate in their performances.
What happens when you take four highly opinionated, strong-willed and creative composer/musicians and put them in a band together? You might have a volatile problem on your hands…or else you have Gutbucket. The nineteen year-old Brooklyn-based quartet continues to push composer-driven, art-rock-tainted chamber jazz into new terrain and boldly proclaim its voice.The band was formed in 1999 by two of its current four members just out of college: Ty Citerman (electric guitar) and Ken Thomson (saxophone). Adam D Gold (drums) would arrive in 2007, and Pat Swoboda (bass) has been in the group since 2012.
Out of the gate, Gutbucket’s music challenged New York’s downtown norm– “a no-holds-barred approach to the jazz-rock paradigm” (The New York Times, 2010)– bringing a completely unique, road-tested performance (“Keep all limbs, drinks and small children well clear” – Time Out New York) and a sound that tilted much further towards rock than many of its contemporaries. Gutbucket’s brand of jazz continues to have its signature biting edge, cunning sense of humor and appreciation for the loud and theatrical. Improvisations are woven seamlessly and sometimes unexpectedly into the band’s growing repertoire, and each composer in the group writes with a characteristic voice that simultaneously supports the collective. From the beginning Gutbucket has had no single bandleader; the result has been an expansive yet recognizable group sound.
In celebration of its 15th anniversary in November 2014, Gutbucket was in residence for a week at John Zorn's legendary downtown NYC club The Stone, and their years of exploration and collaboration were on full display - they invited a number of special guests and presented world premiere material, teaming up with JACK Quartet, Tigue, Hypercolor, members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and more. During this week they also recorded their sixth CD of new material in front of the live audience - music that the band had toured with for a year prior. This new disc, Dance, was released in January 2016 on the band's independent imprint, Gut Records, and is distributed internationally. “...'Ferociousness is actually pretty much the operative term throughout," says cdhotlist.com.