Oh lord… its been a while since I updated this thing — it has certainly been an active year for me since I last set a digital foot here on this blog or whatever it is. Last October, I joined the Atlanta psychedelic orchestra/maelstrom that is Faun and a Pan Flute, and after two tours early in 2013, we recorded an album in May which should be out in the relative near future — this is honest, beautiful, insane music that I am so grateful to be a part of. We will be endeavoring to play a lot this fall/winter once the album is out (hear a snippet and remix(!) of the upcoming album here: http://faunandapanflute.bandcamp.com/releases). My work with the collaborative improvisational Living Space Trio, featuring Eric Fontaine on winds and Scotty Bryan on percussion, continued throughout the year and we completed a charmingly diminutive but wonderful four-night tour of the northeast in early August. We’ve got a few dates scheduled for September, and we are looking forward to continuing the musical conversations that we’ve been carrying on since January 2012 with more performances and possibly more recordings (We’ve got two recordings from June 2012 out on BeHip records which you can hear/purchase here: http://artists.behiprecords.com/LivingSpace/NarrativesVol2/#.Uh2CMLxQ2bI and live recordings here: http://livingtrio.bandcamp.com/). Most recently, I’ve been involved with Currency, which the intrepid bassist/multi-instrumentalist/maniacalgenius Danny Bailey put together with musicians from various corners of the Atlanta music community in pursuit of what I hear as Fela Kuti-Steve Reich-Early 70’s Miles Davis-inspired jams (hear us on bandcamp: (http://universalcurrency.bandcamp.com/album/cowry-shells). I am really thankful for all of these opportunities, and am sincerely grateful to have found such inspiring musicians and collaborators in all of these contexts.
Just for the sake of record keeping, I want to keep this page somewhat updated with the shows I’ve played and other musical activities that I’ve gotten into, and any future shows/projects etc.
On August 13 at the Elliot St Pub and on September 8 at the Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival, I performed with the saxophonist Eric Fontaine with a group comprised of a string trio, upright bass, and percussion. We primarily played Eric’s pieces for the ensemble, which offer up his unique take on hybridizing ‘jazz’ and ‘classical’ sensibilities and reveal his varying compositional strategies for dealing with an ensemble like this. Many of the pieces are lyrical and beautiful, some are clever, even catchy tunes, and still others are evocative of the music of the cherished 8-bit video games of our youth. I’m definitely looking forward to possibilities that this project holds and I hope to be able to present some of my own compositions for the ensemble at a future performance.
On September 14th at the Java Monkey in Decatur, I performed in a quartet with Eric Fontaine, the violist Cecilia Trode, and the drummer Alex Degnats (I believe that is how his last name is spelled). We did two sets of completely improvised music, which on the whole I enjoyed — I’ve found that it is a really informative and useful experience to perform this sort of music with musicians of diverse backgrounds musically-speaking. Its also damn good fun, and the opportunity to expose an audience to this sort of music making is too rare.
Recently my friend Danny Bailey, who plays in a number of acclaimed Atlanta psych/indie/improv/rock-oriented bands, asked me to contribute some cello parts to his solo/collaborative recording projects. Danny’s work is truly inspiring and beautiful, with dense layers of interlocking Steve Reich-like rhythmic patterns and orchestration, Terry Riley-esque feats of lengthy musical simplicity, and some occasional Beefheartian tribal beating. It is artfully constructed and has fully changed my opinion of Garageband.
This coming Saturday, September 29 I will perform with Danny and many others in a large ensemble at Criminal Records as part of Little 5 Points fest, in what should be a truly unique moment-in-time. I’ll leave it at that.
I will be performing with two different groups in late June, and would be extremely honored to have you attend one or both shows:
On June 25th, I will be performing on cello with Living Space, with Eric Fontaine on reeds and Scotty Bryan on percussion. I am really excited about this trio, which to my ears is dealing with post-Coltrane free jazz and chamber/acoustic improvisation. We have a recording date set up for June 30th too! This will be at Noni’s in Atlanta, GA, opening for my wonderful and talented friends in Broadcloth (http://broadclothtrio.wordpress.com/) and the amazing Carl Testa (http://carltesta.net/main.htm), on a tour of the Southeast!
Monday, June 25th — Living Space, Carl Testa, Broadcloth
357 Edgewood Avenue
Atlanta, GA 8pm
-> Here’s the FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/366949326702663/
On June 27th, I will be performing on guitar with Scrimshaw, in Chapel Hill, NC at the Nightlight, which is one of my most favorite venues in the world. Scrimshaw is the group that I performed and recorded with in New Haven, CT last summer (see posts below) and includes members of Broadcloth, cellist Nathan Bontrager and accordionist Adam Matlock, and bassist Carl Testa. I am thrilled to revisit this material with these inspiring, brilliant musicians! FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/323729034360607/
Wednesday, June 27th — Broadcloth, Carl Testa, Scrimshaw
The Nightlight Bar & Club
405 1/2 West Rosemary Street
Chapel Hill, NC 9pm
If you are not in Atlanta or Chapel Hill but on the East Coast/Southeast, definitely check out one of the other Broadcloth/Carl Testa shows in late June — https://www.facebook.com/events/405636796145216/
Howdy folks — please take a listen to (and download if you want) my “album” : http://benjaminshirleyscrimshaw.bandcamp.com/ It contains five of my original compositions and five live improvisations. It features the musical brilliance of Nathan Bontrager, Adam Matlock, Anne Rhodes, Carl Testa and was expertly recorded by Louis Guarino Jr. last summer. Hope you enjoy it.