In the fall of 2015, I moved from New York City to Southern California, where I am an assistant professor at UC Irvine in a new and innovative PhD program, Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology. I’m really enjoying it here so far! And now, finally, time has come to introduce myself “officially” to Southern California audiences: Three upcoming concerts (on May 18 in San Diego, May 19 in Irvine, and May 20 in Los Angeles) will feature recent chamber music compositions as well as my band Notebook, which mixes composition and improvisation in unusual ways. I’m extremely excited about these concerts and the fantastic musicians from the region as well as from across the country who will be performing. I hope to see you there – please see the Upcoming Concerts page for more information!
Due to a technical mishap that took quite a long time to fix, this site was offline since late 2015. I apologize to anyone who tried to access the site but couldn’t. Everything is up and running again as of Friday, April 29, 2016.
Updates, including upcoming concerts, etc., are coming soon.
This very basic website will be replaced by a much more detailed one in due time, hopefully before the end of 2016.
Suddenly, we find ourselves in 2015. For me this is a special year as I turn 50 on June 13, 2015 – what better time for a big overview of my music in New York City?
From March 31 until April 5, I will be in residence at The Stone in NYC, presenting many of my old and new projects in which I play drums – from free improvisation to mixtures of the composed and improvised.
In the 2nd week of June, the Austrian Cultural Forum presents many of my pieces written for classical musicians, culminating in a concert of chamber orchestra works on June 14 at Roulette.
I also have two new CDs: “Imaginary Images”, a duo with pianist Thollem McDonas on Leo Records, and the trio Hypercolor’s eponymously-titled debut CD on Tzadik.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here. This year has been my most intense traveling year ever, and time flew by! From February until May, I spent some time in Johannesburg teaching several classes at Wits University. In March, I participated in Lebanese sound artist Tarek Atoui’s project “Within” – a week of solo and ensemble drum set concerts with some great drummer colleagues at the Sharjah Biennial in the UAE. In April, I was in Beirut, Lebanon, playing and soaking up the wonderful atmosphere and music at the Irtijal Festival, and at the end of May, I visited Nairobi, Kenya, for a brief participation in the Goethe Institute’s “Ten Cities” project. In between was the launch concert of Soundmindlab, an initiative I’m involved in to develop a space for creative music in Johannesburg. At the beginning of June, I was in Brazil for the opening of “O jogo insondável”, a sound installation I created using sounds from soccer games; it will be on exhibit across South America during the next year and my Upcoming Performances page will contain all dates as they become known to me. After that, my newest piece, “Lakoni in Kazonnde” for 2 drum sets, was premiered at the Bang on a Can Marathon in NYC by drum super-virtuosos Ben Reimer and David Cossin. I then went on tour with my band Burkina Electric, playing in Austria and Hungary, and am now on a monthlong residency in Venice that culminates in a concert this Saturday at the Arsenale with the great Laboratorio Novamusica. Phew! After all this it’s back to the States again for a somewhat more quiet August.
I’m in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the moment; during the past 3 weeks or so I was in Burkina Faso to work with my group Burkina Electric, and we played a concert at the Rêemdoogo in Ouagadougou. As my colleagues from the band spent lots of time in NYC during the past few years, I hadn’t been in Ouaga in a pretty long while, and it really felt like coming home. I also was able to spend a few days in Accra, Ghana, to do some research. Today, I played with Burkina Electric at the Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa, and from here we continue to Tanzania to play at the Goethe Institute in Dar es Salaam and at the Sauti za Busara festival in Zanzibar – one of the best music festivals in Africa. As anyone who knows me is aware, I love this continent; I’m very excited to make my first visits to Ethiopia and Tanzania and to contribute with Burkina Electric to the dialogue between West and East Africa, regions that don’t communicate with each other as much as they should.
I am in Durban, South Africa, for the Unyazi Electronic Music Festival; tonight I will play a solo set on the marimba lumina and a trio improvisation with Jill Richards and João Orecchia, and tomorrow I’ll give a talk entitled “Towards a Pan-African Experimental Music”. It feels like coming full circle: back in 2005, I was invited to the first edition of Unyazi, then in Johannesburg, and while it wasn’t my first visit to South Africa (that was all the way back in 1997 as the final leg of a project I’d been involved with in Zimbabwe), it was not only a fantastic experience but also the one that set off the sequence of events leading to my close connections with and many friendships in SA, and to now spending a coupe of months a year in Joburg. I have come to love SA and find it one of the most inspiring places, so it feels great to play in Durban for the first time!
It has been a while since I’ve posted here: the past few months have been a hectic season of constant traveling! Highlights were a solo tour in India, which took me, aside from several of the largest cities, to Nagaland in the extreme northeast of the country; solos at the KRAAK festival in Aalst, Belgium and the Stadtgarten in Cologne, Germany; participating in Tarek Atoui’s “(Re)visiting Tarab” in Sharjah, UAE; a 9-city tour of Denmark with Burkina Electric; and a research trip doing field recordings at soccer games in Uruguay and Brazil, in preparation for a sound installation commissioned by the Goethe Institute. In between, I got to spend some quality time in South Africa, which is becoming my home away from home. But now, as summer attacks NYC, I’m back and ready for a flurry of concerts at the Stone, the Gershwin Hotel, Bowery Poetry Club, and another Benefit of Clergy run at the Ange Noir Café, formerly the Café Orwell. Stay tuned!
My short concert series, Benefit of Clergy, is currently running Wednesday nights at Café Orwell in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s a very friendly cafe with good sandwiches, and the music has been a blast: Jonah Rosenberg, Blaise Siwula, the No Net Trio, Jack Wright, Evan Lipson, David Linton, Claire Barratt, Lex Samu, and Tom Zlabinger have already come through. The next 3 Wednesdays will feature:
11/30: James Ilgenfritz/Damon Holzborn and Andy Akiho/Lisa Dowling/LL
12/7: Jeff Shurdut/Gene Janas/Brian Osborne and Terrence McManus/LL
12/14: Hypercolor – Eyal Maoz/James Ilgenfritz/LL
In addition, on Dec. 9th, my newly-formed band, Notebook, will perform at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights. If you’re in NYC, please come on by!
At very short notice, I find myself in Beirut, Lebanon to do research for “Visiting Tarab”, a project curated by Tarek Atoui with concerts in November in NYC at the Performa Festival and next March in Sharjah, UAE. It’s my first time to Lebanon, and my first time to the Middle East since doing a project with musicians in Cairo way back in 1999. Beirut is beautiful, a strange mixture of extremely relaxed and tense: definitely worth seeing…and my hosts here, Tarek, Kamal Kassar, and the Irtijal association led by Sharif Sehnaoui, are a joy to spend time with. Aside from listening to tarab music at Kamal’s extensive archive, I played a most enjoyable concert the day before yesterday with Tarek and Sherif, 6 other great improvisors from Lebanon (Mazen Kerbaj, Charbel Haber, Tony Elieh, Cynthia Zaven, Raed Yassin, and Omar Dewachi – actually from Iraq), Uriel Barthélémi from France, and Lichens and DJ Spooky from NYC. Tonight, a trio with Elliott Sharp and Tarek at the Freikeh Silk Factory!
I’m currently on a short tour of the southeastern U.S., playing solo concerts on the marimba lumina. I’ve already played in Louisville and St. Louis, which included many interesting discoveries such as St. Louis percussionist Rich O’Donnell (who hosted my show) and his seesaw drumming technique, a totally original and innovative concept. Today (May 1st) I play in New Orleans; then I continue to Tuscaloosa, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. I’m especially excited about the show in Tuscaloosa, which is NOT canceled, despite the recent catastrophic tornado. Playing a concert (I will play solo and with Andrew Raffo Dewar) under such unusual circumstances is both highly emotional and highly gratifying. Please check the upcoming concerts page for details…I hope to see you out there!