Lost and Found

Just making it in time for a March update and it’s going to be a quick one:

 

On April 9th we are back at the Berkeley Arts space (downtown; 2133 University Avenue) for a double bill with The Lost Trio (Phillip Greenlief, Dan Seamans and Tom Hassett). We first shared a bill with this eminent trio back in 2004 and I’m glad these bills have been a regular feature over the past decade. We’ll be playing 1 set of new and recent music, including (I think) 3 debuts. Jon Arkin is out of town, so the regular band (Kasey Knudsen, Cory Wright, Aaron Novik and Sam Bevan) will be joined by the brilliant drummer Jordan Glenn, always a treat. Show is at 8 – hope to see you there.

 

Speaking of the Berkeley Arts space, I’ve just gotten around to posting 4 videos from our CD release gig back in October. Most of these feature an expanded edition of the band, supplemented by guest 2nd drummer Jason Levis. Check them out if you like:

 

- O Syracuse

- Mornings in Feudal Japan

- Dia de los Monos

- Things We Kept from the Fire

 

Next up is a double bill with the incredible trumpet player/composer Ian Carey at the Sound Room in May! More on that soon.

 

n.c.

Critical Engagement / Critical Engagements

Ahhh February…as the saying goes, it comes in like a common grackle and goes out like a lion, passing the leonine baton to March, naturally. Enough science. This is about music.

 

The most exciting news since we last checked in was an extremely nice — not to mention uncommonly perceptive — review from distinguished Bay Area music scribe Andrew Gilbert. Andrew reviewed our new album, Observatory, on the KQED (NPR) program The California Report. You can read or listen to the review here at their site. It’s easily the best and most insightful review I’ve ever had the pleasure to receive — Andrew’s got ‘big ears’, as they say. As if that were not enough, Mr. Gilbert also did us the honor of citing us as one of his ‘Top Local Bands’ on a ‘Bands to Watch in 2014’ edition of KQED’s Forum.

 

We’re off in March and coming back with a gig on April 9th at the Berkeley Arts space and I hope you’ll come out for what promises to be a special night. The regular band (Kasey Knudsen, Cory Wright, Aaron Novik, Sam Bevan) is joined by genius drummer Jordan Glenn (subbing for Jon Arkin), always a treat. We’ll be sharing the bill with The Lost Trio (divisible to the following component parts: Phillip Greenlief, Dan Seamans and Tom Hassett), one of the bay area’s most long-running and respected working ensembles. Phillip is someone I consider an inspiration, a friend and a valued mentor in so many ways. Dan was a member of New Klezmer Trio, whose “Melt Zonk Rewire” album was a pivotal one for me when I discovered it as a callow collegiate chump. Tom, Dan and Phillip have a deep musical bond and, between their excellence and my own history with them, you can imagine what an honor it is to share a bill, as we have many times over the years. (In fact, the west coast Nathan Clevenger Group’s 2nd gig ever, back in 2004, was a double-bill with the Lost Trio at the late, lamented Jazz House.)

 

A couple of the plans that I’ve been cagily alluding to on this site for the past couple months are taking shape and can now be discussed in more detail:

 

We have set up a double-bill with the sextet of composer/trumpeter Ian Carey! The gig is on May 23rd at the Sound Room in Oakland. Ian is one of my favorite local composers and someone I’m always inspired by — I daresay we share a lot of the same preoccupations, musically, and he’s way ahead of the curve in so many ways. We also share a few band members so it should be an interesting contrast! I can’t wait.

 

Kim Miskowicz (brilliant artist and the woman behind the “Observatory” album art) and I are collaborating on 2 film/music projects this year, featuring new music and music from my most recent album. More information soon, but we’re hoping they’ll be done and ready to premiere by early fall.

 

Thank you for visiting and for reading. Until March,

 

n.s.c.

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Visual Aid

band at awaken 2014

The band at Awaken Cafe, Oakland, 2/6/14. Aaron Novik, Cory Wright, Nathan Clevenger, Kasey Knudsen, Sam Bevan and Jon Arkin.

Greetings from 2014

My intention is to post at least one update per month here this year…if we get into a particularly fallow news period, prepare yourself for such informative and exhilarating scholarly missives as “Double-flats: Fact or Fiction?”, “My 10 Favorite Words”, “Is it Possible to Fill out a Successful Grant Application Without Using the Word ‘Community’ Once?: An Investigative Report”, and “My 10 Least Favorite Single-Digit Numbers, In No Particular Order.”

 

Lucky for you, dear reader, I do have some actual news to impart this month, so I’ll save the filibluster for a later date.

 

First of all, our new album, Observatory, received a very kind review from the Memory Select blog (thanks, Craig!) – check it out here, if you’re curious and/or nasty. We were also given an extremely flattering mini-review from the great local trumpeter/composer Ian Carey on his blog – damn! Thank you! (Added bonus: Ian’s ‘Arrangers’ list hipped me to awesome new-to-me records by Clare Fischer and Michael McGinnis.)

 

The Nathan Clevenger Group is working on a few rather unusual gigs (more on this soon, I hope!), so we’re going light on the regular club dates while we get the calendar clarified…all the more reason to catch us at Oakland’s own Awaken Café on February 6th! The sextet (Kasey Knudsen, Cory Wright, Aaron Novik, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin and me) will be playing 2 sets of original music, heavily focused on new material (7 pm start-time, no cover). I’ve had a prolific few months and we’ll be adding another handful of new tunes to the stack of pieces we premiered at our last 2 gigs. Our January Makeout Room gig featured only 1 tune from either of our albums and it looks like this next gig will probably follow the same pattern, mixing tunes destined for album no. 3, new music, and a few older unrecorded favorites. I hope you’ll be curious to check out our new offerings in person.

 

In very exciting extracurricular-activity-type news, March 15 will apparently see me putting on the sideman hat for a gig with Karl Evangelista’s Host Family. Karl is an extraordinary guitarist, composer and font of new music/jazz knowledge and it’s an honor to play with this group. It doesn’t hurt that the band is filled out by Jordan Glenn (one of my very favorite drummers and composers) and Jason Hoopes (an outstanding bassist who has subbed in my band and has a fascinating catalog of original work). The gig is at the Center for New Music in San Francisco and is part of an evening honoring Karl’s extensive and inspiring ouvre as a composer – a number of his projects will be featured.

 

Finally, it’s too soon for many details, but I am happy to report that work is getting under way on the next stage of my collaboration – excuse me, MULTIMEDIA collaboration (hello Grant review panels!) – with artist Kim Miskowicz. More soon on this and some other projects/plots slowly taking shape – suffice it to say that plans are congealing.

 

I am reminded of one my very favorite song titles, courtesy genius composer/pianist/Admiral Graham Connah: “Everything That Oozes Must Congeal.”

 

I leave you thusly.

 

n.c.

2013, We Hardly Knew You

First and foremost, let’s spend some time dwelling on the future:

For our first two gigs of 2014, the Nathan Clevenger Group will be returning to our favorite running series and our favorite venue, respectively, playing the great Makeout Monday series at the Makeout Room on 1/6 and then Oakland’s own Awaken Café on 2/6! We are hoping to add a 3/6 date as well, not only because of our all-too-human — and all-too-butterfly — attraction to symmetry but also, of course, to seal our pact with Satan (what, you thought our massive success was due to mere human effort???). I’m not yet sure who is on the bill with us at the Makeout gig, but the lineups are always great. There’s even a rumor going around that percussionist Jason Levis will be on the bill, so maybe we’ll get to dip back into the double-drummer action last seen at our CD release gig a couple months ago.

 

But we came here to talk about 2013. 2013 was…uh…it was a year! We played more gigs than we’ve ever played in a single year – 11 (don’t fret, I’ll be disappearing a bit further down the useless trivia wormhole at the end of this post) – and released our 2nd album, Observatory. Thank you to everyone who came out to see us this year and to all of the bold club owners and series curators who invited us out to play.

 

Most of all, I want to very sincerely thank everyone who played in the group this year. From long-time band members to one-gig subs, it is extraordinarily humbling to consider the talented cast of characters who brought my music to life in 2013: Kasey Knudsen, Jon Arkin, Cory Wright, Sam Bevan, Rebecca Kleinmann, Aaron Novik, Marcus Stephens, Evan Francis, Mitch Marcus, Eric Perney, Doug Stuart, Eric Vogler, Jason Hoopes, Jordan Glenn and Jason Levis. They really are the best and genuinely lovely, hilarious folks, one and all. All of these amazing musicians are involved with a rich assortment of great projects of their own, and I hope you’re familiar with their work. If you’re not, you’ll be in for a much-enhanced 2014 if you follow these threads (and the links embedded above)!

 

Back to the future (to reference, obviously, the awesome song by the late, lamented PDX band The Joggers) or, as we call it these days, ‘2014.’ Things we are looking forward to include but are not limited to:

 

- The aforementioned gigs: 1.6 at the Makeout Room and 2.6 at Awaken Café! Please come on out if you’re able – audience turnout is truly the difference between still having a few places left to play this type of music in the future and ceding the field entirely. With the creeping efforts to turn SF as a whole into the Marina-meets-Ayn Rand and Oakland into some sort of twee JV Williamsburg, this kind of preservation strikes me as more crucial than ever, even aside from my glaring self-interest. More to the point, if you saw our final gig of 2013 you’ll know that we’ve just started to unleash a batch of new compositions that I, for one, am very excited about. Please join us…we require no loyalty oaths and limited feeding

- Putting some time into the ever-more-complex but essential task of securing reviews and radio play for Observatory. Not to mention selling some more copies (feel free to contribute to that last part).

- Getting to work on album no. 3. I hate to make predictions, given the unpredictability and financial hang-ups that always bedevil and delay this type of project, but we have more than enough material ready to record and I’m hoping to get started on this recording in 2014. I want to get another physical-media release out before it becomes COMPLETELY (rather than mostly) insane to do so, as I’m just not sure I’m going to care much about releasing albums once we’re all living in the cloud (a holiday ‘Fuck You!’ to Apple for nixing disc drives from their recent laptops and thus speeding the inevitable).

 

Some More Nebulous But Still Fomenting Plots:

- A multimedia collaboration with Kim Miskowicz, the brilliant artist behind the paintings that grace the Observatory CD?

- A double-bill with one of my favorite local bandleader/composers?

- A return to the east? (BIG ‘maybe’ on this item)?

 

Thanks, all!

 

Yours in Eternal Hubris,

 

n.s.c

 

*   *   *   *   *   *

 

Apocrypha, a.k.a. Shamefully Pointless Analysis

We played 11 gigs (vs. 8 gigs in 2012)

We performed 31 original songs (29 in 2012)

We debuted 10 pieces (7 in 2012)

 

3 Most Performed Compositions:

1. The Irreconcilables (11)

2. Things We Kept from the Fire (10)

3. Mornings in Feudal Japan (9)

 

Personnel (gigs played this year / NCG gigs played overall):

  • Kasey Knudsen (10 / 41)
  • Jon Arkin (9 / 34)
  • Cory Wright (9 / 11)
  • Sam Bevan (7 / 45)
  • Rebecca Kleinmann (5 / 8)
  • Aaron Novik (2 / 45)
  • Marcus Stephens (2 / 2)
  • Mitch Marcus (1 / 21)
  • Evan Francis (1 / 8)
  • Eric Perney (1 / 7)
  • Jason Levis (1 / 3)
  • Eric Vogler (1 / 2)
  • Doug Stuart (1 / 1)
  • Jason Hoopes (1 / 1)
  • Jordan Glenn (1 / 1)

Behold Our New Album / Come Celebrate With Us

Hello, hello, glad tidings, hear ye, etc…

Please join me and my band this Wednesday — October 16th — to officially celebrate the release of our 2nd album, Observatory. We’ll be playing a very special set at the Berkeley Arts space and it would mean a lot if you could come give a listen and help us celebrate the release of an album I’m extremely proud of. We’re doing a lot to make this a unique and memorable gig worth your while. I’ll lay out some of the details in the Bonus Features section below, but first just the basic details:

Where: 2133 University Ave (between Shattuck & Oxford, downtown Berkeley)

When: 8 pm

How much: some sort of reasonable sliding scale arrangement

 The band:

Kasey Knudsen (alto sax)

Cory Wright (tenor sax, clarinet)

Aaron Novik (bass clarinet, clarinet)

Sam Bevan (bass)

Jon Arkin (drums)

Nathan Clevenger (guitar)

+ Jason Levis (guest percussion/drums)

Sharing the bill:  Jason Levis Trio w/ Cory Wright & Rob Ewing!

 Bonus Features / For Your Consideration:

* Not only are we celebrating the new album, we are also celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Nathan Clevenger Group! We debuted in Berkeley (the late lamented Jazz House/Tuva) on November 3rd, 2003. 10 years…wow. Historians will note that Sam and Aaron were on that very first gig.

* The great percussionist Jason Levis is in town from Berlin and will be playing with us for more than half of our set! Jason plays marimba on a tune on the album and has played drums in the band on several occasions over the years. He’s also opening the show with a great trio of his own featuring Cory and master trombone player Rob Ewing.

* Aaron Novik has been taking some time off from playing live for the past year and we are extremely happy to have him sitting in on this gig! Aaron plays on half of the new album and it will be a thrill to reunite for this show.

* With the lamentable end of our Awaken Cafe residency, this is the last gig the full sextet has on the calendar at the moment. If there’s one thing we on the local scene (as players and listeners) have learned over and over, it’s come check out bands you like when and while you can!

* The new CD will be for sale! Probably too obvious to qualify as an actual feature, but hey, it’s better than any of the celebratory limericks I’ve written this week. Trust me.

Thank you so much for reading and for your support over the years. We hope to see you on Wednesday. If you can’t make it, the CD will be for sale via this website within the next week. Please check back and thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

n.c.

Preview Time

Our new album, Observatory, is headed to press this week! We hope you’ll join us in this Quixotic late-period physical media initiative and we’ve tried to make it worth your while from audio and visual perspectives alike. Below is a glance at the album cover featuring new work by Bay Area multimedia artist Kim Miskowicz. You can click over to our Soundcloud page to listen to one of the tracks (unmastered, mind you, as opposed to the version that will appear on the album proper), Port o’ Nine Tails.

More updates coming soon with more album details, ordering info and some news about our CD release gig in October.

For more frequent news, don’t forget to ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Many thanks.

Mixing it Up

In an earlier post, I promised “novel gigs” and, dear friends, skeptics and wags, as we near the halfway point of 2013, I think we can say I have been as good as my word. 2 particular upcoming examples for your consideration:

1. Berkeley Arts Festival, Wednesday, May 29th: a new quartet with Kasey Knudsen, Sam Bevan and Crystal Pascucci!

 

Kasey, Sam and I have been playing the occasional trio gig, including earlier this year at Jupiter. In these gigs, we generally tackle reductions of pieces for my sextet, attempting to cover all the essential parts at half-size and without the support of a drummer. We all seem to agree that these gigs are utterly terrifying…but also a fascinating challenge. We’ll up the ante this time by inviting along Crystal, a cello player I have admired and wanted to play with for some time. Our rehearsal was a lot of fun and we’ll be debuting 2 new pieces that I’m very pleased with.

 

2. Jupiter, Saturday, June 22nd: family reunion time with Evan Francis and a whole new rhythm section!

Sax/flute genius Evan Francis played with the band for a very productive period (documented on our forthcoming album), before moving to New York. He’s one of my favorite musicians and he and Kasey have a very special musical connection that I can’t wait to bask in for 3 sets. Along with Kasey and Evan, this gig will see us welcome two great musicians into the fold, bassist Doug Stuart and drummer Jordan Glenn. These are two guys I’ve long wanted to play with and whose playing I admire a great deal (Jordan is also one of my favorite bay area composer/bandleaders), so this should be a really fun night.

Hope to see you out there…more news soon and maybe even an album preview…

Evidence

The Nathan Clevenger Group in Oakland, 2013. NC, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin, Rebecca Kleinmann, Kasey Knudsen and Cory Wright

Observatory 2013

Coming your way, Summer 2013…

Observatory, the 2nd album by the Nathan Clevenger Group!

Featuring Kasey Knudsen, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin, Aaron NovikSylvain Carton, Evan Francis, Cory Wright and Jason Levis.

10 original compositions by Nathan Clevenger.

Recorded by the incomparable Eli Crews.

Art by the amazing Kim Miskowicz.

This is the 10th anniversary of the west coast NCG…Novel shows* in the offing…actual effort and everything! Golly…

 Thank you.

 Please stand by…

* – but, rest assured dear reader, not novel in the Big Time Jazz Festival X/SF Jazz sense in which nirvana takes the form of marketing-driven All Star aggregates and ill-fitting guest stars, turning nearly every prominent jazz gig into a faux event that inevitably devolves into jam session strategies rather than the kind or working band coherence that once made jazz so vital.