Last Gig of 2022 / First Gig of 2023

In October, my trio — with Jordan Glenn & Cory Wright — played a very enjoyable gig at the SF Center for New Music. For the first time ever, we were joined by guest musicians for half of the performance, specifically alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen & cellist Crystal Pascucci. It’s been my privilege to play with these two a lot for many years now, and adding them to the trio made for one of the more exciting musical conversations I’ve ever been part of. It was so much fun, in fact, that we’re going to do it again…if you’re keen on making 2023 plans, please save the date:

Friday, January 13th

Nathan Clevenger Trio + 2

California Jazz Conservatory

Jordan Glenn: drums, vibes, percussion

Cory Wright: clarinets, tenor sax

Nathan Clevenger: piano, harmonium, percussion

+ Kasey Knudsen: alto sax

+ Crystal Pascucci: cello

More soon!

9.2.22: Nathan Clevenger Group @ TAC

I’m perhaps a bit rusty when it comes to promoting shows, but I do recall getting some positive feedback when I posted program notes in advance of previous gigs. Here, then, are some brief words on the pieces on the program for our show THIS FRIDAY NIGHT, at Oakland’s Temescal Arts Center (doors at 7 PM, show at 7:30 / $10-20 sliding scale / BYOB / masks & vax required, please). 

SET 1: Selections from ‘5 Memos from the New Millennium”

During the first year of Covid lockdown, I wrote a variety of pieces for musician friends to play in lockdown, either alone or with cohabitating musical partners. One of the pieces that came out of this effort was a suite in 5 movements called ‘5 Memos from the New Millennium’, dedicated to the recently deceased jazz legend, Lee Konitz, and borrowing a bit of inspiration (and names) from a series of published lectures by Italo Calvino. The pieces include allusions — some fairly clear, others likely invisible — to a handful of works by Konitz and his teacher/colleague, Lennie Tristano. One piece (“Visibility” for vibraphone) is an extremely abstract refraction of a specific early Konitz performance of the standard “You Go to My Head”, a recording that is one of my favorite pieces of music ever captured. For this performance at TAC, we will be presenting the 3 solo pieces from the suite, performed, respectively, by Mark Clifford, Beth Schenck, and Cory Wright. The full suite was recorded and released on my recent album ‘i had a dream about amnesia’, available at a Bandcamp near you.

Set 2: Nathan Clevenger Group

1. Plovers

A new piece dedicated to one of the avian world’s most delightful members, the plover (snowy or otherwise). You can encounter our titular bird hero in a variety of spots on the California coast, and I’ve had some particularly enjoyable visits with skittering flocks of these fuzzy little goons in Alameda. Observing their unison movements and general excellence inspired the rhythms of this heavily layered tune.

2. Violent Light

This is the first piece to be performed from a large ensemble suite I have been working on over the past two years. Violent Light aims to demonstrate the experience of a sufferer of periodic — thankfully, rare, in my case — ocular migraines. We’ll aim to keep it less terrifying than the actual experience, while still rendering the stages as vividly as propriety allows. Hopefully the full suite to which this piece belongs will be recorded within the year.

3. Wassilij

Wassilij is a secondary character in Arthur Koestler’s novel, Darkness at Noon. Steadfast, but battered and degraded by ever accelerating, often opportunistic and bad faith ideological schisms, he could be a bedraggled hero for our age. This piece features the shortest form I have ever composed for a NCG piece, a simple frame beset by shifting layers of counterpoint & improvisation, with allegiances among players ever-shifting.

4. Nash Hotel 2046

This is the one piece on the program that we have performed regularly before, and I have blathered on extensively about it in the past, so, this time, I’ll just note that you can check out a studio recording of the song on the Group’s 2019 album, ‘Stateless.’

5. Dead Man’s Snow Globe

A piece about negotiating the complex terrain in the wake of a death in the family, when the expected emotions are complicated and thwarted by the realities of the lived relationship. Charting the struggle between maintaining personal integrity and keeping up appearances in the wake of loss, as comforting fictions swirl and vie for false confirmation. In January 2020, we debuted this piece at our final performance before COVID shut us down, which also happened to take place at the Temescal Art Center.

Nathan Clevenger, Jordan Glenn & Cory Wright – Santa Cruz, CA – 04/09/22 – Indexical

Nathan Clevenger, Jordan Glenn & Cory Wright
When
Saturday2022412
20:00
-
All Ages
Buy Tickets
Where
Indexical at the Tannery Arts Center
1050 River St., #119
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

New Album Pre-Sale

‘i had a dream about amnesia’ presents two suites of new music, composed and recorded during the Covid-19 quarantine; you can find it here.

‘Five Memos from the New Millennium (for Lee Konitz)’ is a series of 5 pieces composed for soloists and duos to perform at home during lockdown. The suite is dedicated to the recently deceased alto saxophone giant, with a side of inspiration (and title/conceptual help) from Italo Calvino’s similarly titled lecture series. I was honored to write these pieces for some of my favorite collaborators and musicians: Sam Bevan, Mark Clifford, John Finkbeiner, Kasey Knudsen, Lisa Mezzacappa, Beth Schenck, and Cory Wright.

The second half of ‘i had a dream about amnesia’ presents a suite of moody pieces for trio, composed on plague themes, and premiered as part of the online festival, Unsolitary Music Series (produced by the crucial Karl Evangelista). The trio consists of Jordan Glenn, Cory Wright, and me, and we were recorded live in the studio by the great Myles Boisen.
The album also includes original artwork by my longtime collaborator Kim Miskowicz. I hope that you’ll consider ordering the album — available in CD and digital formats. Two tracks are available now and the full album will be released on January 21st.

Thanks for reading.
n.c.

Watch Some New Music

For those who missed the live streamed premiere of Unsolitary II on May 5th, you can catch it on YouTube now.

Set 1: Kim Nucci

Set 2: Lewis Jordan & Karl Evangelista (16:15)

Set 3: Nathan Clevenger Trio w Jordan Glenn & Cory Wright (37:10)

Audio & video captured by the peerless Myles Boisen.

The show is free, but donations are welcome and proceeds go to Black Organizing Project in Oakland + the newly minted Milford Graves Memorial Fund. Donate via PayPal: LockdownIII2020@gmail.com -or name-your-price at https://grex.bandcamp.com​​.

I can’t express how much I appreciate Karl for putting this festival together (and inviting us), and Jordan & Cory for being such impossibly gifted and sensitive musicians. For our set, we debuted 5 pieces composed during quarantine. It was such a relief and a gift to get to play music, in person, with my friends for the first time in a year and, last night, to feel a bit of the energy and community connection of gig night.

If you check it out, I hope you enjoy what you hear. Let’s do it again soon.

n.c.

Nathan Clevenger Trio @ Unsolitary 2 – 05/08/21 – Online Streaming

Nathan Clevenger Trio @ Unsolitary 2
When
Saturday2021512

-
All Ages
Where
Online Streaming (map)
Other Info
Time and link TBA

Online Live Chat w Michelle Amador – 04/27/21 – Online Streaming

Online Live Chat w Michelle Amador
When
Tuesday2021412
17:00
-
All Ages
Where
Online Streaming (map)

Gigs, More or Less, and a New Album!

A few pieces of news and my first real gig/gig-type events in some time, for your consideration:

A week from today, on April 27th, I will be making an appearance on a weekly live streaming show hosted by the great singer/songwriter/pianist, Michelle Amador. Michelle is a fantastic host and her format is a loose chat about creativity during the quarantine, with a chance for the guests to present snippets of works in progress. I expect to share glimpses of some fun upcoming work — including new music and a trailer for a new film collaboration — so please do tune in live, as I don’t believe it will be available after the fact. You can find out more and join Michelle’s mailing list here.

On May 8th, the second installment of the streaming Unsolitary Music Fest will be online, by the grace of the talented and tireless Karl Evangelista. One of the 3 acts featured is my new trio, featuring longtime collaborators Cory Wright and Jordan Glenn. We were recorded — socially distanced but in person! — by the great Myles Boisen at his Oakland studio. The set is all new music written during — and mostly about — the quarantine experience. It was absolutely incredible to be making music in real time with other musicians for the first time in a year. More details on this soon! 

Within the next month or two, I will be releasing a new album, Five Memos from the New Millennium. Five Memos is a suite of pieces I composed for musicians sheltering in place, dedicated to personal musical hero, and Covid casualty, Lee Konitz. Comprised of solos and duos, the pieces were recorded by some of my favorite musicians, specifically Kasey Knudsen, Sam Bevan, Lisa Mezzacappa, John Finkbeiner, Cory Wright, Beth Schenck, and Mark Clifford. I can’t wait for you to hear this! More on the release date soon.

Thank you for reading.

Hello, Strangers

I trust there is not much mystery regarding the silence here, but it seems like as good a time as any to offer a brief rundown of some recent projects as well as a glimpse of what’s coming up in early 2021.


Since we’ve been sheltering in place, I’ve been writing as much music as I can. The necessary focus was not always available — given the 2020 of it all — but I’m trying. 

The first public evidence of this work is a duo piece written for bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and guitarist John Finkbeiner. Lisa and John were kind enough to record this as part of a remote concert for BAM/PFA. You can watch their performance here; my tune is called ‘Quickness’ and is the first piece performed. I can’t thank the amazing John and Lisa enough, not to mention the crucial BAM/PFA, which has played a major role in my education (film in particular) going back to high school.

Another piece written during quarantine, Mare Insularum, was recorded by the incredibly versatile and talented Mitch Marcus. You can purchase this EP on Bandcamp.

I have also completed a new score for a short film by my frequent collaborator, Kim Miskowicz. The film is called ‘Undercover Orbit’ and it should be available to the public soon; more on that when it drops, as they say. I recorded most of the music at home, but was also helped out by key socially distanced contributions from dear friends/Nathan Clevenger Group mainstays Kasey Knudsen and Jason Levis.


There is also another album length project nearing completion, a 5 part suite dedicated to the great Lee Konitz, one of too many masters we lost in 2020. The Mezzacappa/Finkbeiner piece above is part of this suite, and I am eager to share the recordings of the rest of the movements, featuring some of my favorite musicians alive in solo or duo settings.


Finally, just last month, I released the first live album by the Nathan Clevenger Group. Live at Rendon Hall is available now via Bandcamp and features a full set captured in 2019, just prior to recording our last proper album, Stateless. I can’t begin to express how much I miss playing with the 7 musicians on this album, and I hope you’ll take a listen.


Thank you for your interest and I hope that you and your loved ones are staying as healthy and sane as the times allow.

Until soon,
n.c.

Nathan Clevenger Group – Oakland, CA – 06/11/20 – Temescal Arts Center

Nathan Clevenger Group
When
Thursday2020612
19:00
-
All Ages
Where
511 48th St
Oakland, CA 94609