In the spirit of never burying the lead under a mountain of prattle, I want to start by announcing that the Nathan Clevenger Group is ending our 3 month gig-hiatus with the 2nd Para-annual Free Jazz Holiday Office Party on Friday, December 17th. The gig is a double bill with friend/colleague/brilliant bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and her Bait & Switch ensemble. As some of you may recall, we first attempted this in 2008 with a gig at the Temescal Arts Center, and weâ€™re really looking forward to reviving the idea this year. Weâ€™ll be playing at the lovely Subterranean Arthouse in Downtown Berkeley (2179 Bancroft Way). I suspect that this will be a ridiculously fun gig and, it goes without saying, it is your only chance to hear us in the last 1/3 of 2010! It would mean a lot if you would consider lending your ears and support. Weâ€™ll pay you back in music and cookies.
By way of 2010 in review, what can I say? Our CD, The Evening Earth was released and caused the East Bay Express to refer to me as a â€œfascinating composerâ€ and describe the Groupâ€™s music as â€œlong-form, dreamy, sectional without being rigid, and bluesy â€” albeit in a non-traditional way.â€ Thanks! Gig-wise, it was our busiest year ever with 8 gigs. The highlight was no doubt our CD Release gig at 21 Grand, with our tenor saxophonist emeritus, Mitch Marcus, back for a reunion gig (check out the versions of â€œMonsoonâ€ and â€œTrellisâ€ from that gig on Youtube). What a blast. Besides the core band members (Kasey Knudsen, Aaron Novik, Sylvain Carton, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin & Eric Garland), this year we were thrilled to we welcome guest stars Aram Shelton and Eric Vogler on a gig apiece. Frequent guest star Eric Perney will be joining us for the December gig.
Plans for 2011 include the recording of our 2nd album, hopefully in the early Spring, and perhaps some occasional variations on the sextet format weâ€™ve been working with. Now is not the moment for pontificating on the State of the Scene (as everyone knows, itâ€™s not hard to get me going on that subject, so letâ€™s just back away slowlyâ€¦), but I will say that the nightlife habits of the San Francisco Bay Area can be puzzling and the local attitude seems to turn ever more inimical toward original jazz music. Yet we carry on, waiting for the wave to rise again. Perhaps 2011 is the year the Nathan Clevenger Group will stop fighting the tide and dedicate our gigs to performing the music of some jazz superstar or dead celebrity singer du jour, but probably not. In fact, definitely not. I guarantee it. We hope youâ€™ll join us on this Quixotic campaignâ€¦thereâ€™s no time like the present. Literally.
Thanks for reading and all the best.
P.S. – Regarding my restraint in not titling this post â€œState of the Nathanâ€, youâ€™re welcome.