2012

The year is ending and the world, as full of pluck, gumption and outdated slang as ever, carries on. Personally, I haven’t been this disappointed in an end-times since that Higgs Boson-crazed particle accelerator at CERN failed to strain us all through microscopic lab-created black holes. Life is full of disappointment.

Anyway, the major news from the Nathan Clevenger Group world is that we are halfway through our sophomore album and still on track to release it in 2013, which, it just so happens, is our 10 year anniversary as a band. My crack marketing department assures me all manner of promotional opportunities are just around the corner, so that’s something to look forward to. So far, we have 5 finished tracks featuring Kasey Knudsen, Aaron Novik, Evan Francis, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin and myself. Just this past Friday, I had the pleasure of welcoming old Clevenger Group collaborator and master percussionist/composer Jason Levis (in town from Berlin) into the studio to record a marimba overdub on one of the tunes. I am really excited by what we’ve got on tape and even more excited to record the second half of the record early in 2013 and get it out there.

There have been some personnel changes in the months since the first session, with Evan andSylvain Carton (our tenor saxophonist for several years now) relocating and Aaron moving on to other projects. We’ve been playing with different combinations of some great winds players, namely Cory Wright, Rebecca Kleinmann and Aram Shelton, which has been fun and inspiring. After a pretty slow year for new compositions, relatively speaking, our last gig of the year saw the introduction of 3 new pieces and there are more nearing completion. I’m looking forward to exploring this music and integrating the new players into the band further in 2013.

In reviewing the end of the year, it would be absurd not to mention our appearance earlier this month at the 2 day Festivus Festival at the Makeout Room, curated by Lisa Mezzacappa. This event has been written about and explained in other places (if you’re facebook friends with anyone in the SF Bay Area jazz/improv scene, you probably already know the story), so I won’t recap too much, but I will just say that both nights of the gig (we played the music of Darren Johnston on the 2nd night) were incredible. Rhapsodizing about “the community” — whichever community it may be — generally stirs up my deep reserves of skepticism, but this was one case where I actually felt it. Hearing and hanging with so many wonderful players (and people!) and hearing everyone play the music of colleagues with such imagination and skill was a brilliant, buoying thing. On a selfish note, I have a feeling this event produced enough warm feelings to keep me going through any number of crises of confidence — the standard microscopic lab-created black holes endemic to this particular artistic pursuit — in the coming year. Deep thanks to Lisa and all the musicians, composers and listeners who participated.

See you next year. Please go see some live music.

N.S.C.