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,