Oh, hello. Thanks for dropping in. What do I have to say for myself…
Barring a last minute, irresistible gig offer, we are down to a mere 2 more gigs in 2014! Musically speaking, it’s been an exciting and expansive year and, in that spirit, we’ll be expanding to a septet on each of these gigs. Unfortunately, I most likely will need to take a little bit of a hiatus following our November gig, so please come catch us while you can. The band has been in great form on recent gigs, if I do say so myself, and it’s good to be finishing the year with 2 interesting hits, each with special significance.
(As always, please see the Gigs page for full details.)
1. OCTOBER 12, BERKELEY ARTS
First up, it’s our final gig at the Berkeley Arts space. Starting with our first gig there in November 2011, the Nathan Clevenger Group has played six gigs in this great room, not to mention several gigs I played with assorted special side projects. We’ve welcomed guests (Jason Levis, Lorin Benedict) and debuted a lot of new music over the years. While Bonnie Hughes has been the benevolent driving force behind this space, our main connection to the venue has always been my good friend/fountain of inspiration and sage advice, Phillip Greenlief. Phillip made it clear that this was a space where we should feel at home to experiment and develop, and it’s been an invaluable opportunity. It’s only appropriate that we’re sharing the bill on our final gig here with Phillip’s brilliant long-running trio, The Lost Trio (with Dan Seamans & Tom Hassett), a band with whom we share a long, fruitful association and who are celebrating the recent release of a great album of Monk music. Please come on out!
For our set, the regular sextet – Kasey Knudsen, Cory Wright, Aaron Novik, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin, and me – will be joined by the masterful Jordan Glenn on vibraphone and percussion. Jordan has played drums in the band before and sat in on vibes at our Center for New Music gig in July, and this will be a chance to try out this formation (which I hope to come back to frequently going forward) for a full set.
There is one more, rather bittersweet reason that this is a significant gig: it is the final gig that Aaron Novik will be playing with us before relocating to New York. When I moved back to the Bay Area in 2003 — following my own New York stint — I had my new rhythm section in mind (having already played with original Group members Sam Bevan and Ches Smith), but I was at a loss for the 2 horns I knew I wanted. One thing I did know was that I needed a bass clarinet. I soon saw Aaron play, for the first time, subbing for Ben Goldberg on a gig by the great Graham Connah’s Jettison Slinky ensemble, and knew he was the man for the job. Aaron played on our first gig in 2003 and has been on 50 other Group gigs in the years since, which doesn’t even take into account gigs with my trio or gigs and recordings as part of his Cutting Guard, Samuel Suite, and other ensembles. I’ve played a lot of music with Aaron over the years, and we’ve talked a lot of music, talked a lot of literature, talked a lot period, shared many a meal/drink, and shamelessly violated various international wordplay treaties to the consternation of bandmates and friends. He is a brilliant composer and musician and an influence and he’ll be sorely missed. You win this round, New York…
2. NOVEMBER 19, STUDIO GRAND
Our first gig at Studio Grand! As a kid growing up in Oakland and frequenting the Grand Lake area, I would have been extremely skeptical if you’d told me that there would someday be a functioning creative music venue located in the heart of this neighborhood. Shows what I knew. I’ve seen some outstanding shows in this relatively new space and I’m excited to bring the band here for the first time, on a bill presented by the Oakland Freedom Jazz Society. To celebrate, we are joined by long-time fellow traveler Jason Levis on 2nd drum set and percussion! Jason — just returned from a few years in Berlin — is someone I’ve worked with for a long time in many contexts and it’s always a treat. This is the 3rd time he’s joined us on 2nd drums (you may recall his very memorable performance at our CD release gig last year) and it’s one of my favorite formations – he and Jon have a great hookup. Taking over for the departed Aaron Novik for this gig is another frequent collaborator, Aram Shelton. Aram is one of the bay area’s great reed players and I always love what he brings to the band.
Please come on out and have a listen to what we’re working on! Live music needs you and, dammit, we need you … (pause for appropriate human emotional response) … thanks for reading!