Outsound Benefit Dinner with the Actual Trio

We are just a few weeks away from the 2018 Outsound New Music Summit!  And as always, we kick off the countdown with the annual benefit dinner featuring live creative music by local artists.  This year we were pleased to have Actual Trio perform.

Actual Trio is led by composer and virtuoso guitarist John Schott and features John Hanes on drums and Dan Seamans on upright bass.  To simply label them as a “contemporary jazz trio” would be a disservice to all three musicians, who bring a wide range of compositional and performance experiences to this group.  Their music ranges from laid-back grooves to fast frenetic runs to sparse percussive punctuated passages.  Overall, they delivered a highly dynamic performance that was well received by all in attendance.  You can hear a bit of it in our recent CatSynth TV video.

As Schott states in the video, there is something special about the trio format.  Trios are three-legged stools which depend on the contributions of each member and their ability to listen and perform together.  But it is still relatively sparse and spare compared to larger ensembles.  Actual Trio has a very small toolset of drums, bass and guitar (although Schott brought quite a few bits of vintage and modern electronics along as well).  But they get a lot out of what they have.  Schott and Hanes function together as a rhythmic and melodic unit, and they seemed to be able to finish each others lines, whether fast runs or vamps.  Seamans brought a melodic sensibility to his bass performance even while providing a solid foundation for the music.  And they were just fun to watch and listen to.


[Vintage amp and spring reverb units used by John Schott]

The Outsound Benefit Dinner is a “thank you” of sorts to our core supporters in the community – an instance of the time-honored tradition of plying supporters and donors with food, drink and entertainment.   All in attendance enjoyed the performance by Actual Trio and the food provided by Slippery Fish Catering.  But this year, Outsound owes an even greater debt of gratitude to its individual donors and supporters as grants for small arts and music groups becomes even harder to come by than it has in the past.  But we are looking forward to another excellent summit this year.  Please visit the website for tickets and to find out more about the shows, which take place at the Community Music Center in San Francisco from July 22 through July 28, 2018.

CatSynth Pic: Shadow, Brodie, and M-Audio Axiom Keyboard

Our feline pals Shadow and Brodie are back!  And they appear to be hard at work on their next hit song as they sit at their keyboard – an M-Audio Axiom – together.  Submitted by Anne Corwin via our Facebook page.

CatSynth Pic: Cat and Arturia MiniBrute

Our black-and-white feline friend returns in this black-and-white photo featuring the Arturia MiniBrute, first edition.  Submitted by Steve Peglar via our Facebook page.

We at CatSynth have been having a lot of fun with the Arturia MiniBrute 2, which builds on the original’s unique sound (and “brute factor”).  You can see our video demo here.

CatSynth Pic: Ok Housecat

ok housecat

Today’s pic comes from Ok Housecat on Facebook.

This effect makes your music smell like cat litter 🆗🏠🐈

Please visit their page for more custom-electronics fun 😺

Please visit their page for more custom-electronics fun 😺

CatSynth Pic: Eli and Roland TR 707

Eli returns, with a Roland TR-707 rhythm composer.  Submitted by Elias Laughton via our Facebook page.

A bit about the TR-707 from Vintage Synth Explorer:

A very underrated drum machine! It resembles the popular TR-909, and better yet, its hi-hat, cymbals, and clap sound almost identical to the TR-909! The TR-707 is a great source for cheap 909 samples. It has some other cool features too such as its Matrix display which clearly maps out your pattern for you in an easy to read display panel. It also features both MIDI in/out and DIN sync control – the best of both worlds. Why this unit even has individual outputs for each of its drum tones!

Those individual outputs might come in handy when using together with a modern modular synthesizer setup.

You can see Eli’s previous appearance here.

The Disintegration of Thought Revisited: Fifth Nest

We rely on keeping our sight, hearing, and thoughts in sync with one another.  It is necessary for everyday tasks such as walking, extraordinary abilities such as sinking 3-point shots in basketball, or just about anything we do in musical performance. Indeed, I am often reminded when performing in ensembles how important it is to keep all three of those processes tightly coupled.

But decoupling has tremendous value as well and relates directly to what I termed “the disintegration of thought” in a previous article.  It is a practice that has been particularly welcome in the past couple of days as psychic entropy reached a crescendo.  Indeed, doing so this afternoon relieved some of that stress, even as personal and professional challenges and relentless cruelty of current events swirl around.

It is a relatively simple process, and not that different from more traditional forms of meditation except that there is no focus or control.  One lies flat in a comfortable place, not too dark but not too bright.  It should be quiet but not silent to allow for deep listening.  I find the bedroom area of HQ during the day perfect for this.  The urban sounds beyond the windows form a gentle syncopation with just enough detail.  With eyes closed, one turns to mental visuals – I once heard them described as “eyelid movies”.  It’s important not to concentrate on either the internal visuals or the sounds, but not to ignore them either.  Just experience them decoupled.  In this way, thoughts seem to organize themselves into their own separate stream, often nonsensical but organized nonetheless.  The decoupled channels together form a complex free improvisation, not too different from free improvisation in music when it is at it best.

Most of the thoughts are words are forgettable.  But in a session this afternoon, one phrase, in particular, popped out: fifth nest.  I have no idea what it means, and honestly, it doesn’t really matter.  I didn’t want to dwell on it, as it would break the spell of the experience.

Today’s session was successful in that I emerged calm with much of the entropy dissipated but not groggy the way one would after a nap (it’s important not to fall asleep).  There is a deep melancholy in the calm, but that is OK.  And the phrase “fifth nest” seems to have stayed with me.  I still have no idea what it means, but it could be a point of departure for a piece of music or creative writing in the future.

 

 

CatSynth Pic: Cat and Model D

Cute cat playing a Minimoog Model D synthesizer. Submitted by Steve Peglar via our Facebook page.

CatSynth Pic: Shadow and M-Audio Axiom

Shadow on M-Audio Axiom Keyboard

Our new friend Shadow returns for a solo on his M-Audio Axiom keyboard.  Submitted by Anne Corwin via our Facebook page.

My boy Shadow likes the heavy beats.

You can see Shadow’s debut last week along with his brother Brodie in this post.

You can see Shadow’s debut last week along with his brother Brodie in this post.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Fluffy and Hissy

We introduce two new kitty pals today: Fluffy and Hissy.  They are outdoor kitties who live in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, California.

This is Fluffy.  He is a big fellow, and quite friendly.  As far as we know, he lives outdoors full time, but he is very comfortable around humans, especially when they provide food.

By contrast, Hissy is much more skittish around people, and it is quite difficult to photograph her.

Usually, Hissy backs away, but if one does get close, she lives up to her name.

Both Fluffy and Hissy seem to be healthy and well fed in comparison to some of the street cats I have encountered in the neighborhood, so they probably have a network of food and safety options, beyond our “satellite office” in the neighborhood.

We hope to get some better photographs of them soon.

 

CatSynth Pic: Luna and Keyboards

Beautiful black cat Luna strikes a “noir” pose atop one keyboard and next to another.  Submitted by Matthew Vasquez via our Facebook page.  I really like the way the stripes of light play against the keyboards, which in turn heighten the black cat’s figure.

This is Luna is not our Luna, but looks so much like her!  You can read our more recent tribute to the late great Luna of CatSynth here.

Identification of the synths/keyboards left as an exercise to the reader.