Category Archives: Gigs

Sunday 11/4: The Ian Carey Quintet+1 Premieres Fire In My Head at SFJAZZ

Hello folks! The day that I’ve been waiting for, obsessing over, and in a state of near-panic about for the past several years is almost here—I’m talking, of course, about the midterm elections Tuesday. (Vote!) But I’ve also been doing pretty much those same things in anticipation of the world premiere this Sunday evening of my new piece Fire In My Head (the Anxiety Suite) at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson Lab (joined by my longtime partners in crime Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, Sheldon Brown on bass clarinet, Jon Arkin on drums, Fred Randolph on bass, and Adam Shulman on piano).

Some back story: a few years ago I wrote a suite for my Quintet+1 called Interview Music, which was purposefully not about anything. I wanted to let the music stand on its own, and while I don’t regret that decision, in retrospect 2016 was a not a good year to be “above the fray,” artistically speaking.

So when I was very fortunate to receive a grant (from Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program) to compose a new major work for my band, I decided to write about something I’ve been struggling with on a personal level for ages, and that pretty much everyone I know has been dealing with on an hourly basis since, oh, late 2016: anxiety.

Fire In My Head is my five-part, 50-minute attempt to translate that emotional cyclone into music. But one thing I discovered in the process is that, just as my wife pointed out to me that “even your happy songs have an undercurrent of anxiety,” even my intentionally anxious material can’t seem to help but to also reflect hope and a desire to create beauty and connection.

So please join me and my bandmates (who have been working their butts off on this challenging material—see a sneak peek below) Sunday at 6pm or 7:30pm for this opportunity to hear original music by local musicians at the beautiful SFJAZZ Center! Buy tickets here.

ALSO: I’ll be talking about the show (and giving away some tickets!) with Alisa Clancy this Thursday morning at 9am on KCSM Jazz 91. Tune in or listen online.

World Premiere: Fire in My Head (The Anxiety Suite) at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson Lab, 11/4

Hello folks! I am very excited to announce the premiere next month of my new suite Fire in My Head, which was commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program.

The piece, which ranges from straightahead jazz to chamber music and beyond, is a 50-minute, 5-movement exploration of the topic of anxiety, which is something I’ve dealt with personally for a long time and that many of us have recently been forced to deal with on a community level. I wrote the piece for my long-time musical partners the Ian Carey Quintet+1 (“a highly skilled band of improvisers” –Down Beat), featuring Adam Shulman, piano; Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone; Sheldon Brown, bass clarinet; Fred Randolph, bass; Jon Arkin, drums; and me on trumpet. (You can get a taste of the piece in the video below.)

I’m especially excited to be premiering this work at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson LabTickets are now available for both shows (6pm and 7:30pm). Please don’t miss this rare chance to hear original music played by great local musicians in this beautiful space!

ALSO: I will be on our local treasure KCSM Jazz91 talking about the show with Alisa Clancy on Thursday 11/1 at 9am. Tune in or listen online here!

Summer 2018 Update: Circus, Clevenger & Randolph Groups, CJC Class, & More!

Hello listeners! I just wanted to tell you about some exciting shows coming up. Things in the world are awful and difficult and sometimes it feels like our little artistic endeavors don’t amount to a hill of beans, but sometimes music does bring us together (and it can be a way of working through these crazy emotions—see Fire In My Head below), so I’ll keep making it and hopefully you’ll keep listening to it. I hope to see you at one or all of these shows!

Circus Bella presents “Ring Out Loud!”

Shows Through June & July

Circus Bella presents its 10th Anniversary Circus in the Parks season (dedicated to the memory of our longtime friend and bandmate Ralph Carney), with shows throughout June and July at locations all across the Bay Area! With live original music from Rob Reich and the Circus Bella All-Star Band (including me)!
View the schedule here.

Nathan Clevenger Group (Pocket Edition)

Saturday 6/16, 8p, Jupiter, Berkeley

Nathan Clevenger is one of my favorite local composers and bandleaders, and it’s always a (really freaking challenging) treat to play with his group. With me on trumpet, plus Cory Wright, woodwinds, Lisa Mezzacappa, bass, and Jon Arkin, drums.

Jazz Inside Out with Jim Nadel & Friends

Friday 6/22, 8p, Campbell Recital Hall, Stanford University

If you’re new to jazz and wonder how the musicians all play together without any sheet music, this special Festival kickoff concert is for you. Even if you’re a longtime jazz fan but still aren’t clear on when jazz musicians are improvising and when they’re not, SJW Founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel will demonstrate with his horn and his band of top-notch players.

Fred Randolph Quintet

Sunday 7/15, 4:30p, Bird & Beckett, SF

Bassist and composer Fred Randolph brings his quintet to the great SF jazz & culture hub Bird & Beckett in Glen Park. With Sheldon Brown, saxophones, Ian Carey, trumpet, Dan Zemelman, piano, and Greg Wyser-Pratt, drums.

Class: Modern Jazz Improvisation

6 Weeks Starting Tues. 7/10, The Jazzschool at CJC, Berkeley

Ready to take your improvisational toolkit beyond bebop licks, modes, and blues scales and into the sonic worlds opened up by artists like McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, and Woody Shaw? This course will look into three different approaches for developing melodically compelling ideas for use in a wide variety of harmonic situations. (Basic knowledge of jazz harmony required.)
Register here.

Save the Date! The Ian Carey Quintet+1: Fire In My Head: The Anxiety Suite (World Premiere)

November 4,  Joe Henderson Lab, SFJAZZ Center

This November, I’m thrilled to bring my Quintet+1 to the SFJAZZ Center for the first time. We’ll be premiering my new piece Fire In My Head (The Anxiety Suite), which was commissioned by Chamber Music America and deals with themes of anxiety (both personal and on a community-wide basis). With Sheldon Brown, woodwinds, Ian Carey, trumpet, Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone, Adam Shulman, piano, Fred Randolph, bass, and Jon Arkin, drums.
More info & tickets here.

Friday 11/3 in Berkeley: Ian Carey & Nathan Clevenger: New Music for Septets

Hello folks! I’m very excited to tell you about a special performance this Friday (11/3) at 8pm, at California Jazz Conservatory (aka The Jazzschool) in Berkeley. I’ll be bringing my brand new genre-bending septet Wood/Metal/Plastic (with Alisa Rose and Mia Bella D’Augelli on violins, Jessica Ivry on cello, Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, Lisa Mezzacappa on bass, Jon Arkin on drums, and myself on trumpet), performing a new book of original music (by me) ranging from chamber music to straightahead jazz to free improvisation.

We’ll be joined by a true treasure of the Bay Area musical scene, the Nathan Clevenger Group, led by my friend the guitarist and composer, and featuring Rachel Condry on bass clarinet, Cory Wright on tenor sax, clarinet & flute, Tim DeCillis on vibraphone and percussion, plus Kasey, Lisa and Jon (who will be doing double duty in both bands). The Group has released two acclaimed albums and notable recent performances include SFMusic Day, the Switchboard Music Festival, and a featured night as part of the Best Coast Composer Series at the SF Center for New Music.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! After our individual sets, the two groups will be combining, Voltron-like, to an 11-piece “superband” to perform two brand new compositions which Nathan and I have written specifically for this concert.

Tickets available here! Don’t miss this chance to hear two (really three!) adventurous ensembles for the price of one! And check out a preview video of Wood/Metal/Plastic below.

 

Wood/Metal/Plastic Rehearsal Video + KPFA Interview

Hi folks, I’m very excited about our Wood/Metal/Plastic premiere next Friday at The Sound Room in Oakland. The music is really coming together and I’m looking forward to getting it off the page and into your ears! (Tickets here!)

Last night I had the chance to visit the great local DJ and music writer Larry Kelp’s “Sing Out” show on KPFA to talk about the project and share some rehearsal audio. You can listen to the show here (for two weeks I believe).

And here’s some footage from our recent rehearsal with snippets of several tunes. It’s a little rough around the edges as we were still working on the music, but should give you a taste of what kinds of things we’ll be up to at the show. Hope to see you there!

WOOD/METAL/PLASTIC: World Premiere 9/22 at the Sound Room

Hi folks! Here’s a press release about the world premiere of my new band on 9/22. Hope you can be there! –Ian

(Tickets available here. )

As a jazz musician and composer, Ian Carey usually viewed string instruments as distant cousins to his musical world, something he deeply enjoyed listening to but didn’t expect to have many opportunities to interact with one-on-one. But a chance musical encounter planted a seed that blossomed into a vivid new musical terrain: his 7-piece chamber-jazz ensemble Wood/Metal/Plastic, which makes its world premiere performance at The Sound Room in Oakland on September 22.

“For years I’ve played with Circus Bella, a great local circus troupe which has a live band,” led by San Francisco accordionist/composer Rob Reich. “Our long-term saxophonist left the group several years ago, and Rob decided to fill the spot with the great violinist Alisa Rose, so I spent the summer listening and soaking up what the instrument was capable of.”

Carey, who at the time was just finishing up several years straight of writing, performing, and recording the epic hourlong suite and album Interview Music (“[an] ambitious compositional vision” –Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News) with his long-term collaborators the Ian Carey Quintet+1, was looking for a musical change of pace and a new challenge.

He put together a new quartet, the loose and adventurous IJKL, featuring Quintet+1 holdovers Jon Arkin on drums (whose credits range from Lee Konitz to Ben Goldberg to the Afrobeat ensemble Albino!) and saxophonist Kasey Knudsen (who has played with Tune-Yards, Marcus Shelby, and the Holly Martins), and adding Bay Area creative music icon Lisa Mezzacappa on bass (who leads her own Bait & Switch and Avant Noir ensembles and has performed and collaborated with an encyclopedic array of notables across the creative music world); the new group focused on the freer side of jazz, performing new compositions by Carey at Studio Grand and the Make Out Room’s creative music series. “It was an exciting change of pace, jumping from the heavily planned-out world of Interview Music into this unpredictable group based on interaction and never playing something the same way twice.”

When a potential composition grant opportunity arose, “I wondered what it would be like to take our little free-ish quartet and stick it in the middle of a chamber ensemble with strings,” Carey says. He reached out to Rose (whose talents range from high classical to backcountry fiddle) and fellow violinist Mia Bella D’Augelli (who has performed with the traditional string quartet the Town Quartet as well as contemporary composers like Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis), as well as cellist Jessica Ivry (who performed for a decade with Rose in the Real Vocal String Quartet and is a composer in her own right), and Wood/Metal/Plastic was born.

To prepare for the project, Carey took a deep dive into studying stringed instruments and how to write for them, at one point even renting a cello and spending several weeks practicing the basics to help wrap his mind around how it worked. “I was super-excited when I began to get callouses on my fingers,” Carey says, “but then I suddenly remembered how much time I had left to actually write the music and got back to composing quick.”

The result is a vivid musical palette ranging from lush chorales, to dense contrapuntal thickets, to wild cacaphonies and back again. Carey’s compositions incorporate influences as diverse as 20th-century masters Villa-Lobos and Ravel, chamber jazz pioneers Gil Evans, Jimmy Giuffre, and Charles Mingus, and free jazz adventurers Ornette Coleman and Steve Lacy.

How to bridge the gaps between these diverse spheres of influence? “As much as I love straightahead jazz, and completely written-out chamber music, and free improvisation,” Carey says, “part of my reason for doing this was that I knew I couldn’t resist writing tricky and beautiful things for so many instruments, and by putting together a group like this, with players this good, I wouldn’t have to choose.”

Ian Carey’s Wood/Metal/Plastic is made possible through the Musical Grant Program, which is administered by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and supported by the Heller Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.

April Update: CJC Workshop, Asian-American Orch. at SFJAZZ, ESO

Hello folks! It’s been a happily busy musical spring so far (in spite of the daily horrors of the news), and I wanted to let you know about a few upcoming events.

CJC Workshop: Fluency in All 12 Keys

This Sunday (4/9) at 11:30am I’ll be at California Jazz Conservatory/Jazzschool in Berkeley, kicking off the Contemporary Jazz Improvisation Workshop Series, a four-part educational series for musicians featuring different local players exploring a variety of topics. My focus will be “Developing Fluency in All 12 Keys,” and I’ll be looking at several strategies  for getting comfortable in the intimidating key signature-hinterlands. Open to anyone with basic knowledge of jazz theory, and also available on a single class-basis. Registration info here.

Asian American Orchestra at SFJAZZ Poetry Festival Sunday (4/9)

Sunday evening at 8pm, I’m excited to be joining Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra and SFJAZZ Poet Laureate Genny Lim at the Joe Henderson Lab as part of the SFJAZZ Poetry Festival. We’ll be performing our updated version of Max Roach’s We Insist: Freedom Now Suite (with new poetry by Lim). Information and tickets available here.

ESO in San Francisco (4/16)

On Easter Sunday evening (4/16) from 6:30-9pm, I’ll be back with the indomitable Electric Squeezebox Orchestra (directed by Erik Jekabson), which has been holding down its residency at Doc’s Lab in North Beach for over two years, performing only original arrangements by members of the band and other local composers (like me!). We’ll be joined by a special quest, the phenomenal clarinetist Ben Goldberg. More info here.

Finally, for no reason other than that it’s good, here’s some video from my performance last month with the Adam Shulman Sextet. Enjoy!

IC Quintet+1 in Healdsburg, Takoyaki 4 in SF

 

Hi folks! Two shows coming up that I’m excited about. First up is Thursday, Feb. 23, when the Ian Carey Quintet+1 (with Kasey Knudsen, Adam Shulman, Fred Randolph, Hamir Atwal, and me) will be performing at the after-party for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s “Jazz on the Menu” fundraiser. Opening up for us will be the Healdsburg High jazz band. The details:

WHAT: Ian Carey Quintet+1 & Healdsburg High School Jazz Band
WHEN: Thursday, February 23, 7pm
WHERE: Costeaux French Bakery, 417 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg
TICKETS: Available here

Then, Saturday, February 25, my group TAKOYAKI 4 (the Takoyaki 3 organ trio of Adam Shulman and Hamir Atwal, plus special guest saxophonist James Mahone) will be making our first appearance at the great local home for jazz Bird & Beckett Books in San Francisco. We’ll be playing original music by members of the group plus some jazz rarities.

WHAT: Ian Carey’s TAKOYAKI 4 featuring James Mahone
WHEN: Saturday, February 25, 8pm
WHERE: Bird & Beckett, 653 Chenery St, San Francisco
TICKETS: $10 donation requested

I hope to see you there!

GIGS: Ian Carey Quintet+1 at SFCMC, February 17

Well: it’s been a rough start to the year for pretty much everyone, and I would be lying if I said there weren’t times that music seemed like a minor and self-centered pursuit. But that’s exactly why it’s been a welcome break to let myself get very excited about a show coming up this month.

It will be my first gig as a leader working with the great local organization Jazz in the Neighborhood, which was founded by trumpet legend Mario Guarneri and  has been producing a wide variety of shows featuring Bay Area artists for several years (I’ve been fortunate to be on several as a sideman including with the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra and various guests). JITN’s M.O. includes guaranteed wages for the musicians (a lifesaver and unfortunately a rarity these days) and features emerging artists for portions of each performance; they’re doing it right and I sincerely hope they will be around to enrich the community of artists and listeners for a long time.

This will also be my first performance at Community Music Center, and my first San Francisco show as a solo leader in quite a while (although S.F. is in the Quintet+1’s DNA—we got our start at The House of Shields, after all). I’m thrilled to have the band together again, this time with two special guests. First is the amazing Hamir Atwal on drums—I’ve been lucky to have quite a few opportunities to play with Hamir over the past year or so, and every one of them has been an adventure. We’ll also be joined for the first time by amazing multi-reedist and recent local repatriate Steven Lugerner, who will be filling in the Sheldon Brown chair on bass clarinet and baritone sax (!). The group will be rounded out by the outstanding usual suspects Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, Adam Shulman on piano, Fred Randolph on bass and me on trumpet.

The show will begin with an opening set featuring two excellent local student players (backed by Fred, Adam, and Hamir), and then we’ll be performing selections from our past three albums, including works from Interview Music (2016), Roads & Codes (2013), and Contextualizin’ (2010), some of which have never been performed in Quintet+1 format before! Here are the details:

WHAT: The Ian Carey Quintet+1
WHEN: Friday, February 17, 8pm
WHERE: Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street, San Francisco
TICKETS: Available here

Finally, for no reason at all, here’s a video of me playing Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”—I recorded this to help demonstrate my qualifications for teaching a class about that gnarly tune last month. I’m also offering a workshop on improvising with triad pairs (a very fun and interesting way of dealing with a variety of chord changes) on  February 18, check it out!

New Year’s Update: Gigs + Workshops: Berkeley, SF, Vallejo, Healdsburg

Hello folks! It’s been a stressful couple of months, but I’ve been trying to Be Like Bob (above) and channel it all into the music. The end of 2016 brought some gratifying mentions of my album Interview Music in year-end top ten lists, including The Mercury News (“an exquisite balance between [Carey’s] ambitious compositional vision and his design to showcase his superlative cast of improvisers”) and Bird is the Worm. And I feel fortunate to have some exciting events coming up, including…

Bryan Bowman Quintet in Berkeley & Vallejo

This introspective group plays the swinging, forward-thinking music of drummer and composer Bryan Bowman (you can listen to a track from our 2015 album Like Minds here), and features some of my favorite players: Bob Kenmotsu on tenor sax, Matt Clark on piano (and Luke Westbrook on guitar), and John Wiitala (and Dan Feiszli) on bass. We’re going to be playing twice this month: on Saturday, January 14 at 8pm we’ll be at the great new Berkeley venue The Back Room ($15); and on Sunday January 15 at 5pm we’re at the historic Empress Theater in Vallejo ($20), sponsored by the Vallejo Jazz Society.

Other local shows this month: Don Alberts’ Renaissance Band at 7 Mile House in Brisbane on Tuesday January 24, and Tony Corman’s Morchestra with Nic Bearde at Bach Dancing & Dynamite in Half Moon Bay on Sunday January 29th at 4:30p.

Jazzschool Workshops: Giant Steps & More

For those of you who are students of the music (of any age): I’m offering two workshops at California Jazz Conservatory’s Jazzschool Community Music Program’s spring session:

Stepping Into Giant Steps (January 21): A two-hour deep dive into one of John Coltrane’s most famous and challenging compositions, geared towards taking the fear out of those gnarly chord changes.

Modern Improvisation: Triad Pair Scales (February 18): Want to learn to navigate familiar chord changes in an interesting new way? This workshop takes a deep dive into the technique of creating and using versatile six-note scales by combining pairs of triads.

And just a reminder: I’m also available for private lessons!

Coming in February: IC Quintet+1 in Berkeley & Healdsburg, Takoyaki 4 in SF

I’m thrilled to have two opportunities to play with my Quintet+1 (Adam Shulman, Sheldon Brown, Kasey Knudsen, Fred Randolph, plus special guests Hamir Atwal and Steven Lugerner) next month:

  • On February 17, we’ll be at The Back Room in Berkeley for an event sponsored by the great local organization Jazz in the Neighborhood.
  • On February 23, we’ll be playing at the after-party for “Jazz on the Menu” at Costeaux in Healdsburg, presented by the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.

I’m also looking forward to playing with my organ-based group Takoyaki 4 (Adam Shulman on organ, Hamir Atwal on drums, and special guest James Mahone on tenor) at local institution Bird & Beckett Books in San Francisco on February 25.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you soon!