On November 7, 2007 the Open Ears Music Series presented its first performance in the Blue Nile Balcony Room. The Jeff Albert Quintet performed at the first of the weekly Wednesday night concerts. The rest of November featured New Orleans improvisers Simon Lott, Justin Peake, Helen Gillet, Jonathan Freilich, Dave Cappello and others, as well as Dutch bass master Wilbert de Joode. It was an ambitious start for a creative music series in a city that has always had lots of creative musicians. The series was founded by Jeff Albert and organized in the early days by Jeff, Justin Peake, and Dan Oestreicher. Justin left for Brooklyn, and then returned to start Merged Music, which presents creative electronic music and visual performances, and Dan has been busied by his duties touring with trombone Shorty, so Jeff has the organizational load to himself these days, but Justin and Dan are still very much on the scene. In 2008, the series moved to Tuesday nights, where it has become a regular fixture on the New Orleans schedule.
Over the past five years the Open Ears Music Series has presented many of the best improvisers in New Orleans, and a number of the most accomplished improvisers in the world. Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, Frank Gratkowski, Wolter Weirbos, Georg Graewe, Tim Daisy, Michael Zerang, Cooper-Moore, Gebhard Ullmann, Joe McPhee, James Singleton, Dave Cappello, Delfeayo Marsalis, Helen Gillet, Jonathan Freilich, Aurora Nealand, Joe Cabral, Mark McGrain, Rex Gregory, Rick Trolsen, and many others have performed on the series.
In October 2012, the 60th month of the series, Jeff Albert has put together five concerts to celebrate the first five years of the series.
October 2: Dave Rempis
October 9: The Log Ladies & Jeff Albert Quartet/Quintet
October 16: The Gebhard Ullmann/Steve Swell 4 featuring Barry Altschul & Hill Greene
October 23: Ab Baars/Ig Hennemann Duo
October 30: 5th Anniversary Open Ears Improv Mash-up
DAVE REMPIS – October 2
Dave Rempis is a great saxophonist based in Chicago. Dave is best known for his work as a member of the Vandermark 5, and with the collective The Engines. http://www.daverempis.com
Set 1: Dave Rempis/Jeff Albert Duo
Set 2: Dave Rempis & Dan Oestreicher (saxes), Jesse Morrow (bass), & Dave Cappello (drums)
THE LOG LADIES & JEFF ALBERT QUARTET/QUINTET – October 9
October 9 is Jeff’s birthday, so he booked some of his favorite groups in which he plays.
The Log Ladies have crafted their brand of cosmic skronk jazz in the rich musical soil of New Orleans. Their music sheds jazz conventions and avant-garde headiness, yet combines these genres in a rocking accessible sonic adventure. Haunting melodies mix with a romping rhythm section, shifting textures and even a healthy dose of humor, to deliver a distinctive alluring sound. Chris Alford(guitar), Dave Cappello(drums),and Jesse Morrow(bass) are three unique stylized improvising musicians whose sum is The Log Ladies. In July, The Log Ladies did a tour of Texas with Jeff as their guest. http://www.reverbnation.com/thelogladies
The Jeff Albert Quartet was born in 2004 and now features Ray Moore on saxes, Jesse Morrow on bass, and Dave Cappello on drums. They will perform material from their CDs One and Similar in the Opposite Way, as well as some newer quintet material that will also feature Chris Alford on guitar. http://jeffalbert.com
ULLMANN/SWELL 4 – October 16
The ‘Ullmann/Swell 4’ is the latest format of Gebhard Ullmann (based in Berlin) and Steve Swell (based in NYC) with bassist Hill Greene and legendary drummer Barry Altschul. This emotional and intense quartet was founded in 2004 and toured in the U.S. and Canada in the same year. In October and November of 2006 the ‘Ullmann/Swell 4’ performed in Europe for the first time and got raving reviews. The quartet performed on 2008’s Vision Festival in New York City and was called by many one of the highlights of the festival.
DUO BAARS-HENNEMAN – October 23
Ab Baars – tenorsax, clarinet, shakuhachi
Ig Henneman – viola
Ab Baars and Ig Henneman are among the leading representers of the jazz- and improvised music scene in the Netherlands. Their program contains improvisations based on compositions written by Baars and Henneman and completely improvised material.
The duo Baars-Henneman was born in Rome (IT) at the Festival “ControIndicazioni” in 1999. Ab Baars and Ig Henneman have participated in international festivals and played venues as a duo and with their own groups. The duo toured in The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, Norway, Czech Republic, USA, Canada and Brasil. Ab Baars leads his own groups; the Ab Baars Trio and Quartet. For years now he is a member of the ICP Orchestra of Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. Ig Henneman is a violaplayer and a composer. She leads her own groups in which she works with musicians from various areas of music, like radical free improvisation, jazz, contemporary music and punk. She is a member of the Canadian/Dutch Queen Mab Trio.
5th Anniversary Open Ears Improv Mash-up – October 30
One of the reasons the Open Ears Music Series was founded was to provide a platform/meeting place/incubator for the improvising musicians of New Orleans. Over the years we have presented a number of Improv Mash Ups, in which a number of improvisers are invited to perform in various ad hoc groupings. These have been some of the more popular performances, and October 30 will feature a huge celebratory gathering of improvisers, who will play in a variety of previously unexplored groupings. Confirmed participants include: Helen Gillet, Justin Peake, Barry Stephenson, Mark McGrain, Dave Cappello, Chris Alford, Doug Garrison, Rick Trolsen, Rev Gooden, Brad Walker, Ray Moore, Jeff Albert, Marcello Benetti, Jesse Morrow, & Dan Oestreicher.
A number of people deserve to be thanked for their role in the success of the first five years of the Open ears Music Series. The team at The Blue Nile, especially Jesse and Ollie, have made the series possible. Other presenters of creative and improvised music in New Orleans have set up a number of the concerts, especially those featuring musicians from other places, so a big thank you to Andy Durta (Scatterjazz), Rob Cambre (Anxious Sounds), and Benjamin Lyons (Valid Records).