Friday, October 5, 8pm
Bop Shop Records 1460 Monroe Ave.
$20 at the door/$15 for students
Ken Thomson, alto saxophone, compositions
Anna Webber, tenor saxophone
Russ Johnson, trumpet
Nick Finzer, trombone
Adam Armstrong, bass
Daniel Dor, drums
Ken Thomson is a Brooklyn-based clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer. In demand as a composer and freelancer in many settings, he moves quickly between genres and scenes, bringing a fiery intensity and emotional commitment to every musical situation; Time Out NY called him “the hardest-working saxophonist in new-music show business.”
He plays clarinet for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of the world’s preeminent new music ensembles. He leads the Asphalt Orchestra – a 12-piece next-generation avant-garde marching band, called “cooly brilliant, infectious… top notch players” by The New York Times. He plays saxophone and is one of the 3 composers in the punk/jazz band Gutbucket, with whom he has toured internationally to nineteen countries and 32 states over fourteen years, and released CDs for Knitting Factory, Enja, NRW, Cantaloupe and Cuneiform Records. He is on faculty at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival.
As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, and others, and has received awards from New Music USA, ASCAP and Meet the Composer. The New York Times wrote of his work “Wait Your Turn” for the American Composers Orchestra upon its debut at Carnegie Hall: “The concert ended on a high note…. the music offered a density worthy of the closing bars of a Led Zeppelin epic;” and of his work “seasonal.disorder” for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, “a virtuoso piece… a texture laced with power chords, screaming clarinet lines and cluster-laden piano writing. In the end it is sheer madness, in a good, thrillingly visceral way.” The Philadelphia Inquirer also noted: “Thomson’s Wait Your Turn is as visceral as music can be.”
He has recently released a CD of his compositions with the heralded JACK Quartet, entitled “Thaw,” on Cantaloupe Music.
His 2009 saxophone nonet, “Rut,” was featured on the Bang on a Can Marathon NYC; his 2012 work “Incoming” and 2013 work “Music for Trains” premiered at the Bang on a Can Summer Marathon at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA in 2012-13. His through-composed rescoring of the 22-minute 1936 British film “Night Mail” was called “a masterful re-imagining of an old classic” by Indiewire.com upon its debut at the True/False Film Festival. His clarinet quintet “How to Play” has been played in the US and Australia by multiple ensembles. The San Francisco Weekly writes about his music, “Thomson’s original compositions are as complex as a beehive, filled with amber-hued nooks and crannies that bear traces of jazz, world music, and classical, without succumbing to any of them.”
As a saxophonist and clarinetist, he is a member of the next-generation chamber orchestra Signal (conducted by Brad Lubman), working directly with composers from Steve Reich to Helmut Lachenmann and a performer on CDs for Mode, Orange Mountain, and Cantaloupe Records. He is a frequent collaborator with many new-composed music groups including Alarm Will Sound (on their Nonesuch Records debut, “A/rhythmia”), International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), So Percussion, and
more. He has also worked as a music director, notably, directing composer Julia Wolfe’s “Traveling Music” at the Bordeaux Conservatory, France, 2009, and has conducted performances of “Music for Airports” with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, choir, and guest musicians in Melbourne and Buenos Aires.