Friday, April 22, 2016

May is for The Micros; Album Kickstarter + NYC gig + Friday the 13th

May is for The Micros

In May 2016,
The Microscopic Septet
Kickstarts the Blues;
Celebrates Co-Leader Joel Forrester's 70th Birthday with a Concert at NYC's The Owl;
& Salutes Yet Another Friday the 13th

"Ever since its cutting-edge debut, 1983's Take The Z Train, there has been an air of mystery and mirth surrounding The Microscopic Septet. . .There's a whole lot of quirk here, but it's always on the joyous side. . . An eclectic bunch of kindred spirits still doing it against all odds." - Downbeat Magazine


One of New York's most elusive institutions and beloved jazz groups, The Microscopic Septet has been creating 'surrealistic swing' for the last three and a half decades. This Spring, the band has embarked on a new musical adventure: recording an album of the Micros' blues compositions. Titled I've Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down To Me: The Micros Play The Blues, the new album will be released on Cuneiform Records in 2017.

May 2016 is an especially important month for the Micros.

To pay for recording costs, they're currently running a Kickstarter campaign which expires on May 7th. They need your help NOW to make their goal.

watch a video on one of the songs to be recorded:

Cat Toys (live at Smalls 2015)


On May 13, Friday the Thirteenth, you may want to salute the Micros and the legacy of Thelonious Monk by playing a track from the Micros' iconic album,
Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform),
for your radio or internet audiences or for your personal pleasure.


On May 22nd, the Micros will make a rare public performance of the music they are about to go into the studio to record two days later, and at the same time,
celebrate co-leader pianist Joel Forrester's 70th birthday.

The Microscopic Septet
Joel Forrester's 70th Birthday party

Sunday May 22nd 2016 8PM
497 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn
Prospect Lefferts Gardens, aka PLG.  nearby trains are 2 to Sterling, Q to Prospect Park.

Come to The Owl to celebrate co-leader/co-composer/pianist Joel Forrester's birthday
and hear music from the Micros' forthcoming Cuneiform CD,
I've Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down To Me: The Micros Play The Blues.

Expect special guests and special music, and, as always, a good time to be had by all.

$15 [Buy tickets in advance:]
The venue is quite small, so we are stressing that it's a good idea to buy tickets in advance.

The Micros' Facebook page has short videos of individual Micros playing the blues:

videos of some tunes to be on new album:

Don't Mind If I Do (live at Smalls 2015)


Holiday in Newark, Live at Joe's Pub:

Happy Birthday Joel!


"seminal, brilliant post-modern jazz."
- Downbeat

[cover art by: Antonia Pesenti]

The Microscopic Septet
Manhattan Moonrise

[2014, Rune 370]
Amazon - iTunes
Bandcamp - Wayside

[cover art by: Barry Blitt]

The Microscopic Septet
Friday the 13th
The Micros Play Monk
[2010, Rune 310]
Amazon - iTunes
Bandcamp - Wayside

[cover art by: Keith Lo Bue]

The Microscopic Septet
Lobster Leaps In

[2008, Rune 272]
Amazon - iTunes
Bandcamp - Wayside

[cover art by: Art Spiegelman]

The Microscopic Septet
Seven Men in Neckties:
History of the Micros, Volume 1

[2006, Rune 236/237]
Bandcamp - Wayside

[cover art by: Art Spiegelman]

The Microscopic Septet
Surrealistic Swing:
History of the Micros, Volume 2

[2006, Rune 238/239]
Amazon - iTunes
Bandcamp - Wayside

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ergo release new animated video by Alex Barry prior to NYC album release show (4/26/2016)

Ergo Release a New Music Video for "Yet but"
from their
New Album As subtle as tomorrow
and Announce Record Release Show in NYC


Beautiful Savage premieres Ergo's new "Yet but" music video animated by Alex Barry

The animated video for "Yet but" was created by Brooklyn artist Alex Barry, using his own stunning, black and white watercolor drawings and Ergo's gorgeous music.


Celebrates the Release of As subtle as tomorrow on Cuneiform Records
with a NYC Record Release Show
at Cornelia Street Cafe on Tuesday, April 26th.

Inspired by the stark intensity and hymn-like clarity of the Emily Dickinson poem it's named after, As subtle as tomorrow is a suite of pieces in which overlapping melodies, motifs and improvisations played by the acoustic ensemble are transformed into electronic elements of the music in real time. With pianist Sam Harris, drummer Shawn Baltazor, and Brett Sroka on trombone and computer, Ergo draws on the spirit of the avant-garde, inflections of minimalism and computer electro-acoustic techniques, to sow a sound unique in modern jazz.

For this rare performance Ergo will play two sets: at 8 p.m. the trio plays the new suite As subtle as tomorrow in it's entirety, and at 10 p.m. its will expand on some of the more improvisational pieces from its three previous records.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 8pm & 10pm
Ergo - Record Release Show
Cornelia St. Cafe
29 Cornelia St.
New York, NY
$10 cover, $10 minimum
facebook event page


About Ergo's new album, As subtle as tomorrow:


STREAM/SHARE: "That never came"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

Cat. #: Rune 419, Format: CD / Digital Download
Genre: Jazz / Electronic / Minimalism

As subtle as tomorrow Track Listing:

1. as tomorrow (6:15)
2. A warrant  (3:30)
3. As subtle  (4:07)
4. That never came  (6:03)
5. a conviction  (6:18)
6. Yet but  (5:52)
7. a name (10:17)

for radio:
FCC: Clean!
Start with tracks: #2, 4, 5

Brett Sroka - trombone, computer
Sam Harris - piano, prepared-piano, Rhodes electric piano
Shawn Baltazor - drums

All songs composed by Brett Sroka (Srokasonic-SESAC).

Recorded at Peter Karl Studio, Brooklyn, NY by Peter Karl, July 18 & 25, 2013.

Mixed by Brett Sroka and Shawn Baltazor, 2014–2015.

Additional mixing by Ben Rubin at the House of Cha Cha, Brooklyn, NY, October 6, 2015.

Mastered at On Air Mastering, Brooklyn, NY by Julian Silva, October 2015.

Cover and liner photographs by Anne-Claire Rohé.

Cover design by Andrew Cornell Robinson.

Package design by Bill Ellsworth.

As subtle as tomorrow
That never came,
A warrant, a conviction,
Yet but a name.
--Emily Dickinson

With his embrace of open space and strategic use of silence, trombonist, composer, and sonic architect Brett Sroka has honed an inviting improvisation-laced sound in his trio Ergo, an electro-acoustic group approach that often reveals astonishing, strangely beautiful and unexpected realms. What’s not surprising about Ergo is discovering Sroka’s affinity for Emily Dickinson, the poet whose radical concision and visionary deployment of silence is unmatched in the English language. Featuring drummer Shawn Baltazor and Sam Harris on piano, prepared piano and Fender Rhodes, Ergo’s third Cuneiform album As subtle as tomorrow is based on a brief and typically cryptic Dickinson verse. The project captures the latest evolution of Sroka’s singular vision.

A seven-piece suite in which overlapping melodies, motifs and improvisations organically evolve into and out of the music’s electronic elements, As subtle as tomorrow takes its name from a Dickinson poem that can be reconstructed from the fragments and phrases that Sroka borrowed as tune titles. Evocative and mysterious, playful and spiritually charged as a Zen koan, the music is inspired by the stark intensity and hymn-like clarity with which Dickinson considers and transcends thoughts of time and destiny.

“She’s my favorite poet,” Sroka says. “There’s something about her simplicity and succinctness and clarity, which is so direct and poignant, that I decided I wanted to use that verse for this suite. As I started writing I gave fragments to different pieces, and the only reason that the poem is broken up is that the music flowed better that way. The title for each one felt right.”

Steeped in jazz and inspired by artists from Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Terry Riley to Sigur Ros and Aphex Twin, Sroka infuses Ergo’s music with an improvisational ethos. While he uses various effects, every sound is drawn from or created out of the acoustic instruments sampled in real time as the trio plays together. The experience of performing the music in concert deeply informed the suite’s development, and the music unfolds with its own interior logic.

The album opens with “As tomorrow,” a spare, shimmering soundscape that introduces the haunting theme that reconstitutes itself in various guises throughout the suite. The results can be uneasy and dreamlike (“A warrant”), mournful and resigned (“As subtle”), or jubilant and spritely (“A conviction”). Concluding with “A name,” which is almost a mini-suite in itself, As subtle as tomorrow doesn’t resolve neatly or deliver a cozy resolution. With Sroka’s trombone tranquilly searching in the midst of a sparse field of electronic textures, Baltazor’s cymbal caresses and Harris’s repetitive, rising and falling piano line, the music raises more questions than it answers, which seems to be exactly what Dickinson intended with the verse.

[Brett Sroka | credit: Anne-Claire Rohé]

In something of a “chicken and egg” approach, Sroka composed the themes on paper in conjunction with designing a Max/MSP software instrument to sample and process them. Through a combination of techniques, including slicing/sequencing, granular synthesis, time stretching and pitch shifting, this custom Max/MSP patch creates loop-based rhythms, abstracted timbral accompaniments, and interactive responses.

Under Sroka’s direction the trio is devoted to exploring the push and pull between structure and freedom, density and spaciousness, and electronic and acoustic timbres. One can see Ergo’s transparent sound as a conscious reaction to the prevalence of frenetic, sonically dense music being created by some of Sroka’s contemporaries.

“There’s something that appeals to me about space and silence and attractive melodies,” he says. “I’m interested in ambient music, which led to Arvo Pärt and John Cage and patient listening music that incorporates a lot of silence. One motivation might have been a response to jazz that’s out there, music that’s hyper technical, hyper busy, with a lot going on all the time.”

In many ways, Ergo is the sum of its manifestly creative parts. Raised in Lexington, Mass., Sroka studied with trombone greats Britt Woodman and Steve Turre at Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a BA in 1997 and pursued his own compositional studies by dissecting dozens of Duke Ellington scores. He made his recording debut as a leader with 2002’s impressive Fresh Sound-New Talent CD Hearsay, a stellar sextet session featuring rising masters Jason Moran, Eric Harland and trumpeter Avishai Cohen. Shortly after the album’s release, electronic music captured his imagination. Feeling hemmed in by the limited opportunities for his horn, Sroka immersed himself in synthesizers and software.

“When you’re a trombonist playing jazz, you feel marginalized,” Sroka explains. “You’re not the most popular instrument. I think I felt inadequate and that motivated me to get into electronics, to develop another palette to draw from. It’s funny, there’s a bunch of other trombonists who use electronics. I saw a video of George Lewis and he said something to a similar effect, that the trombone wasn’t enough.”

Ergo came together in 2005 when Sroka was working with a cadre of similarly inclined musicians unconcerned about genre conventions, performing in venues with audiences open to musical exploration such as Mercury Lounge, 55 Bar and Galapagos. Evolving out of these musically permissive forums, Ergo released its 2006 debut album Quality Anatomechanical Music on its own Actuator label, an album lauded as the year’s best debut CD by All About Jazz-NY. The original lineup featured Sroka on trombone and computer, Carl Maguire on Rhodes electric piano, Prophet Synthesizer and effects, and drummer Damion Reid (best known for his work with Robert Glasper, Greg Ward and Rudresh Mahanthappa).

[Ergo | credit: Anne-Claire Rohé]

The album’s success led to performances at an international array of major festivals and Ergo’s ongoing relationship with Cuneiform. Ergo’s Cuneiform debut, 2009’s multitude, solitude, featured a new version the band with Sroka, Maguire and drummer Shawn Baltazor, a dynamic, stylistically expansive drummer and composer who performs with heavyweights like Jon Irabagon, Seamus Blake, Ben Street, Ben Monder and Darcy James Argue's Secret Society.

Baltazor also works regularly in various settings with pianist Sam Harris, who joined Ergo on 2012’s If Not Inertia (a critically hailed album that featured left-field guitar star Mary Halvorson on three tracks). Born and raised in Dallas, Tex., Harris has emerged in recent years as one of the most sought after young pianists in New York City, performing and recording with superlative artists such as trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, and drummer Rudy Royston.

“Shawn and I were in a group Atticus led by Sebastian Kruger before Ergo, and he’s really self motivated and open to the concept of the music,” Sroka says. “It’s spacious and can sound simple but there’s a lot of freedom within that, and you have to get into that mindset. I met Sam when Jason Moran recommended him. Initially I wanted Ergo to go in a much more electronic direction, but by the time Sam came in I was ready to incorporate acoustic piano. He’s an amazing, fiery young player and I designed some compositions to push him and Shawn in the directions they might not otherwise go.”

In the works for several years, Sroka started developing the new suite when he was a fellow at the I-Park Foundation in Connecticut in 2012. He completed the music in the spring of 2014 at the Vilnius Academy of Art - Nida Art Colony in Lithuania. To draw on the input and distinctive styles of the ensemble members, excerpts were also developed live, before a broad range of audiences, including experimental music fans at the Sonic Circuits Festival in Washington D.C., New York City jazz crowds at Shapeshifter Lab and the Cornelia Street Café, and composition students during a workshop at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to Ergo, Sroka is a prolific film composer who co-leads the melodronoise duo Cherubim (and was formerly a member of the psych/noise/rock collective 12,000 Trees). When he’s not making music, Sroka is a carpenter who also works for a prestigious New York art gallery.

If you'd like to share music from this release, please feel free to use the following track:
"That never came": @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube



Brett Sroka - trombone, computer -
Sam Harris - piano, prepared-piano, Rhodes electric piano
Shawn Baltazor - drums -

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 8pm & 10pm
Ergo - Record Release Show
Cornelia St. Cafe
29 Cornelia St.
New York, NY
$10 cover, $10 minimum
facebook event page


what the press has said about As subtle as tomorrow

"Emily Dickinson meets electro-acoustic jazz.
3 1/2 stars...
.. .The result is acoustic-electro jazz with a perceptive structure and freedom, frequently ambient and atmospheric, where silence and space is more important than overreaching technicality or hyperkinetic virtuosity. Sometimes the music is ethereal. ...the opener, "as tomorrow,"... is an austere, iridescent soundscape which has a haunting characteristic akin to rock and electronic artists such as Mogwai or Tycho. A comparable, dreamlike demeanor flits through the uneasy, darting "A warrant"..." - Audiophile Audition

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April is the Month for Jazz!

 April is the Month for Jazz!

April is Jazz Month - a special month devoted to celebrating the past, present and future of Jazz! The tradition began in 2002, when the Museum of American History in Washington DC launched Jazz Appreciation Month. In 2011, UNESCO launched International Jazz Day.  And in 2012, the Jazz Journalists Association launched JazzApril, devoted to supporting both Jazz Appreciation Month and International Jazz Day (April 30).


The Cuneiform Records label is celebrating jazz this April by announcing upcoming Spring/Summer Jazz releases by four of the most innovative and important groups in contemporary jazz. On May 20, 2016, Cuneiform is honored to release Behind the Vibration by Rez Abbasi & Junction, and Convallaria by Thumbscrew (Mary Halvorson/Michael Formanek/Tomas Fujiwara); and on June 24th we're honored to release Super Petite by The Claudia Quintet, John Hollenbeck's group, and I Just Did Say Something by the Scandinavian group I.P.A.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming days!

Upcoming Jazz Releases on Cuneiform: Spring/Summer 2016

Rez Abbasi & Junction
Behind the Vibration

(release date: May 20, 2016)

The Claudia Quintet
Super Petite

(release date: June 24, 2016)

I Just Did Say Something

(release date: June 24, 2016)

[Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanek, Tomas Fujiwara]
(release date: May 20, 2016)


Cuneiform is also celebrating jazz in April 2016 by inviting you to enjoy jazz by listening to our jazz releases. Cuneiform has an extensive back catalogue that includes new and archival jazz recordings by established icons (Michael Gibbs & the NDR BigBand, John Surman, Wadada Leo Smith & more) and fast rising stars (Pixel, Rob Mazurek, Empirical & many more). In honor of Jazz Month 2016, you can now listen to the jazz albums Cuneiform released between January 2015-February 2016 (see below) on Bandcamp; they can now be streamed prior to purchase.

Cuneiform invites you to support jazz by purchasing the titles that you like - whether released on Cuneiform or other jazz labels - on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, or your favorite brick & mortar record store.

We also ask you to appreciate and support live jazz and the venues that host it, by attending jazz concerts in or near your home town.


Raoul Björkenheim/ Ecstasy
Out Of The Blue
Listen Now
Released: Oct. 16, 2015

Listen Now
Released: Feb. 5, 2016

As subtle as tomorrow
Listen Now
Released: Feb. 5, 2016

Michael Gibbs and the NDR Bigband
In My View
Listen Now
  Released: June 9, 2015

Michael Gibbs and the NDR Bigband [featuring Bill Frisell]
Play a Bill Frisell Set List
Listen Now
Released: June 9, 2015

Henry Kaiser/Ray Russell
The Celestial Squid
Listen Now
 Released: Feb. 3, 2015

The Kandinsky Effect
Listen Now
Released: Jan. 20, 2015

Le Rex
Wild Man
Listen Now
Released: Oct. 2, 2015

Gary Lucas' Fleischerei
[ft. Sarah Stiles]
Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons

Listen Now
Released: Feb. 5, 2016

Rob Mazurek /
Exploding Star Orchestra
Galactic Parables: Volume 1
Listen Now
Released: May 26, 2015

Listen Now
Released: Jan. 22, 2015

Mike Osborne
Listen Now
Released: Feb. 3, 2015

The Ed Palermo Big Band
One Child Left Behind
Listen Now
Released: Jan. 22, 2016

Golden Years
Listen Now
Released: Oct. 16, 2015

Adam Rudolph /
Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra
Turning Towards The Light

Listen Now
Released: Oct. 2, 2015

Listen Now
Released: Jan. 20, 2015

Soft Machine
Switzlerland 1974
Listen Now
Released: Feb. 3, 2015