saxophone, multi-wind instrumentalist
Steve Baczkowski (b.1975 - Buffalo, N.Y.) is a saxophonist and multi-wind instrumentalist. Buffalo-based saxophonist Steve Baczkowski performs solo, in trio with drummer Ravi Padmanabha & bassist Brian DeJesus, and in frequent collaborations with guitarist Bill Nace and drummer Chris Corsano. A new trio LP Mystic Beings with Corsano & Nace was recently released to wide acclaim by Open Mouth Records and Old Smoke, a new live trio recording with Corsano and bassist Brandon Lopez was released on CD by Relative Pitch Records in April 2019. A new recording highlighting Baczkowski's 20-year duo collaboration with Ravi Padmanabha will be released on Astral Spirits in the summer.
Baczkowski began playing alto saxophone at age eight and switched to baritone by the time he was twelve. He studied music in high school at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and went on to studies in music, saxophone performance, literature and ethnomusicology at the State University of New York at Buffalo ‘94-99. In 1999, Baczkowski became the Music Director of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, N.Y. (a 45-year old, multi-disciplinary, non-profit, artist-run cultural organization – hallways.org) where he has since produced and presented hundreds of concerts of contemporary music as well as numerous community-based artist residencies.
Baczkowski has organized multiple ensembles over the years including the Buffalo Improvisers Orchestra, Buffalo Suicide Prevention Unit, Organ Donor and many others and he regularly performs with the 12/8 Path Band, Buffalo Afrobeat Orchestra & Buffalo Jazz Octet. He frequently collaborates with musicians from all over the globe and has appeared at festivals in the US, Canada, Mexico & the UK.
photo credit: Jon Piret, Silo City
live sampling, electronics
A 2015 transplant to Baltimore from New Mexico’s rich experimental music scene, CK Barlow turns real-time and field recordings into performable solo pieces using a variety of hardware instruments, laptops and mobile devices. As an ensemble player, CK spent 14 years with the acclaimed avant-orchestral conduction-improv group Out of Context using a custom live-sampling setup. Other NM bands included Useless Eaters (w/JA Dino Deane and DJ Ultraviolet), and mJane with Molly Sturges — along with a variety of rock, metal and salsa bands. She has scored two feature-length films and dozens of short films, theater productions and choreographic works; and has had music used in more than 190 different television series.
photo credit: Karen Milling
improvised feedback manipulation
Bob Bellerue is a noise composer, experimental musician, and creative technician based in Brooklyn NY. Over the last 30 years he has been involved in a wide range of experimental and extreme sonic activities – noise art, experimental / abstract music, junk metal percussion ensembles, Balinese gamelan, sound scores for dance/ theater/ video/ performance art, and sound / video installations. His electronic sound work is focused on resonant feedback systems, using amplified instruments/ objects/ spaces/ circuits in combination with electronics and Supercollider programming. Bob's work has been presented at The Kitchen, Issue Project Room, MOMA/PS1, Experimental Intermedia, Cafe Oto, Fylkingen, EMS, the Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival, Centre de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, LUFF Festival, Akouphene Festival, Sonic Circuits Festival, Living Arts of Tulsa's New Genre Festival, CEAIT Festival, Ende Tymes Festival, Denver Noise Festival, Olympia Experimental Music Festival, PDX Noise Festival, Basilica Drone Festival, Cave12, Diapason Sound Gallery, Roulette, Fridman Gallery, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Elastic Arts, Here Art Center, Radio Epsilonia (Paris), WFMU, WKCR, WNYU, KFJC, KXLU, East Village Radio, NYU, the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford University, The New School, UCSD, and UCLA. His discography includes dozens of releases on Elevator Bath Records, iDeal Recordings, Banned Productions, Annihilvs, Fabrica, P-Tapes, RRR Records, Love Earth Music, Prison Tatt Records, Los Discos Enfantasmes, Zelphabet, Peyote Tapes, No Rent Records, Important Records, and his own Anarchymoon Recordings and Sleepy Hollow Editions. He curates and produces the Ende Tymes Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation (currently in its 10th edition). He was formerly based in Los Angeles, where he ran the sub-garde experimental music/performance space the Il Corral, and curated the Beyond Music series and festival. He works as an audio engineer and technical director, working presently for Issue Project Room and a handful of clients in the NYC area.
photo credit: Daniel Johnson
Tom Boram, aka Tom Borax, is harpsichordist, synthesizerist, synesthesizerist, teacher, artist etc from Baltimore MD. He has been active in Baltimore's underground music scene for 25 years, performed all over the Earth etc.
Samuel Burt is a composer and daxophonist in Baltimore. He composes for orchestra, small groups, piano, and electronic music. In addition to the daxophone, he improvises on clarinet and bass clarinet. Burt is a co-curator of the High Zero Festival and the Red Room series, facilitating performances of experimental music and contemporary compositions. He currently performs in the band Coy Fish, and has been involved in many other Baltimore-based projects over the last fifteen years. Since, 2015, he has been running the monthly Volunteers' Collective improvisation workshop, acting as a welcoming bridge for newcomers to meet veteran players. Burt has constructed more than 20 daxophones for people around the world, a wooden instrument designed by Hans Reichel.
Burt obtained degrees in music composition from the Peabody Institute and University of Georgia. He studied with Lewis Nielson, Leonard Ball, Geoffrey Wright, and Christopher Theofanidis. He lectures at Towson and Johns Hopkins Universities.
Ledah Finck is a violinist, violist, improviser, and composer splitting her time between Baltimore, Maryland and NYC. A passionate performer, creator, and curator of contemporary classical music, she is an active and founding member of experimental duo The Witches, the Bergamot String Quartet, Nick Dunston’s Atlantic Extraction, and earspace ensemble. Compositional projects include commissions by Imani Winds, Alarm Will Sound/Now Hear This, the Bridge Ensemble, and The Peabody Community Chorus.
She has completed studies at the Banff Centre, the Lucerne Festival, Ensemble Moderne’s Klangspuren Academy in Austria, the Aspen Music Festival, and Bang on a Can among others. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in violin performance and composition from the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Herbert Greenberg, Oscar Bettison, Judah Adashi, and Mike Formanek.
Nik Francis (b. 1981, Milwaukee, WI) is a percussionist, electronic musician, and auditory neuroscientist. Francis began taking lessons in classical piano as a child, while also teaching himself computer music and analog audio electronics. Having found an interest in the neuroscience of listening, Francis earned both a B.A. (UIowa) and Ph.D. (MIT) in Speech and Hearing Sciences. Today, Francis is a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland and a performing artist living in Washington, D.C.. Francis’s electronic music has explored the use of granular synthesis and electro-acoustic instrumentation. For nearly two decades, Francis has focused on improvised music—initially with computers, and more recently concentrating on percussion. Francis has worked with artists such as Tyler Higgins, Jim Ryan, Layne Garrett, Dave Sewelson, William Parker, and Jamal Moore. Francis uses the study of sound and the practice of music to facilitate interpersonal exchanges of higher consciousness and well-being.
A Baltimore-based improviser, composer, cellist and guitarist, Owen Gardner’s work is informed by his involvement in Baltimore's musical underground and by his studies in early music and ethnomusicology, yielding an ever-widening sonic and emotional language. He has worked primarily in Just Intonation and primarily with cello and modified electric guitar since 2006.
Owen has worked in a wide variety of collaborative contexts, having been a founding member of Horse Lords, Black Vatican and Teeth Mountain, as well as performing and/or recording with Matmos, Dan Deacon and Future Islands, among others. In 2019 Owen was one of two US representatives in the Global Improvisers Orchestra at Moers Festival in Moers, Germany.
Owen has been a High Zero Collective member since 2009. He serves as liaison to Normals Books and Records, home to High Zero’s year-round performance venue Red Room; curates and runs Red Room shows; and designs many of High Zero’s print marketing and promotional materials.
trumpet, laptop computer
Forbes Graham is a trumpet player, electronic musician, and composer living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the founder of the Rock Flint Artists Retreat, and has appeared at numerous festivals including High Zero, Full Force, and Vision.
photo credit: Lillian Graham
Clarissa Stowell Gregory
Dancer, animator, model-maker—Clarissa Gregory’s life-long fascination for the natural world informs how she moves through space and crafts her environment with textural sensitivity. Performance collaborations include work with musicians Dan Deacon, Rod Hamilton and Tiffany Seal, and theatre artist Corey Hennessey, and a big blue rain barrel from her back yard. She choreographed and co-directed the site-specific Patapsco Valley State Park performance Pull/Drift with sculptor Joshua Wade Smith. As a former dance member of Effervescent Collective and Sound. Image. Movement, Clarissa’s excited to (re)join the High Zero crew. Clarissa teaches drawing at Maryland Institute College of Art, creative movement for toddlers, yoga, and still shakes her tail feathers. Her nightly ritual includes dancing - aka running laps around the house to Moondog with her sound video artist husband Jimmy Joe Roche and their almost 3 year-old son, Marlowe, a crazy cool kid.
Sarah Hennies (b. 1979, Louisville, KY) is a composer/performer based in Ithaca, NY whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer & trans identity, love, intimacy, psychoacoustics, and percussion. She is primarily a composer of solo and chamber works, but is also active in improvisation, film, performance art, and dance. She presents her work internationally as both a composer and percussionist with notable performances at Le Guess Who (Utrecht), Festival Cable (Nantes), send + receive (Winnipeg), O’ Art Space (Milan), The OBEY Convention (Halifax), Cafe Oto (London), ALICE (Copenhagen), and the Edition Festival (Stockholm). As a composer, she has received commissions across a wide array of performers and ensembles including Bearthoven (NYC), Bent Duo (NYC), Cristian Alvear (Santiago), Claire Chase (NYC), R. Andrew Lee (Denver), LIMINAR (Mexico City), The Living Earth Show (San Francisco), The Thin Edge New Music Collective (Toronto), Two-Way Street (Knoxville), and Yarn/Wire (NYC).
She is the recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, a 2016 fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has received additional support from New Music USA, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.
Hennies is currently a member of improvised music group Meridian with Greg Stuart and Tim Feeney, a duo with sound/performance artist Jason Zeh, and the Queer Percussion Research Group with Jerry Pergolesi, Bill Solomon, and Jennifer Torrence.
Bonnie Jones is a Korean-American improvising musician, poet, and performer working with electronic sound and text. She performs solo and in numerous collaborative music, film, and visual art projects. Bonnie was a founding member of the Transmodern Festival and CHELA Gallery and is currently a member of the High Zero Festival collective. In 2010, she co-founded TECHNE technesound.org, an organization that introduces young female-identified women to technology-focused art making, improvisation, and community collaboration. TECHNE’s programs are delivered through partnerships with grassroots organizations that share an aligned commitment to racial and gender equity. She has received commissions from the London ICA and Walters Art Museum and has presented her work extensively at institutions in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia. Bonnie was a 2018 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. Born in 1977 in South Korea she was raised on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.
Susie Kozawa, a sound artist, composer and performer, works mostly with sound collages and site-specific installations, in which the gathering of sounds is a primary activity. She explores different acoustic spaces using musical instruments she makes out of found objects, kelp, modified toys and human voice.
She creates sound design for dance, film and theater productions. Most recently she did foley and soundscape design for Clyde Petersen’s feature length stop motion animated film “Torrey Pines” (2016). Live performances with the film were presented in Seattle, Vancouver B.C., Boston and Connecticut (2016-2018).
She also creates sound collages from field recordings of found sounds and is a member of the Seattle Phonographers Union.
She has permanent public art installations with visual artist Erin Shie Palmer for the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle.
She has received a number of awards in Washington State and was a Ford Foundation Collaborating Artist as well as a guest artist at The International Workshop for Spatial Media hosted by the University of Aizu Wakamatsu in Japan.
She has recently performed at Disney Hall Keck Amphitheatre and Coaxial Arts and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles.
photo credit: City Meditation Group (2011)
Bonnie Lander is a soprano, composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist based out of Baltimore. Versatile, dramatic, with a "signature ability to embody a seemingly endless supply of vocal timbres and personalties" Bonnie combines an intuitive use of the voice with resonant operatic technique to fearlessly present music that explores the intersection of neuroticism, anxiety and strength. Bonnie is a collective member of Baltimore’s 2640 Space in as well as co-founder of NYC based chamber ensemble Rhymes With Opera. She received her MM in Vocal Performance from the Peabody Conservatory and completed her DMA in Contemporary Vocal Performance at UC San Diego.
New York, NY
Charmaine Lee is a New York-based vocalist. Her music is predominantly improvised, favoring a uniquely personal approach to vocal expression concerned with spontaneity, playfulness, and risk-taking. Beyond extended vocal technique, Charmaine uses amplification, electroacoustic feedback, and microphones to augment and distort the voice. She has performed with leading improvisers Nate Wooley, id m theft able, and Joe Morris, and maintains ongoing collaborations with contemporaries Lester St. Louis, Conrad Tao, Zach Rowden, and Leila Bordreuil. She has performed at the Met Breuer, ISSUE Project Room, Roulette, the Stone, the Kitchen, and MoMA PS1. As a composer, Charmaine has been commissioned by the Wet Ink Ensemble (2018) and Spektral Quartet (2018). She is currently an Artist-in-Residence at ISSUE Project Room (2019).
photo credit: Peter Gannushkin
woodwinds, percussion, electronics
Abstract Black (JayVe Montgomery) is a multi-instrumentalist improvisor of woodwinds, percussion, and electronics. Montgomery is a product of Chicago’s improvised music community, where he’s on records of late by Matthew Lux and Ben Lamar Gay. He lives and breathes in Nashville, Tennessee, these days where you’ll find him playing FMRL shows with touring improvisers and locals old and young. Montgomery was recently invited to bring his piece BREATHE, where he circular breathes through bass clarinet and electronics for 30+ minutes, to the 12-hour drone at Big Ears Festival this year, where he also played a solo electroacoustic set. He is a monk in the order of David Boykin’s Sonic Healing Ministries. He is also a participant in operations of The Bridge 2.1, an organization supporting the transatlantic collaboration of improvising musicians from France and Chicago. This recent collaboration in quintet configuration, Crying Out Loud, can be found online.
photo credit: Ed Bornstein
Lê Quan Ninh
surrounded bass drum
As a classical trained percussionist, Lê Quan Ninh worked with contemporary music ensembles and was a founder member of Quatuor Hêlios (1986-2012), a percussion quartet that performed and recorded, among others, John Cage's percussion works. Their last creation was Seul à Seuls by Georges Aperghis premiered in late 2006 at the Musica Festival in Strasbourg (France).
As an improvisor, he participates at numerous meetings in Europe and in North America and plays regularly in ensembles in forms that mix improvised acoustic & electroacoustic music, 'performance art', dance, poetry, experimental cinema, photography and video.
With the cellist Martine Altenburger, he founded in 2006 the ensemble]h[iatus, a contemporary music ensemble whose its members are at the same time interpreters and improvisers. They commissioned pieces to the composers Vinko Globokar, Peter Jakober, Steffen Krebber, Jennifer Walshe and Anthony Pateras.
His discography counts about 40 CD on european and north american labels. The last releases (Aplomb, 2015) is a duet with his long term colleague Michel Doneda and a CD with ensemble]h[iatus devoted to works by Peter Jakober and improvisations.In 2014, he publishes the translation of his book "Improvising Freely. The ABCs of an Experience" (previously published in french). The book is available at a.nnotate.com.
photo credit: Brad Marcum
Danishta Rivero is an improviser, performer, and sound artist based in Oakland, California. She is a vocalist whose solo performances involve the processing of her voice through electronics.
Rivero performs solo, often as Caribay, as well as with her electro-acoustic duo Voicehandler with percussionist Jacob Felix Heule. She is also half of Las Sucias, a feminist tropical noise duo with Alexandra Buschman-Román.
photo credit: Chuck Johnson
Ståle Liavik Solberg
Ståle Liavik Solberg (born 1979) is a Norwegian drummer, percussionist and improviser. His main focus is improvised music and that includes groups and projects with John Russell, Steve Beresford, Frode Gjerstad, Paal Nilssen-Love, Fred Lonberg-Holm, John Butcher, Lotte Anker, Joe McPhee, Ryley Walker and many more.
He has a BA in Jazz from University of Stavanger (2007) and MA in improvisation from the Norwegian Academy of Music (2011).
Solberg tours extensively and he has played at festivals and clubs like All Ears, Blow Out!, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, DOM, End of the road, Fete Quaqua, Jazzaldia San Sebastian, Mopomoso, Suoni Per Il Popolo, Pit-In, Festival Sinsal, Okka Fest, Cafe Oto, Constellation and more. When Ståle Liavik Solberg isn’t touring he spends time teaching drums and also programming and organizing the Blow Out! series and festival as well as Kongsberg Jazzfestival.
voice, violin, piano
Kristen Toedtman (voice, violin, piano) is a singer, composer and choir director based in Baltimore. As a classical vocalist, she has performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony and Musica Angelica orchestras at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall and various other venues around the country. She has sung on soundtracks of movies she’s never seen (Frozen, Godzilla, others) and radio spots she’s never heard. Kristen composes sacred and secular music for choirs, including multiple collaborations with artist Lita Albuquerque in Los Angeles and for the 2018 Desert X biennial in the Coachella Valley. Her life is a graceful fumble of near-constant improvising. She is a virtuosic listener. Kristen directs the Community Chorus of Peabody, where she gets to share her passion for the healing potentials and pleasures of singing.
Bulgarian violinist Biliana Voutchkova lives and works in Berlin as a soloist and with renowned ensembles such as Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, the Splitter Orchestra, Zeitkratzer, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble United Berlin etc. She is a dynamic and thoroughly engaged performer/composer/improviser with truly personal musical language. Her work spans the widest possible range of music, sound and movement and her interests lead into various multi disciplinary collaborations. Biliana appeared at festivals and concert series worldwide, among those are the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Mózg, GAS Festival, Wien Modern, Experimental Intermedia, Frequency series Chicago, Nonevent, Klangspuren, MärzMusik and Jazzfest Berlin. She is a recent recipient of the Composition Stipend from the Berliner Senate and grands from INM/Berlin and the Trust for Mutual Understanding/New York.
"...courageous, uncompromising, ultimately successful….”
--FreiStil #70/Bertl, Germany
photo credit: Photomusix/Cristina Marx
Baltimore bassist Jeron White, has been very progressive on the jazz/anvant garde scene. As a leader, as well for his group "Polarity", and trio Jeron has recorded with several recordings. "Polarity" opened for Michael Formanek "Ensemble Kolossus" April 2017 at NYU Theater. Discography include Jamal Moore "Organix Trio Ancestral Communion", and Theljon Allen "Prospective".