The individuals performing in High Zero are drawn from among the most interesting experimental musicians we can find, with an attempt made to create a balance between Baltimore, North America, and Europe (so far). Musicians are selected for the depth of their imagination, their abilities in free improvisation, and their commitment to collaboration. Most musicians have performed in the Red Room performance outside of the festival.

HIGH ZERO 2003 Musicians:

From Afar :

Paolo Angelli (Sardinia) - modified Sardinian guitar, voice
Born in Sardinia, guitarist and composer Paolo Angelli (prepared sardinian guitar, vocals) has long been a major figure on the New Music scene in Bologna. Since the mid-90’s he has worked at rediscovering Sardinian musical heritage assisted by Giovanni Scanu, one of the masters of the Œchitarra sardae de canto in re’ an early music vocal form. Combining traditional and new music improvised approaches, an original and unlikely perspective, Paolo Angeli, over the years, has developed his unique style allowing him to refine his own “prepared” version of his favorite instrument within the context of a solo and group performance. The Sardinian guitar is the instrument that more than any other accompanies monadic singing in northern Sardinia. Its spreading fame, especially after the end of WWII, has been associated with the "Gara di canto", a battle of song contended among three or more song writers engaging in endless discussions over models and forms pertaining to the popular songs from the areas around Gallura and Logudoro (first and foremost is the Song in Re*). This guitar is also called the "Giant" because of its size. It is tuned from one-fourth or one-fifth below standard, and is considered to be a cross between acoustic bass and folk guitar.

Ron Anderson (NYC) - guitar, electronics
One of the most vital players in the underground of experimental rock, Ron Anderson is an anarchic multi-instrumentalist and intuitive music maker, who plays not only traditional instruments like the electric guitar, but also will use anything that can make a sound, including the recording studio. He has 41 CDs or LPs to his credit the most recent is a new CD by RONRUINS called Big Shoes on the Japanese label Maguibutsu and THE INFUSIONS on the French label 33 Revpermi. with Camel Zekri and Olivier Paquotte. Up coming releases: a recording with JASON WILLET on Baraka Foundation and the first CD for PAK. A bunch of recordings are in the vaults looking for the light of day, Jolie! a solo noise recording, The Freezing Sessions, with French provoquer JAC BERROCAL, and the final work of THE MOLECULES a 3 CD set called Complete Self Indulgence. He has performed in 15 different countries with multiple tours of North America, Europe, Japan. Ron was a co-founder of the notorious noise rock group RAT AT RAT R in Philadelphia 1980- 81. 1990 began his longest running project THE MOLECULES. These bad boys of new music developed a controversial approach of free rock and dada concepts, which left them equally loved and hated in San Francisco. August of 1998 Ron moved to Geneva, Switzerland. Started a recording project with members of the French Band ULAN BATOR. Returning to the USA in August 1999, Ron moved back to New York City, where he currently lives and stirs up trouble. The Charles Mingus of Rock.

Ricardo Arias (NYC) - balloons, flute
Ricardo Arias was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1965, and has resided in New York since 1996. He studied composition and electro-acoustic music with Chilean composer Gabriel Brncic in Barcelona and is currently studying anthropology. Most of Arias’ music is improvised and made in collaboration with other musicians. For a long time he performed with a shifting array of objects amplified by piezo transducers. Since 1992 he has focused almost exclusively on THE BALLOON KIT, a device made of a number of balloons attached to a suitable structure and played with hands and a set of accessories (various kinds of sponges, pieces of styrofoam, rubber bands, etc.) producing an amazing array of highly controlled but deeply unusual sounds.

Edgar Um Bucholtz (Pittsburgh) - trumpet, objects
Conceptualist, vandal, master of the obscure, Edgar Um Bucholtz plays everything and nothing with equal verve. He is a former member of "The Giant Flying Squirrel Crystallized Urine Gatherers of Pakistan."


Chris Cooper (Vermont) - guitar, electronics
Intense guitarist all over the place on the floor working with feedback, contact microphones, radio technology etc. Currently residing in Vermont and a member of the great trio Barn Owl; formerly a member of the legendary noise-mind- disaster Caroliner. Cooper also has played with incredibly dexterity with Bhob Rainey and Nicole Bindler, among many others.


Michel Doneda (France) - saxophones
One of the most interesting improvisors and reed players to be heard in Baltimore in many years, Doneda is one of the most focused and sonically extreme players in European free music. He has been involved with music since he was 15 years old in the Harmonie Municipale and through playing in several dance bands; his first instrument was the alto saxophone. In 1980, in Toulouse, he created the reeds trio 'Hic et Nunc' with Steve Robbins and Didier Masmalet and, in collaboration with Théâtre de l'Acte, began l'Institut de Recherches et d'Echanges Artistiques (I.R.E.A.) comprising actors, poets, and musicians all interested in the possibilities of improvisation. At the same time, he played with the musicians of the collective G.R.I.M. in Marseille as well as the 'Tour de France' organised by Louis Sclavis. There, he met the singer Beñat Achiary with whom he has continued his musical relationship to the present day. Exchanges and meetings increased via the festival of Chantenay-Villedieu and the nato label: meetings with Fred Van Hove, Raymond Boni, Steve Beresford, Tony Hymas, Lol Coxhill, Joêlle Léandre, Phil Wachsman, John Zorn and Ravi Prasad, among others. He is currently involved in a wide range of projects, including collaborations with Jack Wright, Le Quan Nihn, and many others.

Mike Evans (NYC) – percussion, electronics
Michael Evans has been actively performing, recording and composing for many years, living in NYC. As well as being an accomplished drummer and percussionist, he works with unusual sound sources including homemade instruments, found objects and items not normally used musically. A self proclaimed lover of many different styles of music, his latest obsession is to research the history of one- man bands, and eventually create one himself. With this as his inspiration, he has spent a lot of time developing his virtuosity as a solo percussionist.
He has been a member of God Is My Cop Pilot, The French Mustards, and many other amazing groups.  


Gianni Gebbia (Italy) – saxophones
Born to Palermo in 1961, Gebbia learns is an incredible self-taught jazz musician, making appearances in numerous formations and orchestras and attending jam sessions beside musicians who came from America. In the early 80's, he had his first experiences in the field of unexpected creative music and was influenced by groups from the POP progressive, the "rock in opposition" moment, and also of new folk (the Rakali - Shamàl). In 1980 a year to New York passes where it directly has way to be influenced from the experiences of radical contamination called with the term "no wave" and with the scene of the jazz creative of the loft. Since the 80s an intense activity of solos in the field of the jazz contemporary and in the field of European unexpected music to the head of several formations begins subsequently.
Katt Hernandez (Boston) - violin

The delirious, drunken curves of Katt Hernandez's microtonal fiddle playing were one of the best surprises of High Zero 2001. A student of Joe Maneri and one of the most inspired of the new generation of Boston improvisors, she has a highly lyrical sound and the ability to pour out what seems like an endless stream of original musical ideas. Some of these are captured on two CDs released on the Recorded label from High Zero 2001. She has been in the Boston area for the last five years, and has played throughout the east coast, where she has worked with a great number of musicians and dancers - known and not - amongst some and not others. . . including Jonathan Vincent, Joe Maneri, Zack Fuller, Allisa Cardone, Jeff Arnal, James Coleman, and Dan DeChellis. She has also played music of the late Ottoman Empire with the Eurasia Ensemble. In the last year she has been particularly involved with the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, in playing, programming, protesting, and mayhem in general.

Michael Johnsen (Pittsburgh) - electronics, saw
Michael lives in Pittsburgh and thinks near or beyond the edge of the routine organization of cognition - a true outsider. His work with original electronics, acoustic instruments, unusual film methods, language, and other media, reveals a brilliant mind that confronts phenomena with relatively little of the inherited world view but with a tremendous clarity and poetry. The entrance to Michael’s work is a withdrawal from "meaning" and a focus on aspects of perception and communication that are usually excluded - the rich universe of thoughts we habitually ignore but which are ultimately is as palpable as our delusions of meaning.

Vic Rawlings (Boston) - cello, electronics, serangi
Vic Rawlings (prepared amplified cello, surface electronics) is a central figure of the Boston improvised music community. His performances focus on the metamusical potential of unstable sounds and silences. He is an instrument builder specializing in modifications of existing instruments. In addition to his extensive cello preparations, he has developed an electronic instrument from existing analog circuitry, producing, in effect, an analog synthesizer with a highly momentary interface. He performs regularly with undr quartet, The BSC, and in duo and trio ensembles with Greg Kelley, Sean Meehan, Bhob Rainey, Jason Lescalleet, James Coleman, Michael Bullock, Howard Stelzer, and Jason Talbot. Collaborators have included Eddie Prevost (AMM), Donald Miller (Borbetomagus), Daniel Carter (Other Dimensions in Music), Laurence Cook, Jaap Blonk, Masashi Harada and Stephen Drury. His work has been presented on the following record labels: Grob, Sedimental, Emanem, Boxmedia, Chloe, and Sublingual. He has performed as a soloist/ composer with Nicola Hawkins Dance Company and has composed scores for films by Alla Kovgan and Jeff Silva.

Jack Wright (Boulder) - reeds, piano
From Boulder Colo. and now moved to Pennsylvania, Jack Wright is one of the more outrageous saxophonists and musical personalities of the continent. Continuously on tour, or organizing the next one, he has been called the Johnny Appleseed of free improvisation. To others, he is the scorned perpetrator of the "school of screech," even though at times he is practically inaudible. He plays, or squeezes sound, out of alto, tenor, and soprano saxes; he also plays piano, and now pretends to play the unwieldy contralto clarinet. For over twenty years he has been doing this kind of music exclusively, and yet his audience can usually still be counted on a couple of hands. Which is either a credit to his "refusal to compromise" or an indication that he is a fool. After all, he still considers himself as much a beginner as when he started playing the saxophone, back in the dark ages of the early fifties. He plays with everyone who asks, and currently visits and explores sound with over sixty partners around the country, and a few in Europe. He records, yes, but the place where he learns what music can do is mainly in live performance. For him, "free music" is a verb, not a noun.

Michael Zerang (Chicago) - percussion
Michael Zerang is one of the countries most intense, amazing improvising percussionists. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 16, 1958 and is a first generation American of Assyrian decent. His father was born in the Northwest Iranian town of Urmia and his mother was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, and international musical forms. He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has over forty titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally since 1981 with and ever-widening pool of collaborators. He was the artistic director of the Link's Hall Performance Series from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and since 2001, at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood.

From Baltimore:

John Berndt (Baltimore) - reeds, live electronics, drums, inventions

John Berndt is a multi-instrumentalist and philosopher who has lived in Baltimore much of his 35 years, and has toured an traveled extensively in the US and Europe. In his musical activity, radical experimentation, improvisation and the creation of new idioms are central. His work launches from a deep appreciation of the history of free jazz, electronic music, sound environments, and other, more obscure sources. He is a tireless collaborator and promiscuous social player, learning whatever he can from a wide range of partners. His primary vehicles for this include the Red Room collective and the High Zero Foundation, and his groups John Berndt's Multiphonic Choir, THUS, and The Volunteers Collective.
[interview MP3s: 1 2]

Dan Breen (Baltimore) - strings, electronics

What can one say about Dan Breen? This ultra-intense 26-year old seemed to come out of nowhere, with incredible talents for conventional and experimental music (on a wide range of instruments, musical jokes, and absurdist "situations") and in all the arts, a free-associating and hyper-creative individual who is already impressive at what is probably the beginning of his career. He is the bassist in the popular experimental funk/jam band "The Financial Group," as well as being a member of "Heavy Things" with Andy Hayleck and an improvisational partner of Jack Wright, John Berndt, Catherine Pancake, and many others.


Audrey Chen - cello, voice
Classically trained cellist and vocalist Audrey Chen has suddenly become a major fixture of Baltimore's vital experiemtnal music scene, contributing tremendously to a wide range of concerts and collaborations. A firey player with a wide range of sounds and approaches, she is a frequent musical partner of Catherine Pancake, Paul Neidhardt, Chris Pumprhey and John Berndt.


Vattel Cherry (Baltimore) - bass, miscellaneous instruments

At the heart of the free jazz revival of Baltimore beats Vattel Cherry, passionate and disciplined bassist. Awhirlwind of improvisational integrity, he is the founder of the new Harmonic Baltimore Festival which began this year at Morgan State University, and has a personal list of collaborations and recordings with an all-star list of jazz musicians (including Charles Gayle, Jackie Blake, Paul Murphy, Joel Flutterman, Brother Ah, and many many others). Cherry's music - which is integral with his religious faith - expresses a passionate conviction of jazz as an experimental medium for experiences of the sacred, as well as for emotional and political transformation. His music has an openness and intensity which is extremely unusual, to say the least. [MP3 Sound]

John Eaton - alto saxophone, voice
Anarcho-utopian, singer, wild free saxophonist and writer, Jon Eaton has returned to Baltimore after a five year stint in Detroit, bringing back one of the early members of Baltimore's free improvising circle. His music is often intensely expressive and emotional, and his self-taught approach has an intensity and integrity that is unusual, even in improvised music.


Neil Feather (Baltimore) - invented instruments

One of the most original musical minds on the East Coast or elsewhere, Sound Mechanic Neil Feather has spent over twenty years building an extremely INTEGRAL orchestra of eccentric and refined instruments, and conceiving an original idiom of music to be played on them. His solo concerts, longtime duo with John Berndt ("THUS") and the quintet Aerotrain (with Berndt, Catherine Pancake, Andy Hayleck and Eric Franklin) all show different sides of one of the stranger musical minds of the century. No foreigner to improvised music (he is also an ardent social player), Feather's true brilliance comes out when his music is purified and allowed to assert its own freestanding, weightless, and troublingly bizarre logic. [MP3 Sound]


Michael Gayle - piano
Brilliant improvising Monk-esque pianist whose music contains the secrets of the classical and jazz tradition, as well a freedom and imagination rarely heard on the instrument. Michael's approach blends spirituality and intelect through an intense warmth and application to the instrument. He is a frequent collaborator of Jackie Blake in the band Kahana, and is a teacher as well as composer and improvisor. He is the son of the well-know free tenor saxophonist, Charles Gayle.

Lafayette Gilchrist - piano
Keyboardist/Composer Lafayette Gilchrist has been playing his own unique brand of Jazz inspired, Hip hop tinged, Funk soaked music for more then ten years now and has never failed to move audiences with his inspired live performances. Born and raised in Washington D.C., this young self-taught musician has released under his own label 2 hotly regarded CDs "The Art Is Life" and "Asphalt Revolt" and now haunts the clubs of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.. Recently, Lafayette has been blessed for his creative efforts by having been discovered and taken in by Grammy Award Winning Saxophonist/Composer/ Band Leader David Murray who has has long been on the cutting edge of creative music and has his roots firmly planted in the rich and fertile soil of over 20 years of struggle. Lafayette has also had the privilege of performing with such notables of creative jazz music as Trombonist Craig Harris and Oliver Lake- alto Saxophonist, composer, and founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet.

Chiara Giovando - violin, voice, electronics
Chiara Giovando, AKA Power Animal and Fatty McFatty, is an amazing improvisor and composer on a variety of instruments, ranging from complex electronics to violin to apocalyptic noise to amazing singing and beyond. She has graced Baltimore for the last year and has been a collaborator of Carly Ptak, Twig Harper, John Berndt, and many others, and was one of the highlights of the Sound/Shift marathon in 2002. She brings an intensity and natural spiritual intensity to her music and seems to drift above technical limitations, while dwelling on the brink of collapse. Chiara Giovando has toured the United States twice performing in bands, and has cu , composed and designed sound installations internationally. She has also performed her solo music in Germany, Italy, Taiwan and Mexico. She has three self released albums and appears on several compilation releases. She has also created sound installations in Taipei, Taiwan at Tsu Wei Studios, in Santa Fe, New Mexico at Plan B and at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Andy Hayleck (Baltimore) - electronics, inventions, gong

Electro-acoustic composer and instrumentalist Andy Hayleck is a quiet storm of the Baltimore experimental music scene, a virtuoso of sound whose range of highly developed projects and approaches is dizzying - spanning everything from jazz and ska guitar to musique concrete and the invention of new instruments and electro-acoustic systems. Hayleck "enjoy[s] collaborating with animate and inanimate objects." In the animate realm, he has worked with free improvisors, drum'n'bass djs, pop and ska groups, experimental musical instrument builders and artists. In the inanimate realm he has worked with vibrating metal systems of one, two and three dimensions, air, water, and electricity.He currently plays in the ensemble Aerotrain (a group that performs compositions on instruments built by Neil Feather) and Heavy Things, as well as solo (primarily with his own
, highly original amplified gong/wire and live electronics). Gongs:[1] [2]

Twig Harper – dead electronics
1/2 of Nautical Almanac, non-utopian anarchist, thinker, free will addict, explosive noisemaker and humorist of pure abstractions, scapegoat--there is a void wherever Twig Harper is not pulling Don Martin faces and chewing live electric trigger cables from the heart of an 80's drum machine. With his partner Carly Ptak he runs the invisible shine known as TARANTULA HILL where miracles are made from bits and pieces of discarded childhood's woven together with amplified silly string. Undaunted by technology, musical rules, or regularized personalities, Harper's approach solders anything to anything and gets wet with artificial thunder. He means it all or none of it and in the end there is endless learning to be had at his expense.

Wes Mattheau – percussion
Formerly of The Deviled Eggs, Baltimore's foremost BIRTH METAL band, Wes Mattheau is a percussionist who has played in multiple formats and increasingly works with other improvisors, including a stint at last year's Harmonic Baltimore Festival. "Wes Mattheu was born in a two-room shack in Hereford, Maryland to poor sharecroppers. Showing a strength in music, his parents toiled in the fields for long hours to allow for Wes’s practice time. Their sacrifice paid off. Wes recently returned from a tour of Hong Kong, studying Asian microrhythms and performing with the Hong Kong Puppet Theater, where he was a visiting fellow. He has long held fast to the tenets of Buddhism. Behind his percussive work, there is a strict philosophical and emotive sense that shows a subtle understanding of the world around him. Wes also serves the common man as a bartender at John Steven Ltd. in Fells Point."

Paul Neidhardt – percussion
Attacking drum heads, cymbals and wood with all manner of sticks, Neidhardt is an amazing young improvisor whose music can range from thundering polyrhythms to subtle textual assaults from second to second, recalling the best of European free music drummers. With a background in rock, jazz, and 20th century music, he is a frequent collaborator of Audrey Chen, Chris Pumphrey, and many other musicians and rapidly becoming and important voice in Baltimore's musical landscape.


Catherine Pancake (Baltimore) - percussion, inventions

What is most amazing about Baltimore's Catherine Pancake is the range of her work, which includes sophisticated experiments with film and sound that are so varied from piece to piece as to seem to be made by different people--yet all of an extremely high (even provocative) quality. Her sensibility ranges from superb political documentary work in video, dark black humor in 16mm film, ecstatic and lyrical formal abstraction in sound and light, and highly propulsive musical work as (essentially) a free improvising jazz drummer. She seems to have few, if any, creative limits.


Chris Pumphrey - electric piano, saxophone
Frequent composer and performer in The Financial Group, Pumphrey is a contemporary composer and a performer equally strong as saxophonist and pianist--often playing Fender Rhodes with extended techniques. His music has a dramatic quality and frequently uses repetition, surprise, and intense dynamics to make its point. He is a graduate of UMBC and a frequent participant in concerts of freely improvised music.

The High Zero Festival also expects some unusual interventions this year from the international entity Candidate Genes.