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Jeff Arnal

Jeff Arnal is an American percussionist, and the Executive Director of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, NC.

Since the 1990s Arnal has worked as an artist, curator, community organizer, and arts administrator. In 2002 he performed a series of duo concerts with Charles Gayle at Tonic in NYC. In 2008 his trio with John Dierker and Gordon Beeferman performed at the Vision Festival in NYC and in 2009 MEJA, his percussion duo with Michael Evans, performed live on WFMU radio in East Orange, NJ and at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY.

He co-founded Improvised and Otherwise, a multidisciplinary festival in Brooklyn, NY in 2002, and throughout the 2000s organized On the Way Out, a monthly music series at Freddy’s Bar in Brooklyn, NY. From 2012-2016, Arnal was the Senior Music and Performance Specialist at the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia, PA.

As a percussionist Arnal has performed and collaborated with a wide range of musicians throughout the U.S. and Europe with appearances with Dietrich Eichmann at the Berlin Exploratorium and deSingel (Antwerp) and with Gordon Beeferman at Hallwalls (Buffalo), MATA (New York), Music Gallery (Toronto), and Roulette (New York). His collaborations with choreographers have been produced at PS 122, Joyce SoHo, Danspace Project at St.Mark's Church, Chocolate Factory, and Judson Church. His music can be heard on a number of independent labels including Clean Feed, Editions Brokenresearch, and Generate Records.

In 2021 he was interviewed by Mike Watt on the Watt from Pedro radio show, and he was a guest on the All things Cage radio show with Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.

His latest record, Drum Major Instinct with Curt Cloninger was released on Mahakala Music in 2022. Drum Major Instinct performed at the 2022 Catalytic Sound Festival and was profiled in the Slovenian It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine.


Album Review

Jeff Arnal / Curt Cloninger: Drum Major Instinct

Read "Drum Major Instinct" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Drum Major Instinct is an experimental music duo from Asheville, North Carolina. The duo consists of Jeff Arna, who plays drums & percussion, and Curt Cloninger, who works with modular synthesisers. Their debut release offers an entrancing blend of soundscapes which defy easy categorization. The album title emanates from a 1968 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, referencing the 1952 homily ”Drum Major Instincts” by J. Wallace Hamilton which provides an underlying modus operandi for the album as a whole. ...

Album Review

Lars Scherzberg: Top Floor Encounter

Read "Top Floor Encounter" reviewed by John Chacona

The first phase of jazz was characterized by melodic improvisation. In its second phase improvisers dealt with harmony and, in the current phase, density is the improviser's concern. So says Anthony Braxton—if I understand him correctly (if anyone does). If so, then Top Floor Encounter may be as characteristic of our time as Armstrong's “Weatherbird" was to the first phase of jazz or Trane's “Giant Steps" was to the second. I didn't say “as important as" or “as good as"—only ...

Record Label Profile

Generate Records

Read "Generate Records" reviewed by Marc Medwin

"It was the DIY movement that inspired me to create a platform for projects that I thought should see the light of day," says percussionist Jeff Arnal of his label, Generate Records. “Friends and I used to make cassettes, which we would distribute in small quantities, but the label format and moving to CDs has allowed more people to hear what we're doing. Having the finished product brings a sort of closure to each project." The small but vital outlet ...

Album Review

Aaron Dugan + Jeff Arnal: Dog Day

Read "Dog Day" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

Brooklyn-based guitarist Aaron Dugan, best known as the guitarist of the Hasidic Rap-Reggae Matisyahu, and drummer Jeff Arnal, a former student of Milford Graves and frequent collaborator with trumpeter Nate Wooley and bassist Reuben Radding, have been collaborating since 2003, building a telepathic affinity that enables them to move leisurely between ideas and motives that reference everything from 1960s free jazz, innovative Austrian composer Anton Webern, pop songs and blues to sound experiments à la Sonic Youth .The fourteen brief ...

Album Review

Jeff Arnal & Gordon Beeferman: Rogue States

Read "Rogue States" reviewed by Tom Greenland

Percussionist Jeff Arnal and pianist/composer Gordon Beeferman, two-thirds of Rara Avis (an ongoing trio with alto saxophonist Seth Misterka) and previously featured as a duo on 2001's Bodies of Water, meet again for Rogue States, a short suite of open-minded musical vignettes.

As on their earlier outing, Arnal and Beeferman eschew timbral trickery and sensational sound painting in favor of exploring and expanding on the more “traditional" acoustic palette of the drum kit and piano; unlike Bodies and Rara Avis' ...

Album Review

Transit: Transit

Read "Transit" reviewed by Tom Greenland

While improvising musicians thrive on novel combinations of instruments and musical personalities, there is also the sense that close and repeated creative camaraderie fosters group cohesion. Transit, the eponymously titled debut recording from the quartet of drummer Jeff Arnal, bassist Reuben Radding, alto saxophonist Seth Misterka and trumpeter Nate Wooley--all active on the grassroots avant jazz scene burgeoning in boroughs of New York--boasts both qualities, producing a satisfying blend of freshness and familiarity. The album exhibits a ...

Album Review

Transit: Transit

Read "Transit" reviewed by Troy Collins

A varied session with roots in cerebral European improvisation, AACM-inspired sound experimentation and New Thing-era ferocity, Transit's self-titled debut demonstrates expert communication, the key to any successful cooperative venture. Although organized by percussionist Jeff Arnal, the members of the quartet share writing credits, relying on collective improvisation as their principle strategy. Though Transit's music is rooted in free jazz, these players are not constrained by preconceived notions.

From the tumultuous vortex of sound that opens the album to ...

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Performance / Tour

Gordon Beeferman/Jeff Arnal October 6 @ Roulette

Gordon Beeferman/Jeff Arnal October 6 @ Roulette

Source: All About Jazz

Friday - October 6, 2006

ROGUE STATES CD Release Concert

Gordon Beeferman (piano) Jeff Arnal (percussion)

Roulette 20 Greene St (between Canal and Grand St) New York, NY 8:30 PM $15 / Students $10 / Members free www.roulette.org www.generaterecords.net/gen11.htm

“The pianist Gordon Beeferman and the percussionist Jeff Arnal create tightly knit improvisations that range from the angular to the pastoral"--The New Yorker ...


Performance / Tour

Charles Gayle and Jeff Arnal at Tonic

Charles Gayle and Jeff Arnal at Tonic

Source: All About Jazz

Charles Gayle (tenor saxophone, piano) Jeff Arnal (percussion)

A mercurial and musical force of nature, saxophonist & pianist Charles Gayle plays a visionary music forged by spiritual exploration and sonic discovery. Gayle is one of the purest free jazz practitioners around whose improvisations are filled with soulful lyricism and speech like screams. Tonight he joins forces with meditative percussionist Jeff Arnal. A must-see!

Tonic 107 Norfolk Street New York, NY January 2, ...


Performance / Tour

Charles Gayle and Jeff Arnal at Tonic

Charles Gayle and Jeff Arnal at Tonic

Source: All About Jazz

Charles Gayle (tenor saxophone, piano) & Jeff Arnal (percussion) Presented by Tonic, Thursday, October 10, 2002

Tonic 107 Norfolk Street New York, NY Oct. 10, 2002 8:00 pm $10.00


A mercurial and musical force of nature, saxophonist & pianist Charles Gayle plays a visionary music forged by spiritual exploration and sonic discovery. Gayle is one of the purest free jazz practitioners around whose improvisations are filled with ...

"A balletic sense of time and imaginative deployment of colour have combined into a highly original concept" The Wire, UK



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Drum Major Instinct

Mahakala Music


Pail Bug with...

Generate Records


Dog Day



Live In Hamburg

Editions Brokenresearch


Rogue States

Generate Records



Clean Feed Records




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