Home » Jazz News » "Home Field Advantage - Experimental Jazz in Jersey City"...

Festival News

"Home Field Advantage - Experimental Jazz in Jersey City" - 4 Saturdays in May - Jersey City, NJ


Sign in to view read count
Over the last several years, Jersey City has distinguished itself as an important center for the arts not only locally but globally. Its numerous galleries and arts centers - and the support both receive from local audiences - are a testament to a thriving arts scene right across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan.

As a result, more and more artists of every variety are increasingly making Jersey City their home. This is notably true for practitioners of experimental jazz and improvised music. As the number of spaces within the greater metropolitan area that feature this music in performance have shrunk dramatically in the last few years, musicians increasingly are turning to self-promoted events to keep this vital music alive and in front of live audiences. For four Saturdays in May, four Jersey City-based will be stoking the fires of creative music right in their hometown.

Home Field Advantage - Expermental Jazz in Jersey City“, a series organized by James Keepnews, will feature four groups led by noted practitioners of experimental jazz and improvised music, performing in Jersey City every Saturday in May. The four groups will be:

  • May 5: James Keepnews on guitar, laptop and electronics - featuring Daniel Carter on reeds, flute and trumpet, and Tim Keiper on drums and percussion.

  • May 12: Saris - JC resident Harris Eisenstadt on drums, featuring Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, with special guest Eivind Opsvik on bass.

  • May 19: Tone Collector - JC resident Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Eivind Opsvik on bass, Jeff Davis on drums, with special guest Ben Gerstein on trombone.

  • May 26: Jason Kao Hwang / EDGE - JC resident Jason Kao Hwang on violin, featuring Ken Filiano on bass, Andrew Drury on drums, and special guest Steve Swell on trombone.
The series will be held at the Lex Leonard Gallery, 143 Christopher Columbus Drive at the corner of Barrow St., Suite #2, Jersey City, NJ. Lex Leonard Gallery is one block west of the Grove St. PATH station in downtown Jersey City. Performances will begin each night at 8 PM, and general admission is $10 each night, $7 for students and seniors with valid ID. Special guests from among Jersey City's celebrated spoken word artists are also expected throughout the series.

May 5: James Keepnews (guitar/laptop/electronics) featuring Daniel Carter on reeds, flute and trumpet, and Tim Keiper on drums and percussion.

“...(proves his) mettle as a consummate musical high-wire artistThis is how its done, children. Take heed and explore. -- J. Eric Smith, Metroland Magazine

James Keepnews is a musician, writer and multimedia artist, often blurring each of these roles in his work. He has performed with dozens of bands and performing artists over the course of two decades, including Daniel Carter, George Lewis, Holland Hopson, Joe Giardullo, Linda Montano, Damian Catera and many others, with whom he has performed in mutliple venues and broadcasters throughout the world. Keepnews received his B.A. in English at Hamilton College in 1988 and attended the Interactive Electronic Arts program (iEAR) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, receiving his MFA from there in 1998. He served as both public relations and jazz/experimental music director at WRPI-FM, in addition to hosting several programs for the station. He curated, produced and directed several episodes of the iEAR Studios video art television program, hOUR iEAR, and increased its distribution for a potential audience of one million viewers. Also while a student, he collaborated as an actor, writer and video artist with fellow iEAR student, Johnny DeKam, in an early streaming media performance/virtual installation, Ethereal/Corporeal, in 1996. With fellow iEAR student Hopson, he also collaborated with pioneering interactive improviser -- and Macarthur Foundation genius grant awardee -- George Lewis on a software-based computer video sampler for Lewis' performance, Following the Northstar Bugaloo. In 1998, he performed ADM Sonata at New York Citys The Kitchen with a computer video sampler system he controlled in real-time with his guitar. With Hopson, Keepnews recorded the duo album “hunting and gathering," for Keepnews' label Metaharmonic Records which received wide acclaim. His writing has appeared in the New Haven Advocate, the Fairfield Weekly, The Squid's Ear, Reign of Toads and Metroland Magazine. He is preparing several releases for his Metaharmonc Label and more multimedia art and performances in the coming year.

Daniel Carter (Alto and tenor saxophones, flute, trumpet, clarinet)

One of the legendary masters of creative music. Born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania in 1945.

He has performed or recorded over the past three decades with such artists as:

Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Billy Bang, William Parker, Roy Campbell, Sabir Mateen, Sonic Youth, Simone Forti, Joan Miller, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Nayo Takasaki, Earl Freeman, Dewey Johnson, Nami Yamamoto, Matthew Shipp, Billy Martin, John Medeski, Wilber Morris, Denis Charles, MMW (Medeski, Martin, & Wood), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Options, Spring Heel Jack, Yo La Tengo, Federico Ughi, Raph Malik, Sam Rivers, Sunny Murray, Hamiet Bluiett, Bob Moses, Jaco Pastorius, Enrico Rava, David S. Ware, Steve Swell, Matt Lavelle, Karl Berger, Don Pate, Gunter Hampel, David Grubbs, the No Kneck Blues Band, Alan Silva, Susie Ibarra, Steve Dalachinsky, D.J. Logic, Margaret Beals, Douglas Elliot, Butch Morris, TEST, Other Dimensions In Music, One World Ensemble, Saturnalia String Trio, Levitation Unit, Wet Paint.

Flutist/saxophonist/trumpeter Daniel Carter isn't as well-known as some of his contemporaries on the New York free jazz scene, which may partially be due to the fact that he refuses to name his own projects after himself. But judging from his long history of playing in New York and his winding, exploratory recordings, he deserves to be as well-known as peers like David S. Ware or William Parker.

Carter began playing in New York in the early '70s and he sporadically recorded during that decade with artists such as Gunter Hampel and Bob Moses. But due to his reputation as an avant-garde musician, he had difficulty finding steady gigs and began performing as a street musician around 1978. In 1981, he joined Other Dimensions in Music, a quartet that also features Roy Campbell on trumpet, Parker on bass, and Rashid Bakr on drums; the group released a self-titled album on Silkheart in 1989. During the 1980s, Carter also played with punk rock groups.

His recording career really took off in the 1990s. He continued to play with Other Dimensions In Music and began recording with another quartet called Test. Test, featuring multireedist Sabir Mateen, bassist Matthew Heyner, and drummer Tom Bruno, still frequently performs on subway platforms. Carter also recorded with non-jazz acts like avant-rock songwriter David Grubbs and electronic musicians Spring Heel Jack and DJ Logic. Since 1999, Carter has kept himself busy with projects on the Aum Fidelity and Thirsty Ear labels.

Tim Keiper (drums, percussion)

The year was 1991 and The New York Rangers were playing the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a tie in overtime and just when you thought the Rangers would prevail.BAM!!! Ron Hextall, #27, goaltender for the Flyers, vamooses the crease, dekes the defense, and busts into a breakaway goal! It was at that very moment that Keiper realized he was to live the life of a drummer.

Tim Keiper spends most days recreating the sounds of New York City and Looney tunes. But when it comes to making new ones, he likes to build instruments with Cyro Baptista and Kenny Wollesen, constructing such doodads as musical bicycles, an assortment of honking machines, the mirror box fitted with a skull-in-the-box, and the Buster Keaton inspired fifteen foot drum stick.

His awards include two-time champion (2005/2006) of the annual Saint Marks Place Christmas Cookie Decorating Competition for his work with the aeronautical cookie, and when he was six, Keiper won a dance competition in Red Bank.

His latest film contributions include Jonas Mekass Zebulon Quartet (2006), Julie Taymors Across the Universe (2007), and Ermena Vinluans documentary Tea & Justice (2007) with musical score by Jason Kao Hwang.

Other musical experiences include performances and recordings with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Andrew DAngelo, Erik Friedlander, and Matisyahu.

Keiper spent the beginning of 2007 working with Malian blues guitarist Vieux Farka Toure, son of the great Ali Farka Toure. The group recently finished a tour of the northeast and Canada and have plans to travel to England in April.

May 12: Saris - JC resident Harris Eisenstadt on drums, featuring Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, with special guest Eivind Opsvik on bass.

“Drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt (makes) complex well-crafted post-bop with an ear toward experimentation."--Time Out NY


Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon, and Harris Eisenstadt, drums. Formed in 2000 to play at the Earjam Festival in Los Angeles. Concerts since in the US and Europe. Saris plays compositions by both members, and pieces by some of their favorite composers. Sometimes they play with guests.

Harris Eisenstadt (b. 1975, Toronto, Canada, lives in New York) works as a drummer, percussionist, composer, bandleader and educator in a wide variety of musical settings. Eisenstadt has appeared at major international festivals throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and West Africa, and participated extensively in interdisciplinary collaborations. The recipient of a B.A. cum laude in Literature and Music (1998) from Colby College and an M.F.A. in African American Improvisational Music (2001) on scholarship from the California Institute of the Arts, Eisenstadt has received many awards and commissions including a Meet the Composer Global Connections Grant (2007), American Composers Forum Subito Grants (2004, 2005) and a Durfee Foundation Grant (2004), among others. As a composer, Eisenstadts diverse body of work draws on his experiences in jazz, rock, contemporary classical and world music. His compositions for chamber orchestra and big band have been performed throughout the United States by his large ensembles Ahimsa Orchestra and KOLA (Kreative Orchestra of Los Angeles). Eisenstadt has released five albums as a leader, and appears as a sideman and co-leader on 35 other recordings. “The All Seeing Eye + octets," his sixth as a leader, will be released April 2007 on LA hiphop label Poobah records. He leads workshops at colleges and universities, teaches privately and has taught for several arts organizations. Harris Eisenstadt endorses Istanbul Agop cymbals. For more info: www.harriseisenstadt.com

Sara Schoenbeck, bassoonist, is dedicated to expanding the sound and role of the bassoon in the worlds of contemporary notated and improvised music. The Wire magazine places her in the tiny club of bassoonpioneers at work in contemporary music today and the New York Times has called her “riveting, mixing textural experiments with a big, confident sound." From performing with creative music ensembles like the Anthony Braxton 12+1, Vinny Golia..s Large Ensemble, Wayne Horvitz's Gravitas Quartet, Adam Rudolph..s Go Organic Orchestra, the contemporary music group Ensemble Green, Mladi Chamber Ensemble, to jazz and hip hop orchestras such as the Mancini Orchestra backing Tony Bennett, Diane Reeves, and Stevie Wonder, and Dakah HipHop Orchestra backing Mos Def Sara continues to defy categorization as an artist. Ms. Schoenbeck has also also shared the stage in improvised music performances with Yusef Lateef, Gino Robair, Fred Frith, John Butcher, Mark Dresser, Pauline Oliveros, Wadada Leo Smith and Nels Cline among many others. Sara spends most of her time in Los Angeles and records regularly for television and movies notably the Matrix Trilogy, Spanglish and Dahmer. Articles have been written about Sara and her bassoon in the Los Angeles Times Calendar section and Windplayer magazine. Sara has performed throughout North America and Europe at major festivals and venues, notably the Improvised Music Fest in Antwerp, Belgium, AIMS Opera Festival in Graz, Austria, the Du Maurier Jazz Festival in Vancouver, B.C., the American Festival of Microtonal Music in New York, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Wire/Empty Bottle Adeventures in Modern Music Festival in Chicago, Earshot jazz Festival and SIMP in Seattle, the Playboy Jazz Festival and Green Umbrella Series in Los Angeles.

Born in 1973 in Oslo, Norway, Eivind Opsvik started out playing the drums at a very early age. In his teens he gradually switched to bass while also spending lots of time experimenting with recording on a 4 track tape recorder.All through the 90's Eivind played with a diverse array of Oslo-based jazz/experimental groups, performing at festivals and in clubs all over Europe with musicians like Paal Nilssen-Love and Christian Wallumrd. He also received a degree in classical bass from the Norwegian State Academy of Music. The most famous project from this time was the free improvising band “the Quintet" which featured the older legends Bjrnar Andresen and Calle Neuman along with the youngsters Ketil Gutvik, Paal Nilssen-Love and Eivind. They played all the major festivals in Norway and released a live cd on BP/Universal records, all to great critical acclaim.n 1998 Eivind moved to New York City to be a part of the rich music scene.

May 19: Tone Collector - JC resident Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Eivind Opsvik on bass, Jeff Davis on drums, with special guest Ben Gerstein on trombone.

“Malaby, Davis and Opsvik are deeply sympathetic partners, and their interaction often reaches the highest levels of cohesion" --NY Times critic Nate Chinen, writing for JazzTimes

The three members of Tone Collector are equal voices and by exploring the outer reaches of their instruments and musical imagination they strive to reach their goal; to improvise great music.

Tony, Eivind and Jeff have spent countless hours playing together in different groups and settings, this trio; Tone Collector: has existed since early 2004. In August of that same year Tone Collector had the pleasure of playing two nights at the intimate Stockholm venue; Glenn Miller Caf. A mix of free improvisations and compositions were performed for an enthusiastic audience. These concerts were captured to tape and released by a small but steadily growing Norwegian Label called JazzAway, The CD: Tone Collector (jarcd 012).

Tony Malaby was named Musician of the Year 2004 by All About Jazz: his mastery of tonal nuance integrates subtle turns of sound into long, swinging lines, Malaby is in the front-line of Charlie Hadens revived Liberation Music Orchestra. Ben Ratliff/NY Times says Malabys signature is a sort of muscular lyricism that elbows its way into the room.

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Malaby been based in New York for the last decade, playing in bands led by Paul Motian, Mark Helias, Fred Hersch, Mat Maneri, Tim Berne, Marty Ehrlich and others. Motians championing of Malaby extends also to playing drums in Tonys trio.

Eivind Opsvik is from Oslo, Norway, and started out playing the drums at a very early age. In his teens he gradually switched to bass while also spending lots of time experimenting with recording on a 4 track tape recorder. In 1998 Eivind moved to New York City to be a part of the rich music scene. He currently plays in a number of cutting-edge New York groups like Opsvik & Jennings, Kris Davis Quartet, David Binneys Out of Airplanes with Bill Frisell, Tone Collector, UP, Hari Honzu and Ben Gerstein Collective. He recently also did a recording with pianist Jacob Sacks, Mat Maneri on viola and drum legend Paul Motian. Eivinds own group OVERSEAS is playing NYC clubs like 55Bar, Barbes and Zebulon and last toured Europe in May this year. Fresh Sound Records released his first CD as a leader “Overseas" and it was very well received in the New York Times and Downbeat (listed “Best CD's of 2003" ). In 2005 “Overseas II" was released and was along with “Tone Collector" and “Opsvik & Jennings; Floyel Files" described by JazzTimes as “The Most Imaginative album trilogy of 2005"

Jeff Davis, born in Colorado, began playing marimba at the age of nine and later studied classical percussion at the University of Northern Colorado. Jeff then moved to New York in 1999 to pursue a Masters degree at the Manhattan School of Music and has become increasing active in the music community. Jeff performs with a number of creative ensembles in New York, including the Kris Davis Quartet, Eivind Opsvik's Overseas, the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, the Peter Van Huffel Quintet, Tone Collector, and the RIDD Quartet.

Jeff has performed with such artists as Chris Speed, Art Lande, Brad Shepik, Reggie Workman and Chris Potter. Jeff has toured Europe and China and has performed at several prominent jazz festivals, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Oslo Jazz Festival, and the Ear Shot Jazz Festival. Jeff has been featured on a number of recordings including Eivind Opsvik's Overseas and Overseas II, Tone Collector, Kris Davis' Lifespan and The Slightest Shift, and recently with Jostein Gulbrandsen and Peter Van Huffel.

May 26: Jason Kao Hwang / EDGE

“Coming to terms with sound heritages that are neither European nor African-American is one of improvised musics newest challenges. Yet violinist Jason Kao Hwang is one player who navigates the contradictions with ease." --Ken Waxman, CODA

Andrew Drury drum set,
Ken Filiano - string bass,
Jason Kao Hwang composer/violin and
Special Guest: Steve Swell - trombone

EDGE is a sharp line shifting between cultures and genres, where music dances, vibrations are transformed and identities imagined. Additional information is available at www.jasonkaohwang.com

EDGE recently performed at Tonic, Brooklyn College and the Stone, all in NYC. EDGE also performed at Sangha (Washington, D.C.), An die Musik (Baltimore), the Deep Listening Institute (Kingston, NY), and the Sanctuary for Independent Media (Troy, NY). Last summer, EDGE performed in the 2006 Vision Festival XI, both in New York City.

EDGE charted at #14 for CMJ and #4 for Canada's EARSHOT. Jerry DSouza ranked EDGE #3 on his Top Ten CDs of 2006 list for ALL ABOUT JAZZ.

Jason Kao Hwang (composer, violinist) has created works ranging from jazz, classical, new and world music. Mr. Hwangs seminal ensemble (1990-2004), The Far East Side Band, released two CDs, Urban Archaeology (Victo Records) and Caverns (New World Records). As violinist, he has worked with Butch Morris, Reggie Workman, Pheeroan akLaff, Anthony Braxton, Vladamir Tarasov, Henry Threadgill and William Parker. As composer he has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His chamber opera, The Floating Box, A Story in Chinatown (New World Records), was named one of the top ten opera recordings of 2005 by Opera News.

Andrew Drury (drum set) is a drummer/composer whose work has been noted for its lyricism and expansive approach to form and technique. Drury can be heard on fifteen CDs (two as a bandleader) and he has performed in Europe and the Americas with Michel Doneda, Mark Dresser, Briggan Krauss, Myra Melford, Chris Speed, Jack Wright, Kenny Wolleson's Marching Band with Butch Morris, and others. A former student of Ed Blackwell, he photographs drum solos in desert and prairie settings, collaborates frequently with dancers, and has led over 700 junk percussion workshops across the U.S.

Ken Filiano (string bass), has fused the rich traditions of the double bass, bringing out the many voices inherent to the instrument. His solo bass CD, Subvenire (NineWinds), received unanimous critical praise, and was chosen by Cadence Magazine as one of the top ten CDs of 2003. Ken tours widely, performing at the DuMaurier International Jazz Festival, Banlieues Bleues Festival (Paris, France); and on many concert stages including Carnegie Hall. He was principal bassist with the Cascade Festival Orchestra from 1985 - 2002. Ken has also played and/or recorded with artists and orchestras including Bobby Bradford, Nels Cline, Vinnie Golia, Dom Minasi, Alex Cline, Ted Dunbar, and Joseph Jarman.

Steve Swell (trombone) has performed and recorded with many of the finest improvisers and composers in NYC, a diverse list that includes Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Jaki Byard, Tim Berne, Elliot Sharp, Butch Morris, Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Alan Silva, Joey Baron and William Parker. Swell has 20 recordings as a leader and is a featured artist on more than ninety others. His CD, “Suite For Players, Listeners and Other Dreamers", recorded on the CIMP label, was ranked number 2 in the 2004 Cadence Readers Poll. He received a travel grant from US Artists International in 2006, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts.

ABOUT Lex Leonard Gallery

Lex Leonard Gallery is a new 1400 sq/ft space located in the heart of Downtown Jersey City, New Jersey, 1 block west of the Grove St. Path Station, minutes away from NYC @ 143 Christopher Columbus Drive at Barrow St.

Visit Website

For more information contact .


Jazz News


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.