Friday 25 May 2018, 7.30pm
A pleasure as ever to welcome back one of the most important musicians of the Japanese underground/avant-garde, Otomo Yoshihide; this time in a new duo with NY-based alto saxophonist and composer, Chris Pitsiokos.
At turns, effervescent and coruscating, strident and generous, the pairing meshes Yoshihide's peerless skill as a turntablist with Pitsiokos's thrillingly fluid and genre-evading approach to the saxophone.
Otomo Yoshihide moves between free jazz, noise, improvisation, composition and the unclassifiable with a generosity that opens up the possibilities for expression in all of the constellations with which he's involved. He spent his teenage years in Fukushima, about 300 kilometers north of Tokyo. Influenced by his father, an engineer, Otomo began making electrical devices such as a radio and an electronic oscillator. In junior high school, his hobby was making sound collages using open-reel tape recorders. This was his first experience creating music. Soon after entering high school he formed a band which played rock and jazz, with Otomo on guitar. It wasn't long, however, before he became a free jazz aficionado, listening to artists like Ornette Coleman, Erick Dolphy and Derek Bailey; and hearing music, both on disk and at concerts, by Japanese free jazz artists. Especially influenced by alto sax player Kaoru Abe and guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, Otomo decided to play free jazz.
In 1990, Otomo started what was to become Ground Zero. Until it disbanded in March 1998, the band was at the core of his musical creativity, while it underwent several changes in style and membership. Since Ground Zero, Otomo has embraced minimal improvisation, film music and the jazz/big band conceptions of his New Jazz Quartet/Quintet/Orchestra.
Chris Pitsiokos (b. 1990) is a saxophonist and composer based in Brooklyn, NY. Aesthetically, his work combines the lyricism of jazz and the go-for-broke intensity of extreme rock forms and noise with the attention to detail and abstraction of contemporary classical music. His compositions often function as a platform for performers to express a singular aesthetic vision without subjugating their individual voices as creative agents in their own right. In this way his work contrasts with more traditional modes of composition in which the composer or band leader is the sole, or primary arbiter, of a unified vision. He has been praised by Rolling Stone for his “startlingly original vision” and “astonishingly fleet sax work.” Pitsiokos has worked with Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Evans, Joe Morris, Philip White, Otomo Yoshihide, C Spencer Yeh, Nate Wooley, Brandon Seabrook, Lydia Lunch, Paul Lytton, Miya Masaoka, Mick Barr, Susana Santos Silva, and many more. He is currently the saxophonist in Nate Wooley’s quartet, Knknighgh. He has toured throughout Europe, the United States, and Japan. He was a contributor to Arcana VIII, a book of essays edited by John Zorn, and was a resident at Zorn’s club the Stone in November 2016. In addition to performing and composing music, Pitsiokos was a longtime DJ at radio station WKCR-FM and has been producing concerts in Brooklyn and Manhattan for five years.