Sax & Drumming Core was formed in June 2000 as the trio of saxophone and 2 drummers for a special “concept album” that Ochs wanted to record. The Core's music then (and now): a meditation on and a 21st-century distillation of the songs and sounds of American and eastern European blues-shouters, and of traditional chant-singers from Asia and Africa. Many of these vocalists can be heard working in a similar context: backed by one string player, or one hand drummer, or two background singers, This is the space that this band originally went after. But then, it must be said, the end result is modern, as in “urban.”
“Indeed, so much of the music feels like it is song based, except there are no choruses, no ‘middle eights’ and no formal containment. But these pieces do offer narrative and circular rhythmic engagement as well. Evidence of this is heard in the amazing ‘Poporfa,’ (on the 2nd CD: Up From Under) which sounds like a dialogue between Albert Ayler and Sonny Rollins (with Ayler’s tone, of course), playing with a pair of kitmen who understand both march and free expression as part of the ‘structural’ proceeding… Up From Under is one of the finer volumes in the series, and gives a snapshot of free jazz as something that has plenty of life left in it. It’s passionate, breathy, dramatic, taut, and warm.” — Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
After 2 CDs and four tours as a trio, the Core has now expanded its color palette by adding two great Tokyo-based musicians: Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura.
The band’s first trio CD, The Neon Truth, was released on Black Saint Records in 2002. European tours took place in 2002 and 2004. A second trio CD, Up From Under, recorded on the 2004 European tour, was released by Atavistic (USA) in 2007. Also in late 2007 the new quintet recorded on tour in Europe and a quintet CD called Stone Shift released on Rogue Art (Paris) in 2009.
Donald Robinson → Drums
Described as a 'percussive dervish' (Coda) Donald Robinson is a technical master of the drums. He is a stalwart of the of San Francisco Bay Area avant-garde jazz scene, playing and recording with many of the area's improvisational players, from saxophonists John Tchicai, Marco Eneidi and Larry Ochs to Koto player Miya Masaoka and pianist Matthew Goodheart, and with prominent visitors like Cecil Taylor, Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, trumpeter Raphe Malik and Canadian pianist Paul Plimley. Much of this work has featured the combination of Robinson and bassist Lisle Ellis as rhythm section: 'the best bass-drums tag team on the scene' (Jazz Times). His longest musical association, dating from the 1970's, was with the late tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman. He has appeared on numerous CDs, especially with Spearman, Ochs and Ellis.
Scott Amendola → Drums Visit Website
Over the past 15 years Scott Amendola has toured, recorded, or performed with Scott Amendola Band, Nels Cline Singers, Bill Frisell, Madeleine Peyroux, Charlie Hunter, Dave Liebman, John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, Jacky Terrasson, Satoko Fujii, Jenny Scheinman, Carla Kihlstedt, Shweta Jhaveri, Robin Holcomb and the Joe Goode Dance Group, Wayne Horvitz, Johnny Griffin, Viktor Krauss, Paul Plimley, Tony Furtado, Jack Walrath, Julian Priester, Sonny Simmons, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Pat Martino, Clarence Seay, Nels Cline, Peter Apfelbaum, Jim Campilongo, Bobby Black, Paul McCandless, Ben Goldberg, Mark Turner, Michael Franti, Primus, Nina Hagen, Phil Lesh, and others. He has toured extensively throughout Europe, North America and Australia.
Satoko Fujii → Piano Visit Website
“Unpredictable, wildly creative, and uncompromising...Fujii is an absolutely essential listen for anyone interested in the future of jazz.” — Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer SATOKO FUJII as one of the most original new voices in jazz. A truly global artist, she splits her time between New York City and Japan and has toured internationally leading several different ensembles. She uses melodies as simple and straightforward as a folk song, as well as the harmonic sophistication of great jazz, and she can manipulate the extended forms of symphonic composers. As an improviser, Fujii is equally wide-ranging and virtuosic. In her solos, explosive free jazz energy mingles with delicate melodicism and a broad palette of timbre and textures. Her phrasing is equally indebted to her classical training and her jazz experience. She has showcased her astonishing range and ability on over 30 CDs as leader or co-leader since 1996.
Natsuki Tamura → Trumpet Visit Website
“Tamura shrewdly creates a sound world that while completely his own also hints at the mythological and musical folklore of Asian and European cultures.... a persona no less self-contained than that of early, wandering bluesmen like Robert Johnson or Charlie Patton.” — Ken Waxman, Jazzweekly
Japanese trumpeter and composer NATSUKI TAMURA is internationally recognized for his ability to blend a unique vocabulary of extended techniques with touching jazz lyricism. His appearances at festivals worldwide include a solo trumpet performance at the 1998 Texaco New York Jazz Festival, as well as appearances at Newport Jazz in Madarao, Festival of New Trumpet Music at Tonic in NYC, San Francisco Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Yokohama Jazz, Moers Festival in Germany. In addition to performing with his own group, Tamura has performed with Satoko Fujii, Rova’s Electric Ascension Band, Misha Mengelberg, Chris Brown, and Le Quan Ninh among many others.
Larry Ochs → Sopranino and Tenor Saxophones
Larry Ochs: performing with Rova Sax Quartet (1979 - present); Room (1986 - 1995); What We Live (1994 - present); Glenn Spearman Double Trio (1991 - 1998); John Lindberg Ensemble (1998 - 2002); Frith, Masaoka, and Ochs aka Maybe Monday (1997 - present); Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core (2000 - present)Peggy Lee, M. Masaoka, Ochs Trio (2004 - present); KIHNOUA (2007 - present). Recordings with all the previous groups except Kihnoua Collaborations and/or recordings with Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Terry Riley, Alvin Curran, Joan Jeanrenaud, George Lewis, India Cooke, Butch Morris, Dave Douglas, Barry Guy, Henry Kaiser, Steve Lacy, John Zorn, Andrew Cyrille, Gerry Hemingway, Tim Berne, Marilyn Crispell,, among others. Commissions from Meet the Composer and Chamber Music America, among others. Writing about the music at www.rova.org as well as in Arcana, edited by Lyn Hejinian and John Zorn.