Peggy Lee, Cello / Miya Masaoka, Koto, Electronics / Larry Ochs, Sopranino and Tenor Saxophones

Larry Ochs formed this unusual trio of saxophone, cello, and Japanese koto to perform a special commission for a concert in San Francisco in 2000. The composition was expressly composed to include both notation and improvisation. The three players, originally including Joan Jeanrenaud on cello, had a great time preparing the piece, and the first performances were encouraging enough that a plan was hatched to continue the trio when possible. Masaoka and Ochs already played in the trio Maybe Monday with guitarist Fred Frith that was basically dedicated to collective improvisation.

So several paths were begun simultaneously: Ochs began composing other pieces to complement the first piece for the acoustic trio of cello, koto, and sax. Rather than pure, collective spontaneous-composition - the terrain of Maybe Monday -  this current trio works from compositions written for improvisers. These compositions were recorded in 2001 and 2002 for a CD  (Fly Fly Fly) that was released in spring 2004 on the Intakt label (Zurich, Switzerland).

In conjunction with that release, a tour in Europe was planned. At the time of the tour, Vancouver's Peggy Lee replaced Joan Jeanrenaud on cello. The 2004 tour to Europe included  the Intakt festival in Basel and Zurich and the Ulrichsberg Kaleidophon Festival in Austria, as well as stops at the MAMCS in Strasbourg and the PIP Series in Brussels. Tours of Europe in spring 2006 and the USA and Canada in fall 2006 were also very successful and included festivals in Venice, Italy and Guelph, Canada.

Peggy Lee → Cello Visit Website

Upon arriving in Vancouver in 1989, Peggy Lee has participated in numerous creative projects. She is a member of Talking Pictures and the Tony Wilson Sextet.  As well, she performs with the NOW Orchestra, who have made their musical presence felt through their work with Barry Guy, Rene Lussier, Koch, Shutz & Studer, and Butch Morris. Lee also works with Standing Wave, a new music ensemble dedicated to performing new written works, principally by Canadian composers.  Other performance collaborations include work with electo-acoustic composer Paul Dolden, trumpeter Dave Douglas and pianist Paul Plimley.  In addition to her SPOOL recording with Dylan van der Schyff (These Are Our Shoes), Lee has also recorded with Talking Pictures, Vinny Golia, the NOW Orchestra with Barry Guy and with Rene Lussier, Carlos Zingaro, and François Houle's John Carter Project, which features Dylan van der Schyff, Mark Dresser and Dave Douglas.

Miya Masaoka → Koto, Electronics Visit Website

Miya Masaoka, musician, composer, improviser, multi-disciplinary artist including solo works, works for ensembles, creation of film, video, installation, performance art and written articles.

Since forming and directing the San Francisco Gagaku Society, Masaoka has been creating new ways of thinking about and performing on the Japanese koto. Her work has been presented in Japan, Canada, Europe, Eastern Europe and she has toured to India six times. Venues include V2 in Rotterdam, Cybertheater in Brussels, Elektronisch Festival in Groningen, the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, The Electronik Body Festival in Bratislava, Slovakia, Radio Bremen, Germany, Festival of Lights, Hyberadad, India.

Masaoka has been developing koto interfaces with midi controllers since the 1980's originally with Tom Zimmerman, co-inventor of the Body Glove. Since then, she has she has worked with STEIM, Amsterdam, CNMAT, and Donald Swearingen to build interfaces with the computer and koto, at times using pedals, light sensors, motion sensors and ultrasound. With the koto connected directly to her laptop, she records her playing live, and processes the samples in real time. This "new, expanded koto" is able to respond dynamically and interactively in a variety of musical environments, and improvise using the processed sounds of the koto.

Her work with skin and insects uses metaphor to explore issues of race, gender and sites of control. She has performed with live Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and honeybees, using their sound and movement as a sound source within sound and video compositions. Medical equipment, including EKG and EEG sensors and fetal heart monitors record the internal body sounds and real-time bio-feedback are integrated into her pieces. Her performances with plants use their output of real - time physiological response rendering the plants themselves as "live performers".

Other projects include her work developing a new verbal and instrumental language with the syllables of Japanese and Hindustani, and other phonemes. Here, she has transliterated the lanaguage of tabla onto the koto, with consideration to pitch, open and closed hand positions, timbre, and rhythmic systems.

She has been a koto soloist with Bang on a Can, Berkeley Symphony, New West Symphony, Toshiko Akiyohsi's Jazz Orchestra and has led her own ensembles including the Masaoka Orchestra, the Miya Masaoka Trio with Andrew Cyrille and Reggie Workman, and collective ensembles sensorChip with Pamela Z and Donald Swearingen, The Transliteration Trio with Amir El Safar and Samir Chattergee, Brew with Gerry Hemingway, Workman, and Maybe Monday with Fred Frith and Larry Ochs and Joan Jeanrenaud.

Discography as a leader, guest, collaborator on numerous recordings including solo koto on Asian Improv Arts, Masaoka Orchestra on Victo, Duets with George Lewis on Music and Arts, Miya Masaoka Trio on Dizim, Crespscular music on Rastascan, Digital Wildlife on Winter and Winter, Koto and Jazz Orchestra on BMG Japan (Akiyoshi), Myths, Modes and Means on BMG, (Coleman) Erato (Subramaniam), Tzadik (Christian Wolff) and others.

Screenings of her films at Artist Television Access, Santa Monica's Documental. Her articles are published in Institute of Studies In American Music; Arcana; interviews with Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Thulani Davis, Cecil Taylor, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros published individually in San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Director of the San Francsico Gagaku Society for seven years, taught Japanese American Art and Aesthetics at San Francisco State University; taught music composition, jazz theory, species counterpoint at San Francisco Community Music Center. Quarter term teaching at MFA Program at Bard College. Initiator and founding member of the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, and founding member of Creative Musicians Collective based in NY with Vijay Iyer and Aaron Stewart. Ms. Masaoka's work is written about by scholar Dr. Deborah Wong in Decomposition: Post Disciplinary Performance and Guillermo Gomez-Pena in Border Crossings. She currently resides in Brooklyn and San Francisco.

Larry Ochs → Sopranino and Tenor Saxophones

Rova Saxophone Quartet: Since 1978, Mr. Ochs' professional activities have been primarily centered around the Rova Saxophone Quartet, which has made over thirty European tours and numerous concerts throughout the US and Canada, as well as recording over thirty CDs as a quartet and/or in collaboration with other artists. Ochs has also been the executive director of the Rova non-profit organization since 1985. In this capacity, his accomplishments include producing the acclaimed PreEchoes series, involving Rova in collaborations with other artists such as The Ganelin Trio from the USSR, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Terry Riley, Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith, Lawrence Butch Morris, Alvin Curran, Chris Brown, and San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

Other performance groups: In 1986, Ochs formed the group Room with Chris Brown and William Winant, a trio of saxophone, piano, computer electronics and percussion. The group continued performing and recording until 1994, and was one of the first bands to combine acoustic instruments and computer electronics in formal compositions that involved improvisation. In 1990, he and keyboardist Wayne Horvitz formed The International Creative Music Orchestra for the Pan American Goodwill Games in Seattle with further performances at the Vancouver duMaurier International Jazz Festival. In 1991, he suggested a collaboration between Room and The Glenn Spearman Trio, a sextet that eventually became an ongoing band, and recorded 4 CDs as Glenn Spearman Double Trio. In 1993, he created a nine-piece group to perform a specially commissioned work for Antwerpen '93 Festival entitled The Secret Magritte. Also in 1993, he organized a saxophone octet (including the Rova quartet) to perform five compositions of his music at festivals in Austria and Germany. In 1994, Ochs joined with Lisle Ellis and Donald Robinson to form the ongoing trio, What We Live, which has toured in the US and Europe and recorded six CDs. In 1995, he was a guest soloist with the George Lewis Creative Orchestra at Mills College in Oakland, California. Also in 1995, he performed and recorded with India Cooke's group: Red Handed. In 1997, he composed the 45 minute work Pleistocene for a 12 piece ensemble which was performed at The San Francisco Jazz Festival (as part of Rova's 20th anniversary concert.) Also in 1997, Ochs first recorded with the John Lindberg Ensemble; a tour and second recording took place in 1999; a third recording and tour followed in 2000. In 1998, he toured and recorded with guitarist Fred Frith and koto-player Miya Masaoka in a trio called Maybe Monday. A CD was released by this trio on Buzz (Netherlands) in 2000. A second CD, Digital Wildlife, with guest Joan Jeanrenaud, was released in 2002 on Winter & Winter (Germany) in time for an 8 city European tour. In 2000, Ochs organized the trio Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core with drummers Scott Amendola and Donald Robinson; a first recording was released on Black Saint in Europe in 2002. (USA 2003)

Ochs has composed more than 2 dozen compositions for saxophone quartet as well as many other pieces for mixed ensembles (see groups mentioned in previous paragraph). One of his most recent composition for saxophone quartet, a thirty-minute piece entitled Certain Space, was commissioned by Chamber Music America / Doris Duke Foundation, and he has twice previously been commissioned by the Commissioning Music USA / Meet the Composer Fund. He composed the music for the film Letters Not About Love which won best documentary film award at the 1998 South by Southwest Film Festival. His monograph on "Strategies for Structured Improvisation" was published in 1999 as part of the book Arcana, a collection of composers' writings edited by John Zorn (Granary Press, New York). He has also composed for theater and one video play.

Latest Release

Trio Ochs, Masaoka, Lee : Spiller Alley

Rogue Art (2006)  Read more..