Ches Smith & Devin Hoff (Good for Cows) w/ Mary Halverson, Jessica Pavone and Zs

Monday, August 4, 2008. 8:30 pm

Good for Cows began as a duo in 1999 when Devin Hoff (string bass) and Ches Smith (drums) would meet regularly to work on musical ideas from a rhythm section’s perspective. At first the two focused on creative interpretations of jazz compositions, particularly the music of Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, and Charles Mingus. It wasn’t long before their shared love of independent rock (“punk”) bands such as Black Flag, Minutemen, and Minor Threat began to inform the duo’s sound in their use of timbre, aggressive energy, and personal voice. Equally important were devices such as multidirectional rhythm, aural cues, and in-the-moment investigations of distinctive sound worlds gleaned from study of contemporary composer/performers Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Cecil Taylor, and Fred Frith.

Good for Cows have since written numerous compositions and improvisations, searching for the strengths of the spare bass and drums instrumentation. They released their self-titled debut CD in 2001 (Evander Music), and a follow up, “Less Than or Equal to” on (former Deerhoof guitarist) Rob Fisk’s Free Porcupine Society label in summer 2003. A third record, “Bebop Fantasy” was released by Asian Man Records in 2005, and a fourth is in progress.

Ches Smith tours and records with Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Xiu Xiu,
Secret Chiefs 3 and Trevor Dunn’s trio-convulsant, and leads his own
bands Congs for Brums and These Arches.

Devin Hoff tours and records with the Nels Cline Singers, Stephen
Bernstien, and Xiu Xiu, and leads his own project, Devin Hoff Platform.

Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone are a Brooklyn-based collaborative duo that have been working together for over four years composing and performing a unique body of music, drawing from classical, jazz and folk traditions while experimenting with new forms. Their music explores improvisation and composition while utilizing amplification and electronic effects as well as acoustic presentation. The compositions in their current repertoire generally range in length from two to six minutes, with each of them composing separate pieces for the project.

Zs was founded in 2000 and has existed as a trio, sextet, and quartet, now solidifying into the trio formation of Sam Hillmer (tenor saxophone), Ben Greenberg (electric guitar), and Ian Antonio (drum set). While our music has been variously categorized as no-wave, brutal-prog, and post-minimalist, Zs is primarily concerned with making music that challenges the physical and mental limitations of both performer and listener. Manipulating extended technique, unique instrumental synthesis, and near telepathic communication, Zs aims to create works that envelop the listener and unfold sonically over time, evoking unspoken past, present, and future rites and ritual. Zs has performed in lofts, galleries, rock clubs, and concert halls across the United States and Europe with The Locust, Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, The Dirty Projectors, Orthrelm, Octis, The Flying Luttenbachers, Behold… The Arctopus, Yellow Swans, Get Hustle, Dan Deacon, Aa, Marnie Stern, Peter Brotzman and Han Bennick, Joe Maneri, Christian Wolff, Louis Andriessen, and Petr Kotik, among many others. Zs has recorded for the 31G, Tzadik, Troubleman Unlimited, Planaria, Gilgongo, Sockets, Ricecontrol, and Zum record labels. The members of Zs also perform with Little Women, Cutter, Yarn/Wire, Hunter-Gatherer, Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf, Regattas, and Trouble.


Ches Smith & Devin Hoff (Good for Cows) w/ Mary Halverson, Jessica Pavone at Roulette 2008


Zs at Roulette 2008