fbpx

Ches Smith & Laugh Ash

Wednesday, March 20, 20248:00 pm
$25 advance$30 doors$20 Student/Senior (w/ ID, Senior 65+)doors 7pm

Celebrating the album release of a new set of compositions, Laugh Ash, an ensemble led by Ches Smith, plays a set of music whose touchstones are myriad but ultimately meaningless in the face of an inventive and unfamiliar expression. The compositions make use of disorientation and juxtaposition: stark chamber melodies coexist with synthetic rhythms, explosive bursts of improvisation with elusive song forms, austere ambience with thundering complexity. In addition to Smith on drums, electronics and an array of percussion, the band features an assemblage of leading voices in contemporary music, each a composer, performer and/or bandleader in their own right, straddling the realms of jazz, new music and sounds outside of genre.

Laugh Ash is laced with touchstones from throughout Smith’s widely varied output – his work with fellow jazz innovators like John Zorn, Tim Berne, Nels Cline, Darius Jones, Mary Halvorson and Kris Davis; his avant-rock excursions with Mr. Bungle, Xiu Xiu and Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog; his experiences in contemporary classical music, from studies at Mills College with William Winant to performances with pioneering minimalist Terry Riley; and the experimentation with electronic music in his solo project Congs for Brums. Hints of cyclical minimalist composition and pulsating 808 beats, blistering extreme metal and skronky free jazz all emerge from this mélange.

The juxtapositions and collisions that arise from those instincts lead throughout the albums to moments of genuine surprise and disconcertedness. The title Laugh Ash suggests the obliterating power of real, cathartic laughter, which is a very real possibility from Smith’s music, despite its serious intent. “Genuine laughter arrives unannounced,” he writes in the liner notes, “causing a fissure where time stops. If the bout of laughter is severe, you may find yourself at the point of disintegration.”

Shara Lunon voice and vocal processing, lyrics
Anna Webber flute
Oscar Noriega clarinets
James Brandon Lewis tenor sax
Nate Wooley trumpet
Jennifer Choi violin
Kyle Armbrust viola
Michael Nicolas cello
Shahzad Ismaily bass, Moog
Ches Smith elecronics, drums, percussion
A smaller version of this group has performed before, but the program constitutes a new work, which was recorded to be released coinciding with this concert.

A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing. Watch below or on YouTube.


California-born, New York-based drummer, percussionist and composer Ches Smith has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the wiliest drummers on the experimental scene.” Smith’s singular voice and adroit perspective have led to collaborations with Marc Ribot, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Dave Holland, David Torn, Mary Halvorson, Terry Riley, Craig Taborn, Kris Davis, Trevor Dunn, John Tchicai, Xiu Xiu, Secret Chiefs 3, Theory of Ruin, Mr. Bungle, and many others. Smith’s recent releases include Interpret It Well, featuring legendary guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Craig Taborn and violist Mat Maneri; and Path of Seven Colors by We All Break, Smith’s project fusing boundary-stretching jazz and traditional Haitian Vodou music. 

Minimalism
video by Frank Heath. Minimalism composition by Ches Smith and Shara Lunon, lyrics by Lunon, arranged Smith, performed by Laugh Ash.

Ches Smith & Laugh Ash

Wednesday, March 20, 20248:00 pm
$25 advance$30 doors$20 Student/Senior (w/ ID, Senior 65+)doors 7pm

Celebrating the album release of a new set of compositions, Laugh Ash, an ensemble led by Ches Smith, plays a set of music whose touchstones are myriad but ultimately meaningless in the face of an inventive and unfamiliar expression. The compositions make use of disorientation and juxtaposition: stark chamber melodies coexist with synthetic rhythms, explosive bursts of improvisation with elusive song forms, austere ambience with thundering complexity. In addition to Smith on drums, electronics and an array of percussion, the band features an assemblage of leading voices in contemporary music, each a composer, performer and/or bandleader in their own right, straddling the realms of jazz, new music and sounds outside of genre.

Laugh Ash is laced with touchstones from throughout Smith’s widely varied output – his work with fellow jazz innovators like John Zorn, Tim Berne, Nels Cline, Darius Jones, Mary Halvorson and Kris Davis; his avant-rock excursions with Mr. Bungle, Xiu Xiu and Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog; his experiences in contemporary classical music, from studies at Mills College with William Winant to performances with pioneering minimalist Terry Riley; and the experimentation with electronic music in his solo project Congs for Brums. Hints of cyclical minimalist composition and pulsating 808 beats, blistering extreme metal and skronky free jazz all emerge from this mélange.

The juxtapositions and collisions that arise from those instincts lead throughout the albums to moments of genuine surprise and disconcertedness. The title Laugh Ash suggests the obliterating power of real, cathartic laughter, which is a very real possibility from Smith’s music, despite its serious intent. “Genuine laughter arrives unannounced,” he writes in the liner notes, “causing a fissure where time stops. If the bout of laughter is severe, you may find yourself at the point of disintegration.”

Shara Lunon voice and vocal processing, lyrics
Anna Webber flute
Oscar Noriega clarinets
James Brandon Lewis tenor sax
Nate Wooley trumpet
Jennifer Choi violin
Kyle Armbrust viola
Michael Nicolas cello
Shahzad Ismaily bass, Moog
Ches Smith elecronics, drums, percussion
A smaller version of this group has performed before, but the program constitutes a new work, which was recorded to be released coinciding with this concert.

A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing. Watch below or on YouTube.


California-born, New York-based drummer, percussionist and composer Ches Smith has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the wiliest drummers on the experimental scene.” Smith’s singular voice and adroit perspective have led to collaborations with Marc Ribot, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Dave Holland, David Torn, Mary Halvorson, Terry Riley, Craig Taborn, Kris Davis, Trevor Dunn, John Tchicai, Xiu Xiu, Secret Chiefs 3, Theory of Ruin, Mr. Bungle, and many others. Smith’s recent releases include Interpret It Well, featuring legendary guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Craig Taborn and violist Mat Maneri; and Path of Seven Colors by We All Break, Smith’s project fusing boundary-stretching jazz and traditional Haitian Vodou music. 

Minimalism
video by Frank Heath. Minimalism composition by Ches Smith and Shara Lunon, lyrics by Lunon, arranged Smith, performed by Laugh Ash.