Joe Fonda, Billy Bang, Barry Altschul

Sunday, November 14, 2010. 8:30 pm

Joe Fonda is a composer, bassist, recording artist, Fonda has performed with his own ensembles throughout the United States and Europe, and as a side man with Archie Shepp, Ken McIntyre, Lou Donaldson, Bill and Kenny Barron, Leo Smith, Perry Robinson, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, Mark Whitecage, Marion Brown and Bill Dixon. Fonda was the bassist with the renowed Anthony Braxton sextet, octet, tenet, from 1984 through 1999. Fonda also sat on the Board of Directors from 1994 to 1999, and was the President from 1997 to 1999 of the newly formed Tri-Centric Foundation. He also performed with the 38-piece Tri-Centric orchestra under the direction of Anthony Braxton, andwas the bassist for the premiere performance of Anthony Braxton’s opera, Shalla Fears for the Poor, performed at the John Jay theater in New York, New York October 1996. As a composer, Fonda has been the recipient of numerous grants and commissions and has released eight recordings under his own name. (Reviews and recordings available). Fonda was also a member of The Creative Musicians Improvisors Forum directed by Leo Smith, and was the bassist with the American Tap Dance Orchestra in New York City, directed by world renowned tap dancer, Brenda Bufalino.

In 1989, Fonda performed with Fred Ho’s Jazz and peking opera in its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From 1982 to 1986 Fonda was the bassist and dancer with the Sonomama Dance Company. An independent producer since 1978, Fonda is the founding director of Kaleidoscope Arts and interdisciplinary performance ensemble. Currently Fonda has been recording and touring extensively with the Fonda-Stevens Group. They have released five CDs and have had seven European tours since 1997, with performances at the Bim huis in Amsterdam, Holland, the Prague Jazz Festival, Czech Republic, the Jazz Halo Festival, Belgium, and Jazz Festival Thüringen, Weimar, Germany. Three of Fonda’s recent projects are From the Source, Conference Call and the FAB Trio. From the Source is a group that incorporates the tap dance and poetry of Brenda Bufalino and the healing arts of Vicki Dodd, and four jazz musicians. The group has released their first CD entitled, Joe Fonda and From the Source, on Konnex Records . Conference Call is a quartet, featuring drummers, Han Bennink and Matt Wilson, with pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, and bassist Joe Fonda. Conference Call has released two CDs, Final Answer (Soul Note) and one on Variations on a Master Plan (Leo Records).

Billy Bang born Billy Walker on September 20, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama.Billy studied violin as a youngster growing up in New York’s South Bronx. In the early 60′ s he abandoned the violin for percussion, getting into Afro-Cuban rhythms. Drafted to Vietnam, he had a political awakening and returned to America to throw himself into the anti-war movement. When he began to play music again in 1971, he experimented with saxophones, but came back to the violin, recognizing that this was where his technical facility lay. Bang became known as an associate of component of the celebrated Loft scene. In the early 70’s he formed the String Trio Of New York. Associates with Sun. Ra, Don Cherry, Marilyn Crispell and James Blood Ulmer were also productive. Like other musicians of his generation, Bang refuses categories; from elegant free jazz and austere art music to playing on Bootsy Collin’s comeback album. In 1988 Bang toured Europe and recorded with a quartet that comprised Charles, Lowe and Sirone.

Albums: New York Collage(1978), Sweet Space(1979), Rainbow Gladiator(1981), Untitled Gift(1982), Invitation(1982), Outline No 12(1982), Bangception(1983), Distinction Without a Difference(1983), with the jazz Doctors Intensive Care(1984), with Kahil El’Zabar Another Kind Of Groove(1987), Valve No 10(1991)

In the early 70’s Altschul was the drummer for Circle-a band which(with a membership that also included Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Anthony Braxton)might possibly have been the most technically adept free jazz ensemble ever. Altshul’s drumming with that band was stylistically all-encompassing-in his own words, “from ragtime to no time”-thanks to his background in traditional jazz styles, which gave him a solid grounding on which to build his free playing. From his days with Circle to his more recent work as a leader of his own ensembles. Altschul has demonstrated a notable consistency, especially in the way he inevitably manages to generate an enormous momentum without overpowering the ensemble. Much of his power as a rhythm player stems from the subtlety of his touch; Altschul’s sound is very tight and exceedingly well-defined. A strict attention to rhythmic and tonal detail has always characterized his playing. Altchul was largely self-taught until 1960, when he began study with Charlie Persip From 1964 until 1970, Altschul played regularly with pianist Paul Bley; their relationship continued intermittently through the 70s and 80s. In 1969m he studied with Sam Ulano. Altschul was a member of the Jazz Composer’s Guild and the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra Association from 1964-68. He spent a portion of the 60s playing mainstream jazz in Europe. In the 70s he recorded with the individual members of Circle. In 72, under Holland’s leadership, Altschul recorded the classic album Conference of the Birds, with Braxton and saxophonist Sam Rivers. Around this time, he also made records with Bley, bassist Alan Silva, and pianist Andrew Hill, among others. In the 80s Altschul made records of his own for Soul Note and continued his sideman work with such musicians as the Russian-born pianist Simon Nabotov and Kenny Drew, Sr. Altschul’s 1985 album, That’s Nice, shows him to be an exciting and good-humored bandleader in a rather modern-mainstream vein. Unfortunately, since that album was made, little has been heard from him as a leader.


Joe Fonda, Billy Bang, Barry Altschul at Roulette 2010