Lucas Artist Fellow Profile

This past summer I spent a week at Montalvo Arts Center to finish recording a set of solo trumpet compositions I wrote during my first residency in 2012. I love this place, and it was wonderful to be back. During my stay I did a video interview with photographer Tina Case about the solo project, some general feelings about the residency program, and a bit about my background in music. You’ll see a shot of my daughters’ artwork covering the walls of the studio as well…

Empty Cage at Angel City

2015 Angel City Jazz Festival poster by Kio Griffith

2015 Angel City Jazz Festival poster by Kio Griffith

This week the Empty Cage Quartet reconvenes for performances at the Angel City Jazz Festival in Los Angeles (with Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri), Studio Grand in Oakland (with The Lost Trio), and Dagny’s Coffee Co. in Bakersfield. From there we head into the studio to work on material for our next album.

More info on the events page at

Tin/Bag Southwest Tour Photos

Tin/Bag Southwest Tour 2015

Tin/Bag at UNM Arts Lab, 2013 - photo by Mark Weber
“Exquisite music just flows from these serious cats, flows like the skies & rivers…”
–ABQ poet Mark Weber

For more info visit

Spring/Summer Update

Lots of interesting creative projects over the last few months, in addition to a busy teaching semester in Bakersfield and filling in for John Fumo as the Jazz Trumpet instructor at CalArts – which was a whole lot of fun.

In February I had the pleasure of bringing my former teacher and mentor Wadada Leo Smith to Bakersfield College for a public lecture and concert, which is something I’ve wanted to do for many years. It was wonderful to see him interact with the students and the public here, and his solo performance of his own music and reinterpretations of music by Thelonious Monk was beyond great.

Other recent highlights include a couple of Blue Whale gigs with Cathlene Pineda’s quartet and the LA-based new jazz ensemble Slumgum; Vidya Trio in San Francisco at the Center for New Music; three performances in two days with Sacramento guitarist Ross Hammond; and a duo performance with pianist Motoko Honda at Montalvo Arts Center as part of their 75th anniversary Rock the Garden celebration.

Some Recent Highlights

It was a busy few months leading up to the end of the year. The Empty Cage Quartet got together in October after a two-year hiatus for a live recording and several concerts culminating in a fantastic night at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. In September I had the pleasure of performing at REDCAT with pianist Cathlene Pineda, who put together an impossibly beautiful suite of new compositions based on the poetry of Eloise Klein Healy for the Angel City Jazz Festival. Other recent concerts included collaborations with Thollem McDonas, Charles Sharp, Jeff Schwartz, Vijay Anderson, Chris Schlarb, Tabor Allen, Phillip Greenlief, Motoko Honda, Beth Schenck, G.E. Stinson, Alex Cline, Steuart Liebig, Kio Griffith, and the Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet.

Reaching back further into 2014, there were musical encounters with Jack Wright, Ben Wright, Tatsuya Nakatani, Michael Vlatkovich, Anna Homler, Kyle Burnham, John Fumo, Jeff Kaiser, Daniel Rosenboom, Ted Byrnes, Brian Walsh, John Lindberg, Gilbert Isbin, Scott Walton, Wadada Leo Smith, and quite a few others.

I’m opening this new year with a deep and profound feeling of gratitude for the wonderful and endlessly inspiring friends I’m fortunate to cross musical paths with so often, each one pursuing a life uniquely centered on beauty and creativity, bringing life-affirming music with them wherever they go.

Upcoming in Bako

cathlene pineda quartet 

Cathlene Pineda Quartet

Monday, September 22, 7:30pm
Bakersfield College, SPArC-2, free

LA pianist Cathlene Pineda offers an exclusive preview of a new extended work commissioned for a performance at REDCAT Theater by the Angel City Jazz Festival. With Kris Tiner (trumpet), Dave Tranchina (bass) and Paul Kikuchi (drums). Bakersfield College students Omar Murillo (trombone) and Amanda McCaslin (guitar) will play an opening set featuring standards and original compositions. This concert will take place in the band room (SPArC-2) at the new Simonsen Performing Arts Center at Bakersfield College.


 empty cage quartet 

Empty Cage Quartet

Sunday, October 12, 7pm
Metro Galleries, 1604 19th St, $5

Heralded as one of the most powerful and original new jazz groups to emerge from the American West Coast, the Empty Cage Quartet breaks a two-year hiatus with a concert of brand new music to be featured here and the following night at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. With saxophonist Jason Mears (NYC), trumpeter Kris Tiner (Bakersfield), bassist Ivan Johnson (LA), and drummer Paul Kikuchi (Seattle). Presented by Epigraph Records.

“The Empty Cage Quartet… is a thoroughly modern and multifaceted 
jazz ensemble that stakes out a singular voice.”
-NPR Music

“Smart, kicking and as natural as a heartbeat… an unaffected, personalized amalgam of the most significant creative (as opposed to political) developments in jazz from the past several years.”


 skeleton wire 

Skeleton Wire + IAHRQ

Sunday, October 26, 8pm
Metro Galleries, 1604 19th St, $5

Skeleton Wire is bay area saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, LA guitarist G.E. Stinson (formerly with Shadowfax), and LA bassist Steuart Liebig (formerly with Les McCann and Julius Hemphill). Their music is a mixture of free improvisation, industrial-strength electronic beats, and ambient textures. Local group the Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet will also perform. Presented by Epigraph Records.