Empty Cage Quartet at FONT Festival, New York

Empty Cage Quartet at FONT Festival, New York

Jason Mears – alto saxophone, clarinet
Kris Tiner – trumpet, flugelhorn
Ivan Johnson – acoustic bass
Paul Kikuchi – percussion

The Empty Cage Quartet has been consistently praised as one of the most powerful and original new jazz groups to emerge from the American West Coast. For nearly a decade they have explored new ways to integrate a diverse mix of musical influences, from traditional forms to contemporary experimental practices. The result is a continually evolving, multidimensional approach to jazz and new music performance, improvisational acuity, and compositional craft that Amazing Sounds Magazine has described as an “urban folk music of the future.”

The Empty Cage Quartet has toured extensively in the United States and in Canada and Europe, with highlights including the Clean Feed Festival (NYC), Is That Jazz? Festival (Seattle), JazzPop at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), The Stone (NYC), Festival of New Trumpet Music (NYC), Le Mandala (Toulouse, France), The Jazz Bakery (Los Angeles), Heaven Gallery (Chicago), Baloard (Montpellier, France), Mateel Festival (Garberville, CA), Mat Bevel Institute (Tucson), Dazzle Lounge (Denver), and Holocene (Portland, OR). They have received grant support from the American Composers Forum, Chamber Music America’s French-American Jazz Exchange, and the Pelletier Foundation, and have twice been Artists in Residence at the Montalvo Arts Center. They have given performances and masterclasses at Bennington College, The Art Institute of Seattle, International Society for Improvised Music Conference at Northwestern University, California Institute of the Arts, Oakwood School, The Academy of Creative Education, CRCA at UC San Diego, CSU Bakersfield, and the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop.

Their 2008 CD Stratostrophic on Portugal’s Clean Feed record label was hailed as “One of the best things in jazz to emerge in the new millennium” by the UK magazine The Wire, and their most recent CD Gravity is also available on Clean Feed. Previous releases can be found on the Rude Awakening, Nine Winds, and pfMENTUM labels. In October, 2012 they celebrated their tenth year with a limited edition self-titled LP release on Seattle’s Prefecture Records label in conjunction with performances at The Stone and Douglass Street Music Collective in New York City.

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

NPR Music

“This music is a sinuous dance, but one where every move, every exit and entry, every bob and weave, is made with razor-sharp precision… the Empty Cage Quartet finds a new way forward for the modern-day free jazz quartet.”
Signal to Noise Magazine

“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.”


Tin/Bag at Metro Galleries, Bakersfield (photo by Jennifer Williams)

Tin/Bag at Metro Galleries, Bakersfield (photo by Jennifer Williams)

TIN/BAG, the bi-coastal duo of California trumpeter Kris Tiner and New York guitarist Mike Baggetta, deals with a music that is spare and ethereal, exploring the spaces between jazz, traditional musics, and contemporary composition. Since 2004 Tiner and Baggetta have toured extensively, presenting their original music along with inventive renderings of works by Bob Dylan, Kitty Wells, Thelonious Monk, Carla Bley, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and others.

Their 2005 debut CD There, Just As You Look For It on pfMENTUM Records was met with enthusiastic reviews and continues to receive international airplay. Tin/Bag’s second CD And Begin Again, released in 2007 on Evander Music, featured two extended works for quartet with virtuoso L.A. clarinetist Brian Walsh and acclaimed NYC jazz percussionist Harris Eisenstadt. Their latest album Bridges, recorded in 2010 with the support of a Subito grant from the American Composers Forum, was named as one of the ten best jazz recordings of 2011 by critic Hank Shteamer of Time Out New York.

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“Radiant… there’s an open, intensely emotional quality to the duo’s playing… spare, haunting, with hints of modernist avant garde gestures.”
– Andy Hamilton, The Wire Magazine

“Excellent… trumpeter Kris Tiner and guitarist Mike Baggetta explore abstract yet jazz-derived realms of expansive lyricism and liquid melody.”
Time Out New York

“Careful listening is always evident as the two play off of each other, whether shadowing lines or counterbalancing densities and textures of the freely evolving pieces… the two maintain a taut, insightful approach to duet interaction.”
– Michael Rosenstein, Cadence Magazine


Kris Tiner, Scott Walton, Donald Robinson at In The Flow Festival, Sacramento, May 14, 2012 (photo by George Thomson)

Kris Tiner Trio at In The Flow Festival, Sacramento, May 14, 2012 (photo by George Thomson)

Kris Tiner – trumpet, compositions
Scott Walton – acoustic bass
Donald Robinson – drum set

Kris Tiner is a California-based trumpet player, composer, and improviser. Featured on NPR Music as one of a handful of new trumpet voices impacting modern music, his playing has been described as “extraordinarily inventive” in Signal to Noise Magazine, and the LA Weekly claims “Trumpeter Kris Tiner can turn barbed wire to beauty.” Tiner’s compositions explore connections between improvisational world music traditions and systemic compositional practices, blending deep jazz roots with references to many diverse streams of contemporary and experimental music. His music has been performed on five continents, his 50+ recordings have been enthusiastically reviewed in the international jazz press, and he has been recognized with awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, Chamber Music America, the International Association for Jazz Education, Montalvo Arts Center, and the Kennedy Center. He is a member of the acclaimed Empty Cage Quartet, and he collaborates with New York guitarist Mike Baggetta in the duo Tin/Bag. He performs with the Industrial Jazz Group, Chris Schlarb’s Psychic Temple, pianist Cathlene Pineda, the Los Angeles Trumpet Quartet and the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet, and has collaborated with Wadada Leo Smith, Vinny Golia, Kraig Grady, Tatsuya Nakatani, Donald Robinson, Nels Cline, Lukas Ligeti, G.E. Stinson, Motoko Honda, Phillip Greenlief, Jack Wright, Harris Eisenstadt, and Michael Vlatkovich. Tiner holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BA from CSU Bakersfield. He directs the Jazz Program at Bakersfield College, and is the Trumpet Studio Instructor at CSU Bakersfield. He is the founder of Epigraph Records, an independent label dedicated to the documentation of new creative music recorded live in Bakersfield.

Bassist and pianist Scott Walton‘s interests cut across musical genres. He has collaborated with poets, dancers, performance artists, filmmakers, and multimedia artists, and is featured on recent CD releases with the Vinny Golia Quintet (One, Three, Two), Cosmologic (Syntaxis), O’Keefe, Stanyek, Walton, Whitehead (Tunnel), and Jeff Kaiser (17 Themes for Ockodektet). As a pianist Walton is currently performing an improvisationally inspired interpretation of Charles Ives’ Concord Sonata. As a bassist he has recorded with George Lewis, Bobby Bradford, Anthony Davis, and Carmell Jones, and has performed with Wadada Leo Smith, John Carter, J.D. Parran, Gerry Hemingway, Quincy Troupe, Ray Anderson, John Abercrombie, Phillip Gelb, Davey Williams, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Clifford Jordan, Al Cohn, Buddy Tate, and Frank Wess, among others. He has recorded on the Soul Note, Nine Winds, Jazz’halo, Circumvention, pfMentum, Koch, Centaur, Albany, and Revelation labels.

Described as a “percussive dervish” by Coda Magazine, Donald Robinson is a technical master of the drums. He is a stalwart of the of San Francisco bay area avant-garde jazz scene, playing and recording with many of the area’s improvisational players, from saxophonists John Tchicai, Marco Eneidi and Larry Ochs to koto player Miya Masaoka and pianist Matthew Goodheart, and with prominent visitors like Cecil Taylor, Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, trumpeter Raphe Malik and Canadian pianist Paul Plimley. Much of this work has featured the combination of Robinson and bassist Lisle Ellis as rhythm section: “the best bass-drums tag team on the scene” (Jazz Times). His longest musical association, dating from the 1970’s, was with the late tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman. Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1953, Robinson first studied classical percussion at the New England Conservatory. During the early 1970’s he served his musical apprenticeship in the jazz world of Paris, studying with Kenny Clarke and playing with Alan Silva, Anthony Braxton, Oliver Lake and Bobby Few among many others. He first played with Spearman as a duet partner during this period in Paris, an association which continued through various configurations and many recordings until the saxophonist’s death in 1998. Robinson is currently playing in many configurations with a broad range of musicians throughout Europe and the US.


Blue Whale, 8.17.2014, photo by Kio Griffith

Blue Whale, 8.17.2014, photo by Kio Griffith

The Vidya Trio – pianist Motoko Honda, saxophonist Beth Schenck, and trumpeter Kris Tiner – performs original compositions and improvisations that reveal a unique take on the idea of the chamber trio. Frequent collaborators over the past decade, these three musicians have established wide ranging associations in the new music, jazz, and improvised music communities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Their diverse backgrounds and performance experience are brought fully into the music they create for the trio, incorporating complex notation, elastic chordal and rhythmic structures, deeply nuanced lyricism, and systemic structural methodologies. Recent venues include the Berkeley Arts Festival, the Nebraska Mondays Series in Sacramento, and the Blue Whale in Los Angeles.


Not Twice with Steuart Liebig, Dagny’s, Bakersfield, 6.8.13 (photo by Tommy Simmons)

Not Twice with Steuart Liebig, Dagny’s, Bakersfield, 6.8.13 (photo by Tommy Simmons)

Not Twice is an ongoing, expansive project dedicated to extending the ecstatic free jazz tradition of Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Pharoah Sanders with shades of ambient music, trance, and electro-acoustic improvisation. Core members are Kris Tiner on brass with Andrew Koeth and Jordan Aguirre on keyboards and electronics. Recent guests have included keyboardist Motoko Honda, saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, electric bassist Steuart Liebig, valve trombonist Christian Pincock, and film artist Allen D. Glass. The group released their debut recording Flight Plans on Bakersfield-based creative music label Epigraph Records in October 2014.

“Theme on Our Beloved” by Jordan Aguirre
NOT TWICE with Christian Pincock, 1.5.2013
(video by Connor O’Brien)

“Sadness Variations (after Ornette Coleman)”


Kris Tiner – trumpet, composition
Phillip Greenlief – tenor saxophone
Motoko Honda – keyboard and electronics
Jordan Aguirre – keyboard and electronics
Andrew Koeth – keyboard and electronics
Allen D. Glass – 16mm film projection

Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series, San Francisco, 8.2.2012