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 emptycagequartet.com.

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.


New Empty Cage LP Released

“Empty Cage Quartet, a tight-knit West Coast avant-jazz outfit including trumpeter Kris Tiner, reedist Jason Mears,bassist Ivan Johnson and drummer Paul Kikuchi, boasts an admirably wide dynamic range, encompassing funkyblare and chamber-style intimacy. This week the group plays two local gigs in support of a new limited-edition, self-titled LP on Prefecture Music. Sharing the bill on Oct 6 are the trios Cacaw and Killer Kate.”

This week the Empty Cage Quartet celebrates our TENTH year together with a new website, a new self-titled LP available now on Prefecture Music, and two gigs in New York City.

The new album was recorded at Jack Straw in Seattle early last year, and includes many of the tunes we’ve been playing on our live gigs over the past couple of years. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies, or you can download the digital album in whatever format you prefer, and you can name your price. Check the embed below to listen and purchase:

On Saturday night we’ll be playing a set at Douglass Street Music Collective in Gowanus, Brooklyn, sharing the bill with CaCaw and Killer Kate. Click here for details. Sunday night is the official LP release show at The Stone, on Manhattan’s lower east side. Great to be back at this world-class venue for creative music. Click here for details.