LISTENING POST: Improv, contemporary classical, musical mayhem … it’s all in the ATL this month

Keep your soul nourished for the holidays

#1 Jake Cook Credit Noah Orisich
Photo credit: Noah Orisich
Offbeat at 378: Alt-indie songwriter-singer-keyboardist Jake Cook performs at 378 Dec. 2 with Okapi and W8ing4UFOs.

With a flurry of concerts during the first two weeks of the month, capped off by the first annual No Words Festival between Christmas and New Year’s, December is shaping up to be a banger for alt/edgy/progressive music fans in the ATL.

Fri., Dec. 2


PHOTO: Heads up at 378. Okapi, the Asheville-based duo of Scott Gorski (upright bass) and Lindsey Miller (cello). will perform heady string and voice orchestrations at 378 gallery in Candler Park on Fri., Dec. 2. PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Miller

Jake Cook, Okapi, W8ing4UFOs, 378 Gallery A trio of offbeat music makers ply their disparate trades at 378, the art gallery in Candler Park curated by Tom Zarrilli, which is currently stocked with wonderfully quirky work for sale by local artists just in time for you-know-what. The opener on the bill is Atlanta songwriter-singer-keyboardist-producer Jake Cook (the artist formerly known as Seal Pup) whose dark indie-pop ruminations and sharply cynical take on the world make for surprisingly upbeat fun. Next up, Okapi, an Asheville-based duo featuring Scott Gorski on upright bass and Lindsey Miller on cello, will perform a selection of spare, heady string and voice orchestrations, which, according to the musicians, “advocate the conscious confrontation with reality, rather than the subconscious avoidance or distraction from it, and encourage individual awareness, freedom, and healthy growth.” Rounding out the program at 378, W8ing4UFOs will play a set of original interfluent allegories, Shakespearian concatenations and covers by Dead Kennedys, Talking Heads et al arranged for guitar, banjo, cello, viola, keyboards and drum/percussion/squeezebox.
Donations encouraged. Doors 6 p.m. Music 7 p.m. 378 Clifton Road, Atlanta.  Facebook

Sun., Dec. 4


IN TANDEM: Eugene Chadboune and bassist David Menestres return to Atlanta for a night of improvised duets, as well as a collaboration with the Doc Chad Contemporary Rock Band Sun., Dec 4, at eyedrum. PHOTO CREDIT: Brandon Pierce

Eugene Chadbourne/David Menestres, Doc Chad Contemporary Rock Band, W8ing4UFOS, eyedrum — Avant guitar and banjo wizard, inventor of the electric rake, conjurer of hundreds of recordings and collaborator with the likes of John Zorn, Anthony Braxton and Tatsuya Nakatani, Eugene Chadboune returns to Atlanta for a night of improvised experimentation. Joined by brilliant bassist David Menestres (founder of the Polyorchard Ensemble), Chadbourne will perform a set of duets, and both artists will participate in the Doc Chad Contemporary Rock Band. The latter features members of the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra including Roger Ruzow (trumpet), Jason Casanova (euphonium), Eric Fontaine (reeds), Bill Pritchard (tuba), Jeremy Wilms (mandolin) and Noah Kess (drums). According to Ruzow, the Doc Chad CRB will “play the hits from days prior, arranged in ways not yet realized, improvised [or] contextualized.” Somewhere in the eyedrum mix, W8ing4UFOs will perform selections from the seasoned ensemble’s most recent album, Don’t Let the Asshats Burn You,>/i> and other musical delights.
Donations encouraged. Doors 7:30 p.m. Music 8 p.m. 515 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW.   Facebook 

Tue., Dec. 6


Balkan Jazz Back In the Atl: The Sataraš Quartet, shown here in concert at Red Light Café in 2019, returns to the club near Piedmont Park for a special one-night stand Tue., Dec. 8. PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Eberhardt

Sataraš Quartet, Red Light Café — By special engagement only, as they say, the Sataraš (pronounced SAH-tah-rash) Quartet is slated to perform at the Red Light Café for one night only on Tue., Dec. 6. Co-founded in the pre-pandemic era by guitarist Eddie Beho and saxophonist Jeff Crompton, Sataraš Quartet also features bassist Colin Bragg and drummer Blake Helton, both veterans of the Atlanta jazz/improv/experimental community. An exemplary 21st century aggregation, the Sataraš Quartet blends bitching jazz grooves, fiery Balkan riffs and funky blues into a highly original, joyously swinging, slap-yo-Macedonian-grandma celebration.
Tickets $10 advance; $15 door. Doors 7 p.m. Music 8 p.m. Masks strongly encouraged, but not required. Red Light Café, 553 Amsterdam Ave. NE, 30306.  Facebook 

Sat., Dec. 10


Get Bent, Frequently: Bent Frequency co-founders Jan Berry Baker and Stuart Gerber are among the performers in a free concert at eyedrum Sat., Dec. 10, featuring three southeastern premiers of contemporary classical chamber works. PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Eberhardt

Bent Frequency, eyedrum — Join one of Atlanta’s premiere contemporary classical chamber ensembles for a free concert featuring the Southeastern premieres of Emily Koh’s hyder(0)sion, Alvin Singleton’s Every Next Day and George Lewis’ Tuning In, all of which were composed for the Bent Frequency Duo Project. Also on the program at eyedrum are Emory University assistant professor Adam Mirza’s Cracks, Blue by Andrew Staniland and Madrigals, Book 1 by George Crumb. Performers include Amy Petrongelli (soprano), Jan Berry Baker (saxophone), Daniel Tosky (double bass), Erika Tazawa (piano) and Stuart Gerber (percussion).
Free. Doors 8 p.m. Music 8:30 p.m. 515 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW.  Facebook 

Sun., Dec. 11

Bent Frequency presents Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night, Arches Brewing — In what has become an almost annual tradition, Bent Frequency serves as host and “conductor” of Unsilent Night, a novel mobile sound sculpture composed by Phil Kline. Participants download the Unsilent Night track to their phone or tablet from here.The track is then played while the “orchestra” walks along a prescribed route, which this year starts at Arches Brewing in Hapeville. Open to everyone. No experience necessary. Participants are encouraged to bring lights and fun lanterns. Social hour begins at 4:30 p.m. followed by the “performance” walk around 5:45 p.m.
Free. Social hour 4:30 p.m., performance 5:45 p.m. Arches Brewing, 3361 Dogwood Dr., Hapeville, GA 30354.

Fri., Dec. 16


Improvisatory delight: Answers (pictured), a band of improvising composers-musicians from Orlando, will perform at eyedrum Wed., Dec. 16, sharing a bill with The Atlanta Improvisers Orchestra, Flea Circus and Taylor/Burland. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Answers

Answers, Atlanta Improvisers Orchestra, Flea Circus, Taylor/Burland, eyedrum — Face of Knives Productions presents a holiday improv/experimental fandango at eyedrum. The quadruple-bill headliner, Answers, is a quintet of improvising composers/performers from Orlando, Florida. According to the official skinny, Answers is “equally at home in amplified and acoustic settings, the band performs spontaneous improvisations, original works, interpretations of graphic scores, virtuosic contemporary classical music, and music for open instrumentation.” The ensemble’s exuberantly sophisticated and wholly accessible music is the perfect pairing for the rest of the eyedrum program, which features local standouts The Atlanta Improvisers Orchestra, Flea Circus and Taylor/Burland.
Tickets $10 advance, $12 door. Doors 7 p.m., music 7:30 p.m. eyedrum, 515 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30312. Cheerful holiday attire encouraged. Also encouraged are donations of clean, warm clothes for distribution to those in need.  Facebook