Thursday, October 29, 2009

CMS Minifestival at Symphony Space

An Extraordinary Universe of Unexpected Sounds as Free Jazz Meets World Music

On Thursday, October 29, 2009, at the Thalia Theatre ( Symphony Space ) in New York, the Creative Music Studio offers a mini festival of musical conversations, featuring Kenny Wessel, guitar, Steve Gorn, bansuri flutes, Graham Haynes, cornet, Sylvain Leroux, flutes, Adam Rudolph percussion, Jorge Sylvester, alto sax, Badal Roy, tablas, flutes, Michael Bisio, bass, Ingrid Sertso, vocals, Karl Berger, piano, vibes and surprise guest.

The concert will benefit the ongoing Archive Project of the legendary Creative Music Studio (see "Oral Histories", stories from the CMS days, alternate with musical conversations in the free-wheeling spirit of CMS.

Mingle with fellow music lovers, enjoy light food and drinks, and join in conversation with the artists at 6:30pm as Symphony Space's artistic director and composer Laura Kaminsky moderates Underscore: Cocktails and Conversation.

The concert starts at 7:30 PM, with a second set starting at 9 PM. Advance tickets are $ 25, day of show 30.

For reservations go to or call 212 864 5400. The Thalia Theatre is located on 95th and Broadway in New York.

CMS collaborates with Columbia University's Center for Jazz Studies in preserving its tape collection and providing first-person accounts of this exiting period of the development of free and world jazz.

The Creative Music Studio, founded in 1971 by Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Ornette Coleman, was the pre-eminent institution for world music and avant-garde jazz.

Credited as the birthplace of Worldjazz, the Creative Music Studio featured some of the world's most renowned improvising musician/composers.

The CMS community now exists as a remarkable network of creative musicians all over the world.

The Creative Music Studio is a program of the Creative Music Foundation, Inc.,a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization. Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Please consider making the Creative Music Foundation one of your charities of choice. Thank you !

"It may still be one of the more obscure corners of the jazz universe,but CMS has had a major impact on improvising musicians across several generations." Jazz Times

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's Goin' On In Woodstock?

The legendary Workshop with Karl Berger and Ingrid Sertso
is coming back to Woodstock.

Hey, that's good news!

Here's the blurb from Karl's Facebook page:

No instruments needed.

Although seasoned music lovers and musicians will gain new perspectives from this work, no prior musical knowledge is needed in order to participate.

We begin by vitalizing the breath with sound and movement and vocalize through easy rhythmic-melodic improvisations.

We proceed to focus on timing and spontaneous attention, playfully using voice and movement with a practice of the legendary GaMaLaTaTaKi® technique.

We consciously explore and develop our sense of time and space through playing and listening.

We learn to be in touch with our natural Music Mind.

We travel to places that we didn’t even know existed. Your experiences of listening to and playing music will never be the same again.

Wednesdays at 6 PM in Woodstock ( please inquire at 845 679 8847 ).

Sequence of 4 weekly sessions, $ 80. Sliding scale. Work study scholarships available.
First sequence starting October 28.

For more information + sign-up please call CMS Studio at 845.679.8847
or Lou Pollack at 845.679.8508. E mail:,


Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Friends will perform in concert
Saturday, November 7 at the Kleinert Gallery, Woodstock

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Different Music" Festival

This was, what, the third Different Music Festival?

Well, it happened on the weekend, Saturday, August 8.

Here'a Facebook page on it:

In case you don't feel like clicking on over to Facebook, here's the lowdown:

“Different Music” Festival & World Beat Dance Party to Benefit the Creative Music Studio’s Archive Project

Saturday August 8, 7 PM to Midnight
The Colony Café, 22 Rock City Rd., Woodstock N.Y.

(Woodstock NY) July 22, 2009: This summer we celebrate music history generated from Woodstock. Another major Woodstock force in the history of music is the Creative Music Studio.

The Creative Music Studio announces a one-night only “DIFFERENT MUSIC” FESTIVAL, featuring some of the finest jazz and world-beat musicians playing together in small groups and orchestra, Saturday, August 8, 7p-Midnight at the Colony Café, Woodstock NY.

The evening concludes with a World Beat Dance Party to the music of Futu Futu, the popular jam band-fun-roots music ensemble that originated at CMS, the pioneering avant-garde jazz and world music school and performance center based in Woodstock from 1971 until the late ‘80’s.

The “DIFFERENT MUSIC” Festival is part of a series of events to benefit the CMS Archive Project to digitize the extraordinary collection of concert tapes featuring the giants of jazz and world music recorded in the heyday of CMS.

Festival ticket price: $20, $15 for students

Different Music Festival schedule:

7pm- Small Group Conversations -Gems of improvised chamber music:

A set of solo/duo/trio delicacies featuring Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso, Steve Bernstein, John Lindberg, Don Davis, Bob Selcoe, and special guests.

8:30pm- The legendary CMS Orchestra

An improvising music extravaganza, featuring all of the above players plus special guests Janet Grice, bassoon, Jane Scarpantoni cello, Jayna Nelson, flutes, Bob Selcoe, Joe McPhee, Paul Henderson, Nathan Brenowitz, trumpets, Joe Giardullo, sopranosax, Don Davis, Jorge Sylvester, altosax, Peter Buettner, flute and tenor sax, Tom Collins, Bill Ylitalo, baritone sax, Ted Orr, guitar, John Lindberg, bass, Tani Tabbal, drums, Chuck Ver Straeten, vocals, Ingrid Sertso, poetry, vocals, Karl Berger, conducting.

10pm-12am - World Beat Dance Party with Futu Futu!!!

Featuring Joakim Lartey, Percussion, Vocal; Chris Lané, Guitar,Fx, Vocal; Ted Orr, MIDI Guitar; Peter Buettner, Saxophone; guests- Alana Orr, Bass; Tani Tabbal, Drums, and other special guests from the CMS Orchestra. This African Funk mix makes you dance, on your feet and in your head.

- The Creative Music Studio Archive Project is preserving the large collection of live performances -more than 350 audio and video tapes - recorded from 1972 to 1986 at CMS facilities in Woodstock NY, as well as other concerts sites in the USA. CMS has joined forces with Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies to complete the project, which will be housed at Columbia as part of the CJS Jazz Studies Online program.

Under the guidance of CMS-Director Karl Berger, master engineer and composer Ted Orr leads the effort to transfer and re-master the tapes. The new masters are being stored and backed up in 3 digital formats (Hard Drive, CDs, DVDs ).

Among the extraordinary artists featured on these recordings:

Don Cherry, Anthony Braxton, Leo Smith, Sam Rivers, Ed Blackwell, Foday Suso, Abdullah Ibrahim, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Giuffre, Frederic Rzewski, Steve Lacy, Carla Bley, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Paulo Moura, Nana Vasconcelos, Pauline Oliveros, Karl Berger, Baikida Carroll, Trilok Gurtu, Steve Gorn, Ismet Siral, Fred Frith, Oliver Lake, Lee Konitz, Leroy Jenkins, George Lewis, Olu Dara and many other stellar talents (for a complete list, visit ).

Founded in 1971 by Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Ornette Coleman, The Creative Music Studio was the pre-eminent institution for world music and avant-garde jazz. Credited as the birthplace of Worldjazz, CMS was a hotbed of creativity and improvisation featuring some of the world's most renowned improvising musician/composers.

The CMS community now exists as a remarkable network of creative musicians all over the world.

For more information on CMS and the Archive Project – visit, and

For information on Futu Futu -

Different Music Festival, contact Stanton Warren 845-679-5616

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vision Festival XIV June 9 - 15, 2009

Vision Fest, y'all!

This year there seems to be far fewer folks from the CMS family performing at Vision Fest. Not that you should base your decision to go on that fact--I just think it's interesting to note who's there who had some involvement with the CMS community.

From the Chicago contingent: Hamid Drake, Douglas R. Ewart, Shaku Joseph Jarman, and J.D. Parran.

From the way-out-west coast: Lisle Ellis.

Bob Moses will represent New England.

I should point out Henry Grimes, too. Henry wasn't really a CMS guy, but he did have an association with Karl Berger during Karl's early days in New York, while Karl was doing what he did to lay the groundwork for CMS.

I've never been to Vision Fest, have you? If you go, drop me a line and let me know how it was.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tedd Orr Update

I heard from Karl Berger today, who said that Ted Orr's benefit was a big success (see post below). He made the money that he needed for eye surgery, has already had the surgery, and is seeing so well now that he can even drive.

Hot dog!

Congratulations, Ted.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ted Orr; Benefit Concerts, April 24 and May 24

Ted Orr is a helluva guitarist.

He's also a CMS alumnus and a recording engineer who collaborates with Karl Berger and Ingrid Sertso in running the Sertso Studio in Woodstock. Sertso Studio houses the Creative Music Studio Archive and is the home of ACR (Artists-Create-Recordings), an umbrella label for productions by members of the Creative Music Foundation, Inc.

I'll let Ted tell you in his own words about his upcoming benefit concerts:

"I am a musician and audio engineer. I was diagnosed with diabetes 4 years ago, after having it for over 20 years. As a result of having it untreated for so long , I developed retinopathy and neuropathy. I have teetered on the edge of legal blindness for 4 years, and after my next surgery my doctor tells me I will be able to read and drive again. I am having 2 benefits to raise the money for the surgey. On Friday, April 24 at Beardville theater, we will have Jack DeJohnette and David Sancious , John Sebastian, Mambo Kikiongo,Voodelic, Chimi Choden, Gilles Malkine, Ras T Asheber, Stoney Clove Lane, Duchess Of Funk, and DJ Dave Leonard ! Also there will be a silent auction and medical technicians on hand to test blood sugar. On Sunday, May 24th, Keegan Ale House in Kingston, NY will present '3' and 'Futu Futu.' Hope to 'see' you!!!"

If you're in the neigborhood, stop on in. Help Ted out. Gonna be some great music.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Pure Inspiration" Courtesy of Lee Konitz

I came across this interview with Lee Konitz, who made such a big contribution at the Creative Music Studio.

Lee Konitz: Back to Basics

In it, Lee describes a ten-step approach to improvising on a melody that seems so practical and sensible. The bonus is the tenth step, which he describes as "an act of pure inspiration."

Sometimes the simplest approaches are the best.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cyro Baptista

I don't know why, but something in Joe Germuska's "Conference of the Birds" feature on CMS sparked a memory of Cyro Baptista. Cyro is a Brazilian percussionist who first came to the USA to study at the Creative Music Studio.

Since then, he's played with "David Byrne, Kathleen Battle, Gato Barbieri, Dr. John, Brian Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Robert Palmer, Melissa Etheridge, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Michael Tilson Thomas, Daniel Barenboin, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo-Ma, Medeski Martin & Wood, Spyro Gyra, Trey Anastasio from Phish, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Santana and Sting. He has also played with many respected Brazilian artists such as Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Ivan Lins, Marisa Monte, and Nana Vasconcelos" (from ).

I absolutely love Cyro's own account of his arrival at CMS, which he submitted to me for the email-newsletter version of the CMS Update, back in 2001. In his own words:

"In July 1980 I came to America arriving at JFK with a Berimbau and a cracked conga. I waited in front of the airport for a van service that picked me up and after two hours of driving on the highway, it delivered me at a Howard Johnsons. At that time it looked to me like an incredible piece of Swiss architecture. Karl and Ingrid Berger came to get me in an Oldsmobile and we stopped to get a six-pack of Michelob.

"Everything was so incredible. I was so nervous and I didn't have any clue of what would happen in this new situation. Also, I had no idea how CMS would be.

"Well, we arrived, and the place was really beautiful. It looked exactly like the Hollywood idea I had of Woodstock. They showed me my room in a little chalet, where I would stay with other students. In no time people started to arrive. I remember a guy with very nice long hair who came to me and said, 'Hey man you are the Brazilian percussionist. Yeah man, you guys are the

"I, with my Tarzan English, could barely understand what he was saying, and I just said, 'Yes.' Then he continued, 'Man you are going to play at my presentation tonight.'

"I told him that I didn't even speak English, and that I had just arrived. He replied, 'No man, I'll see you later, it is going to be very easy.'

"I went with my cracked conga to this big room. Students and teachers sat waiting for the presentation. The tune was 'Night in Tunisia,' a song I had never heard of in my life, and what was even worse, he arranged it in 9, which I didn't even know existed (In Brazil we mainly play in 2 or 4, sometimes 3).

"We started to play. The drummer was playing swing. I told myself, 'This is going to be a piece of cake, just do pa pumpum pa pumpum.' But then, suddenly, something different happened in the tune. I thought maybe it was an American thing . But it happened again and again. I knew I was playing right and they must be totally wrong. But the incredible thing was that they were doing the same mistake together at the same time. Then I started to get really paranoid, I kept thinking, 'Why is this happening to me? On my first day at school, in my first day in America, and in front of everybody.' I remember thinking, while I was playing, that maybe during the trip, when I crossed the Equator the magnetic fields took my rhythm away. I was totally destroyed and wanted to cry.

"Finally the torture ended. I went to a corner trying to recompose myself when this guy came to talk to me. He was one of the teachers. His name was Ismet Siral, an incredible musician from Turkey .

'You was lost there, eh?'
'The tune was in 9.'
'Nine what?'
'1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, 1 2....' He showed me, counting on his fingers.
'Why somebody would do something like that? To make other people's life miserable?'
'In my country they do that, and they even play that on the radio. They also
play in 11, 13, etc.'

"The late Ismet. What a guy he was. He told me, 'When you don't know what they are playing, just play what you know and wait with patience, because eventually you will play the 1 together.'

"I always tell this story to the students. It is easier to tell than to write, especially with my third-world English.

"I came to do the summer course at CMS. I stayed over there for a month, then, on my way back, I decided to stop in New York City for a week, and I ended up staying here for over twenty years.

"Eventually I came back to Woodstock to record and play some concerts with Karl and Ingrid. Sometimes I go to Woodstock to record at Bearsville Studios and I feel a lot of nostalgia.

"During the month that I lived up there I learned so much, not just about the art of making music, but also the art of living."

If you ever have a chance to check out Cyro's band Beat the Donkey, I think you'll find it to be pure fun, pure energy, and pure excitement. I haven't seen them except in video. When I see them it makes me think, "man, that's what I want to do when I grow up!"

Check out this brief YouTube sample:

And here's a little more seriousness, with Yo-Yo Ma:

See Cyro's website at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CMS on WNUR "Conference of the Birds"

Joe Germuska of radio station WNUR in Chicago will be doing a Creative Music Studio feature program on his show "Conference of the Birds."

Love that name, Joe. It was the title of a Dave Holland Quartet album from 1972, with Dave, Sam Rivers, Barry Altschul, and Anthony Braxton.

It's also the title of a book of poems by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar.

Check out Joe's latest blog post on "Conference of the Birds" (his show, not the album) at .


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

CMS Curates Concert Series at Symphony Space's Thalia Theater

Curates. That's an odd term. But I guess that's what they're doin'.

On January 16, 2009, the concert will be "In the Spirit of Don Cherry," an All-Star Octet under the direction of Karl Berger, performing mostly music by Don Cherry.

March 6, 2009 will be a musical conversation of alto saxophonist Oliver Lake with pianist Vijay Iver.

We missed the first one, which was the Jewish Music Project on December 12, featuring Steven Bernstein (trumpet/slide trumpet/compositions), Peter Apfelbaum (tenor saxophone, flute, piano , compositions), Mark Helias on bass, Dafnis Pietro on drums, and vibist/pianist Karl Berger.

See for more info.