Joe Baiza is a self-taught guitarist who began his musical journey performing with punk/beat/poet Jack Brewer in their group Saccharine Trust in the summer of 1980. The idea of becoming involved in music and his initial approach to guitar was a result of his exposure to conceptual art in the 1970s in Wilmington, CA, where he took classes in video art with John Sturgeon at a local community college. Without deciding to be a musician, Joe saw guitar playing as a conceptual art project that could be worth exploring. Becoming inspired by jazz music he eventually developed his own primitive form of free improvisation.
In 1987 Joe started the band Universal Congress Of, writing tunes and doing covers of Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Henry Threadgill. They called the music half-jokingly “Mecolodics” which Joe would claim was a twisted punk off shoot of Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodics. With this punk-jazz blend the band toured Europe through the early ’90’s. The punk jazz concept he took onto later bands like Mecolodiacs and the current Joe Baiza Congress Of, with Dan Clucas on trumpet.
With the Joe Baiza Congress Of his preference is a crystalline, angular guitar sound with little or no effects, and concise compositions with short solos. He would prefer to see the musical pieces as short scenarios filled with variety and mood shifts that can be over before the audience realizes it.
Of his many current musical projects, Saccharine Trust has returned with a lineup featuring Brian Christopherson on drums and Chris Stein on bass creating an atmosphere for the words of Jack Brewer and adding different musical dimensions to the story that is being told. For many years the late Richie Hass added his vibraphone sound to the band.
Joe has performed with Mike Watt playing Watt’s album Contemplating the Engine Room in Europe and America where he substituted for Nels Cline in 1997 and 1998.
Today he continues his musical search and development in groups such as Puttanesca with singer-songwriter Weba Garretson, Scrappers, an improv ensemble, in a coast-to-coast spoken word experiment called the Unknown Instructors with Mike Watt, George Hurley and Dan Maguire and in a Meters tribute band called the Cardovas.
Dan Clucas is a trumpet player and composer living and working in Los Angeles. Born in Anaheim, California in 1966, he began playing trumpet at age ten, soon thereafter discovering the music of Dizzy Gillespie, which in turn led to a lifelong study of and respect for the African American music known as jazz. While he strives for individual statement in his music, Clucas also strives to acknowledge the imprint of past masters, from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra. He has studied with Bobby Bradford and Wadada Leo Smith, and has performed and recorded over the last two decades with such L.A. luminaries as Nels Cline, Alex Cline, Steuart Liebig, Vinny Golia, Joe Baiza, Rich West, and Michael Vlatkovich, to name a few.
Tenor saxophonist and L.A. native Alicia Mangan honed her chops in bebop and Latin based music, but opted for total dedication to the calling of avant-garde jazz. Her music follows and has been influenced by the exploratory methods used in the tradition forged by Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and Charles Gayle.
While much of her early straight-ahead experience was gained in Southern California with a still-popular L.A. salsa group and in the music program at San Diego State, she spent time in the San Francisco Bay area as a member of such groups as Eddie Gale’s Orchestra for World Peace, Jim Ryan’s Forward Energy and Marco Eneidi’s American Jungle Orchestra. In addition to working with these artists, Alicia has also worked with the late Peter Kowald, Karen Borca, Donald Robinson, Wadada Leo Smith, Ijeoma Thomas, Sabu Toyozumi and Bay Area Percussionist Spirit.
Recent projects include participation in a rock group in the Inland Empire playing electric bass and saxophone, a solo show for a Santa Barbara new music series, and a tour of the Midwest last winter with Forward Energy from Minneapolis through Chicago. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area.
Dwight Trible is a singer who combines the best of vocal virtuosity with musicianship and improvisational skills to the delight of audiences and musicians alike. In addition to performing with his own group, The Dwight Trible Ensemble, Dwight is the Vocalist with Pharoah Sanders Quartet; he is also the vocal director for the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra.
Not a newcomer to the music scene, Dwight has worked with such notables as Oscar Brown Jr., Bobby Hutcherson, Charles Lloyd, Billy Childs, Kenny Burrell, Kenny Garrett, Steve Turre, Harold Land, Harry Belafonte, Della Reese, Norman Conners, as well as contemporary soul artists like LA Reid and DJ Rogers. Dwight’s collaborations with Horace Tapscott, Billy Higgins, Kamau Daaood and others have produced some of the finest musical moments in Los Angeles in recent years – and his best is yet to come!
Like his mentors, Dwight is not content to use his music to just entertain people, although he is quite a dynamic performer. He uses his music to bring people together, to bridge the gap between the races, and to heal the human heart. He has received numerous awards for his humanitarian efforts.
Los Angeles native Kira Vollman has been on the local experimental / avant-guard / improv music scene for many years, as a multi-instrumentalist and composer. Using her multi-octave voice as an instrument, she creates striking cinematic atmospheres and moods. Vollman is an ace at role-playing. She is by turns an operatic soprano, a charming little girl, a guttural demon, a siren seductress or a transvestite monk, sometimes within a single piece of music.
Vollman’s main creative outlet has been her collaboration with fellow multi-instrumentalist Joseph Berardi, called Non Credo. Together they have released three full CDs and have performed in Canada and Europe and continue to remain active on the Los Angeles live music scene. Their latest release, Impropera, their “improvised, improper imp opera”, utilizes Vollman’s wide range of vocal sounds to great effect. She also plays bass guitar, clarinets, keyboards and other assorted devices, and supplies the lyrics for Non Credo’s evocative textures.
Aside from Non Credo, Vollman has been involved in several musical projects and bands in Los Angeles. She has written music for film and dance pieces and was a member of the improvising chamber ensemble Fat And Fucked Up, toured and recorded with Kid Congo Powers (ex-Cramps) band Congo Norvell, sang with micro-tonalist Kraig Grady and performed with violinist Jeff Gauthier. She led the improv vocal duet with Kaoru, Punishment Cookies. Vollman is also involved in the visual arts, including painting, sculpture and sound assemblage.
Rich West is a drummer, composer, french hornist, and writer living in the L.A. area. Interest in playing music blamed on the L.A. punk scene of the late 70s, Zubin Mehta conducting Mahler, and Marxism (both branches). Studied composition, french horn, and drumset in college while playing in such bands as Camper van Beethoven and the Wrestling Worms. Recent highlights: Week-long Eugene Chadbourne festival in Nancy, France. Joined forces with the likes of Oliver Lake and Jimmy Carl Black, amongst others; Dottie Grossman/Michael Vlatkovich are letting him play with them; Steuart Liebig duetting. Two recorded releases of his own music are on the pfMENTUM label: Heavenly Breakfast, a mixture of compositions and improvisations based on graphic notation; and Bedouin Hornbook, grooves, pieces, and improvisation.
Dabbles in film music and music for dance. Did the soundtrack for The Watershed by Mary Trunk in 2004. His present band, Homunculus, will release a cd on the pfMENTUM label sometime in the near future, whatever that means. Collaboration with South Korea’s Eric Curkendall on a poetry/music project (each doing both), of which one could dance, meditate, or argue over.