A series of commissions by SASSAS celebrating West Hollywood’s 25th Anniversary including work by Ted Byrnes and Ari Desano, Scott Benzel, and Wadada Leo Smith. Performances happen the last Saturday in June, July, and August.



Ted Byrnes: drumset/percussion
Ari DeSano: accordion
Steuart Liebig: electric bass / electronics
Glenn Bach: electronics

For this commission, Ted Byrnes and Ari DeSano will create a new work for a quartet whose focus on the intensity of sound, color, and texture serves as the essence of its music. Through the intersection of four distinct and varied musical approaches, this quartet will unite under the guidance of a structured graphic score, exploring both the unbridled improvisational connectivity and focused sonic interplay of their practice. Texture and density, lightness and sparseness converge to give the music form through both the presence and the absence of timbre, rhythm, and pitch.

The piece, titled 5×5 (in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the City of West Hollywood) consists of 5 ten minute long sections, each prescribed with its own set of rules for the trio to play within. Central to the improvisation is a recurring melodic theme written in celebration. As moments of extreme serenity are juxtaposed against abrasive movement, a synergistic process emerges that opens to question the simultaneity and coexistence of both minimalist and maximalist musical tendencies and their material origins in performance. Although guided by the score, it is through key areas of improvisation that the piece obtains its unique and ephemeral quality.

Ted Byrnes

Ted Byrnes

Ted Byrnes is a drummer/percussionist living in Los Angeles. An alumni of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, he comes from a jazz background and has since made his home in the worlds of free improvisation, new music, electro-acoustic music, and noise.

With musical interests ranging from funk to gamelan to the singular beauty of everyday ambient sounds, Ted’s playing is often viewed as more textural or even melodic than rhythmic, and generally uses a ‘prepared’ drum kit. This expanded array of sounds – much more than what a traditional drum kit would contain – forces the listener into hearing, and viewing, drumset playing in a different way. The inspiration came not only from other drummers and musicians employing extended techniques, but also from seeing artists in other mediums expanding their palettes.

Ted currently divides his playing time between a few set bands and many ad hoc improvisational situations. The trios include “Still Life with Bomb” with Gregory Lenczycki (electronics) and Ari Desano (accordion) and a trio with Anna Homler (vocals, toys) and Spastic Colon’s Jorge Martin (electronics). Additionally, Ted has performed with the legendary Charlemagne Palestine, and provided percussion for 2 projector/light installations by legendary original Fluxus artist Jeff Perkins: one at the studio of artist Evan Holloway and one at Los Angeles’ Eighth Veil Gallery. Ted has also performed in ensembles and solo at a variety of Los Angeles galleries and museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Ted also played at 2 concerts for the 10 Year Anniversary of SASSAS, performed as part of artist Gabie Strong’s UR Rituals desert installation (commissioned by the University of California), and was a component of a revisit of Cornelius Cardew’s ‘Scratch Orchestra’ for a recent performance in Los Angeles.

Ari DeSano

Ari DeSano

Ari DeSano composes chamber music and performs various types of music on accordion, banjo, and percussion. She studied music composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Donald Erb, New York University with Robert Rowe, and UCLA Extension with Bruce Reich.

She received a Meet the Composer grant for music written for Facing Open Fields, a theater piece, which was performed at the Arts Center at Old Forge, New York and the Vineyard Theater and Dixon Place in New York City. Her chamber music has been played at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland State University, New York University, and UCLA. She has created sound installations for gallery shows in New York City including the Hit and Run series and the Henry Street Project.

Recently, she has played in a few bands and ensembles including Still Life with Bomb (an improv trio with drums, electronics, and accordion), a duo with Anna Homler (electronics, toys, and accordion), and Ladies Auxiliary (a mobile chamber music group).