Hello dear listeners!
It’s an October Surprise! The Parlor Series is back for our 6th season, and we are thrilled to start things off with a big bang!
Together for almost 20 years, Sexmob continues to redefine the jazz tradition, while being part of it. There is already a generation of young musicians (including Mostly other People Do the Killing) inspired by their CDs and legendary live performances. As each member of the band continues to evolve in their own projects (including Bernstein’s 8 year tenure with legendary drummer/vocalist Levon Helm), new sounds are are folded into the Sexmob “big tent”. Sexmob embodies the sound of Downtown: insistent, elastic, unrepentant, unfazed. The deconstruction of familiar themes has long been a band trademark—and unquestionably a key reason for the Mob’s notoriety beyond the standard jazz crowd.
Steven Bernstein – Slide Trumpet
Briggan Krauss – Alto Saxophone
Tony Scherr – Bass
Kenny Wollesen – Drums
Sunday 23 October, Doors at 2:30 PM, concert begins at 3:00 PM sharp.
Together for almost 20 years, Sexmob continues to redefine the jazz tradition, while being part of it. There is already a generation of young musicians (including Mostly other People Do the Killing) inspired by their CDs and legendary live performances. As each member of the band continues to evolve in their own projects (including Bernstein’s 8 year tenure with legendary drummer/vocalist Levon Helm), new sounds are are folded into the Sexmob “big tent”.
Sexmob began merely as a setting to feature the slide trumpet of leader Steven Bernstein, but has grown into a band with a much larger mission: to put the fun back in jazz music. After assembling the band (Bernstein, slide trumpet; Briggan Krauss, alto sax; Tony Scherr, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums), Sex Mob began a residency at the Knitting Factory, playing predominantly originals written by Bernstein. During a special evening of film music, the crowd went crazy for the “James Bond Theme,” and Bernstein realized that the audience was much more attuned to their playing when they recognized the tune. The band started to expand their songbook, but not to the same old, tired jazz standards. Songs by Prince, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, and even the “Macarena” could find their way into a Sex Mob set, the only rule being that the song had to have such a strong melody that it could withstand serious deconstruction. Bernstein said in Jazz Asylum, “I realize that’s what jazz musicians have always done. That’s how Lester Young got popular; it’s how Charlie Parker got popular; it’s how Miles Davis got popular; that’s how John Coltrane got popular. They played the songs that everyone knew and because they could recognize the song, then that invited them into their style.”
Word of mouth began to spread about their live shows, with Bernstein’s on-stage antics and the band’s amazing musicianship as the focal points. Bernstein is one of the more active bandleaders out there, constantly dictating arrangements to the other musicians, and letting them have it when they don’t deliver what he wants. They never rehearse and they never have a set list, which keeps things constantly fresh. Their weekly gigs eventually got them voted as New York City’s best band in 2000.
Sex Mob’s 1998 debut, Din of Inequity, was the only release of a short-lived agreement between Knitting Factory Records and Columbia Jazz. Augmented by two guitarists (Adam Levy and London McDaniels) and keyboard powerhouse John Medeski, Sex Mob romped through a program mostly of covers and a handful of Bernstein originals. 2000 saw the release of Solid Sender on Knitting Factory, as well as the self-released Theatre & Dance. Solid Sender is another mix of covers (Nirvana, Rolling Stones, ABBA) mixed with more Bernstein originals, some of which serve as short bridges between tunes. Solid Sender also uses a wider variety of guests, including DJ Logic and a string trio featuring Charles Burnham. Theatre & Dance is split between Duke Ellington compositions commissioned by choreographer Donald Byrd for a dance entitled “In a Different Light: Duke Ellington,” and Bernstein originals written for a revival of the 1926 Mae West play “Sex.”
2001 brought a change in label, from Knitting Factory to Ropeadope, and an album with a less kaleidoscopic selection of songs. Sex Mob Does Bond (again with John Medeski) burning through the John Barry songbook, covering a host of tunes written for the first five James Bond movies. For 2003’s Dime Grind Palace, Sex Mob focused on Bernstein originals with a myriad guests including trombonist Roswell Rudd. 2006’s Sexotica on Thirsty Ear was a homage to the soundscapes of Martin Denny, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. In 2008 Sexmob released their next CD on Thirsty Ear, Sex Mob meets Medeski Live in Willisau, featuring 3 suites of Sex Mob classics. In 2009 Sex Mob was the house band for Hal Willner’s Leonard Cohen tribute, “I’m Your Man”, and was featured in a Documentary and CD release of the live concerts.
After touring Europe with DJ Olive playing live versions of Sexotica in 2010, the band changed its name from Sex Mob to Sexmob. Their 2013 release Sexmob Plays Fellini: Cinema, Circus and Spaghetti, released on Royal Potato Family, documents the sound of a band that has been together for almost two decades, one organic sound. Hence the new name…Sexmob…for your listening pleasure.
Steven Bernstein is a trumpeter/slide trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, and composer who lives outside of musical convention.
He has released four critically acclaimed CDs on John Zorn’s Tzadik label– Diaspora Soul, Diaspora Blues (featuring the Sam Rivers trio), Diaspora Hollywood, and Diaspora Suite. His band Sex Mob has been together since 1995 touring the world, has won numerous awards, and has had their music featured on MTV, Saturday Night Live and NPR. Sexotica, recorded for Thirsty Ear’s Blue series, was nominated for a Grammy in 2006. Their most recent CD, Sexmob Plays Fellini was released in 2013 on Royal Potato Family.
His nine-piece ensemble, the Millennial Territory Orchestra, has been together since 1999. Their 2011 CD MTO Plays Sly features Bernie Worrell, Vernon Reid, Antony, Martha Wainright, Dean Bowman, Sandra St. Victor and Bill Laswell. Bernstein also arranged and co-produced Baby Loves Jazz, featuring vocalists Sharon Jones and Babi Floyd, along with keyboard master John Medeski.
Bernstein was the musical director for I’m Your Man, a documentary on Leonard Cohen that focuses on a tribute concert held at the Sydney Opera house, released by Lions Gate lms in spring 2006. He was the musical director for the live sequences in the 2009 Bill Withers documentary Still Bill. Other DVD releases include Solos, originally a Canadian Television program featuring solo performances by musicians including Andrew Hill, Joe Lovano, and John Sco eld; as well as Lou Reed’s Berlin (directed by Julian Schnabel), Levon Helm Ramble at The Ryman, and Love For Levon. Bernstein was also the subject of a feature entitled Creative Spaces on NPR’s All Things Considered, and was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR in 2002.
Since November 2004 Bernstein has been a member of the Levon Helm band, playing at the Midnight Rambles in Levon’s home in Woodstock. Bernstein wrote horn arrangements for Levon Helm’s Grammy winning 2009 recording Electric Dirt, as well as Bill Frissel’s Grammy winning 2004 recording Unspeakable. Other arranging credits include Lou Reed, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Rufus Wainright, Marianne Faithfull, Elton John, and Mavis Staples.
In 1992, musical iconoclast Hal Willner produced the debut CD by Spanish Fly, a cooperative trio with Bernstein, slide guitarist Dave Tronzo and tubaist Marcus Rojas, and they have been collaborating ever since.
Bernstein has musical directed many Hal Willner projects, including tributes to Leonard Cohen, Doc Pomus, and Harold Arlen, and helped create the music for Robert Altman’s lm Kansas City. He was also the musical director for the “Great Night in Harlem” concerts at the Apollo, which featured the Kansas City band along with Bono, Macy Gray, Bettye Lavette, Dr. John and many other legends.
During his 10 years as a member of John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards he arranged the music for Get Shorty, Clay Pigeons, Fishing With John and many more lm, television and commercial projects with Mr. Lurie. Other movie arranging credits include Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love and the Disney lm Meet the Robinsons.
For composer/Foetus mastermind Jim Thirwell, Bernstein arranged Steroid Maximus to be performed live by a 21 piece ensemble.
Bernstein’s work as a composer includes the documentaries Keep the River On Your Right and Balloonhat, Nickelodeon’s hit TV show The Backyardigans (including an ANNIE nomination for his score to “International Super Spy”), live scores to silent Laurel & Hardy lms, theatre scores for Mae West’s Sex and Trouble in Paradise, dance pieces for Alvin Ailey, Body Vox, the Donald Byrd Dance Company, the Flying Karamazov Brothers and the San Francisco Ballet, and commercial jingles.
Bernstein has played trumpet with a diverse group of artists including Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, Linda Ronstadt, David Murray, David Berger, Digable Planets, Sting, Medeski Martin and Wood, Courtney Love, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Don Byron and Mocean Worker.
Saxophonist and composer Briggan Krauss connects the extreme edges of saxophone technique with the unexplored tonal possibilities of the instrument, making his work as much about shape as it is about a signature sound. In June 2014, Krauss led a weeklong residency at John Zorn’s The Stone, highlighting over twenty years as a key player in New York’s downtown and creative music scene and the intense musical relationships he has built with colleagues including Ikue Mori, Jim Black, Wayne Horvitz, Nels Cline and Elliot Sharp. He continues the tradition of bringing together the raw conceptual energy of a rotating cast of improvisers in a monthly series at Brooklyn’s Firehouse Space.
As a leader, Krauss has recorded multiple albums for Knitting Factory records, including the critically acclaimed 300 with Wayne Horvitz on keyboards and Kenny Wollesen on drums. Red Sphere was released in 2008 on Skirl Records with his trio H-Alpha (Ikue Mori on laptop, Jim Black on drum set and percussion) and features a unique atmosphere of collective improvisation where spectral lines of sound are emitted and absorbed in the moment. His most recent release is his first solo recording called Art of the Saxophone Vol. 1: The Tunnel Recordings that documents the unique and innovative ways that he approaches improvisation and the saxophone. Produced by the legendary saxophonist Skerik, this recording finds Krauss exploring the unusual sonic features of the cavernous Mt. Baker I-90 pedestrian tunnel in Seattle, WA, blending harmonics and employing multi-phonics on the saxophone. The recording also highlights the signature towel-mute Krauss invented along with the broad vocabulary of extended techniques he has created for its use.
In 2013, Krauss received his MFA from Brooklyn College’s unique PIMA (Performance and Interactive Media Arts) program, solidifying his role as a multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary artist in the electronic music and sound art sphere. In 2002 Roulette and the Jerome Foundation commissioned an eight-piece chamber work from Krauss, and in 2009 he was an Artist in Residence at Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center in New York City, where he produced a surround sound piece called “Singularity”. In 2015 he is developing a new project with abstract painter and filmmaker Raha Raissnia, who uses live projection techniques to work with Krauss and ensemble. Their previous collaborations have appeared at galleries and venues across NYC including Anthology Film Archives and the Kitchen, where they premiered Krauss’ composition for nine-piece ensemble entitled “Cosmography” in 2011.
Krauss has appeared on over fifty recordings as a sideman. His iconic voice has been a part of Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob from the band’s inception twenty years ago, spanning numerous European tours and a Grammy nomination for the 2006 Sexmob recording, “Sexotica”. He recorded with guitarist Bill Frisell on Frisell’s Grammy winning album “Unspeakable” and performed in several shows produced by Hal Willner including tributes to Neil Young, Doc Pomus and Leonard Cohen. Highly sought after in the studio and on stage, he has worked with a diverse range of artists from John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Satoko Fuji and Anthony Coleman to Rufus Wainwright, Trey Anastasio, Antony and the band Medeski, Martin and Wood.
He is currently accepting national and international bookings for his spectral sound art trio H-Alpha (with Ikue Mori on laptop and Jim Black on drums) and the Briggan Krauss Jazz Quartet (also featuring Jim Black with pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Scott Colley). In the time-honored jazz tradition of taking popular music and redefining it, the Briggan Krauss Jazz Quartet brings the jazz standard fully into the present in a way that is both recognizable to jazz fans and completely inseparable from Krauss’ signature sound.
Briggan Krauss is currently a professor in the Performance and Interactive Media Arts [PIMA] MFA program at Brooklyn College and teaches private students in New York City.
“Tony Scherr has a few different profiles as a musician, each of them sharp-honed…and generously melding into the others.” – New York Times
Tony Scherr is arguably one of the most in-demand sidemen in New York City. The list is long; as a bassist, guitarist, or singer Tony has worked with:
Bill Frisell Trio, Sexmob, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Willie Nelson, Rickie Lee Jones, Ani DiFranco, Jason Collett (Broken Social Scene), Rufus Wainwright, Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Jesse Harris, Richard Julian, Sasha Dobson, Shawn Colvin, The Abrams Brothers, Kevin Kinney (Drivin N Cryin), and Teddy Thompson to name a few.
He still tours, records, and plays around town regularly with a very broad range of artists, and has played on many albums, movie and television scores.
In the 1990’s, Tony built his own 8 track analog studio where he has recorded and played on numerous albums. A Grammy nominated producer, Tony has produced and engineered a diverse body of work that includes two records of his own music released on Smells Like Records titled “Come Around”(2001), and “Twist in the Wind”(2008).
He is also busy with his own band; Tony Scherr Trio, singing his own songs, performing steadily in the NY area, and touring the US, Canada, and Europe. This band travels light, is self managed and booked, and is currently recording a new live album to be released Spring 2011.
Born in New Haven, CT, Tony began studying string bass at the age of five. He rebelled by picking up guitar at twelve years old and forming a series of garage bands with his brother Pete on bass. After trying music school, Tony spent a couple of years on the road with the Woody Herman band, landing in New York in the late eighties.
This led to a blizzard of bass gigs playing with many of New York’s finest jazz musicians (Al Grey, Maria Schneider, Dakota Staton, John Scofield, Stanley Turrentine, pianist Steve Kuhn and many more…), for most of his twenties, after which he rebelled again by picking up the guitar, writing songs, and singing.
The New York Times has declared him to be a “singer-songwriter of deep and palpable conviction”.
He is still playing string bass as a member of the Bill Frisell Trio (10 years), and Sex Mob (15 years), and plays guitar as a member of Ursa Minor (8 years), and in Anton Fier’s recently reformed rock band The Golden Palominos. Tony Scherr lives in Brooklyn.
Drummer Kenny Wolleson performed on over 30 recordings during the 1990s and, as the decade progressed, gained increasing renown as a musician of astonishing versatility, skill, and ingenuity. He has recorded and toured with all kinds of musicians, from Tom Waits (Wolleson performs on Waits’ 1993 collaboration with William S. Burroughs, Black Rider), to Sean Lennon, to Ron Sexsmith (Wolleson performs on his second album, Other Songs). A founding member of the New Klezmer Trio, Wollesen is also all over N.Y.C.’s downtown jazz and avant-garde musicians’ recordings.