Monday, May 4, 2009

TAG Night at Trenton's Mill Hill Saloon

In a past life, I was one of the organizers of the Trenton Avant Garde Festival, a one-day annual event that attracted a panic of artists working on the fringes of their field. One of the other organizers was now-legendary jazz/hip-hop bassist and experimental composer Wilbo Wright (Ui, Southern Records).

I left TAG when I left Trenton back in 1999, but the organization has continued putting on occasional events. Of the original TAG organizers, Wilbo was always the most well-connected to the experimental music scene and he is currently rounding up his colleagues in a regular monthly rendezvous the first Wednesday of each month at Trenton's venerable Mill Hill Saloon. Wilbo is also among the best improvising musicians I have ever heard in jazz or free styles. Defined by a sprawling versatility and wild imagination, he is also a world class jazz bassist in both the technical and interpretive sense.

This month's TAG Night at Mill Hill is the Wednesday, May 6 and features three groups, including a new Wilbo combo, the Deep End Ensemble, with Ian Ash of Philadelphia using a percussion-based computer interface and drums and Bruce Eisenbiel of New York on guitar. Bruce was featured in the May '09 edition of Guitar Player magazine, in the "Experimental" column. As a blend of improvisation, composition and noise collage, this trio sounds like paradise.

Freeprov duo Toshi Makihara and Todd Margasak of Philadelphia will perform on percussion and cornet. Toshi is currently in the midst of his Solo 365 Project (a daily performance logged on YouTube) and will also be doing solo improv at the Mill Hill performance.

Lastly, the New Jersey-based improv duo Gray Catbird, with Will Constantine on reeds/winds/percussion/poetry and Shane Navoy on analog synths will perform. Will hosts the WPRB (Princeton U. public radio) show "Blues, Bop and Beyond" and is the leader of the band, "Bitches Brew." According to the publicity, "What they do will be determined by the size of the vehicle they show up in, and how much gear it can hold."

TAG Night at Mill Hill Saloon runs from 8 p.m. to midnight. Admission is $5 at the door. The Mill Hill Saloon is located at 300 S. Broad St. at the corner of Broad and Market in Trenton. For more information call 609-394-7222.


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