New Music on the Mountain
Mountain Theater, Mount Tamalpais
United Brassworkers Front, Cheryl Leonard, and Rova Saxophone Quartet perform on Sunday, Sept. 21, at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10
So how then does one deal with the artists performing at this weekend's celebration of "innovation and improvisation"? Perhaps the first step is simply acknowledging the bold originality of their respective visions. Composer/trumpeter Darren Johnston, who leads a heavy-on-the-horns nonet called United Brassworkers Front, elegantly mines everything from bebop to post-bop to N'awlins-inspired collective jams to free improv to contemporary groove-based, harmonically complex pieces that both are and are not "jazz" (another hazy term). Cheryl Leonard makes her own instruments out of found objects (from box springs to pine cones) and uses the calls of wild animals in her soundtracks. Will her "Instruments in Trees" seem new to the tech-attuned pomo listener or really, really old? Rova Saxophone Quartet, the internationally recognized leader of, uh ... something else, blurs the lines between jazz and classical, composition and improvisation, and harmony and dissonance with a clarity that rarely fails to bend the ear -- which, fundamentally, is what so-called new music is all about.