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Art of Improvisation

Gallery 345
Event organized by Gallery 345

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Saturday May 12th, 2018 at 8pm $20

Bill Gilliam, piano
Rick Sacks, percussion
Bill McBirnie, flute
Eugene Martynec, laptop
Glen Hall, reeds
Brian Abbott, guitar

Six innovative musicians immersed in Toronto's improvising community, dedicated to the art of improvisation will perform in different setups exploring musical boundaries and potentialities of spontaneous composition and combustion!

Demeter https://vimeo.com/252321348

An improvisation performance with Bill McBernie (flute) evoking stark beauty while the ensemble, Bill Gilliam (piano), Eugene Martynec (laptop) and Rick Sacks (percussion) portrays the power of Winter. (recorded at Array Space, Toronto, Jan 2018).

Bill McBirnie is a highly accomplished jazz and Latin flute specialist who was personally solicited by Sir James Galway to serve as his resident Jazz Flute Specialist at Sir James’ official website. Bill was also chosen Flutist of the Year by the Jazz Report Awards, nominated as Instrumentalist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards and is the only triple crown winner in all three of the National Flute Association’s (USA) Jazz Flute (1) Soloist, (2) Masterclass and (3) Big Band competitions. Bill has produced several award-winning Extreme Flute projects including his recent organ trio project, FIND YOUR PLACE (featuring Bernie Senensky on Hammond B3 and Anthony Michelli on drums). Bill also performs with the Toronto Improvisors Orchestra. You can learn more about Bill at his website:

Rick Sacks has a Masters in Music from SUNY Stony Brook. While in NY he performed at venues including Carnegie Recital Hall, NY Shakespeare Theatre and Alice Tully and taught at Bennington College, Vermont. He performs worldwide (Vancouver and Beijing Olympics, Shanghai Expo, Mongolia, Europe, Africa, US and Canada). His symphony “Water Music” for the Victoria Symphony utilized remote controlled flying fish and a deep-sea diver
costume. From 2011 to 2016 he was Artistic Director of Arraymusic. Rick likes to improvise on drum kit and percussion both electronic and acoustic and continues to freelance as a percussionist, sound designer and composer.

Bill Gilliam is a Toronto based composer / pianist who creates and improvises new music compositions blending contemporary harmony and jazz idioms with his unique style of piano and prepared piano playing. Bill is from London, England and after studying jazz and film composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston moved to Toronto where he studied composition. He has composed for film, dance and theatre and recorded his CDs and performed with artists such as Charlie Ringas, Ernie Tollar, Kevin Turcotte, Duncan Hopkins, Ben Riley, Lina Allemano, Dave Young, Howard Gaul, Lori Freedman. His compositions have been performed by Canadian new music ensembles with assistance from the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council. Bill's recent music projects include the Gilliam, Milmine, Pottie trio's new CD Entangled Pathways and ongoing collaborations and performances with the Toronto Improvisors Orchestra, Glen Hall, Joe Sorbara, Cheryl O, David Story, Kayla Milmine, Ambrose Pottie, Eugene Martynec, Rick Sacks, Bill McBirnie and other artists. www.bill-gilliam.com

Brian Abbott is a guitarist/improvisor/composer who hails from New Jersey, the armpit of America. Escaping to Toronto a few years ago to escape the rabid human zoo the US had become, he settled into the Toronto creative music scene improvising with piles of great musicians, composing for many different instrumentations, and organizing shows, such as a 14 hour performance of Erik Satie’s “Vexations” just to name one. His duo with soprano saxophonist, Kayla Milmine, Faster, has a new album called “Nuclear Fishin’” coming out March 2018, featuring mostly through composed music with some improv. Anything else? Probably, but I forget. Writing a bio is a boring activity. I’m gonna go wander around the AGO now cause it’s free Wednesdays nights!

Glen Hall has an international reputation as a composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist. Hall has been an agent provocateur on the Canadian creative music scene for decades. He was the first Canadian jazz musician to independently record and release a free jazz album (“The Book of the Heart” with Joanne Brackeen, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart). He is one the very few musicians besides Miles Davis to collaborate and record with legendary composer/arranger Gil Evans (“The Mother of the Book”). His “Hallucinations: Music and Words for William S. Burroughs” featured one of the founding fathers of free jazz, trombonist Roswell Rudd. Hall played the Guelph Jazz Festival with Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo. He’s studied jazz at Berklee College of Music and composition with Gyorgy Ligeti and Mauricio Kagel in Germany, did artistic residencies in live electronics at STEIM in Amsterdam and Kyma Symbolic Sound at the Electronic Music Foundation in New York, and was a featured artist at the Siberian Jazz Games festival in Novosibirsk, Russia. Hall is also the founder and artistic director of the 416 Toronto Creative Improvisers Festival.

Eugene Martynec is known for his versatility, composing and recording with pop groups, orchestras, and in visual and live theatre settings. He is trained in electronic music, composition, and orchestration from The Royal Conservatory of Music (1970–1975) and has been awarded Canada Council for the Arts and Toronto Arts Council grants for music composition. His most recent interests are around improvised music, composing live electro- acoustic music, as well as with adding visual components to his improvisation performances. Martynec is well traveled and has lived and performed abroad, notably living in Beijing for two years where he performed in Yunnan Province with Yan Jun (a sound artist, critic, poet and organizer) and in Beijing at several music and art festivals. From 2007-2010 he was based in London, England where he performed with the London Improvisers Orchestra and with various other small ensembles throughout Europe. Upon returning to Toronto in 2010, he organized and formed the Toronto Improvisers Orchestra. Martynec remains a key player in the Toronto improvising community.

This is concert #649 at Gallery 345.


Gallery 345