Ken Vandermark playing tenor saxophone

Ken Vandermark

Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, Paul Lytton — Cafe Coda — Friday, April 15, 2022 — 7 PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 04/06/2022

When Ken Vandermark was last here with (air quotes) Laul Pytton, in March of 2020, although he didn’t know it he was days away from a canceled tour and an 18 month hiatus from the road. He returns triumphantly now with the full trio that was supposed to perform on that date – as his touring schedule ramps up to approach its pre-pandemic pace.


photo by Aleksandr Zykov on flickr

Craig Taborn playing the piano

Craig Taborn

Craig TabornCafe Coda — Thursday, April 14, 2022 — 7 PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 04/04/2022

Craig Taborn is one of the most brilliant and creative piano and keyboard artists working today. Someone who ordinarily prefers to let the music speak for itself, he was generous enough to join me on this program to discuss his history, and his conception, and approach — which are as deep as they are philosophical.


Ted Piltzecker playing vibes with four mallets

Ted Piltzecker

Ted PiltzeckerThe North Street Cabaret — Saturday, April 2, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 03/22/2022

Ted Piltzecker has a long history of traveling the world, spreading his lyrical approach to playing the vibraphone. He often collaborates with fine local players, and for this performance he has recruited the Lawrence University Faculty Jazz Ensemble.

For the curious: Two up-and-coming vibraphonists that Ted recommends looking for are Isaiah Petrie who is studying in Kansas City, MO, and Oliver Mayman in Ann Arbor, MI.

Quin Kirchner & Rob Clearfield

Quin Kirchner & Rob Clearfield

Quin Kirchner & Rob Clearfield  — Audio for the Arts — Friday, April 1, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 3/18/2022

The new album “Concentric Orbits” from Trans-Atlantic improvisers Quin Kirchner and Rob Clearfield was recorded during the sessions for Quin’s 2020 release “The Shadows and The Light.” Madison is fortunate to host the first night of the release tour for this album of compelling synergy.


Dave King playing drums and wearing a hat.

Dave King

The Bad PlusThe Bur Oak — Saturday, March 19, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 02/10/2022

Whether he’s speaking in a whisper or a roar, Dave King’s voice is distinctive and recognizable. Indeed, along with a very select few others, he has redefined the role of drummer for his generation and those to follow. His originality extends to his compositions and the extraordinary bands with which he affiliates.


Cody Steinmann holding his guitar

Cody Steinmann

Cody Steinmann's Sightless Quartet  — Audio for the Arts — Saturday, March 12, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 2/4/2022

Cody Steinmann is on an earnest quest to realize the sound that fulfills his vision and the direction he wants to take his music. He’s also open about the life struggles early on that formed him as a player and some of the aspects of the music scene where he feels some incongruity.


Tim Whalen playing the piano

Tim Whalen

Tim Whalen NonetCafe Coda — Saturday, March 5, 2022 — 7 & 9 PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 02/10/2022

Tim Whalen left Madison over a decade ago for Washington DC and the US Army band, but his legacy lives on here in the New Breed Jazz Jam, and Phat Phunktion—musical institutions formed with contemporaries at the UW Madison. He returns to showcase the Tim Whalen Nonet, another popular institution formed somewhat later during his Madison tenure.


Russ Johnson playing trumpet with his eyes closed

Russ Johnson

Russ JohnsonThe North Street Cabaret — Friday, February 18, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 01/16/2022

Russ Johnson returned to Wisconsin to take a teaching position in 2011 after thriving on the New York scene for nearly a quarter century. The quality of his work from his New York days through his current endeavors along the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor rivals anything produced by his contemporaries, and deserves to be widely recognized. Russ is one of those musicians whose mere presence serves to elevate the entire scene.



The Montauk Project [più mosso]

The Montauk Project [più mosso]The Bur Oak — Friday, February 4, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 01/02/2022

The Montauk Project [più mosso] is a gathering of improvising musicians and dancers from the Western Milwaukee suburbs, the Fox Valley, and Madison itself. A group that expands and contracts to fit the performance, this iteration will include four musicians and three dancers–all of whom come together with the underlying credo of “anything goes.”


McKenna, Maunu, Ali, Harris

Wills McKenna, Peter Maunu, Ishmael Ali, Adam Shead

Wills McKenna, Peter Maunu, Ishmael Ali, Adam Shead The North Street Cabaret — Friday, January 21, 2022 — 8PM

By Michael Brenneis

Interview date: 12/20/2021

Today we’re talking to a multi-generational collective quartet of Chicago improvisers: a nameless band in the tradition of nameless bands—more on that later. The members of this group span a spectrum from LA studio veteran to up and coming software engineer, but they gather with the unified purpose of advancing their humanity through musical exploration.