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2004: The Abstractions

Matt Davignon: turntable/drum machine
Ernesto Diaz-Infante: guitar/voice
Philip Everett: drums/elec
Lance Grabmiller: laptop
Dina Emerson: voice
C.J. Reaven Borosque: noise
Marina Lazzara: guitar/voice
Bob Marsh: cello/voice
Marjorie Sturm: flute
Rent Romus: saxophones/elec

The Abstractions rip apart, rent asunder, and redefine music offering a sonic pallet of utter disturbance. Drawing from an improvisational body of knowledge, the unspoken words transformed to music, history, and social insight makes up this unclassifiable experimental music.

Rent Romus is a force spanning over seventeen years of creative improvised music. The current director and producer of Edgetone Records, the SIMM Music Series at the Studio 6 Musicians Union Hall, and co-curator of the Luggage Store Gallery Series with Ernesto Diaz-Infante in San Francisco, Romus has introduced countless musicians from the world over and multimedia events to the San Francisco Bay Area culture and throughout parts of the world.

During the mid 80’s, Romus enhanced his studies at the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University, where he was blessed with the wisdom and guidance from Stan Getz, guitarist Bruce Forman, Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Martin, and drummer Eddie Moore. In 1984 at the age of 16, Romus re-organized directed NAYJE (the North Area Youth Jazz Ensemble), a seventeen piece big band featuring some of the best young high school and college bay area musicians at the time. In the fall of 1986, while attending the University of California at Santa Cruz, he formed the group Jazz On The Line which became the focus for his compositions and productions. JOTL was an acoustic jazz sextet that fused jazz, blues, gospel, and hip-hop into original compositions. Romus produced three albums for this group including his critically acclaimed CD Jazz On the Line with Chico Freeman, In The Moment on Edgetone Records soon to be reissued. Mid span the group changed it’s name to 2AM, and was considered one of the founding bands of the “acid jazz” scene popular in the early nineties parallel to Charlie Hunter and the like.

In 1993 seeking a more expanded format to explore, Romus formed the modern music group RKZtet, which featured ex-ESP recording artist and drum master James Zitro and former Sun Ra Arkestra cellist Kash Killion, both noted for their contribution to the development of the “new jazz” of the sixties. Later in 1994 Romus renamed the group, The Lords of Outland, and brought in soon to be film music composer Vytas Nagisetty (Brock Lee) on bass, Andrew Borger (currently drummer for Tom Waits) and Jason Olaine (Jay O), (currently AR director for Verve Records Universal) on trumpet.

The Lords of Outland recorded their first album You’ll Never Be The Same, Jazzheads Records JH9493 in 1995, and were featured on the then fledgling BET Channel National Network Show, “Jazz Central” as part of the Jazz Discovery program. That same year Romus self-produced his first overseas national tour of Denmark which featured many of Copenhagen’s young improvisers discovering such musicians as pianist/trumpet player Jonas Müller who has recently moved the S.F. Bay Area, and drummer Stefan Pasborg.

In 1996 Romus returned to Denmark for his second tour with Jonas as the Rent Romus Sound Cirkus. The group also included San Francisco basists George Cremanchi and saxophonist Alex Weiss. After returning to the U.S. they continued on to the Bay Area to finish the tour. During that year he also assisted bluesman Paris Slim produce his first major American release with guitarist Joe Lewis Walker and Sonny Rhodes. In 1997 Romus had the honor of recording with tenor sax master John Tchicai. Tchicai is best known for his work with the NY Art Quartet, NY Ear and Eye Control, and his recordings with John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. The CD of this recording, Adapt…or DIE! was released at the end of 1997. In 1998 Romus released Blood Motions featuring his young Danish protégés Stefan Pasborg and bassist Jonas Westergaard.

In 2000 Romus re-opened his avant, free music lable Edgetone Records, where his current release can be found, interweaving science fiction, horror literature, improvisation, Finno-Ugric music traditions, and the inspiration of Albert Ayler.

Ernesto Diaz-Infante, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser is an active member of the vital San Francisco experimental music scene. Born in Salinas, California, Diaz-Infante's early musical life began with private piano lessons and in high school jazz, marching and concert bands, garage rock bands and Mexican conjunto/pop bands. In his teens, he became immersed in writing poetry, drawing, playing synthesizer and guitar, and lo-fi 4-track recording of songs. He received his formal musical education from the University of California Santa Barbara College of Creative Studies (1992-94) and California Institute of the Arts (1994-96), where he studied a variety of music, composition, electronic music, film music, Gamelan, modern dance, and performance art. Diaz-Infante has composed contemporary chamber music for solo, ensemble and orchestra. He has been awarded residencies at the Centre International de Recherche Musicale (CIRM), the Villa Arson (both in Nice, France), The Millay Colony for the Arts, Centrum, Villa Montalvo, The New York Mills Arts Retreat, The Ucross Foundation and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony. He has recorded more than 15 albums/CDs of music, collaborated with numerous musicans, and he has had performances and radio broadcasts all over the world.

Lance Grabmiller is currently producing and curating events throughout the Bay Area while trying to straddle the gap between the “avant-garde” and the “electronic”. He has played in improvisational groups with Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Rent Romus, Philip Gelb, Joseph Zitt, LX Rudis, Dina Emerson and many more. He has also opened for such notable electronic acts as Kid606, Sagan, Wobbly, Uprock and Meg Lee Chin among others. Someday he will teach himself to play Fugazi covers on his weasing accordion and start that record label he has always talked about. He also refuses to teach himself to DJ in order to join the electronic elite and was last seen burning vinyl to keep warm.

Bob Marsh originally hails from Detroit MI where he honed his skills as an avid artist. He’s founded dance companies, art galleries, invented public instruments, exhibited as a painter, teacher, multi-instrumentalist, and art therapist, and built award-winning guitars. When ribbed jokingly by a colleague “what instruments do you not play”? He responded dryly, “what I don’t have”. He currently performs regularly on violin, cello, piano, vibraphone, flute, and extended vocal techniques, just to name a few.

He is the leader of the Emergency String Quartet, the Robot Martians, the Illuminated Orchestra, Opera viva; co-leader of Lucha de Leche with Ernesto Diaz-Infante and member of Aaron Bennett's Nonet, Jim Ryan’s Left Coast Improv Group, and The Abstractions.

Phillip Everett began music at the age of 9 on clarinet shortly there after moving on the drums when he was 13 where he began his studies in junior high school with Warren George from the Stan Kenton band. Warren believed in trial by fire and stuck Phillip in a room alone for an hour a day, told him to learn drum rudiments, and put him in advanced orchestra & marching band the following semester. That trial led him directly to Bartok, Debussy, and Gershwin as well as New Orleans style 2nd line marches. Furthering his studies he sought after George Marsh and Eddie Moore where he was taught the finer subtleties of the drums. Phillip states, “These guys taught me to relax and trust my own instincts and that pursuit of one’s own uniqueness was not a negative quality.”

Armed with an array of teachings Phillip, became the leader of various groups over the years. In 1967 he began his first group Ice, a psychedelic R & B group performing music in the style of Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix & Obscure Soul & Blues & funk jazz. The band toured the Midwest in an old black city bus, opened for bands like Canned Heat, and Sweetwater utill the group members went their separate ways in 1972. Many of the members went on to play w/Peter Frampton, Tommy Bolin, Cannonball Adderly, Luther Tucker, Members of the Eagles and other lesser known artists in the one minute of fame category. Undaunted by the end of his first group Phillip pushed ahead and created Arrival in 1974. This group was significantly different then his early psychedelic R & B days. This progressive rock band featured the electronics of David Toby & bassist Ray Schaeffer. This group combined elements of hard rock, folk, world music, electronic improvisation & composition. They found themselves almost signed to several major record labels but the music was difficult for the music corporations to pigeonhole.

In 1985 he formed Sound Oasis, a six piece jazz group theat performed at the Vintage Inn in West Oakland for a number of years.

After numerous other projects Phillip found himself making a living performing with various country & western groups including his own such as The Homewreckers, and The Ghettobillys. They performed at honky-tonk bar rooms up & down the delta between Richmond & Stockton California until 2000. Although he was making a living his calling was not being fulfilled. His experience from his earlier development brought him to the conclusion that discovering new music was much more truer to his heart and left it all for his decision to play only creative music in the direction of sonic exploration. His current projects include Tri-Cornered Tent Show, an improvisation group that explores music inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, various group concepts with saxophonist Rent Romus including the Abstractions, and writing experimental country music for his project “White Buffalo, Midwestern Gothic.”


Artist (photo by Photographer)

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