Hans Fjellestad is one of the performers in Sushi's Fresh Sound series (Photo by Peter Kaars)
Our guess is that Bonnie Wright's not as far up there as she claims to be.
“I'm 8,000 years older than he is,” she laughs, referring to musician and composer Hans Fjellestad, one of the performers in the fall / winter Fresh Sound Series that Wright's curating for Sushi Performance and Visual Art.
This is Wright's second Fresh Sound Series at Sushi. Her first, which ran last spring, included thinking-people performers like Nels Cline, Lisle Ellis and Barnyard Drama. Wright's also the founder and curator of the Spruce Street Forum, where, from 1995 through 2002, she booked (to borrow the words of Union-Tribune music critic George Varga) “envelope shredding” performers like Matmos, Terry Riley and Vijay Iyer.
“I don't do anything kind of mainstream,” Wright says.
Called Illuminating the Evolution of Electronic Music, the series is a four-parter that kicks off Oct. 6 with Bay Area composer John Bischoff, a founding member of the experimental-music collective League of Automatic Music Composers, which formed in 1978. Wright wants the series to have a historical arc, and Bischoff seemed like a good place to start. His appearance at Sushi will be part history lesson, part performance: He'll show slides and play recordings from his League days, followed by a live performance of three recent compositions.
On Nov. 3, James Moore, whom Wright saw perform at the Tribeca New Music Festival, will coax beautiful-noise feedback from his electric guitar and use an amplified banjo to create “electronica-bluegrass” remixes of Madonna tunes. Also performing that evening will be Pablo Gomez, a doctoral student in guitar at UCSD. Wright caught Gomez at the La Jolla Athenaeum's SoundOn New Music Festival in June.
“I thought, Oh my god, he's fantastic,” Wright says of Gomez.
Margaret Noble and Susan Narucki will both perform Jan. 5. Noble's a sound designer and instructor at High Tech High in Point Loma who got her start a few years ago as an electronic-music DJ in Chicago before earning a master's degree in sound design. Narucki's performance, called “Bending the Voice,” will include a piece written by John Cage.
Fjellestad, Wright's former classmate at UCSD's School of Music, will perform on Dec. 1 with L.A. composer G. E. Stinson. The two will produce, as Wright describes it, “coherent spontaneous compositions” using analog synths, sequencers and traditional instruments. Fjellestad's also a filmmaker and, in 2004, released a documentary about Bob Moog, the creator of the eponymous line of keyboard synthesizers. Unknown to Wright as she was formulating the Sushi series is that Carlsbad's Museum of Making Music (www.museumofmakingmusic.org) is currently exhibiting the largest-ever public display of Moog instruments and ephemera alongside a related exhibition, ON! The Beginnings of the Electric Sound Generation, that looks at electronic music's early days, from 1900 through 1965.
It's, perhaps, the critical mass of events that the region needs to foster its growing progressive-music scene.
“My goal was to bring to San Diego really good music and musicians that they wouldn't get to hear otherwise,” Wright says. “It's not popular music, but I've decided I wanted to keep my motives pure, to not book something because it would bring a crowd. That's not the point is it?”
Find a full schedule of Fresh Sound performances at www.freshsoundmusic.blogspot.com.
On the street: Now in its 28th year, the Adams Avenue Street Fair (Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, in Normal Heights and Kensington) has grown into one of the largest free music events in California. With 70 bands spread across two days and six stages, local-music fans should be in heaven, especially if they're low on scratch. The top draws are punk legends The Zeros, indie-poppers Get Back Loretta and L.A. neo-funk crew Breakestra. And it wouldn't be a street fest without three beer gardens, hundreds of food and craft vendors and giant carnival rides. www.adamsaveonline.com.
Jazzmatazz: To anyone familiar with mainstream jazz of the past 30 years, the name Wynton Marsalis should ring a bell. The trumpeter's storied career has seen him play with some of the greats (Hancock, Blakey, Gillespie), win a Pulitzer Prize in music and be appointed director of New York's prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which performs two shows at Mandeville Auditorium on the UCSD campus at 7 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. In the grand tradition of Duke Ellington and Count Basie's big bands, the group is as tight as they come and includes some of America's top jazz talent. See boxoffice.ucsd.edu for tickets ($36).
Out there: An important figure in San Diego's criminally underappreciated experimental-music scene, percussionist Nathan Hubbard, operates at the interstellar intersection where noise, free jazz and modern classical meet. This also happens to be the same astral plane where Chicago drummer Frank Rosaly travels, and the two are each set to play solo sets at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11, as part of Trummerflora Collective's “Other Ideas” series at Kava Lounge (2812 Kettner Blvd. in Middletown). The show doubles as an album-release party for two new Hubbard EPs, as well as Rosaly's Milkwork. $5-$10. www.castorandpolluxmusic.com/nmhubbard.
Viva AVIV: As much as classical performances can exude pretention, Israel's AVIV String Quartet has enough exuberance to convert even the staunchest middlebrow cynic. They're relatively young for this type of ensemble, and the ferocity with which they attack their instruments should go a long way toward reinvigorating works by Dvorak, Brahms and Schulhoff. Considering they could get by on sheer virtuosity alone, it doesn't hurt to have assistance from the state-of-the-art acoustics at UCSD's Conrad Prebys Music Hall. Add some class to your life at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 ($46). www.artpwr.com.
Building up: It's not that Brooklyn quintet Build doesn't see the line between instrumental rock and classical composition; it's just that they choose to disregard it. Composer / violinist Matt McBane and friends released their self-titled debut last year to much acclaim from NPR and the L.A. Times, and with loads of positive press being doled out to indie-classical hybrids like Dirty Projectors, they might be on to something bigger than they realize. Experience the group's lovely chamber music at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at The Loft @ UCSD. $16. www.artpwr.com.