Thursday, January 3, 2013

Demolition Duo 2013

Happy New Year to all! I received a holiday gift from the Regional Arts and Cultural Council (RACC) at the end of 2012 in the form of a grant award for the Demolition Duo. The "Demolition Duo is the improvised fire music of John Savage and Ken Ollis...the duo engages in an ecstatic dialogue...a mercurial, improvised conversation between the two musicians" [Creative Music Guild, Portland, OR]. The grant will fund four performance-workshops at Portland area colleges and universities between February and May of 2013. The lucky schools are: Portland State University, Reed College, Clackamas Community College, and Lewis and Clark College (specific dates to be announced). Though not directly under the auspices of the grant, we will also give a clinic and perform at Western Oregon University on February 28th. (the concert is at 7:30pm, free admission, in the Smith auditorium, room 121).

I’ve decided to use this blog to chronicle Demolition Duo activities, including links to audio and video from our engagements at the various schools. I might include a few rehearsals, too. The Demolition Duo was busy this year and had a number of performances including the Creative Music Guild’s Outset Series and the 32nd annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival. We also recorded an album, and hope to have it released in the near future. Please allow me to (re)introduce ourselves:

photo by Sue Zalokar
Flutist, saxophonist, and composer John C. Savage has been compared to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Herbie Mann, Noah Howard, and Ian Anderson. Known equally as “a thoughtful and rigorous improviser,” and “a badass, knock-down-drag-out force to be reckoned with” (The Willamette Week), Savage lived in New York City for many years performing with, among others, The Savage 3, Billy Fox, (The Uncle Wiggly Suite) the electroacoustic duo Cartridge, The Brooklyn Qawwali Party (eponymous release), and the Andrew Hill Big Band (A Beautiful Day). Savage continues to be a sought-after soloist and collaborator on both coasts working with a wide variety of artists, including the NYC-based Kitsune Ensemble (The Kaidan Suite and Amanogawa) and Portland’s Demolition Duo. Savage holds a Ph.D. from New York University in music performance and teaches flute at Western Oregon University.

Ken Ollis is a drummer and composer from Portland, OR. He has performed extensively throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, and has played with a variety of musicians including: Kenny Werner, Ingrid Jensen, Julian Priester, The Drifters, Bud Shank, John Stowell, Darrell Grant, John Gross, Dan Balmer, Chata Addy, Rob Blakeslee, Rich Halley, Glen Moore, and many others.  Most recently, his projects have included work with Dominique Eade, Heather Masse (from The Wailin’ Jennys), Aoife O'Donovan (from Crooked Still), Pepe and The Bottle Blondes, Paxselin Quartet, Demolition Duo, and several other groups. Ken also regularly performs in collaboration with painters, poets, dancers, and cinematographers. His compositions are featured in the repertoire of the Paxselin Quartet, the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, PDX Ensemble, The Chamber of Commerce, and in his own groups.  His debut CD, Confluence, features Ollis’s original compositions performed skillfully by a fantastic ensemble.  Ken currently teaches at Portland State University and George Fox University, and has taught a multitude of clinics throughout the country. He holds an M.M. in jazz performance.