Brennan Connors & Stray Passage returns to the Mason Lounge for a night of fascinating adventures into jazz, sound, and musical narrative. Geoff Brady on drums, homemade electronics, and Theremin. Brian Grimm on electric Frankencello and electric bass. Brennan Connors on saxophones. Craft Brew, Jazz Delights, No Cover.
“Their sets embrace plenty of sinuous melody and conversational interplay, but can just as easily dive into minimalism and dissonance.”
– Tone Madison
“For those who seek to shake themselves out of musical complacency, there’s Stray Passage, an improvisational jazz trio that explodes boundaries, playing off the energy in the room and audience. The group, led by saxophonist Brennan Connors, includes master percussionist Geoff Brady and Brian Grimm on bowing cello, contra-cello and electric bass. The album they’re releasing on an Italian label (Setola di Maiale) was recorded live by Steve Gotcher at Audio for the Arts.“
Wow!! After playing bass with the Five Points Jazz Collective at the Mason Lounge every Tuesday for 7 years, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and shut everything down. Hard stop. It was one of the many bizarre experiences resulting from the global pandemic that all musicians had their upcoming gigs cancelled immediately. What a shock and unfamiliar place to find our whole community and then of course we felt it in our pocket books for all of 2020, and now half of 2021. This is the least I’ve performed in a long, long, long, long time. Not only did all of that income straight up disappear, but many of us who teach music as well as perform, &/or hold down multiple part time jobs DID NOT qualify for the new “pandemic gig worker unemployment insurance” (which seems like a huge crack to fall in as a professional musician…). But, more importantly, we didn’t get to hang out with all of our bandmates in rehearsals or on stage for over a year… what a drag!
We’re all very aware of the times we live in, so let’s get on to the good news…. the Five Points Jazz Collective is BACK baby, and we’ll be the first group playing live-music at our most beloved craft brew bar, the Mason Lounge! We’ll be bringing you a classic 5 Points set on Tuesday, 7/6/21, filled with Jazz, Funk, Blues and Originals. And for the record, we plan to write a whole bunch more originals moving forward, which I know you’re excited to hear. Come on, just think of Kyle’s tune “Start Somewhere” or Trey’s originals “Unspiration”, and “After Close” – you know you want to hear more of those jibbiddy-jamz. Plus you better believe that I’ve got a few tunes for the 5PJC up my sleeve. There Will Be Funk.
TIME First thing for all of you regulars to note is that our time has changed, we are bumping the whole show an hour earlier! From now on, we’ll be playing from 8-11pm. A lot of people have been requesting this change, even some of the bandmembers! So come down a little earlier and enjoy local Jazz for a little longer before you head home. We’re pretty excited about this earlier time slot, and we hope it means that we can see more of more of you at the Mason. 😉❤
EVERY TUESDAY? Speaking of time and timing… “are we going back to our EVERY Tuesday of the year schedule???”NO. We will not be playing every Tuesday. We’ve talked with the owner, and he’s got some new, cool plans for the music at the Mason. Five Points will play something closer to once a month. However, that probably won’t always be at the Mason, we are looking to branch out and play other spots too. We’d love to hear suggestions from you, what’s a great place you love to see Jazz and Funky music where you think the Five Points would fit in? Leave a comment or contact us and let us know about cool venues we should check out! There will still be themed music nights at the Mason, for instance Jazz night on Tuesday and Bluegrass night on Thursday… however, it won’t be the same house-band playing each week. Which is cool for you, because that means there will be more variety of music for you to check out! Speaking of the owner….
OWNERSHIP Right around when the pandemic hit, the ownership of the Mason changed hands. Many of you regulars got to know Bryan, the tall and good natured bartender serving up delicious beers, but maybe you didn’t realize that baseball cap wearin’ son-of-a-gun was the owner! Now the Mason Lounge is in the hands of Matt, also a baseball cap wearer… but with glasses & beard, so don’t get them confused. Matt has been tending bar at the Mason for years and we know that the joint will be in good hands. The Five Points crew went down to visit, and we can confirm that it still looks and feels like the Mason. Matt has kept up the vibe very well! We wish Matt all of the best luck as he takes the Mason into it’s next chapter!
We’ve got nothing but love for Bryan (even though he spells it with a “y”), he really took care of us and became our friend. One of my favorite things about Tuesdays was when he would come over to the band to ask if anyone needed a drink. I would simply describe how I was feeling, or give him an abstract prompt. He’d scratch his chin, give it a ponder, then say “yea… I think I’ve got something for that…” Then he’d come back with a beer that perfectly interpreted my mood, fancy and indulgence. A sport for the challenge and never did he disappoint. Thanks for all of the Thanksgiving wines and Christmas socks Bryan; and for being an all around upstanding dude. We will all miss seeing you when we play at the Mason, but hopefully you will stop by sometime when we are playing… for old times sake.
LEADERSHIP / LINE UP: Speaking of changes in ownership, or leadership in this case… Charlie Painter, our long time fearless bandleader and friend, has officially decided to step down from his roll as bandleader and also to step away from his roll as guitarist for the Five Points Jazz Collective. Charlie decided he really wants to focus on his Charlie Painter Jazz Trio and put his creative energy there. Charlie’s trio has been active around Madison, even in spite of the pandemic. So go check him out at one of his trio gigs and continue to support his music! Charlie is the one who put the band together in the first place and held down the Tuesday night slot at the Mason for an entire DECADE! Can you believe that, that is a lot of Tuesdays. Charlie came up with our setlists, directed the vision of our arrangements, sorted out who would be soloing and when, took care of the money management and booking duties. That’s a lot of work! Not only that but he showed up each week with the whole 2+ hour set memorized and played his heart out. I don’t think I ever heard Charlie be ‘lazy’ up there on stage, he never gave you any half-assed Jazz. Charlie came to play his best each week and approached the bandstand with respect. And he’s been making good use of this pandemic, studying new courses in Jazz Theory from some cats in New York, so you know he’s going to keep learning and ripping. Go see his trio and hear what he’s up to!
Charlie, we love ya buddy and wish you the best on your new Jazz journeys. Thanks for bringing Trey (piano), Rin (violin), Kyle (trombone), Eric (drums) and myself (bass) together to form the Five Points Jazz Collective (we’ll be keeping the name). We’ll miss playing with you and appreciate all of the work you put in for this group and for the Mason Lounge the past 10 years! 🎶🎵🎼♥♥♥♥
FRANKENCELLO Lastly (I think…), speaking of line up changes, I’ll still be playing fretless bass and fretted bass for the Five Points; but in an exciting turn of events, I’m adding Frankencello to my quiver on stage (*applause and cheers*)!! For those of you who don’t know… #Frankencello is my homemade electric cello that I normally play with Madison Free Jazz Trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage, and with psychedelic Jazz Rock Sextet Lovely Socialite, and solo as BC Grimm. However, now it is slinked up with traditional gut strings and it sounds freakin’ fantastic. It’s almost unbelievable how much more natural and cello-like it sounds with gut strings on an electric cello, rather than steel. More warmth, more resonance, more bass, and of course more girth. I’m excited for it to open up some new sonic possibilities for the band. As an example, we’ll now have two bowed string instruments in our group, and there’s been some discussion of other instruments sneaking on stage as well….
That’s all for now, just wanted to give you all the inside scoop on this juicy gossip, straight from the source. We hope to see some of your shining faces at the Mason next week! ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
Don’t miss the inaugural ALL Jazz Fest on Friday, May 4th during Spring Gallery Night. Starting at 5pm, enjoy free jazz concerts at 7 venues in Schenk’s Corners (Atwood/Winnebago) featuring 17 top local jazz ensembles, including Russ Johnson’s Headlands with special guest Greg Ward.
“Their sets embrace plenty of sinuous melody and conversational interplay, but can just as easily dive into minimalism and dissonance.” ~ Tone Madison
Experimental Jazz trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage has been performing in Madison for the past 5 years, exciting listeners with a range of sonic capabilities. Their improvised music is directly linked to the atmosphere in the room and energy of the audience. The listener is such a crucial element in shaping the band’s sound that they recorded this album in front of a live studio audience – expertly captured by master engineer Steve Gotcher at Audio for the Arts. Listeners will experience a jazz trio that embraces both free and structured improvisation, original compositions, groove based experiments, and sound exploration. The breadth of a performance ranges from focused minimalism to fiery high energy music, all while maintaining a sense of narrative organization and compelling ensemble interplay.
The group is led by Brennan Connors on tenor and soprano saxophones. Geoff Brady orchestrates drum and percussion textures, while Brian Grimm rounds out the trio bowing cello, contra-cello, and electric bass.
We are ecstatic and grateful to setola di maiale records in Italy for officially releasing our first album!
We’ll be joined by a fantastic drummer & friend of mine, Hamir Atwal (San Francisco), with his trio Invisible Guy. The group features Michael Coleman on keyboard & Ben Goldberg on clarinet. We are very glad to share our CD release show bill with another trio that explores the dynamics of free-improv in full range!
“Mr. Goldberg is a clarinetist of range and curiosity.” – The New York Times
Ben Goldberg’s Bay Area-based trio looks forward and backward at the same time, creating both nostalgic reveries and modern statements. Goldberg is known for drawing on his Jewish roots and radical versions of Klezmer music and his clarinet work is always focused with an endearing lyrical quality. Pianist Michael Coleman leaps between stride riffs and electronic splatter. Drummer Hamir Atwall provides everything from a swinging undercurrent to a clattery rush.
As a trio, Ben, Michael, and Hamir are in strict pursuit of beautiful melody. Michael Coleman says: “Melody is the knife that cuts through to truth. Then there is the importance of breath, and personal expression.” Reviewing a 2014 concert, Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune said the group is “an unusually focused ensemble inventing a musical syntax for itself.”
From 1992, when his group New Klezmer Trio released Masks and Faces and “kicked open the door for radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music” (SF Chronicle) to 2013’s simultaneous release of Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (featuring Joshua Redman) and Unfold Ordinary Mind (featuring Nels Cline), which the New York Times noted for “a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising,” clarinetist and composer Ben Goldberg has shaped a career through relentless pursuit of musical truth across many genres and styles, resulting in the Downbeat Critics’ Poll naming him the #1 Rising Star Clarinetist in both 2011 and 2013. In 2015 Ben released a recording of his songcycle Orphic Machine , sung by Carla Kihlstedt and performed by an allstar nine piece band including Nels Cline, Greg Cohen, and Ches Smith. The LA Times called Orphic Machine “knotted and occasionally spooky composition marked by dazzling interplay.” All Music Guide says “Orphic Machine is wildly ambitious and sophisticated, but also graceful, emotionally honest, and accessible. It makes the profound embraceable and, as a result, is a masterpiece.” Ben currently composes for and leads the following groups:
Unfold Ordinary Mind ; Go Home ; Ben Goldberg School ; and Ben Goldberg Trio with Greg Cohen and Kenny Wollesen.
Drummer/Percussionist Hamir Atwal is a Berklee College of Music graduate who
has taught at Music Academy International, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Hamir is an active endorser of DREAM Cymbals. Hamir has played with saxophonists Joe Lovano, Greg Osby, and Grant Stewart; Bassist/Producer Bill Laswell; and clarinetist Ben Goldberg.
Michael Coleman is a pianist, improviser and composer currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. He has had the pleasure of playing with many great musicians and recording with some of his favorite bands and people. Apart from leading his own groups (Beep!, CavityFang, Young Nudist), Michael has toured the world with Chris Cohen, tUnEyArDs,
Sean Hayes, Miles Kurosky and Jug Free America.