Thursday, April 26, 2012


 (photo of Karl Berger's Improvisers Orchestra by Don Mount)

News from the Cultural Front.......

Here's a NYC-based arts alert concerning some 'May Month' performance events I am involved with. Hoping to say 'hello' to some of you at these events which run from May Day itself through the next couple of weeks of the month. I know there are many wonderful rad events happening out there that I may need to miss due to my involvement with these, but there's room enough for all of these progressive-minded concerts and more! What better way to speak to the pressing issues around us than through radical arts?

1) KARL BERGER'S IMPROVISERS ORCHESTRA: Tues May 1, 7:30 (workshop) and 9PM (performance), the Jazz Gallery 290 Hudson St, Greenwich Village. This Free Jazz large ensemble is conducted by one of the greats of improvisational and world music, Karl Berger, and this band--like the one he led last year that had residency at the Stone--is as revolutionary as they come. The music is comprised of free expression shaped by Karl's guiding hands; the band numbers up to 26 pieces including flutes, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, violins, mandolin, vocals and a double rhythm section (2 electric guitars, 2 upright basses, percussion and drumkit) . My seat in the back---playing conga, frame drums, and various percussives---has brought me to the center of it all, including working alongside guests like John Zorn, Warren Smith, and many more. The Orchestra is in the midst of a biweekly residency at this hip, Village club but I suspect the May Day gig should be quite memorable. After the march and rally in Union Square, come on down to Hudson St and revel in the sounds. See for much more info.

2) LAUNCH EVENT FOR CAMPAIGN TO FREE RUSSELL MAROON SHOATZ! Saturday, May 5th, 2012, 6-8 PM, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 521 W 126th Street, Harlem. An evening of music, spoken, word and discussion on Maroon's life, featuring Theresa Shoatz, renowned Philadelphia-based prison justice activist; Fred Ho, internationally renowned saxophone player and composer; Arturo O'Farrill, legendary Cuban-American pianist; and Magdalena Gomez, poet and veteran of the Nuyurican Poets Movement. The campaign is being launched by Scientific Soul Sessions (SSS), a collective of revolutionary artists, farmers and organizers based in New York City, to call for justice for RUSSELL MAROON SHOATZ, a 70-year-old political prisoner who has spent the last 40 years of his life in various penitentiaries across the United States. An SSS band will also present the debut performance of a new piece composed by Salim Washington dedicated to this cause. I am still awaiting word on the full line-up of performers for this edition of the SSS Band but it will include the saxophones of the composer as well as of Fred Ho and Ben Barson, plus Quincy Saul's clarinet and my own xylophone and percussion. Please be sure to see info on SSS as well as this important event at

3) RADIO NOIR: Sunday, May 6th, 7PM, ABC No Rio 145 Rivington Street Lower East Side. My quartet 'Radio NOIR' returns to this noted anarchist space for another edition of the COMA experimental music series. We will dedicate this show to May Day and Labor History Month. Radio NOIR is known as a dissident swing band, performing music at once avant garde and recalling the sounds and fervent radicalism of the 1930s. The evening will also include performances by other revolutionary music artists: Faster, Brian Abbott, Golden Rectangles and Stan Nishimura Ensemble. For more info on Radio NOIR please stop by

4) RADIO NOIR: Sunday May 13, 8PM, Goodbye Blue Monday 1087 Broadway, Bushwick Brooklyn. Radio NOIR brings our art deco-damaged improv to this hip Bushwick club, performing with the very cool-sounding Hot Club of Flatbush; their set is 8 - 10 and we will go on at 10PM. For this gig our full quartet will be there: Quincy Saul (clarinet), Laurie Towers (electric bass), Javier Hernandez-Miyares (electric guitar & effects) and your truly on xylophone, bells, percussion and voice. For more info on Radio NOIR please stop by

ALSO be sure to save these dates....AUGUST 17 and 18 for THE 2012 DISSIDENT ARTS FESTIVAL: 2 Days! 2 Stages! 2 Boroughs! For more info see as well as the Festival's Facebook page where we will be posting updates.

In Solidarity,
John Pietaro

Album review: Gene Pritsker’s Sound Liberation, Let’s Save the World Suite

  Gene Pritsker’s Sound Liberation , Let’s Save the World Suite (Composers Concordance 2022) --originally published in The NYC Jazz Recor...