mark your calendar!
Tuesday, June 11th – 7:30pm
Phillip Johnston and Bruce Ackley Duo
But by way of introduction, we’ll say nonetheless that Ackley has been a cornerstone of the world-traveled, San Francisco-based saxophone quartet Rova since its founding in 1978. A bio will follow soon. Johnston was born in 1955 in Chicago IL USA, and raised in New York.
Tonight, Phillip Johnston and Bruce Ackley will play for your pleasure, and theirs.
During the 1970s in New York City, Johnston he met and began playing with a number of associates, many of whom, including John Zorn, Joel Forrester, Eugene Chadbourne, Bill Horvitz, Wayne Horvitz, Dave Hofstra, Richard Dworkin, Shelley Hirsch, Bruce Ackley, Jon Raskin, and many others. would become lifelong collaborators.
During the 1970s, Johnston yo-yo’d back and forth between San Francisco and New York, eventually settling in New York in late 1979. In the early 1980s he was performing with Joel Forrester ensembles of various sizes (from duo through septet), then with his own groups The Public Servants and The Microscopic Septet, and participating in countless musical projects and various ‘Downtown’ music scenes, including those around Studio Henry. It was during this time that he also began writing music for film, theater, dance, beginning with Lynne Tillman and Sheila McLaughlin’s film, Committed, in 1984.
During the 1980s and 90s, he toured widely with The Microscopic Septet in Europe, Canada and the United States, and continued to write music for films including Doris Dörrie’s Geld (1989), Philip Haas’s The Music of Chance (1993), Henry Corra’s Umbrellas (1994) and Paul Mazursky’s Faithful (1996). In 1993 he created his first original score for silent film, for Tod Browning’s The Unknown (1926) which was premiered at the American Museum of the Moving Image. Beginning in the early 90s he led new groups, including Big Trouble and the Transparent Quartet.
In 2005, he moved to Sydney, Australia with his wife, Australian playwright Hilary Bell, and their two children. In Australia, he wrote music for theater (Bell Shakespeare Company, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, NORPA), film (Stolen Life, Mr. Sin: The Abe Saffron Story, Shock Room), and formed a number of bands, including the Greasy Chicken Orchestra, performing Johnston’s arrangements of jazz of the 1920s/1930s, focusing particularly on the music of Jelly Roll Morton; SNAP, a saxophone quartet, co-led with Sandy Evans; Tight Corners: Jex Saarelaht play the music of Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols and Steve Lacy, and his current band, Phillip Johnston & the Coolerators.
While living in Australia, he has continued to return to New York regularly to perform and record, and to perform in Europe as well. In 2006, the Microscopic Septet re-assembled in order to promote a 4-CD collection on Cuneiform Records of all of their LPs from the 1980s (Seven Men in Neckties and Surrealistic Swing), and subsequently went on to record four more acclaimed CDs, and perform whenever Johnston was back in New York – usually several times a year. In 2007 he scored Henry Bean’s film Noise (starring Tim Robbins and William Hurt). He formed the cooperative group The Spokes with clarinetist Andy Biskin and trombonist Curt Hasselbring, resulting in the CD Not So Fast (2011).
In 2013 he began one his most important collaborations: Wordless! with Art Spiegelman. Commissioned in 2013 by the Sydney Opera House and performed at the Opera Theatre in October of that year, the ‘intellectual vaudeville’ show which combined Art’s lecture on the Wordless novels of the 1930s with Johnston’s compositions for a six-piece band, later dubbed The Silent Six. The project later premiered in the US at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and subsequently did a nine-city tour of the US. It has continued to be performed over subsequent years, including the 2016 London Jazz Festival, Comicópolis in Buenos Aires and in 2018 at the Paris Philharmonie.
In 2015 he completed a PhD in Music Composition at the Newcastle Conservatorium (University of New South Wales). During that time he was the recipient of 2013 RHD Publication Prize (UoN) (2014), the RHS Achievement Award (UoN)(2013) and the Joy Ingall Scholarship (UoN) (2013), which carried a cash award of AU$20,000. He also completed a Certificate of Educational Studies in 2011 through the College of Teachers at the University of London Institute of Education.
He has taught at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney since 2007. Previously he has taught at the Sydney Institute, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Music and Tisch School of the Arts, and the University of the South in Sewanee TN. He has served as an external post-graduate tutor at University of New South Wales and a visiting lecturer at AFTRS in Sydney and guest lecturer at Bard College, Ramapo College, University of Ohio and Columbia University in the US.
Phillip Johnston has performed with an A list of Australian jazz musicians including Lloyd Swanton, Alister Spence, Nic Cecire, Matt McMahon, Chris Abrahams, Peter Dasent, Jex Saarelaht, Phil Slater, James Greening, Sandy Evans, Paul Cutlan, Tim Rollinson, Peter Farrar, Jonathan Zwartz and Andrew Robson, among others.
Ok! After that, Bruce Ackley merits his own bio. Soon come!
Mark your calendar now for June 11!
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
[Read More ]