Slumgum, an all-CalArts alumni jazz quartet, presents a pair of CD release concerts this weekend in LA—at LACMA on Friday and the Blue Whale in LA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood on Saturday—with special guest Hugh Ragin.
Virtuoso trumpeter Ragin, who’s featured on Slumgum’s new album, The Sky His Own, makes a rare West Coast appearance with the band. A musical veteran, Ragin’s played with a number of jazz legends including Dizzie Gillespie, Roscoe Mitchell, Sun Ra and CalArts’ own Wadada Leo Smith.
Comprised of Jon Armstrong (Music MFA 08) on tenor sax, Rory Cowal (Music MFA 08) on piano, Dave Tranchina (Music MFA 08) on bass and Trevor Anderies (Music BFA 08) on drums, Slumgum has made a name for itself as a risk-taking band that draws on diverse influences including jazz, free improvisation, world music and modern classical.
In his review of the band’s 2011 CD Quardboard Flavored Fiber (Accretions), Chris Barton wrote for the Los Angeles Times’ Culture Monster blog:
A brightly twisted product of CalArts’ music program, the quartet Slumgum has played off-center local incubators like the Blue Whale and the Steve Allen Theater’s experimental showcase ResBox. Rising out of Rory Cowal’s flickering Fender Rhodes keyboard, “Hancho Pancho” expands into a growling storm led by saxophonist Jon Armstrong, and the thoughtful “Afternoon” showcases the band’s care with slow-burning acoustic atmosphere. The group dips into rougher waters with the knotty “Puce Over Pumpkin With a Hint of Lime” and an uneven six-pack of songs under the name “Big Fun,” but the group’s vivid sense of melody and relentless drive for exploration mark it as a quartet to watch.
Slumgum with Hugh Ragin
Friday, July 13 at 6 pm
The Blue Whale
123 astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301
Los Angeles (Little Tokyo)
Saturday, July 14 at 9 pm