The Blue Cranes
Since their formation in 2007, Blue Cranes have become a key player in the Portland, Oregon creative music/DIY scene and one of the most exciting groups to keep tabs on in the Northwest. They've developed a singular musical voice grounded in melody and explosive improvisations--marking off their unique microcosmic territory in post-jazz circles.
The members of the quintet--Reed Wallsmith on alto saxophone, Joe Cunningham on tenor saxophone, Rebecca Sanborn on keyboards, Jon Shaw on bass, and Ji Tanzer on drums--bring a unique array of experiences to their group-centered aesthetic, including work with AU, The Decemberists, Laura Veirs, Wayne Horvitz, Rebecca Gates, Laura Gibson, Ethan Rose, Pete Krebs, Black Prairie, and Portland Cello Project.
In June 2013, the band took an evolutionary step forward with the release of Swim, their fourth full-length album, on the Washington, D.C.-based Cuneiform Records. Swim is a departure from Blue Cranes' previous, and in some ways simpler, albums. Steered dutifully by producer Nate Query of The Decemberists, it is a window into the sometimes messy emotional space of a group struggling with and celebrating the ephemeralness of life. This work is the culmination of several between-album projects, including a 30-day crowd-sourced Amtrak train tour in 2011, and a seven day group composition retreat, supported in part by a grant from Portland's Regional Arts and Culture Council. However, the heart of Swim lies in indelibly profound life events--the passing away of two dear friends, a serious injury, two weddings, and the birth of a child--events at tragic and uplifting extremes, both cathartic and celebratory.
Wayne Horvitz's Sweeter than the Day
Formed in 1999, Sweeter than the Day began simply as the acoustic incarnation of Zony Mash. The band played a series of weekly shows at Seattle's Baltic Room (curated by Reggie Watts), and quickly became Wayne's Horvitz's first piano-based ensemble in over 10 years, and one of Wayne's longest-running groups, as well as one of his favorites. Despite the shared personnel, the ensemble is quite distinct from the electric Zony Mash and the Repertoire is almost entirely different. The band has toured throughout the US, Candada and Europe. Sweeter than the Day also presents double bills with Robin Holcomb, where it serves as Robin's backup band.