Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Greg Kelley | April 7

Greetings Racers,

This Sunday we are happy to be welcoming trumpeter Greg Kelley to the Racer stage. Greg is an improviser whose work, both in solo and group contexts, usually features quiet explorations of the extended technique of his instrument. Often, his playing sounds so alien that it's hard to tell he's playing a trumpet at all. He began a deep study of avant-garde and experimental music in his college years, eventually coming to the conclusion that his musical focus fell outside of the academic sphere. After his studies, Kelley moved back to his native Massachusetts, quickly insinuated himself into the local avant-garde circles and soon commenced a period of intense travel and collaboration, bringing him throughout North America, Europe, Japan, Argentina & Mexico to play at numerous festivals, in clubs, outdoors, in living rooms, in a bank, and at least once on a vibrating floor. In 2014, he relocated to Seattle, where he continues to push the boundaries of the trumpet and “music.”

Greg Kelley

Greg Kelley

This will be Greg’s first Racer presentation! Please make sure to find yourself at Cafe Racer on Sunday at 8pm for his set, and stick around after for the session to follow. Read on for words from Greg, what to expect from his set, and guidelines for the improvisations afterwards.

"I set myself rules in order to be totally free."  - Georges Perec

At various stages in my musical development, my stated intent was to remove as many musical elements as possible while still playing something that was essentially "music." While some of the rules or constraints (or merely preferences?) to avoid melody, harmony and regular rhythm may have led to some fertile musical ground, I certainly never got too far down the road to being "totally free." But in the world of "free" improvisation where technically anything can happen, self-constraints (or simply restraint?) allow for some focus and prevent the brain-computer from overloading & crashing while trying to sift through any and all possibilities. And this is as much an aesthetic as a practical concern. While I've indulged in some maximal musical pursuits, I don't always want the kitchen sink, just a small cracked plate amongst the piles of glasses and forks. 

For this Racer Session, I will be limiting myself to a simple Boy Scouts of America bugle which belonged to my father. I have used this bugle in performance two times before, in 2008 and 2009, both times in a trio with Sean Meehan (snare drum) and Alan Licht (piano & chord organ for the 2008 performance, electric guitar for the 2009 performance). Sean and Alan are both extremely adept at extracting a lot from a little, so they were excellent partners for the bugle "experiment." This will be the first time I've performed a solo set using just a bugle, so I'm not sure how it will go but perhaps I'll be totally free.

Regarding the session afterwards, I would like to explore limitations. These limitations don't necessarily need to be extreme, and could be along the lines of just brushes for a drummer or all harmon mute for brass or pizzicato only for strings.... one key, no key, no extended techniques, only extended techniques, use one hand (for two-handed instruments), et cetera.”

- Greg Kelley