Racer Sessions

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

Neil Welch | May 12

Greetings, Racers!

This week, we are pleased to host our dear friend, saxophonist Neil Welch at the Racer Sessions. Neil is recognized as a major voice of the Seattle jazz and experimental music fields. His work is derived from improvisation, using largely non-traditional techniques that explore sonic resonance. With a strong connection to place, he performs and documents audio recordings prolifically within the urban and rural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Neil is also no stranger to most of us - a founding member of the Racer Sessions and Table & Chairs, Neil was a leading member of this community for many years, most recently working as a curator of these sessions.

Read on below for some words from Neil on his set and what to expect this Sunday - his set starts at 8pm and the jam session will follow until about 10pm. Please join us!

“Racer heads,

I am thrilled to perform for you and alongside you at the Racer Sessions this weekend. 

My solo, acoustic works are impermanent auditory constellations—particulate structures, strata, monoliths, and dust—resonance imaginations on tenor, c soprano, alto and bass saxophones. At our session this Sunday, I aim to cast light on my own notion of abstract sound/silences through various means:

multiphonics, screaming into the horn, phases of conical tone undulations, graphic notations, key clacking, tempered pitches, semitones, wind.


In our collective improvisations to follow, I ask that each performer consider the role of their physical and artistic presence while on stage. Can we capture the inherent qualities of our performance space at Racer through our audience’s participation? Can we cultivate sound/silence for use as an infinitely flexible performance tool? How might our search for momentary expressivity impact our improvisations in the moment and those to follow? To begin our open session, I suggest that we approach these questions and more through a physically additive method. I ask that we begin by slowly increasing our performers in number—a solo performance followed by a duo, a trio, a quartet, and a quintet. From quintet on, we will open the session up to various ensemble sizes.

Over the past several weeks I have performed a series of solo concerts throughout the Northwest debuting new material, much of which I will share with you tonight. Last weekend I had the opportunity to perform at the FreeSessions in Missoula, Montana. This session was founded a few years ago using a very similar model to the Racer Sessions. My experience at the FreeSessions shed new light for me on the strengths and challenges of our mirrored sessions. 

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In the spirit of growth and reflection, I have decided to use the same curatorial performance format and jam session prompts at Racer this week that I presented at the FreeSessions. Before starting the open jam, I will begin by sharing with you some of my reflections from the FreeSessions and propose new ways that we can challenge our own Racer community to continue to grow in our work together. I will make various suggestions that will slightly amend our session. 

I am deeply thankful to play the Racer Sessions this weekend, and I look forward to our evening together.

-Neil Welch”