Brittany Karlson, Forbes Graham, Francisco Mela, Miranda Agnew: Free Jazz/Free Form at the Cafe

Date(s) - Fri. Apr. 21, 2023
8:00 pm


Who: Brittany Karlson, bass, the leader
Forbes Graham, trumpet
Francisco Mela, drums
Miranda Agnew, trumpet

Adventurous excursions by who’s who (Forbes. Graham, Francisco. Mela), a new (Miranda Agnew), and LEAD by a significant young, maturing improv Jazz / New Music voice in our scene, Brittany Karlson!

A Somerville debut for Brittany, yet she’s no novice.  Brittany is beyond an up-and-coming creative bassist from Boston, she’s a new young leader in improvised music and Free-Jazz and called by many others to be a part of their explorations.

Where: The Café at the Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA

When: Friday, 4/21/2023, 8:00PM

Cost: Just $10, (Cash/Venmo) because:

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Somerville Arts Council a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Contact: Alex @ Creative Music Series,, 617/800-7255

Visit the Facebook event here.

The two trumpets and the “rhythm” section sets the stage for a robust and intricate couple of sets of heretofore never heard before, this quartet of improvised Free Jazz, Free Form!

You’ll also like the setting, the intimate Café at the Arts at the Armory.

Brittany Karlson is a bassist with roots in jazz, folk, and experimental music. Karlson works in freely improvised settings, ranging from solo bass to duos with bassist Ian Kovac to collaborations with musicians like Sam Lisabeth, Jesse Collins, Nick Neuberg, Matt Delligatti, and Jeb Bishop. As a leader and composer, Brittany combines folk-like melodies and improvising impulses in her freely lyrical song project Karl. She is also a member of The Goodbye Girls, a quartet that explores old-time, traditional bluegrass and Swedish traditional music

The improv of Brittany Karlson defies easy mainstream labeling because it includes influences from the pure forms of avantgarde; yet part of Jazz’s modern expansion. She also is a Puppeteer, vocalist and performs with folk musicians to influence her outlook . She is a member of The Goodbye Girls, a quartet that explores traditional bluegrass and Swedish traditional music

Sample of bassist Brittany Karlson performing at Cambridge’s Lilypad with other improv musicians

Brittany in a bass solo. However, she is also a Puppeteer and this clip shows her WITH the bass doing a puppet routine. The bass solo begins at 3:35.

While Miles Davis’ shadow does figure into any jazz past The Birth of Cool, Forbes Graham doesn’t ignore it. He embraces the blue note and turns it “magenta haze.” The Boston-area improviser sputters and attacks the trumpet with shark-attack notes before letting out a haunting whistled horn like a meditative Don Cherry, or a gruffled stutter like a duck being strangled. Essences, then, plays well with the musical-yet-noisy percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, who knows the history of his instruments but also understands where they should go.  NPR

Francisco Mela is a favorite among jazz’s elite instrumentalists, including such luminaries as Joe Lovano, McCoy Tyner, John Scofield, Ingrid Laubrock, Esperanza Spalding, Tony Malaby, and the entire Boston Jazz scene regardless of style!  and , among many others, all of whom cite his charisma, sophistication, and life-arming spirit as an extension of his incredible talents as a composer and drummer.   Born in 1968 in Bayamo, Cuba, Mela moved to Boston in 2000 and quickly thereafter made a name for himself on the Boston scene, becoming the house drummer at the legendary Wally’s Café Jazz Club.

Miranda Agnew is a trumpet player, composer, and improviser entering her final year of the dual degree program between Harvard and the New England Conservatory of Music. She has performed and recorded original compositions with musicians from her hometown Tucson, Arizona, Boston, and Amsterdam, and recently took part in a ten day improvisation centered gathering held at the Institute for the Musical Arts. Miranda has been mentored by musicians such as Kris Davis, Vijay Iyer, Claire Chase, and Jason Palmer, and attended the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. In addition to performing, she taught at the University of Arizona’s summer jazz workshop and designed an educational project for high schoolers that centers women in the history of Jazz and Creative Music.

The mission of Arts at the Armory is to provide an inclusive and accessible venue for arts, cultural and community events, exhibitions, markets, classes and more.