07 December 2010

First Democracy Center Show

January 7, 2011, 8:00
The Democracy Center

The duo of flutist Ashley Addington and cellist Rachel Arnold will be presenting Kaija Saariaho Mirrors, Elliott Carter Enchanted Preludes and
Michael Colquhoun Three for Two as One. For more information on Ashley and Rachel please visit: http://www.ashleyaddington.com/about/

We will also be presenting a special premiere by composer/ pianist Robert Manthy who is currently based in the Netherlands. In 2003 he received a Fulbright Scholarship from the US government to study composition with Louis Andriessen and Richard Ayres at the Royal
Conservatory of the Netherlands in the Hague, where he graduated in 2007. He has been active as a pianist, composer and conductor in
various new music concerts, theatrical performances, and other music in the Netherlands, the US, France, Italy,Puerto Rico, Kenya, and Tanzania amongst others. He will be collaborating that night with Esther Viola oboe, Eric Hoffbauer guitar, Rob Bethel cello, Michael Dobiel saxophone and electronics, Pam Marshall french horn, Todd Brunel clarinets, and Gary Fieldman drums. For more information on Robert Manthy click: http://robmanthey.net/

The Vortex will also be presenting a performance of 'Dog Ears' by Gary Fieldman. It is a solo percussion work that draws on Gary's masterful use of poly-rhythm on found objects. To check out a video of Gary performing his piece live, click the link:

24 November 2010

Jeff PLatz Group

Friday December 3, 2010
8:00 Outpost 186.
The Jeff Platz Group
Junko Simons cello
Kit Demos bass
David Miller drums

”Platz‘s mystic axe tones gradually madden into vapor -like
labyrinths letting the subtleties unfold in sparse bubbling currents”.

" An intelligent approach to both composition
and improvisation”

This will be our last regularly scheduled show at the amazing outpost 186 and our last Vortex Show of 2010. Our next show will be at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square Cambridge on Friday January 7.

07 November 2010

Moving in January

We are moving to a new location in January. The Vortex has been at the Outpost 186 for over three years and recently we decided to move over to the Democracy Center, 45 Mount Auburn St in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA. One of the big reasons for this move is the addition of new planning personnel and we have decided to team up with an organization called Art Without Borders.We are planning many new events in 2011 and feel very strongly that live new and improvised music will be best if brought to a few different communities. The concept of the Vortex can be molded to suit many purposes, but our primary objective is to present music that is new, interesting, improvised or notated and we are always seeking new collaborators. I am very happy to say that Julee Avallone and Michael Dobiel are taking time from their busy schedule with the Boston Free Jazz Association to work with us as well as composer Pamela Marshall, artist Sirarpi Henghinian Walzer, flutist Pat Jao and engineer/ trombonist Randy Winchester. We also will be seeking advice from our long time collaborators, cellist Rob Bethel, flutist Matt Samolis, drummer John McClellan, oboist Esther Viola and Rob Chalfen, the executive producer of the Outpost 186, still located in Inman Square, Cambridge, MA. This year we are also planning on teaming up with Zumix in East Boston and the Cafe at the Somerville Armory. At both of these new locations we will be providing performance opportunities for students and strongly believe that now more than ever young people need exposure to new ways of creating music. Our last show (for now) at the Outpost 186 in Inman Square will feature the Jeff Platz Group, Friday December 3 at 8:00.

14 October 2010

Sonic Sandbox and guitarist Ben Miller

Friday, November 5, 8:00

Cultivating his technique since 1982, Ben Miller/degeneration presents a sonic tapestry that defies standard guitar playing. By using several pickups outputted separately through two chain of effects, Miller produces a texturous, multiphonic soundscape. With the addition of a wide variety of preparations, radio and analog tape, it is difficult to discern where any one sound originates or where it is headed.
Sonic Sandbox, an improvisational trio consisting of composer and electronic musician Forrest Larsen, percussionist and Didgeridoo player David Brown and clarinetist Todd Brunel will be performing in support of their latest release, "Turbulence."

16 September 2010

Meltdown Incentive

8:00 Friday October 1, Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
The Meltdown Incentive is the brainchild of composer Delvyn Case, who will be featured on piano with Sara Bielanski vocalizations, Ed Broms on fixed electric bass, various percussion instruments, Rob Bethel on cello and Todd Brunel on clarinets. The improvisational troupe will experiment with poetry, recipes, personal ads and abstract sounds painting.
Here is a youtube video that features Sara and ensemble with
a very deadpan version of the classic frat anthem, "The Beer Prayer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TLDz8ql_Qw

There will also be a performance by composer, saxophonist Michael Dobiel, who will be collaborating with Erich Hochstrasser, a sound design/synthesis artist. Learn more about Michael Dobiel and his exciting work here:

29 August 2010

Palimpest Friday

Friday 3 September @ Outpost, 8pm $10 or b/o

Vortex presents
Dennis Shafer - solo saxophone, performing:
Tadj for Solo Soprano Saxophone by Christian Lauba
Melodique etude based upon three modes and varied attacks

+The Ara Sarkissian Palimpest Ensemble

Ara Sarkissian – piano / Julee Avalone – flutes /Todd Brunel – clarinets / Kit Demos – bass / John Mclellan - drumset

The Palimpsest Ensemble, led by Ara Sarkissian, combines the art of group improvisation with a strict adherence to musical form. Thus, unlike many other musical situations in which we as players use the technique of improvisation in an open form setting, this ensemble requires the application of improvisatory techniques within strict rules pertaining to form, texture, motivic development, dynamics and other elements.

05 August 2010

Vortex Friday and New McLellans

We are really excited about Friday night's show that will feature saxophonist Tom Hall playing with us Vortex Dimensionites. All of us, except drummer John McLellan, because he will be with his family. That's all I'm going to say about it! Alright John, God be with you two, we are really looking forward to the news!!!!

27 July 2010


Tom Hall and the Vortex Other Dimension Ensemble!

24 July 2010

VOD Fest

Thank you to everyone who participated in one of the most truly inspirational days in memory.

14 July 2010

Boston Phoenix 'Bos Picks'

VOD Fest July 22, 2010
If you frequent the tiny avant-improv bunker Outpost 186, then you're familiar with clarinettist Todd Brunel's Vortex Series, which features some of the city's finest jazz musicians and free-improvisers of all stripes. Today Brunel launches his VOD Festival (as in, Vortex Other Dimension). Festivities include a full day of master classes and workshops for all levels of "jazz, blues, microtonal improvisation, music concrète, world music, and avant-garde improvisation on your instrument of choice." The day concludes with a concert by VOD faculty: saxophonist Tom Hall, the Jeff Platz Group, the Vortex Other Dimension Ensemble, pianist David Maxwell, and guitarist Kevin Frenette. It's all at the Cambridge Family YMCA, 820 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 10 am-6:45 pm workshops; 7-10 pm concert | $75 full day; $12 evening concert; $10 students | clarinetconspiracy.com. Filed under: MUSIC

06 July 2010

VOD Festival

The VOD Festival
Thursday July 22
Cambridge YMCA
An all day music adventure featuring some of the most adventurous improvisational artists from around New England and New York. Click the side link to see our schedule, faculty roster and guest artists.
For registration information go to www.clarinetconspiracy.com
and click on VOD Festival.
The VOD Festival..its the other side of music!

27 June 2010

Composers Other Side

Pamela Marshall, French horn, ideas
Del Case, piano, concepts
Todd Brunel reed things
Kevin Frenette, strummed and plucked sounds
John McLellen, skins and cymbals

14 June 2010


Composer's Other Side

Pam Marshall
Delvyn Case

New compositions; improvs; surprises...

26 May 2010

Friday June 4, 8:00 Dave Maxwell piano, Andrew Hickman tenor, Blake Newman bass

Blues pianist and musical traveler David Maxwell will join forces with tenor saxophonist Andrew Hickman, bassist Blake Newman, drummer John Mclellan, cellist Rob Bethel and clarinetist Todd Brunel for a sonic adventure like no other.

16 April 2010


Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
The Legendary Birdsongs of the Mesozoic will perform original works and transformative improvisations incorporating live electronics.

Michael Bierylo  guitar/loops
Ken Field  sax/loops
Erik Lindgren  piano
Rick Scott  synth/loops/samples
Encanti  electronics/beats


a duo:
Katt Hernandez violin
Steve Norton bass clarinet


Ken Field will show a movie about the 60/60 composers festival

25 March 2010


Guitars and Horns
composed notes and new encounters

Tom Duprey trumpet
David Hawthorn guitar
...and others

Garrison Fewell guitar
Esther Viola oboe
Todd Brunel clarinet

19 March 2010

successful fundraiser

Thanks to all who made it out on such a blistery, rainy night to support our series. I want to thank in particular Rob Bethel for making the beautiful cafe space at the Armory happen, Susan for being the behind the scenes producer and all of those who participated in the performances that night. Noel Dorcy, Matt Samolis, Peter Blum, Esther Viola, Rob Bethel, Sara Bielanski, all combined talents and efforts to create another great Vortex night! Thank you Heather Townsend for the great pics and hopefully we'll have some audio clips available soon, so stay tuned!

03 March 2010

Vortex fundraiser

Vortex Series for New and Improvised Music Fundraiser

Saturday, March 13 at 8:00
At the Armory Café, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA

Sara Bielanski, vocals
Todd Brunel, clarinets
Esther Viola, oboe
Rob Bethel, cello
Yael Bat- Shimon, violin
John McClellan, drumset
Peter Bloom, Bass flute
Matt Samolis, flute
Noell Dorsey, voice
performing Tips by Steve Lacey

The Vortex concert series is looking for sponsors and subscribers to help
support great new and improvised music. Listeners appreciate
music on the fringes of improvised or notated modern music,
with shows that span diverse musical styles and artistic disciplines.

So come join us for an exciting fund raising
event with refreshments and live
performances by some of the most adventurous musicians
in the Boston area and get a preview of shows to come!

$10 admission

12 February 2010


Beat & Brazuka Breakdown

Esther Viola  oboe
Silvana Costa  poet
Adam Bahrami guitars/cavaquinho
...and others!

EV is trying out some ideas: putting music to words and bringing oboe to Brazilian beats and melodies.

PART 1 poetry and sound improv

PART 2 solo surprise
PART 3 non-traditional takes on Brazilian beats and sambas

10 February 2010

A Labor of Love

After talking with some friends on Friday night, I started to understand that this series could branch in ways that I hadn't considered. The Vortex is a labor of love where some of the most profound new music happens, usually improvised. This latest incarnation is 2 years old, but in the past I had a vortex in 2004-05 that was really great as well and involved a whole cast of characters and the Old Green Street Grill. Fights and nastiness ensued around the time of the Red Sox play offs...well of course in a town that loves its sports, we eventually moved to what is now the Lilli Pad...back then it was the Zeitgeist space.
Its been 10 years now of exploring new and creative music making in association with Rob Chalfen and others who have really dedicated their lives to creating new music adventures similar to what used to happen in the 60's and 70's and yes I suppose the 80's. I have also seen other incredible musicians at other concerts at the venue which we are currently in, the Outpost 186, the home of our series. They are there to promote their music to an appreciative audience of fellow journeypersons, creating the music they really love and I am certain that none of the artists performing at this space are really there for the money. Truly this space is home to many labors of love and we think this kind of music is that important to make an adjustment in perspective. How do we go about changing a perspective that is so wrapped in mystique or petty misconceptions? To champion improvised music as a real art, a listening art, an art of chance, reaction, innovation and true artistic integrity..
Thanks to Yael Bat Shimon violin, Geni Skendo flute, shakuhatchi and of course Rob Bethel and our great recording engineer that night, David Lee...hope your feeling better John..catch you on the next one bro!

21 January 2010

New recording available a Jamendo

This recording from our January 8 show features three separate tracks with Matt Samolis on flute, Rob Bethel cello and Todd Brunel on clarinet...its a free download so enjoy!



The Vortex Ensemble takes on yet another new dimension in February!

Yael Bat-Shimon  violin
Rob Bethel  cello
Todd Brunel  clarinets
Geni Skendo  flute, shakuhatchi
John Mcclellan  drums

 listen to Yael Bat-Shimon

19 January 2010

Great show Jan 8

The Provisor Crook Duo did a great job improvising and presenting their compositions to a very full house that night and then our trio came on consisiting of Rob Bethel, Matt Samolis and myself. We had a great time and I cant wait to hear the audio clip. Thanks Steve and Keith for your artistry and getting such a warm and receptive audience there. Thanks Rob and Matt for making that night a truly amazing and memorable new music experience! I think our trio will do it again at the church of the Advent in February....

12 January 2010

Cambridge Arts Council Grant

We are very pleased to announce that THE VORTEX Series for New and Improvised Music has been awarded a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council.

The Cambridge Arts Council grant program is funded by the City of Cambridge and an allocation from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Stayed tuned for further developments of THE VORTEX in 2010!