Lil Coop at 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival [recording]


John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet recorded at the 2014 Earshot Jazz Fest, Seattle.

Robby Beasley, trumpet; Kate Olson, tenor sax; Stephen Fandrich, piano; Tom Zgonc, drums; John Seman, bass, compositions.

Earshot Jazz Fest presents John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet, Oct 11


Lil Coop performs music by John Seman (double bass) with Stephen Fandrich (piano), Robby Beasley (trumpet), Kate Olson (sax), and Tommy Zgonc (drums).

Tickets available here.

John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet
Gregg Belisle-Chi

$14 general; $12 members & seniors; $7 students & veterans

Bassist, composer, archivist and advocate for improvised music John Seman explores composition and free improvisation and musical past and future – in the moment – with his Lil Coop Quintet, featuring Stephen Fandrich on piano, Robbie Beasley on trumpet, Kate Olson on tenor sax and Tom Zgonc on drums.

A fixture on the Seattle music scene for more than a decade, Seman is co-founder (with Mark Ostroski) of nonprofit new music advocacy organization Monktail Creative Music Concern. Additionally, he holds a sound preservation and recording venture, RPM Preservation, and is a co-host of Floatation Device (91.3 KBCS), a program dedicated to highlighting improvised music from the Northwest and around the world.

Born in New Jersey and raised there and outside Philadelphia, Seman eventually enrolled at Oberlin Conservatory as a composition major. Part way through his studies there, he switched to an independent study program focused equally on ethnomusicology and music performance as a double bassist. Seman pursued graduate studies in ethnomusicology, with a particular interest in field recording and archiving, at the University of Maryland before moving to Seattle in 1999.

Sonarchy Radio broadcast recording of Pale Fruit by John Seman’s Lil Coop, 2014.

Pale Fruit is composed of two twelve-tone rows. The first, the bass line, was inspired by David Foster Wallace while reading his novel The Pale King. I took letters from his name (D-F-ACE) as the first five notes of a row, continued at the tritone and wound up with an interesting little chord progression.

The melody is drawn from five non-consecutive major second intervals, the interval of small hands. My daughter started exploring the piano around the same time she started eating stone fruits, plunking out sticky-fingered seconds. This reminded me of Stravinsky’s Les cinq doigts.

While preparing charts for Lil Coop’s Sonarchy Radio session I combined the bass line and the melody and this recording is the result. Lil Coop will perform Pale Fruit at the Earshot Jazz Festival this Saturday, October 11, 8pm at the Good Shepherd Chapel.

Stephen Fandrich is the secret weapon of Lil Coop. The melody of Medlenno is extracted from a violin duet I wrote years ago. I gave it to Stephen and he re-harmonized it several ways. He performs it frequently as a solo piano piece, as he does here, and it is now a feature for his particular talents in Lil Coop. Medlenno is Russian for slowly because if you asked my Russian grandmother how are things going, she replied: slowly.

John Seman’s Lil Coop: Sonarchy Radio and Earshot 2014

John Seman’s Lil Coop featured on Sonarchy Radio, KEXP 90.3 FM and 

Live Performances from the Seattle Underground, Pacific Northwest
Sunday, September 14

New compositions from the bassist John Seman, with Stephen Fandrich – piano, Mark Ostrowski – drums, Billy Monto – alto / tenor sax, Darian Asplund – tenor sax and Robby Beasley – trumpet / flugelhorn.

Sonarchy Radio is a live performance broadcast that is a showcase for the many northwest artists who are pushing the limits of their music. Each week Jack Straw Productions in Seattle’s University District hooks up it’s non-profit recording studio to KEXP and sets the stage for you to sit in the middle of unique performance.


John Seman’s Lil Coop featured at 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival

The Earshot Jazz Festival swings into its 26th edition on October 10 and includes more than 50 distinctive concerts and events in venues all around the city through November 11. The festival brings jazz greats from around the world into creative collaboration with area audiences and artists.

“Bass giant John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet – Stephen Fandrich, piano; Robbie Beasley, trumpet; Kate Olson, soprano sax; Tom Zgonc, drums – explores composition and free improvisation and musical past and future, in the moment. With Guitarist Belisle-Chi and vocalist Chelsea Crabtree.”

Saturday, October 11, Chapel Performance Space, 8pm
John Seman’s Lil Coop
Gregg Belisle-Chi

Simon Henneman Quartet record release 9/20 at Josephine

Simon Henneman and Monktail Creative Music Concern present

debut performance of the Meridian Big Band & Simon Henneman Quartet record release, Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Monktail Creative Music Concern presents one night of compositions by multi-instrumentalist/ composer Simon Henneman at the Josephine in Ballard, on Saturday, September 20th at 7:00 pm. The evening begins with a celebration of the release of the Simon Henneman Quartet’s cassette Sermons from Science, includes the debut performance of Meridian Big Band, featuring fourteen of the Pacific Northwest’s premier new jazz and experimental musicians playing new material, and closes with a DJ set by DJ aus dem land der schinken und kase (formerly one-half of highly underground experimental electronic duo Are You a Cat?).

Formed in 2011, Simon Henneman Quartet features Kenny Mandel on sax, John Seman on bass, Mark Ostrowski on drums, and Simon Henneman on guitar. The songs on Sermons from Science were recorded in a hundred year old house in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, now on its way to being destroyed for condo development. The album includes liner notes by the legendary American poet, activist, and provocateur John Sinclair which are included below. Sinclair writes of the Quartet, “Telepathy is a good word for what these four musicians do together. They’ve known each other for a long time, they know the music inside out and they know how to play it. The songs are well-made and swinging and the players interpret and extend them with vigor, intelligence and fiercely personal instrumental expression. What more can we ask for?” This is outsider jazz, played with a love of the form and the history, but with a decidedly garage rock aesthetic; a jazz take on Pacific Northwest bands of the 1960’s like The Sonics or The Wailers who, in trying to play R&B, created a raw, unique, and personal music all their own.

The Meridian Big Band takes this idea further, expanding to a fourteen piece band with two drumsets, two upright bass players, four reeds, four brass, and vibes. Henneman will join them on guitar for the last song only. Players range from the aforementioned John Seman and Mark Ostrowski of Monktail Creative Music Concern, to Master Musicians of Bukake and Diminished Men’s Dave Abramson, to experimental saxophonist Kate Olsen of Ask the Ages, and Table and Chairs and Racer Sessions founder Neil Welch. Clips from the Meridian Big Band in rehearsal:

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Simon Henneman is a long time mainstay in Seattle’s creative and improvised music communities. He is the bass player for the post-surf trio Diminished Men and serves on the board of the record label and new music presenter Table and Chairs. His previous solo work, including the limited release LP Black Magic & Moustache on Assophon Records, was lauded by The Stranger’s Dave Segal for its “chops and flair for alluring arrangements and nocturnal moods,” and called “cinematic, dark, beautiful and liberating” by the British music review blog Digital Fix.

The Monktail Creative Music Concern is a collective of composers, musicians and artists based in Seattle, WA who thrive o­n the atypical and exigent; the real weirdo stuff. Monktail ensembles have earned a reputation as new music powerhouses up and down the west coast and across the country as Seattle-area music ambassadors. Their critically acclaimed independent record catalog, Monktail Records, has garnered awards in the nation’s top jazz periodicals and exposure through jazz radio nationwide. Monktail have fans in Seattle as well, earning three Earshot Golden Ear Awards and numerous accolades from local media and artist support organizations including 4Culture, Allied Arts, and The City of Seattle.


Simon Henneman Quartet: Sermons From Science

Sermons From Science is an album of extraordinary music by Simon Hennemen and his Seattle henchmen. From the stunning cover design illuminating the album’s title to the last note of the evocative “Sermons from Science,” this package provides a top-flight artistic experience rarely found in today’s ugly cultural environment.

I trust you will be able to hear this for yourself, but the playing on this recording is filled with the excitement of discovery and accomplished self-expression as the ensemble works its way through a suite of Henneman’s imaginative compositions, led by Simon’s muscular guitar and the powerful saxophonics of Kenny Mandell and propelled by the unfailing support and deep sensitivity of bassist John Seman and drummer Mark Ostrowski, a 20-year rhythmic partnership elsewhere noted as “in all likelihood the most telepathic musical combination in Seattle.”

Telepathy is a good word for what these four musicians do together. They’ve know each other for a long time, they know the music inside out and they know how to play it. The songs are well-made and swinging and the players interpret and extend them with vigor, intelligence and fiercely personal instrumental expression. What more can we ask for?

I can’t say enough about the level of playing thoughout. Henneman has an approach strictly his own and his solos are consistently compelling, dense with feeling and drive. Kenny Mandell is a brilliant soloist in every setting and sounds strictly like himself, sparring and blending with Simon and discoursing on the composer’s themes with remarkable coherence. And again, the splendid rhythm section is right there with them every step of the way.

I’ve really enjoyed my repeated listenings to this album and commend it to imaginative music lovers without reservation. Seattle is very fortunate indeed to have an ensemble of this high caliber in residence.

-John Sinclair
December 15, 2013

MCMC Spitehouse series has ended

The Tuesday night Monktail Spitehouse series has ended. Respect and thanks to the organizers and all who participated.



Ton Trio II (Oak), Ask The Ages, Stephen Fandrich: Royal Room 6/30

Monktail Creative Music Concern Presents:
Ton Trio II
Ask The Ages
Stephen Fandrich

Monday, June 30, 8pm
Royal Room

Ton Trio II features Aram Shelton on alto saxophone, Scott Brown on bass, and Alex Vittum on drums. They are an avant/modern jazz trio that thrive in and out of conventional structure. Drawing from Shelton’s bright and even folk-like compositions, the trio weaves continuously through melody, rhythm, and texture with written parts that serve as entry points for spacious improvisations. All three members play almost continuously, keeping the voices of melody, harmony and rhythm on an even level. Learn more at

Ask the Ages is a Seattle, Washington-based avant-jazz band. Formed in 2010, the group includes: Greg Campbell (drums and percussion), Steven Bell (vibraphone ), Brian Heaney (guitar), Kate Olson (sax/woodwinds) and John Seman (bass). Influences are Sonny Sharrock, Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. Learn more at

Stephen Fandrich began learning piano at age thirteen by rote form his father Darrell Fandrich, a gifted pianist and renowned piano technician. His is a true talent at the piano, however, he is better known as an overtone singer and founder/director of the Seattle Harmonic Voices. He is also currently an active member of the Monktail Creative Music Concern and instrument curator/performer for Gamelan Pacifica.

MCMC at SIFF 2014


Radio Plutus, a new film by Steve Demas, is playing as a part of ALT World at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival. Starring DJ Hubba Hubba, Doug Lane, Mark Ostrowski. Music by Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand and Figeater.


May 22, 2014 – 9:00 PM – SIFF Cinema Uptown

2014 NW Folklife Creative Music Spotlight














Third Annual NW Folklife Creative Music Spotlight
Friday, May 23 – Seattle Center Theater – 7-10pm
Featuring performances by:

7:00 – Bill Horist and Doug Haire
7:35 – Beth Fleenor Workshop Ensemble
8:15 – Seattle Bass Trio: Geoff Harper, PK, John Seman
8:50 – Samantha Boshnack and Chris Credit
9:30 – Ask The Ages: Brian Heaney, Kate Olson, Steven Bell, Greg Campbell, John Seman

with MC David Utevsky

organized by John Seman, MCMC
more info at

Shoup-Seman-Henneman at MAGMAFEST 2014 [recording]

Shoup-Seman-Henneman at MAGMAFEST 2014

Good Shepherd Chapel, Seattle, WA


Wally Shoup alto, John Seman double bass, Simon Henneman bass vi

recording by Henneman, audio tweak and video by Seman

Ask The Ages 2014/02/23 at The Can Can [recording]

Ask The Ages: Brian Heaney guitar, Kate Olson sax, Stephen Bell vibes, John Seman bass, Greg Campbell drums
recorded 2014/02/23 at The Can Can, Pike Place Market, Seattle