Jessica Catron presents Sunday, February 4

Hi there! Here’s what I’m brewing up for Sunday’s FreeSession…

I am looking forward to guiding our group through multiple practices using experiments and sound games to shape and encourage new explorations of sound using both improvisation and spontaneous composition.

I will be drawing ideas from experimental composers and musicians like Cornelius Cardew, James Tenney, Pauline Oliveros, Earle Brown, Derek Bailey, La Monte Young, and Christian Wolff. The goal is to open up preconceived notions of “music” and (hopefully) deepen ones connection with their instrument.

I encourage participants who can come with an open mind and want to take new risks on their instrument. As musicians, especially in performance, we tend to fall back on patterns, riffs, modes, and practice techniques that feel comfortable and accessible. My hope for this session is to create a safe space to broaden our comfort zones a bit. And things just might get pretty weird!

Anyone can participate – no matter your level, age, or experience with music. The exercises will be in mostly large group format, with moments of smaller group work. However, because of the limitations of the room we are using, I would like to maximize on acoustic sounds and try keep electric needs and drum sets to an absolute minimum (acoustic guitars/bass and hand or toy percussion/single drums welcomed!!). Think minimal space requirements. There will be a keyboard, a snare, a tom, and two tiny amps for use. No PA, no mics.

To open up the session, I will be doing a solo cello performance of a few short pieces by Sofia Gubaidulina, Cornelius Cardew, Alba Fernanda Triana, and Phillip Glass that explore limitations and experiments on the instrument. These are meant to share some of my own musical interests, as well as give examples of works that push the boundaries of common notions of music.

Finally, I hope to make this fun! I love to teach and share what I’ve learned in my musical journey – and I look forward to the exchange. I’m excited to make sounds with you. See you there!

My bio:
Jessica spent the majority of her professional life in Los Angeles where she worked as a freelance performing artist and educator. Some of her musical adventures include touring, performing, and/or recording with artists including Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers/Evangelista), Harold Budd, Nels Cline, Devotchka, The Eels, Fun, Vinny Golia, Trevor Hall, The Heavy, Eleni Mandell, Dave Matthews, Tim Meyers (One Republic), Sheila Nicholls, Linda Ronstadt, Spiritualized, James Tenney, Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), Steve Vai, VOCO, Scott Weiland, Emily Wells, The White Buffalo, and Wilco. In addition to live performance, Jessica has appeared on The Tonight Show, The Late Late Show, NBC Music Video Awards, KPFK’s Global Village, and has been a soloist for films Mean Creek, The Strangers, The Covenant, and Levity.
As a teaching artist, Jessica worked for YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) – a partnership of the Harmony Project and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her students have had the fortune of sitting beside LA Phil musicians in concert, backing up Stevie Wonder, Journey, and The Black Eyed Peas, performing with Grace Potter and Sharon Stone on the Tonight Show, playing the Super Bowl halftime show with Coldplay and Beyonce, and traveling to the White House to play for Michelle Obama and Joshua Bell. She has lead workshops at the University of Auckland (NZ), Universidad de Bogota (Columbia), Music on Main and the Western Front (Vancouver, BC), University of Nebraska (Omaha), Cornish College (Seattle), University of New Mexico (Albq), Lake Tahoe Unified (CA), Port Chester School District (NY), Community Music Works (RI), Greensboro Guilford County Schools (NC), and the California State Summer School for the Arts, among others.
She moved to Missoula in 2013 with her family. Currently, she is founder and lead teacher of Grow Music Missoula and a member of the Missoula Symphony.

And here’s a silly song that has little to do about any of it. It’s about life on a Destroyer Ship:

Bill Kautz presents Sunday, January 7

I am very excited to be curating the 2nd FreeSessions on January 7th and particularly excited to perform my music with Christopher Gray (guitar), Steve Kalling (bass) and Naomi Siegel (trombone and keyboard). These individuals have been extremely open to exploring new territories with these compositions and I want to thank them right off the bat for their flexibility and trust in me leading this ensemble. They’ve been such a pleasure to create with.

We will be performing 3 pieces for you tonight titled Segmented, Sehnsucht and Where is Solitude. Two of these compositions were performed 3 and 5 years ago as part of The Racer Sessions and the IMP Fest in Seattle under different instrumentation. I have wanted to revisit these compositions with new musicians and in a completely new setting to see how I hear and approach things differently. A lot has happened for me since I first wrote these…most recently becoming a father, moving to Missoula, taking on a very new identity as a stay at home dad for my daughter and spending a lot more focused time on the trumpet than I have in many years.

What we will be playing for you is based heavily around open improvisation. However, each piece has a defined melody with corresponding chord changes which will set up the flavor for the improvisations that follow the melody. A very similar progression as performing jazz standards…melody, solos, and playing through the melody again to end the piece. However, we may or may not stick to the structure introduced with the melody. This is a very exciting aspect of performing these pieces as each time is a different experience.

 Every individual in this group has the equal amount of power to introduce a framework or deviate from a previously introduced framework during the improvisation sections. A specific instrument, such as the bass, does not need to just act like a “bass”…think of whatever that may mean to you! Everyone’s role in the performance is of equal importance and purpose, which is to create original music where everyone’s voice and ideas are heard.

An exciting thing about this ensemble is that every player has some unique musical niche where they spend the majority of their time performing or practicing. So when we open up and get free, it’s amazing to hear the blend of influences weave together. We all have our unique influences and sound. It has been a hope of mine that those influences can be embraced and amplified in this ensemble. I hope you can pick up on that when we perform.

For the improvisation section that follows, I would like to encourage every ensemble to conference briefly before performing to establish a place to start and finish. This can be as abstract as a word, feeling, color, number, etc or as specific as a defined key, scale, rhythmic figure, etc. Wherever you begin your performance, try to revisit that idea through all instruments represented while improvising. Come back to the original idea to play it verbatim, chop the heck out of it or expand upon it.  And resist the urge to only have melodic instruments or voices take the melody.

Thanks for reading. We’ll look forward to seeing you Sunday January 7th at 6pm.

-Bill Kautz

Naomi Siegel & The Missoula Conduction Experiment present Sunday, December 3

Mayana Kantor – Cello

Ed Stalling – Drums

Nancy Seldin – Recorder

Tanner Fruit – Saxophone

Amelia Thornton – Violin

Linden Marie – Voice

Caroline Keys – Lap Steel

Naomi Siegel – Conductor

Steve Kalling – Bass

Joe Glassy – Guitar


Thanks for being a part of the kick-off of The FreeSessions – the new all-ages, improvised, curated jam session occurring on the first Sunday of the month at Imagine Nation Brewing Company.

Each month a curator will present, perform, discuss, and/or share from 6:00-6:30pm. From 6:30-8:00pm, participants are encouraged and invited to partake in group improvisations. The curator may set a theme for these improvisations.

I am thrilled to be kicking off these sessions with a demonstration by the Missoula Conduction Experiment – a multi-generational group of Missoula musicians spanning an array of backgrounds in music. We will play a short set of improvisations created through Conduction – a method of using signals to construct or modify sound in real time developed by Butch Morris.

I have had the pleasure of playing in a band for the last 6 years that uses Conduction. I love the feeling of having to stay on my toes, keep listening, and jump in to serve the music at any given moment in any given role as indicated by the Conductor. There is an inherent interplay and trust between conductor and improviser.

Conduction has a way of fostering an environment of immediate intentionality, of playing without judgment, of playing without planning out what you’re going to play ahead of time, of playing and listening. With less time to think, it can be easier to just play with conviction. To participate. To add to the music the best you can within the parameters of the given signal. It takes away a few of the decisions of when and how to play.

Group Norms for the Session.

Listening. Listening. Listening.

Take risks

Play your truth and trust your voice

No fixing

Experience discomfort

Listening to the group

For these sessions, let’s be inspired by Conduction by committing to listening, jumping in with conviction to serve the music, and being aware of what’s happening with the whole group.

The FreeSessions is a space to create and interact with other musicians in new ways. It is a place to experiment. It is a place listen, play with conviction, and let the pieces of music be how they are without judgment. This is an invitation to try something new, to play something you’ve never played before, to practice listening like you’re hearing things for this first time.

We will have a drum set, amps, and a keyboard available. For folks who play those kinds of instruments, all you have to do is bring your sticks, guitar, bass, fingers and so forth.

More from Naomi Siegel, the curator

I was introduced to Conduction in 2011 by Wayne Horvitz, who learned directly from Butch Morris – the principle theorist and practitioner in the evolution of Conduction. I’ve been a member of Wayne’s Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble for the last 6 years where we use Conduction in conjunction with written big band music. In this ensemble I have had the pleasure of playing with many of Seattle’s most prolific and creative improvisers who add their own unique voices to the ensemble, as directed by Wayne the conductor.

Many of the folks in the Missoula Conduction Ensemble have been taking free improvisation classes with me on Monday nights, which has been a thoughtful and beautiful exploration into creating music together without preconceived notions of tempo, key, structure, harmony, melody, form, genre. Instead, we cast those elements to the side to put an emphasis on listening and intuitive creation. We become in tune with our breath and bodies before creating sound. We are interested in proactive listening and participation. We honor the silences just as much as the sounds. We play games and set limitations to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We practice listening, listening, listening. This class has been very much inspired by the work of Pauline Oliveros. I have been incredibly inspired by all the participants of this class to create in new ways.


Learn more about Conduction from Butch Morris himself:


Pauline Oliveros: Listening as Activism


Conduction by Wayne Horvitz used in conjunction with written music.



Conduction by Tyshawn Sorey.