Jon Taylor’s Beam Songs
Beam Songs is a new project of original music led by drummer-composer Jon Taylor. Jon’s collaborators on the project are bassist Ben Willis, saxophonist Tim Haldeman and multireedist Peter Formanek. Using flexible compositions with modular forms, the band aims at a collectively constructed lattice-work of sound. There is a deep improvisational rapport and years-long collaborative associations between each member of the band, yet this performance marks the first meeting of this particular configuration.
Jon Taylor is a Detroit-based drummer, improviser, composer, and educator. A tireless collaborator, he co-leads a number of original projects including the electro acoustic duo Says Things, sound and movement ensemble Legs, art rock quartet saajtak, and his own quintet of original music, Mover. He has performed alongside such luminaries of creative music as Wadada Leo Smith, Dave Liebman, Michael Formanek, and Jaribu Shahid, and is a founding member of Polyfold, a musical arts’ collective. His compositions have been described as “a balance between form and freedom” and “music for the head and heart” (All About Jazz). He received his BFA in 2013 from the University of Michigan where he studied with Geri Allen, Andrew Bishop, Mark Kirschenmann, Sean Dobbins, and Evan Chambers.
Ben Willis is a bassist, improviser, and composer. His omnivorous approach to music has led him to perform alongside members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Wolf Eyes, and the Violent Femmes. An avid collaborator, he has often worked with movement and multimedia artists in experiential performances. He is currently working as a composer/performer with Detroit-based immersive theater troupe Nerve. In the past, he has developed original work for Madison, WI’s Cycropia and Li Chiao-Ping dance companies, and collaborated on a video piece with legendary dancer Sally Gross and video artist Doug Rosenberg. Over the past several years, he has distilled hours of bass improvisations into a set of solo double bass pieces. In 2015, he self-released these pieces as the album Egret/Flatlander, and presented them at the International Society of Bassists New Music Summit, curated by Mark Dresser. Through the summer and fall of 2016, he was an Artist in Residence through Spread Art @detroit Contemporary, where he focused on developing new solo and ensemble works.
He is a member of the Wisconsin-based band Lovely Socialite, and the Detroit-based band saajtak, as well as working, recording, and performing as a sideman and collaborator with dozens of artists. He was an Artist in Residence at Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society for the 2015-2016 season, and has presented his original work at the International Society of Improvised Music, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Electronic Music Midwest, and as a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival. He earned his BM from University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he studied bass with Richard Davis, and his MM from University of Michigan, where he studied bass and chamber music with Diana Gannett and Robert Hurst, improvisation with Ed Sarath and Mark Kirschenmann, and composition with Andrew Bishop.
Saxophonist Tim Haldeman lives in Ann Arbor where he leads several groups of his own and performs and records with a wide variety of local bands and musicians. He’s also a member of Mike Reed’s People Places and Things and other Chicago projects. At last year’s A2 JAZZ FEST Tim presented a highly evocative and compelling project titled Open Water, As a Child. This project was conceived as a prayer for the children and people affected by the water crisis in Flint Michigan.
Peter Formanek is an improvising multi-woodwind performer, composer, educator, and a lifelong student of music. Hailing from Baltimore, he recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Still, he’s been studying music with a PhD-level teacher his whole life – his father, Michael Formanek. His recent senior recital at Kerrytown Concert House drew a wide audience, but also proved he’s a “musician’s musician” with a number of projects featuring established Detroit area heroes Tim Flood, Andrew Bishop, and Piotr Michalowski, as well as up-and-coming musical collaborators Cory Tripathy, Tristan Cappel, Christopher Tabaczynski, Ben Willis, Jon Taylor, Kenji Lee, and more.