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Tony Barba

  • Arts + Literature Laboratory 2021 Winnebago Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

The Madison sax-electronics experimenter offers a look at his evolving solo music. Info


If you go out to see live jazz in Madison with any regularity, you'll likely see a whole lot of Tony Barba, who plays saxophone and/or bass clarinet with a slew of local artists including Golpe Tierra, Immigré, Mama Digdown's Brass Band, Barbacoa, and Youngblood Brass Band. He's also recorded or played live with artists including Bon Iver, The Mountain Goats, and Makaya McCraven. It is safe to say that Barba is a versatile collaborator, but he deserves just as much attention for the improvisational solo work he's been pursuing over the past few years with sax and a sparse chain of effects and loop pedals.

On the 2016 album Winter's Arms, Barba is in good company with other contemporary reeds-plus-electronics explorers like Lea Bertucci and Jonah Parzen-Johnson, crafting meditative pieces that have more affinity with ambient music than with jazz, but still pulse with clear melodic themes and delicate harmonic shading. When he's playing live in this mode, Barba still manages to have the presence of a live jazz improviser, balancing careful electronic manipulation with the unaffected warmth of, well, a sax in a small room.

At this afternoon performance, Barba will offer a look at what's to come for his solo work. He has a new setup, swapping out his effects pedals for Ableton Live software and MIDI controllers, and recently received a Greater Madison Jazz Consortium grant to support the expansion of his solo work. He is planning a new solo album for release sometime in 2019. This show is part of a locally focused series curated by Madison saxophonist/composer Anders Svanoe; admission is a $5 suggested donation, and there will be free samosas. —Scott Gordon