Bands & Projects 

I've been working in the Boston jazz and improvised music scene since the mid 1980s. Here's a selection of current bands and recent projects -- Pocket Aces, Eric Hofbauer Quintet, Explorers Club, and solo drumset -- with media samples, plus a few fave selections from groups no longer active.

Pocket Aces

Eric Hofbauer - guitar / Aaron Darrell - bass / Curt Newton - drumset

Pocket Aces is a cooperative trio which took shape as the rhythm section in the Charlie Kohlhase Explorers Club, and stepped out on its own in 2014. Some pieces and entire performances are entirely improvised, while others use prepared original compositions and judicious covers. Our first studio recording Cull the Heard was released (CD & digital) in September 2018.

This concert video was recorded shortly after the Cull The Heard session:

Charlie Kohlhase Explorers Club

Charlie Kohlhase - alto, tenor, bari saxophone / Seth Meicht - tenor saxophone / Daniel Rosenthal - trumpet and flugelhorn / Josiah Reibstein - tuba / Eric Hofbauer - guitar / Aaron Darrell - bass / Curt Newton - drumset

Performing original compositions, mostly by Charlie plus a few by other group members, as well as tunes by such luminaries as John Tchicai, Makanda Ken McIntyre, and Elmo Hope. We have regular gigs the 3rd Thursday of every month at Outpost 186, Cambridge; and the 4th Wednesday of alternate months at the Lilypad, Cambridge.

Eric Hofbauer Quintet

Eric Hofbauer - guitar and arrangements / Todd Brunel - clarinets / Jerry Sabatini - trumpet / Junko Fujiwara - cello / Curt Newton - drumset

The Eric Hofbauer Quintet explores the some of the 20th century's most compelling concert-hall compositions in a stripped down acoustic jazz configuration, through Hofbauer's radical and sublime arrangements. Formed originally in 2013 to mark the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, the group has also recorded Messiaen’s Quartet For The End Of Time, Charles Ives’ Three Places in New England, and most recently Duke Ellington's Reminiscing in Tempo, a rare long-form through-composed piece from 1935.

Noted historian and writer Kevin Whitehead defines the group's music as "less about jazzing the classics than situating the last century’s classical music and classic jazz in the same modernist continuum.”


Pandelis Karayorgis - piano / Jeb Bishop - trombone / Seth Meicht - tenor saxophone / Jef Charland - bass / Curt Newton - drumset

Solo Percussion

I've been doing one-off solo drumset performances every few years since the mid-1990s.  It's simultaneously invigorating, deeply satisfying and uniquely terrifying to step out of the sideman role and completely own the sonic space for 30-45 minutes at a crack. It gels what's most central to my playing at that moment, and pushes me way beyond the comfort of the familiar and reliable. I'm inspired by the solo work of Max Roach, Anthony Braxton, Gerry Hemingway, Nate Wooley, Ken Vandermark, and Eric Hofbauer.

Here's a recording from one of my first solo shows (1997): a drumset adaptation of Witold Lutoslawski's landmark String Quartet.

Drum duos are also a favorite thing. Eric Rosenthal and I have a 2-years-running annual tradition of a March drum duo set followed by an improvised set with one or more instrumental guests.

Other Projects 

Some of these play in occasional bursts of activity; others are on hiatus, hibernating, status uncertain.

Ken Vandermark was the first musician I met when I moved to the Boston area in 1986, and the group Lombard Street Trio with Ken was my first foray into creative improvised music. After Ken moved to Chicago in 1989, we maintained a series of collaborations into the early 2000s (duo, trios, and more - see Discography) . After a long hiatus (12 years?), in July 2017 we reunited in Chicago for this trio with Fred Lonberg-Holm:


Matchbox: with Jorrit Dijkstra - alto saxophone, lyricon / Pandelis Karayorgis - piano / Nate McBride - bass


Time and Materials: duo with Nate McBride - bass


Dave Bryant Septet and small groups: Dave Bryant - keyboards / Tom Hall - tenor saxophone / Neil Leonard - alto saxophone & electronics / Jeff Song - cello / Jacob William - bass / Eric Rosenthal & Curt Newton - drums & percussion

Kilter: duo improvisations with Steve Norton on all manner of saxophones and clarinets

The Outnumbered: with Jason Robinson and Charlie Kohlhase - saxophones / Josh Rosen - piano / Bruno Råberg - bass  

And finally, this 2016 tour with The Whammies and special guest Jaap Blonk:


The Archives

These groups are no longer active, but have been particularly important in my musical development.

  • mi3: with Pandelis Karayorgis - piano & Fender Rhodes / Nate McBride - bass
  • Tripleplay: with Ken Vandermark - reeds / Nate McBride - bass
  • Nate McBride Quartet: with Charlie Kohlhase - saxophones / Taylor Ho Bynum - cornet / Nate McBride - bass
  • Trio Ex Nihilo: with Taylor Ho Bynum - cornet / Jeff Song - cello
  • Central Artery Project: with Chris Allen - trombone / Charlie Kohlhase - saxophones / Chang U Choi - bass 
  • Debris: with Steve Norton - reeds / Jeff Hudgins - saxophones / Arthor Weinstein - guitar / Bob Ross - bass
  • Joe Morris Trio: with Joe Morris - guitar / Nate McBride - bass

Check out Discography for more.