Lisa Mezzacappa

Lisa Mezzacappa, 2015
Artist in Residence, 2006

A person playing an upright bass.

Project Description

During my Headlands Alumni New Works residency, I will be developing new music for Glorious Ravage, a “panoramic free jazz song cycle” that will premiere in fall 2015 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  The work features a large ensemble of California improvising musicians performing my music in dialogue with visual material commissioned from San Francisco Bay Area experimental filmmakers. Glorious Ravage is inspired by the adventures and writings of lady explorers of the 19th century who trekked to the wildest parts of the earth, to escape, to discover and to lose themselves. Part of my residency will involve private research and composing work, and another part will be collaborative rehearsal and workshop time.  I will host a core group of musicians, plus my filmmaker collaborators, for intensive periods of experimentation and rehearsal at Headlands, to refine the musical compositions and interact with rough cuts of the commissioned films to develop the work.

Artist Statement

I am a San Francisco Bay Area-based composer, acoustic bassist, bandleader and music curator.  An active collaborator and organizer in the Bay Area music community for more than a dozen years, I lead several of my own ensembles that perform my compositions, and perform regularly as a sideperson.  My music lives in the intersection of improvisation and composition, and is influenced by the approaches and values of the African American jazz avant-garde, contemporary Western chamber music, and American vernacular and popular music.  I work closely with the musicians in my ensembles to create new languages and structures for us to explore together, integrating each player’s unique voice as an improviser into compositions that embrace texture and abstraction as much as song and groove; delicate transparency as well as rowdy collectivity. Collaboration with artists from other disciplines is a critical aspect of my creative process, and I often create projects with installation artists, filmmakers and videos artists for gallery shows, live cinema events and public art interventions.

Alumni New Works is a project-based award program that supports the cutting edge contemporary creative practices of Headlands Alumni, and provides impactful resources toward the development and completion of a project.

Selected Work

Specter (excerpt), 2014 from Lisa Mezzacappa on Vimeo.

Lisa Mezzacappa Trio featuring Fay Victor: Make No Plans from Lisa Mezzacappa on Vimeo.