Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
Asphalt Orchestra is a radical new street band that brings ambitious processional music to the mobile masses. Created by the founders of the “relentlessly inventive” new music presenter Bang on a Can (Justin Davidson, NY Magazine), Asphalt Orchestra unleashes innovative music from concert halls, rock clubs and jazz basements and takes it to the streets.
With movement direction from internationally acclaimed choreographers Susan Marshall and Mark DeChiazza and costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy, the 12-member band brings together some of the most exciting rock, jazz and classical players in New York City: Jessica Schmitz (piccolo), Alex Hamlin, Peter Hess and Ken Thomson (saxophones), Shane Endsley and Stephanie Richards (trumpets), Jen Baker and Alan Ferber (trombones), Kenny Bentley (sousaphone), Sunny Jain, Nick Jenkins and Yuri Yamashita (percussion), who The New York Times have called “12 top-notch brass and percussion players.”
Asphalt Orchestra’s debut performances stretched 5 packed nights at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival and one afternoon at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station in August 2009. Since then they have traveled throughout the US and abroad performing music by pop wizard Björk, jazz legend Charles Mingus, rock progressive Frank Zappa, Brazilian iconoclast songwriter Tom Zé, Zimbabwean provocateur Thomas Mapfumo, Swedish metal band Meshuggah, and new pieces written for the band by David Byrne and Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Yoko Ono, Goran Bregovic, Tyondai Braxton (Battles), and Stew and Heidi Rodewald (Broadway and Spike Lee’s Passing Strange).
Featured on the cover of The Philadelphia Inquirer as “not your mother’s marching band,” Asphalt Orchestra has also been praised in The Economist, New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Onion, and Time Out New York, as well as interviewed and showcased on WNYC’s “Soundcheck,” Philadelphia Weekly, PBS SundayArts, and Time Out New York’s “The Volume.”
Asphalt Orchestra’s debut album was released in August 2010 by Cantaloupe Music. The group is co-directed by Ken Thomson and Jessica Schmitz.