Primary Instrument: Sax, alto
John Berndt (born 1967) is a musician and organizer based in Baltimore, Maryland who is best known as an extended-technique experimental saxophonist and electronic musician. He participated in the second wave of the neoism cultural movement, the first wave having consisted of Monty Cantsin, Istvan Kantor, and Blaster Al Ackerman, amongst many others. Berndt's participation in Neoism began after the 1st eight Neoist Apartment Festivals (1980 to 1984) during the 64th International Neoist Apartment Festival in 1986 in Berlin and subsequently in the One Millionth in New York City in late 1988 and the 13th in Paris in 1994. Conceptual work by Berndt was shown at Documenta X, in Kassel, in 1997.
As the founder of, and a member of the Red Room -- a collective of artists and improvising musicians in the spirit of the Los Angeles Free Music Society that is now called The High Zero Foundation -- Berndt co-curates the Red Room experimental performance series, which has presented weekly events since 1996, as well as the High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music, a large annual improvised music festival begun in 1999 in Baltimore known for its qualification that improvising performers play in ad-hoc groups organized specifically for the festival. This group became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, High Zero Foundation, in 2001.
Berndt is the musical creator of the Relabi style. He is also director of the Multiphonic Choir, Second Nature improvising orchestra, and performance-art group Geodesic Gnome.
In 2009, The Emily Harvey Foundation in NYC held a retrospective show of Berndt's visual, language, audio and installation work. A festival of Berndt's music including collaborations with Elliot Sharp, Peter Zummo, Katt Hernandez, and Second Nature was held concurrently.]
Berndt runs the Recorded record label which has issued twenty-three CDs of experimental music, including several discs by Berndt's collaborator Henry Flynt. Recorded was the first CD publisher of the music of Henry Flynt, issuing four CDs of his music to date.
--Gordon Marshall, AllAboutJazz