Jeff Sackmann is a composer, saxophonist, and bandleader with an embarrasing affection for bubblegum pop.

In an effort to create serious music for his 15-piece jazz orchestra, Oy Christina!, he has combined baroque fugue with Justin Timberlake, introduced serialism to Eminem, and spiced up dance mixes with Coltrane changes. For his trio Single White Female, among others, he has written several dozen pieces for small jazz ensemble that occasionally bridge the gap between chamber music and traditional combo playing.

As a saxophonist, Jeff spent several months performing with Clyde Stubblefield, the original funky drummer. He plays with a variety of rock bands in New York City and spent three years as the music director for the swing band Little Red and the Howlers.

Hailing originally from Spokane,Washington, he spent his undergraduate years at New York University, did graduate work in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,and studied music at Berklee.

Rhys Chatham Returns

All of us have had one or two formative new music experiences that, if nothing else, keep us going to concerts to see new works, composers, and bands we'd never heard of. My love for minimalism really took off when I saw a performance of Steve Reich's Tehillim. I'd only heard Music for 18 Musicians before, and I was simply blown away. To some extent, every time I go to a show, I hope it'll be as good as that. (Lucky for me: last February's premiere of Michael Gordon's "Who By Water") was indeed that good.)

The second of my two mind-blowing new music experiences was last March, when Rhys Chatham came to town. Fortunately, I had recently read Kyle Gann's book of collected columns, so I knew a little about Chatham, but had never heard his music, just that he was mildly Branca-esque.

I wish I could explain how incredibly f'ing cool it is to hear several guitars play one note to a rock beat for fifteen minutes. Either you get it or you don't--though it's a lot easier to get it if those guitars are in the room with you, at a volume just barely below the threshhold at which you'd have to leave.

If you've never heard Chatham's Guitar Trio, do yourself a favor: go to his MySpace page and listen to it. Turn the volume up as high as it'll go, but understand that this is music that simply must be heard live.

As my title suggests, Chatham is back in the US. (He's lived in France for years.) He's touring with a band called "Essentialist" playing "drone metal" ...basically doing to metal what he originally did for rock. I saw Essentialist in Philadelphia on Friday night--the music doesn't pack quite the visceral thrill that the 1970s compositions do, but it's still endlessly interesting.

If you're in New York, you can hear Chatham's new band at Tonic (along with offerings from Phil Niblock and Tony Conrad) Thursday night. Better still, Chatham is playing his 70s music at the Issue Project Room this evening. Perhaps I'll see you there.