NuVoid Jazz

Artists

RODGER COLEMAN & SAM BYRD

Rodger Coleman began piano lessons at the age of seven, eventually studying for eight years with Dr. Allen Brings, composer and professor of music at Queens College of the City University of New York. In school, he studied clarinet and other woodwinds under the direction of Gary Sousa and sang in the choir. At the New England Conservatory of Music, Rodger studied “Third Stream” music with Ran Blake, Hankus Netsky and Bob Moses. After falling in love with punk rock, Rodger picked up the electric guitar, taking lessons with Mick Goodrick and experimenting with fellow students in a punk/jazz hybrid that would eventually become UYA (a/k/a Upstanding Young Americans). With the arrival of drummer, Sam Byrd, they became a real band, playing late-night gigs in Boston nightclubs.

Sam, then a librarian at MIT, taught himself to play drums in 1969 and was a member of several ensembles in and around Richmond, Virginia, including the mutable collective Tad Thaddock and the short-lived Office Ladies, who made an album for the New Alliance label, Brains in Bed Brains and Boots No Boots in Bed, in 1989. With Sam on board, UYA proceeded to record their self-titled CD, which was nominated for a Boston Music Award in 1991. They performed regularly around the Boston area as well as in New York City, including several gigs at the Knitting Factory and a shared bill with the nascent Medeski Martin & Wood at (now defunct) The Cooler. While a follow up album failed to materialize, UYA’s punk/jazz rendition of Sun Ra’s “Dancing Shadows” appears on Wavelength Infinity: A Tribute To Sun Ra and is still available on Rastascan Records.

After the band split apart, Rodger and his wife moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he took a job at the Wilson Music Library at Vanderbilt University and re-discovered the piano. Currently, he works as a Certified Paralegal and occasionally makes music in his home studio in Kingston Springs.  A passionate record collector, Rodger also writes about music “and other good stuff” on his blog, NuVoid.blogspot.com and for the website Spectrum Culture. Sam returned to Richmond with his wife and two children and is currently the Digital Collections Systems Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University. He also continues to be an in-demand drummer, playing with local ensembles New Loft, Joyful Noise Big Band and the Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra. He has also performed with the Sun Ra Arkestra’s legendary saxophonists, Marshall Allen and Danny Ray Thompson. Coincidentally, Sam’s wife has family in Nashville and, once a year or so, he and Rodger are able to get together and make music. Some of this music is available at the Internet Archive.

On September 6, 2012, Rodger and Sam performed in public together for the first time since 1995 at “Indeterminacies,” a semi-regular event hosted by Zeitgeist Gallery in Nashville. More than a concert, the “Indeterminacies” series seeks to draw the performers and audience into a dialogue, with a moderator (in this case, Vanderbilt professor Stan Link) leading a wide-ranging discussion about aesthetics, philosophy, practice and reception. The music on this evening was recorded by Brian Totoro and mastered by Grammy Award winning engineer, Richard Dodd, and has now been released as Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums) on  NuVoid Jazz Records. The three extended tracks are intense, intimate and honest. As Rodger writes in his liner notes, this is “music as seismograph…our long shared musical history has built up the trust and affection which allows us to telepathically communicate our most personal, inchoate thoughts and feelings in an unmediated, free improvisation.”