Empty Cage Quartet

This show is available online here (click on individual tracks at right) and on DVD directly from Downtown Music Gallery.

Jason Mears


Mears is a saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, improviser, and educator from Alaska.  He has a BFA in Music Education from Boston University and a MFA in African-American Improvisational Music from California Institute of the Arts.  He has studied with Wadada Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, Harvey Pittel, and many others. 


Most recently, Mears has been in the Empty Cage Quartet, Harris Eisenstadt’s The Soul and Gone, and Vinny Golia’s Music for Like Instruments, among other projects.  He has made a lot of collaborations with Allen Glass and Miyuki Kobayashi.  He has also performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Frank Gratkowski, Phillip Greenlief, and many more.  Mears has recorded on the Nine Winds, 482, and pfMENTUM labels.  Currently, he is living outside of Tokyo, Japan.


Kris Tiner


Tiner is a trumpet player, composer, and improviser.  His music is very inventive and he has a unique voice.  He has performed at various venues and festivals throughout the US, Europe, and West Africa.  He has appeared on over 35 recordings.  His projects have been released on the Clean Fee, pfMENTUM, Nine Winds, and Evander Music labels. 


Not only he has recorded music for radio, television, and motion pictures, his trumpet has also been heard collaborating with dance, poetry, visual art, film, and animation.  Primarily, he does a duo with Mike Baggetta called TIN/BAG.  He is a member of the Industrial Jazz Group and the Los Angeles Trumpet Quartet.


He has also collaborated with Vinny Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, and many more.  Being from California, Tiner went to the California Institute of the Arts and received an MFA in Africa-American Improvisational Music.  He has lectured on music and visual art and is currently directing the jazz program while teaching courses in jazz and American popular music at Bakersfield College.


Ivan Johnson


Ivan Johnson is from Los Angeles, California.  In 2003, Johnson completed his BFA degree at the California Institute of the Arts.  He studied chamber music, jazz, composition, theory and arranging.  He has also studied contrabass with Charlie Haden, Darek Oles, and Peter Rofe.  He has performed all over the US with various ensembles and made his solo debut at the 2003 Athens Music Festival in Georgia. 


He is a musician on the progressive music scene and has premiered compositions by Marc Lowenstein, Vinny Golia, Mark Menzies, and many others.  He is currently in the Lian Ensemble, Dark Wing, and the Nate Lapointe band.  Johnson is the head of the jazz program at Oakwood High School in Los Angeles and has co-founded the Academy of Creative Music. 


He was recently the Assistant Music Director for the world premiere of “The Peach Blossom Fan.”  Johnson has been an Artist in Residence at Stanford University and has performed music by Brian Ferneyhough and Mark Applebaum.  He has recently premiered his own opera, “Lucid Dreams” with Ethan Gruska.


Paul Kikuchi


Paul is a percussionist, composer, and instrument maker from Indianola, WA.  He holds degrees in music from Bennington College and the California Institute of the Arts.  He studied there with Milford Graves, Wadada Leo Smith, and Vinny Golia.  His current project is the Empty Cage Quartet, but he is also a member of other bands, like Seattle’s Orkestar Zirkonium.  


He has collaborated with musicians like Marilyn Crispell, Daniel Carter, Paul Plimley, and Gregg Keplinger.  He has performed at many festivals such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Earshot Jazz Festival.  He is also a music teacher and he has been recently incorporating learning methods and somatic awareness into his teaching.  Currently, he is teaching at the Art Institute of Seattle, Academy of Creative Education, and West Sound Academy.  He is now living in Seattle, WA.