In March of 2022, theBig Ears Festival made its triumphant return, and this year there were over a dozen Audeze Artists performing or working with performers at this amazing festival! Below are some highlight photos featuring some of our artists making the world a better place through their work.
Before we get to that, we need to acknowledge two major benefactors who made this possible: Ashley Capps and David Breskin. Audeze owes both of them a debt of gratitude for their continual support and arts patronage.
And now, a brief tour of the festival in chronological order through the Audeze lens. Audeze Artists will be highlighted with links to their interviews.
Thursday March 24th
Ron Saint Germain and his LCD-XCs with his recording setup backstage for the Trefoil trio soundcheck.
Ron Saint Germain backstage with his LCD-XCs at the Trefoil trio performance.
Ron Saint Germain's LCD-XCs with his recording setup backstage
Note that cameras were not allowed during the Trefoil performances, so we have no images of Ambrose Akinmusire, Kris Davis and Gerald Cleaver's free improvisations from the front of the venue.
Also not pictured is Dan Weiss' Starebaby: Dan Weiss (drums, compositions), Ben Monder (guitars), Trevor Dunn (electric bass), Craig Taborn (keyboards, piano), Matt Mitchell (keyboards, piano) fusing heavy rock riffs with jazz dexterity and complexity.
The Craig Taborn Trio: Craig Taborn (piano and electronics), Tomeka Reid (amplified cello), Ches Smith (drums and percussion) melt ears and hearts with a new emotional roller coaster of composition/improvisation.
Kris Davis' Diatom Ribbons: Kris Davis (piano), Trevor Dunn (bass), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), Val Jeanty (turntables) meld the avant-garde with deep grooves and soundscapes. (photo by Chelsea Hadley)
The Julian Lage Trio: Julian Lage (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), Kenny Wolleson (drums) rip up the jazz guitar playbook.
Brian Blade (drums), Bill Frisell (guitar), Jason Moran (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass) perform the music and celebrate the life of trumpeter/composer Ron Miles in an emotional performance that brought the entire audience to tears– and to their feet for a standing ovation. (photo by Chelsea Hadley)
Mdou Moctar: Mikey Coltun (bass), Mdou Moctar (lead guitar), Souleymane Ibrahim (drums), Ahmoudou Madassane (rhythm guitar) rock the house with a searing set of Tuareg Blues-rock.
Saturday March 26th
John Zorn's Meditations on the Tarot: Brian Marsella (piano), Trevor Dunn (bass), Kenny Wolleson (drums) play an exciting set of Zorn originals that run the full dynamic spectrum.
Ches Smith's We All Break Ensemble: Sirene Dantor Rene (vocals), Miguel Zenón (alto saxophone), Matt Mitchell (piano), Nick Dunston (bass), Daniel Brevil (tanbou and vocals), Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene (tanbou and vocals), Markus Schwartz (tanbou and vocals), Ches Smith (drums, percussion and vocals) play and sing their way closer to heaven.
John Zorn's Songs for Petra: Petra Haden (vocals), Jesse Harris (acoustic guitar and vocals), Jorge Roeder (bass), Kenny Wolleson (drums), Julian Lage (electric guitar) play classics from the Zorn catalog and some tunes written just for Petra.
Marc Urselli at the mixing board in the Bijou Theater, where most of the John Zorn performances took place. Marc was the Front Of House engineer for all the Zorn shows.
Jaimie Branch's Fly Or Die: Jaimie Branch (trumpet and vocals, Rest In Peace), Jason Ajemian (bass), Chad Taylor (drums), Lester St. Louis (cello) make some beautiful noise with a fat backbeat.
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society: Joshua Abrams (guimbri), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Lisa Alvarado (harmonium), Mikel Avery (drums) float their way across the clouds with an hour-and-a-quarter set to close out the night.
Late night shenanigans with audio engineer Marc Urselli and Audeze Artist Relations guru Chris Berens in downtown Knoxville. Many electric scooters were commandeered! (photo by Chelsea Hadley)
Sunday March 27th
The Bill Frisell Trio: Bill Frisell (guitar), Thomas Morgan (bass), Brian Blade (drums) cast a spell over the audience with their signature brand of mellow but engaging jazz. This set was beautifully engineered by Claudia Engelhart.
John Zorn's Heaven and Earth Magick: Stephen Gosling (piano), Sae Hashimoto (vibraphone), Jorge Roeder (bass), Ches Smith (drums and percussion) amaze with a set of 100% through-composed music that sounds fully improvised and explosive.
John Zorn's New Masada Quartet: John Zorn (alto saxophone), Julian Lage (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), Kenny Wolleson (drums) reinvent the famed Masada catalog with a brand new fire and verve.
John Zorn's New Electric Masada: John Zorn (alto saxophone), Julian Lage (guitar), Bill Frisell (guitar), John Medeski (Hammond organ), Ches Smith (drums), Trevor Dunn (bass), Kenny Wolleson (drums), Kenny Grohowski (percussion), Brian Marsella (Fender Rhodes) completely blow the roof off the festival with an unbelievable set of inventive tunes from the Masada songbook.
This marks Audeze's first foray into the world of Big Ears, and based on this year's festival it definitely won't be the last!