Klaxon Mutant Allstars Evolve

Catch their newly arranged greatest ’80s hits in Berkeley at the CJC.


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The electroacoustic quintet is back with more tunes after hibernating for 2017.

Photo courtesy Porto Franco Records

Buffeted by the prevailing vicissitudes and responsibilities faced by so many mid-career artists in the Bay Area, the Klaxon Mutant Allstars hunkered down for much of 2017 and bided their time. Featuring a bevy of the region’s most inventive improvisers, the acclaimed ensemble earned a cult following after emerging in 2011 from the Mission district bar Amnesia, where drummer Eric Garland led a Wednesday night jam session.

As the regular personnel took shape with saxophonist Kasey Knudsen, trumpeter Henry Hung, keyboardist Colin Hogan, and bassist George Ban-Weiss (later Sam Bevan), the crafty electro-acoustic quintet honed a repertoire of zingy original tunes that careened in unpredictable directions.

But last year the Klaxons seemed muffled as their performances evaporated. Turns out the Mutants were undergoing the kinds of evolution humans often face. Garland welcomed a baby daughter into the world. Hung took on several public school gigs teaching music. Bevan moved to New York City, and Knudsen decamped for her native Sonoma to teach at Sonoma State (she’s back in Oakland now).

After a period of apparent hibernation, however, the Mutants are back and working on a new body of music with the support of a grant from InterMusic San Francisco.

Joined by veteran bassist Jonathan Herrera, they introduce the material Tue., Oct. 16, at the California Jazz Conservatory. The music was gathered during the Klaxons’ time travels, which involved a residency at the seminal Downtown club CBGBs in the 1980s, where various new wave acts heard their music and adopted it as their own. Undaunted by this pilferage, they’re reclaiming the songs with new arrangements they bill as their greatest hits from the ’80s.

Tue., Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m., $20, California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley, 510-845-5373, CJC.org.

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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