featuring GARY LUCAS, arranged and conducted by PHILLIP JOHNSTON


Gary Lucas guitar
Oren Bloedow bass
Billy Ficca drums
Phillip Johnston alto, soprano saxophone
Ron Horton trumpet
Chris Washburne trombone
Bob DeBellis baritone saxophone

Our tentative plan for the repertoire is to be drawn from the whole range of Beeheartiana:

Repertoire will be drawn from this Tentative Songlist: Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do, Abba Zaba (Safe As Milk); Kandy Korn, Gimme Dat Harp Boy, Mirror Man (Strictly Personal); Steal Softly Thru Snow, Veteran's Day Poppy, Sugar 'N' Spikes, Ant Man Bee, When Big Joan Sets Up (TroutmaskReplica); Smithsonian Institute Blues (Lick My Decals Off, Baby); Click Clack, I'm Gonna Booglarize You, Baby, When It Blows Its Stacks (Spotlight Kid); Big Eyed Beans From Venus, Sun Zoom Spark, My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains, Nowadays a Woman, Blue Million Miles (Clear Spot); Hot Head, Run Paint Run (Doc At The Radar Station); When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mummy, Bat Chain Puller (Shiny Beast); The Past Sure Is Tense, The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O, Ice Cream For Crow (Ice Cream For Crow);
in addition Gary will perform some of the solo guitar pieces.

In February, we hope to complete a 4 song demo including Abba Zaba, Veteran's Day Poppy, Click Clack, and a solo version of Evening Bell. We will rehearse in the late winter and early spring, and be ready to do our first gigs in the late spring of 2001. We are now accepting bookings for Spring, Summer and Fall 2001.

Description of Music: The idea is to use the compositions of Don Van Vliet as a vehicle for improvisation and arranging. The band contains steady crew of seasoned improvisers from both the worlds of avante-garde jazz and rock, who will render the music in both a tribute and a creative adventure in improvising. I'm planning to use the horn section to take the place of the vocals, as well as transmute this guitar-based music into ensemble interplay, between horns and guitar and rhythm section.

Phillip Johnston statement: In about 1970 I heard my first Captain Beefheart tune, Ella Guru; it was one of the things that changed my life and made me want to do music. From the first concert of Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band that I heard (Ungano's Ritz Theater, in Staten Island). I was hooked, and I followed them somewhat fanatically for years. To this day I listen to my same LP of Troutmaskreplica regularly, and it's still just as amazing. Although my main musical interests took me more often into the area of jazz, the music of Don Van Vliet remained a guiding principal throughout. I led a rock band, called the Public Servants in the early '80s, with Shelley Hirsch; and the tune "Pipeline" on my CD "The Needless Kiss" is my idea of a Captain Beefheart-influenced tune (and I say so in the liner notes). In much of the music I've written over the years, I see the guiding spirit of Don Van Vliet.

Now for the first time, after almost 30 years, having done re-arrangements and deconstructions of Raymond Scott, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, Steve Lacy, Herbie Nichols, and others, with my groups The Microscopic Septet & Big Trouble, I've gotten together with my friend Gary Lucas, to do something with the music of Captain Beefheart.

Gary Lucas statement: Seeing Don Van Vliet's NYC debut at Ungano's in '71 with a bunch of my Yale buddies changed my life radically (and I'm still trying to recover!)--that night I vowed to myself that if I ever did anything in music it would be to play with this guy...and I got my wish in 1980 when I joined Captain Beefheart's merry Band as guest soloist (and manager by default)/ Over 4 years, 2 albums ("Doc at the Radar Station" and "Ice Cream for Crow", 1980 and 1982, Virgin Records), a world tour and video ("Ice Cream for Crow"), wrapping my fingers around 2 Van Vliet solo compositions ("Flavor Bud Living" and "Evening Bell") and a whole album as part of the Magic Band ("Ice Cream for Crow) was wonderful training for a career spent carving out my own niche in the post-modern music biz since Don chucked it all for a painting career in 1982. While my own music bares scant resemblance to his (I would never ever presume to emulate his singular approach) I feel that Van Vliet's sensibility and aesthetic definitely informs my guitar playing and overall worldview--it's like I went to Beefheart University.

Sidemen bios:

Ron Horton (trumpet) has recorded and/or performed for Andrew Hill, Jane Ira Bloom, Ben Allison, Frank Kimbrough, Ted Nash, Michael Blake, Allan Chase, Jon Gordon,Andy Laster, Mick Rossi, Phillip Johnston, Matt Wilson, Rez Abbasi, Walter Thompson, John McKenna, Peggy Stern and many others. Horton is currently a member of Hill's "Point of Departure" sextet and has been involved with the Jazz Composers Collective since its inception in 1992.His composing and arranging talents were highlighted on his debut CD,"Genius Envy" (Sept.1999), on OmniTone.

Chris Washburne (trombone) has performed with Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Muhal Richard Abrams, Ruben Blades, Roscoe Mitchell, Grady Tate, Jaki Byard, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Danilo Caymmi, Daniel Ponce, Ran Blake, Arturo Sandoval, Hilton Ruz, Lawrence "Butch" Morris, Anthony Braxton, John Cale, Baba Olatunje, Candido, Freddie Cole, Leslie Uggams, Dicapo Opera Company, Bang on a Can All- stars, Regis Philbin, and the Dinosaur Annex under the direction of Gunther Schuller. He is a regular performing member with the Boston Art Quartet (BAQ) Jazz group, RMM Allstar Salsa Band, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, SEM Ensemble, Walter Thompson Big Band, American Microtonal Festival Chamber Orchestra, Marie McAuliffe's Ark Sextet, Dadadah, The Last of the International Playboy's, and leader of S.Y.O.T.O.S., a Latin jazz group that features his original compositions. They recently released their first CD, "Nuyorican Night."

Bob DeBellis (baritone saxophone) has performed, recorded and/or toured with Mongo Santamaria, Muhal Richard Abrams, Don Byron, Bobby Previte, Wayne Horvitz, Pat Irwin, and John Adams.

Oren Bloedow (bass) is a guitarist, singer and bassist who co-leads the group Elysian Fields. Their CD, "Queen of the Meadow", is currently enjoying it's fifth week in the top ten of the U.S. college charts. Oren just returned from a U.S. tour playing guitar with the phenomenally successful instrumental trio Medeski, Martin & Wood. His other & previous credits include Phillip Johnston's Idea, Gary Lucas's Gods & Monsters, the Lounge Lizards, Foetus, Chocolate Genius, Otis Rush, Jewel and others too numerous to mention.

Billy Ficca (drums) is best know as a founding member of the seminal punk band, Television, and The Waitresses.

Contact info:

Luigi Santosuosso -

Phillip Johnston -

Gary Lucas -