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CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE - photo credits (L to R): Katerina Evangelista, Carly Hoopes, Lauren Miyake (3 & 4)

Filipino-American guitarist/composer Karl Evangelista (b.1986) ranks among a new wave of creative musicians grounded in jazz, 20th century experimentalism, and popular song, exploring the place of multiculturalism and ethnic co-existence in an increasingly post-cultural, trans-idiomatic cultural space. Signal to Noise magazine hails Evangelista as "one of the most original instrumentalists and composers of his generation," and as the creative force behind boundary breaking group Grex, Evangelista has been called "essential current-and-future listening," his music "a near-seamless blend of modern jazz, contemporary structuralist composition, indie rock, and blues rock” (Tiny Mix Tapes). This complex, powerful aesthetic fosters an “otherworldly experience” that is “completely original” (Eugene Weekly).

Evangelista has explored the possibilities of intercultural dialogues across a vast spectrum of academic and professional situations. Evangelista has worked in a wide variety of ensembles with or under the direction of, among others, Achyutan (Marvin Patillo), Scott Amendola, Tatsu Aoki, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), India Cooke, Fred Frith, Eddie Gale, Ben Goldberg, Matthew Goodheart, Phillip Greenlief, Jong Jang, Darren Johnston, Lewis Jordan, Oliver Lake, Myra Melford, Hafez Modirzadeh, Bill Noertker, James Norton, Zeena Parkins, John-Carlos Perea, Gino Robair, Daniel Schmidt, Marcus Shelby, Aram Shelton, David Slusser, Damon Smith, Karen Stackpole, Moe Staiano, Melody Takata, Wayne Wallace, and AIR co-founder Francis Wong, and has performed in new arrangements of works by Luciano Chessa, Christian Jendreiko, Polly Moller, AACM co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams, and Art Ensemble of Chicago co-founder Roscoe Mitchell. Evangelista’s interest in fostering cross-cultural musical dialogues has also led to grant-based research (’08) on the Blue Notes, a group of South African exile musicians (paper presented at the Guelph Jazz Festival, ’08), multiple guest lectures at UC Berkeley, and continued work at the community-based East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. Via Asian Improv aRts, Evangelista was awarded a 2011 Zellebach Grant for the composition of Taglish, a suite centered on Filipino-American culture; an album of the composition was successfully funded via Kickstarter and released in late 2012. Evangelista holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from UC Berkeley (’06) and an MFA in Improvised Music from Mills College (’09).

"True Genre Warping music..." (KFJC)

"Evangelista is quite a versatile guitarist... fast-paced and virtuosic" (CatSynth)

"[Karl Evangelista and Grex take] their cue from farther back, when art-college-gestated bands like Genesis and Henry Cow were musically voracious, ridiculously intense, and technically adventurous." (Foxy Digitalis)

"The striking thing about [Evangelista's musc] was its stubborn refusal to eschew any element in favor of another... Each offered with a headlong creative urge that made the unexpected turns and sequences into a joyful expression." (HurdAudio)

Artist's Statement

My music speaks to the notion that life is inextricably connected to art, and that one’s experiences both shape and partly determine the nature of an individual’s creative perspective. I arrived at this conception as a Filipino American deeply engaged with the culture and history of jazz and improvised music; I grew up enmeshed in dualities, raised as a Filipino in America, learning to love art that was generated by “foreign” cultures--African American, African, and European. Ultimately, I’ve found my musical voice in the interstices of my multicultural upbringing. My compositional and improvisational aesthetic blends jazz, rock, western art music, contemporary sound and “noise” based art, and Filipino folk melody into an aesthetic that is, like me, a unique amalgamation and summation of, as well as commentary on, its parts.

Most of my work over the past few years has involved developing environments for improvising musicians and musicians more versed in “closed” performance practices (e.g., pre-20th century “classical” repertoire and modern pop music) to fruitfully coexist in. This emphasis may be traced back to the genesis of my primary group, Grex--a collaboration between me and my wife, a formally trained classical pianist. Grex forced me to confront the technical limitations fostered by the “linguistic” disconnect between musicians from different backgrounds; in this case, my wife favored rhythmic complexity but was reluctant to improvise, whereas I leaned toward improvisation at the sacrifice of structural elements. Grex found a happy medium wherein each member adopted elements of the other’s style. This band was, and remains, a microcosm of my larger creative inquiry: how can one reconcile disparate elements, and at the same time create a unity that is greater than the sum of its parts?

If there is any value in my art, it is as a mode for how I wish to live in the world and, for that matter, as a model for emerging 21st century performance practices. I realized early on as a musician that, while I could never quite “be” the artists I admired, the art I was making through their example was itself an expression of my personhood. Similarly, though I could never be the the same sort of Filipino my parents are, I could carve out my own path and make it, quite possibly, something better. My music is not “eclectic” for the sole purpose of creating collage; rather, I draw from multiple influences as if they are colors on a paint palette, the final work both paying tribute to its source material and hoping to surpass those sources as something genuinely new and “apart” from them.

Principal Ensembles

Primary: Grex (w/M. Rei Scampavia & Robert Lopez, 2009-present), Karl Evangelista’s Song & Dance Trio (w/Cory Wright & Jordan Glenn, 2009-present), Host Family (w/Andrew Conklin, Jason Hoopes, & Jordan Glenn, 2007-2009)

Other Bands as Leader: Revenant (w/Michael Coleman, Tom Djll, Nava Dunkelman, etc., 2013-present), Ai-Ai (Grex w/Eli Wallce, Bob Ladue, and Jordan Glenn, 2012-present), Images: The Music of Sun Ra (w/Phillip Greenlief, David Boyce, Dan Clucas, Dominique Leone, Jordan Glenn, et al.), Swarm Intelligence (Grex w/Phillip Greenlief, Cory Wright, Dan Seamans, and Jordan Glenn), Dino Piranha (w/Phillip Greenlief, Noah Phillips, Bill Wolter, and Jordan Glenn, 2011-2012)

As a Sideman: Francis Wong Unit (2006-present), Lewis Jordan with Music at Large (2010-present), John-Carlos Perea Trio (2013-present), Cabbages, Captain, and King (w/Eli Wallace, Jon Arkin, 2013-present), Jordan Glenn's Mindless Thing (2012-present), Shaken Flesh (leader: Jordan Glenn, w/Rent Romus, Michael Coleman, 2012), Bob LaDue Band/DennyDennyBreakfast (2012-present), Papa Snap (leader: Alex Vittum, music of Fela Kuti, 2010-present), Eddie Gale Now Band (2010-2012)

Discography

Cabbages, Captain, and King (Edgetone Records, 2015)
Grex: Second Marriage (BRUX, 2014)
Jack O' the Clock: Night Loops (2014)
Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music: The Remake and Beyond (2014)
Karl Evangelista/Grex: Taglish (SUA, 2012/2013)
The $100 Guitar Project (Bridge Records, 2013)
Sam Ospovat: PIKI (2012)
Grex: Second Marriage (SUA, 2011)
Wiener Kids: What A Mess (2011)
Dino Piranha: Live at the Makeout Room (2011)
The Eddie Gale Inner Peace Orchestra: The Remake and Beyond of Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music (2011)
Grex: Live at Trinity Chapel (2011)
Karl Evangelista Trio: Live at Kingman’s Ivy Room (2010)
Jordan Glenn: Mama Long Legs (2010)
Lewis Jordan w/Music at Large (online only, 2010)
Grex: Live at Home (SUA, 2010)
Host Family: Dream Recess (2010)

Honors

Selection, New Frequencies Festival (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco), 2015
Selection, Switchboard Festivcal (San Francisco), 2014
Selection, APAture (A Window into the Art of Emerging Asian Pacific American Artists) Featured Artist (Music Category), 2013
Selection, 16th Annual United States of Asian America Festival (for Suite: Taglish), 2013
Selection, San Francisco Asian Heritage Street Celebration (for Suite: Taglish, 2013
Top Albums of the Year, Ni Kantu (for Grex: Second Marriage), 2012
Selection, Asian Improv aRts Spring Season (for Suite: Taglish), 2011
Zellerbach Foundation Grant (for Suite: Taglish), 2011
Top Albums of the Year, Ni Kantu (for Grex: Live at Home), 2012
Presenter, Guelph Jazz Festival, 2008
Chancellor's Award, for Accomplishment in Guitar (Mills College, 2009)
Albert I. Elkus Memorial Prize for Excellence in Music (UC Berkeley, 2004)

Press Clippings

2013, Review of Grex: Second Marriage at KFJC

2013, Review of Karl Evangelista/Grex: Taglish in Signal to Noise (not available)

2013, Guitarist Karl Evangelista on Exploring the Filipino Avant-Garde, SF Weekly

2013, Guitarist Karl Evangelista at the Red Poppy, Examiner

2012, Review of Karl Evangelista/Grex: Taglish at Memory Select

2012, Article in Eugene Weekly about Grex

2012, Article on rAmu Aki/Karl Evangelista Duo at Outsound Summit at CatSynth

2012, Review of Grex: Second Marriage at Tiny Mix Tapes

2012, Review of Grex: Second Marriage at Foxy Digitalis

2012, Review of Grex: Second Marriage at KZSU, Stanford

2012, Review of Grex: Second Marriage at East Bay Express

2012, Review of Grex show at Revolution Cafe, at CatSynth

2011 Review of Steve Berlin's Score to His Excellency, at Idelsohn Society for Music Preservation

2011, Article on Grex concert w/Cosa Brava & Jack O' the Clock at SW Weekly

2010, Review of Karl Evangelista Trio Show

2010, Review of Grex: Live at Home at HurdAudio

2010, Review of Grex: Live at Home at Allaboutjazz/Ni Kantu

2010, Review of Grex: Live at Home at East Bay Express

2009, Review of Mills College Thesis Concert at HurdAudio