Brett's experience as a performer and composer is eclectic, with him working in the fields of classical music, new music, jazz, and free improvisation. In 2014, he performed in the world premiere of George Lewis's composition "Foreward", and frequently collaborates with Bay Area new music and experimental music groups/artists, including Reconnaissance Fly (of course), Noertker's Moxie, Rent Romus, and William Winant. He plays electric keyboard and composes for the Oakland-based quartet Quattuor Elephantis, who released their first album on Edgetone Records in May 2015. He will officially premiere his dramatic song cycle "Mysterious Descent" in June, and is working on his first theatrical production set to premiere in September 2016.
- odd commentary
I don't remember. Really, I don't. There's something vague about rock and roll. And big synthesizers. And I have recurring dreams about videogames. I still have BOXES of reel-to-reel and cassette tapes; that must mean something.
But it all runs together like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich you forgot in your pocket before doing the laundry. I guess I could just Google myself and find out, but where's the mystery in that?.
I rest my case. But it won't scratch furniture.
My metaphorical beard grows yet longer.
- bass flute
- heat sink
Band originator, flutist, vocalist, and tea drinker Polly Moller has a hard time resisting potatoes in all their myriad forms. Aloo tikki, gnocchi, latkes, tattie scones, the classic oven-roasted kind with garlic and rosemary, hash browns, jacket potatoes, and even French fries (alas) are subjects of her fantasy and objects of her desire. She does not like bugs with stingers at all, but the composing bug bit her in the early 90s, after she finished up degrees in flute performance and 20th century performance practice, with an emphasis on multiphonics in the Western art tradition. When composing for ensembles of other people and things, she makes sound-art rituals based on natural phenomena and the occult. When composing for Reconnaissance Fly, she has difficulty keeping a piece the way she originally heard it. The gypsy jazz piece can (and did) end up as a Scarlatti pet food commercial from another dimension. Her WordFeud stats against bandmate Tim currently stand at 8 wins to 117 losses.
- bass clarinet
- soprano saxophone
- tenor saxophone
The oldest son of ‘30’s (small c) communists, Rich grew up in an atmosphere of government harassment, social ostracism and a kind of “religious” disdain for “the authorities.” Later rejected for the Vietnam draft “for reasons of national security,” and despite an Ivy League education, he could not find work—so he turned to his childhood love: music.
After a brief, but successful, career in San Diego, Philadelphia and New York, he decided the non-musical side of the music “business” wasn’t for him, so he got a factory job working on aircraft components for a large airline.
Retiring early, he resumed his musical activities, supplementing his small pension with part-time work building bicycle wheels.
Some of his heroes are (in this order): John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Che Guevara, Thich Nat Han. Lance Armstrong is NOT one of his heroes.
Tim Walters performs live computer music (mostly with Usufruct), and plays bass guitar (mostly with Reconnaissance Fly). He has also performed and recorded with Circular Firing Squad, Shalmaneser, and Recardiacs Fly. His visual art can be spotted at KALEID Gallery in San José. He has seen the fnords.
In 2002 Polly Moller had finished recording her third solo album by herself. While preparing for its release and live gigs to go with that, she recognized that she needed a band to realize those tunes live, and anything else she was likely to write in the future. She immediately started looking for open-minded and wacky musical colleagues to share the stage with.
Notable among the early band members was bassist Charles Celeste Hutchins. The two met in rehearsals for “Café Desire” by Daniel Lentz, to be premiered at the 2003 Other Minds festival. After sharing the wine glass orchestra experience and getting to know each other Polly and Les teamed up, and along with a couple of different guitarists and a drum machine played several gigs including the 2003 National Flute Association Convention in Las Vegas.
Guitarist Grant Gardner was another early band member who came along at the same time as bassist Jim Carr, who replaced Les when Les began his extended graduate school sojourn in Europe. Polly, Jim, and Grant, along with their drum machine, finished out the remainder of 2003 and the beginning of 2004. Grant moved on shortly thereafter to attend Rutgers University.
Electronica artist and Mills graduate Will Grant would join Jim and Polly next. Matt Davignon invited the trio to play at the Luggage Store Gallery and would inadvertently name the then-nameless group by referring to them in an email as “Polly Moller & Co.”. The band kept that name for several years after that.
Polly began writing material for the band’s first and only album. She got in touch with her old undergraduate classmate Daniel Magazin and recruited him to play piano. Unfortunately work and family obligations prevented Dan from ever performing live with the band, and he had to be sent as MIDI files to the studio each time he contributed a part. Will, Jim, and new guitarist Jon Moreira can all be heard on the one and only Polly Moller & Company CD, Not Made of Stone, recorded 2004-2007 and released in the summer of 2007.
In 2006 Jim Carr had moved from the Bay Area to Kentucky and had to make special trips to perform live or join the band in recording sessions. He did make it to the 2007 Skronkathon to play with Polly and Grant Gardner, also visiting from Rutgers who sat in for Jon Moreira. Also at the 2007 Skronkathon, Polly heard Amar Chaudhary’s solo electronica set and asked him to join the band. The first show featuring Polly, Jon, and Amar took place on July 27, 2007 at the San Jose Works Gallery. Amar remains the longest-running band member.
Jon bowed out of the band, and new guitarist Bill Wolter’s wall of sound became a salient feature for 2½ years after that. The quartet of Polly, Amar, Jim, and Bill toured the Pacific Northwest in October 2007.
All hell literally broke loose in Polly’s world when she found her partner of 10 years, Paul Decker, dead on January 1, 2008. The band had three Bay Area shows booked in February of 2008, and Jim had already bought his plane ticket, so Polly felt obligated to go ahead with them and the band delivered them admirably given the circumstances. The band also played at the 2008 Skronkathon but other than that, Polly was not able to do any other performing that year.
As 2009 began, Polly announced a big change to her bandmates. She proposed stepping down as bandleader in favor of a more egalitarian arrangement where all would write music for the band. Recognizing the end of the former paradigm, she gave the band the new name Reconnaissance Fly, after a childhood toy she and her little brother had played with.
Polly came up with the idea of a concept album centered around “spoetry”, or spam poetry, examples of which she would present to each band member for setting to music. She also came up with the album title Flower Futures, which is a real commodity traded on the stock market.
Jim Carr’s increasing unavailability led to bassist Tim Walters joining the band in 2009. The quartet of Polly, Amar, Bill, and Tim all worked on “spongs” for the Flower Futures project and the band made the rounds of the Bay Area unusual music scene performing live. In 2010 Bill’s very busy artistic schedule led him to bow out of the band and Reconnaissance Fly had a hard time finding a new guitarist who was the right fit. This led Polly to decide, “I'm not going anywhere… so I'll learn guitar.” Lessons followed and Polly made her guitar anti-hero debut at a gig on September 14, 2013 at Rooz Cafe in Oakland.
Meanwhile, the band had yearned for a drummer all the years since the drum machine was retired, and Polly, Amar, and Tim decided to focus on recruiting one of those instead of a guitarist. Moe! Staiano brought his hard-hitting style into Reconnaissance Fly for a few shows in 2010, including that year’s Outsound New Music Summit. Finally, in 2011, Tim reached out successfully to drummer Larry the O, who joined the band that year.
Also in 2011, Moe! Staiano invited Polly, Amar, and Tim to be a part of an informal Cardiacs tribute band which, because of its preponderance of Reconnaissance Fly members, came to be known as ReCardiacs Fly. ReCardiacs Fly saxophonist Chris Broderick impressed all three as they got to know him better, and on September 1, 2011, after a Reconnaissance Fly gig at the Luggage Store Gallery, the four band members surrounded him and asked him to join. Chris thereafter described the experience as “the sweetest press gang ever.”
The new five-piece lineup played its first live show together on January 7, 2012. At the end of January, the band entered Studio Faire la Nouba to begin recording Flower Futures. In early 2013, Chris announced his departure from the band. After an exhaustive intergalactic search, Rich Lesnik joined Reconnaissance Fly as its reeds master in August 2013.
Meanwhile… also in 2012… Amar embarked on a life-changing journey that culminated in coming out as a woman in 2013. At the end of the year, she began her new life as Amanda.
And also meanwhile… in August 2013, the band finished mixing Flower Futures.Then Myles Boisen mastered it. Finally, Edgetone Records released it, and Amanda was excited to finally perform with Reconnaissance Fly for the first time as herself, at our album release show on February 1, 2014.
Flower Futures has now been running around off leash for some time. You can help capture it once and for all by buying your own copy, and waiting patiently along with us for our second album to come out. We spent most of 2015 recording it, once again in Studio Faire la Nouba. At the end of 2015, after more than eight years with Reconnaissance Fly and our precursor band Polly Moller & Company, Amanda bowed out to pursue other musical interests. While no longer performing with us, she’s still involved in that second album (still not officially named) and eager for its release.
It didn’t take nearly as long, and we didn’t have to search the whole galaxy, to find our new keyboardist—it turned out he was already close by, performing and composing in Oakland. His name is Brett Carson and we will be kicking off live shows in 2016 with our first with the new lineup, on March 7th at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco.