Monthly Archives: January 2011

Now That All the Dust Has Settled…

My Fellow Tornadians,

It’s shaping up to be a pretty eventful year for us here in the ZT camp. Just when I thought there was no home for a not-quite-jazz/not-quite rock band in Seattle, the Emerald City opens her arms. Unexpectedly, we’re about as booked as we want to be all the way to summer. Even better, the shows we have lined up will present all the different facets of our little troupe, from almost progressive rock, to atmospheric soundscaping, to straight up jazz composition – and even some cool other stuff in between.

To that regard, I want to thank everyone who came out to support our second Mars Bar gathering right after New Years. According to the venue, we had one of the best nights they’d seen in several months. Those of you who attended the show sure saw a hell of a line-up! From the debut of my open jam ensemble Fundamental Forces, to a kick-ass set by Jason Goessl’s Trimtab, and finally an all too rare performance by Ryan Berg’s Iron Kim Style, the show was a smash. So much so, The Mars Bar has asked us to keep doing it. More on that later. 

In the near term – we have a show scheduled this weekend that I’m really excited about. Zen Tornado will be hosting a few guests for a night of quietly haunting melodies and darkly compelling originals, followed by an (all too) rare appearance by guitarist Ken Masters.

     Zen Tornado w/special guests:
     Greg Campbell, Jim Knodle and Ken Masters
     Saturday, January 22nd
     8PM, $5-$15 sliding scale
     Gallery 1412
     1412 18th Avenue (18th & Union St)
     Seattle, WA 98122

Zen Tornado will be joined by guest percussionist Greg Campbell (and a cameo appearance by trumpeter Jim Knodle) for some special re-interpretations of our songbook to suit the intimacy of the venue. The program will consist of material specifically written for flute, alto sax and clarinet improvisations, all processed through James DeJoie’s wizard boxes.

At 9PM, baritone guitarist stalwart Ken Masters will take the stage for a session of free jazz duets with the aforementioned exquisite trumpeter Mr. Knodle. Ken is a guitarist’s guitarist, having been a driving force behind the venerable Seattle ensembles Outhouse and Free Consultation. This evening he’ll be showcasing his Joe Veillette Baritone Guitar which is tuned down a fourth from a standard guitar.

Come join us for an evening of overcast music on what is sure to be another overcast Seattle evening. We’ll miss you if you don’t!

Then, as we move through the first half of 2011, we’ll be playing in different configurations about once a month, from the full on distortion of Zen Tornado, to the (mostly) acoustic Rik Wright Quintet, to the open form exploration of Fundamental Forces.

Let’s go!

– Rik

Here’s another video for your viewing pleasure. 

This is a clip of the most recent roster of Zen Tornado from our “Secret Not-So-Secret” show in Seattle. This was non-publicized performance in a small venue, and was the first time I’d played in public after a year of recuperating from a neck injury. This was filmed in March 2010 at C2aT in Seattle. The working title of the tune is “Little Woozy”.

It’s a Brave New World!

Welcome to 2011. I have no idea what it’ll be like, but here we are!

As Aldous Huxley said in Chapter 16: “You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art.”  I’m going with art. So jumping in with both feet forward, I’ve got a handful of events to tell you about:
On January 6th (yeah, that’s Thursday), we’re bringing the circus back to the Mars Bar with a triple bill including Iron Kim Style, Trim Tab and the debut of new music by yours truly.

I’ll be opening the show with a quartet featuring trumpeter John Fricke. John is an alumni of James Whiton and the Downtown Apostles, and currently performs with Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder. We’ll be playing a handful of new tunes I wrote over the holidays, specifically with this ensemble in mind.

In fact, it’ll be a great night for cutting-edge trumpet all around, as Iron Kim Style is closing out the evening. IKS features Bill Jones of The Boogie Brown Band. Both John and Bill specialize in using digital effects with their instruments that help them achieve other-worldly aesthetics. Seriously, you gotta check this out.
It’ll be a good night for guitarists too. The middle set of the evening will be held down by Jason Goessl’s experimental power trio Trim Tab. With Jason, Dennis Rea and myself, you’re sure to take in three very unique perspectives on the six stringed beast.
Combined, the three bands present a perfect complement to a cold Seattle night – the music will be compelling, haunting and beautiful. Have the bartender pour you a bourbon, sit down at the bar and lose yourself in the ambiance of the evening.
    Thursday, January 6th, 2011
    9PM Rik Wright’s Fundamental Forces
    10PM Trim Tab
    11PM Iron Kim Style
    Cafe Venus / The Mars Bar
    609 Eastlake Avenue East
    Seattle, WA 98109-5535
    (206) 624-4516
    $7, 21+

We encourage you to drop by early and grab some great grub at the neighboring Cafe Venus (we always do), and then find a good seat.

The Mars Bar pours stiff drinks, and if all goes well, you won’t be entirely sober by the end of the evening. And if it doesn’t, well… you still probably won’t be entirely sober by the end of evening.

Moving forward, we’ve got a ton going on in the first part of year. Later in January we have an unplugged (ish) Zen Tornado performance at Gallery 1412 featuring special guests Jim Knodle and Greg Campbell, a triple bill at The Josephine with Joietet & Moraine, an experimental offering to the creative music gods at the Good Shepherd Center (with Iron Kim as the villain), and the reunion of the Rik Wright Quintet at Egan’s.
Hold on to your hats.

– Rik

There’s something under the tree!

Over the course of 2010 we recorded a few tracks here… a few tracks there… and before we knew it, there was a whole CD’s worth sitting on the shelves. So we decided to make some of it available via download.

We gave the tracks to producer and ZT alumni Simon Grant, who graciously did an amazing job of taking all the various recording sessions and weaving them together into a cohesive and compelling listening experience.

We’re offering the whole thing, 6 tracks in all, for only $5! You can get individual cuts as well, but we won’t be pressing a fully packaged compact disc. It’s only available digitally:

Zen Tornado, “Second Wind”

Click here to purchase

Rik Wright
James DeJoie
Walter White
Dave Pascal
Jim Parsons
Simon Grant.

Look for it soon on and iTunes as well!


P.S. – oh, and here’s another one from the archives.

This is a fantastic, albeit lo-fi, snapshot of Zen Tornado’s regional touring days. A quintet at that point, with Alicia Allen adding violin to what was previously the Rik Wright 4tet. Bassist James Whiton maintained a heavy touring schedule with other acts, and therefore this video depicts a variety of substitute players including Walter White, who has since become a full-time member of the group. Also present in the video is bassist Dave Pascal.

The video was put together by drummer and producer Simon Grant from footage of various performances in 2004. The song is “Clickstream” from our debut compact disc.