Run by local avant-garde pianist Scott Looney — whose
improvisations go so far off the beaten track that it's hard for others
to play with him — West Oakland's 1510 8th Street performance space has
featured everything from Ornette Coleman tributes to bizarre, improvised
quartet music. It's one of the few places to showcase left-field "noise"
heads like bassist Damon Smith or the members of electronic band Vholtz,
who enjoy stretching the boundaries between punk rock and free jazz.
International names like German flutist Frank Gratkowski schedule dates
here, even if they don't plan to gig at Yoshi's. And its bimonthly
"Free Jazz Fridays" series — launched by Jazz House founder Rob
Woodworth — features everything from the hardcore, atonal sounds of
Woman's Worth to blues by Howard Wiley and D'Armous Boone. Though
they come from different traditions, these performers all share a
voracious curiosity about music, and generally seem more concerned with
engaging the audience than showing off their musical chops. Most shows
cost only $5-$10 at the door, all of which goes to the musicians. It's a
shoestring operation indeed, but one that will hopefully persist for
years to come.