Todd Capp, drums and cymbals|
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A native New Yorker who grew up seeing the likes of Monk, Miles, Mingus, and Trane during the twilight of jazz's golden age, Todd Capp started playing drums as a student at the University of Chicago. He cut his musical teeth playing the blues in South Side basements while absorbing fresh approaches to sound, space and time developed by the newly-formed Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). He played his first session with Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (author of Elvis' first hit, "That's All Right, Mama"), made his first recording (unreleased) with Anthony Braxton and Elvin Bishop, and performed his first concert, in l967, with a cooperative group including future AACM leader Douglas Ewart.
After a brief sojourn in Northern California, where he played tabla duets with the Pacific Ocean and performed with the Free Arts Workshop and visionary keyboard genius Eddie Sears, he returned to New York. He performed downtown with Denman Maroney at The Kitchen, uptown with Clyde Cotten's Kwanzaa Ensemble at the Club Baby Grand, and by the late 70's, his Improvising Orchestra, whose members included William Parker, Jason Hwang, and Roy Campbell, was a fixture on the downtown loft circuit. A 1978 recording, Quintessence (released in 1999), was deemed "timeless...a cosmic slice of history to be cherished by out/jazz lovers worldwide!" by Bruce Gallanter in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.
Recipient of a 1980 Meet the Composer grant, he also promoted performances by the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama, and from the Improvising Orchestra's nucleus formed a new band called None of the Above. Working frequently at CBGB and other downtown dive bars (one even called The Dive), they were often compared to Talking Heads as a quirky, intellectual band you could dance to. But a gig in Toronto was cut short when the customers spent more time listening and dancing than drinking, a promised tour of France failed to materialize, and despite their single "Feel Like A Dog" becoming an underground hit via John Peel's pirate radio program, a U.K. tour also fell through. Eventually, he stopped playing, and in 1985 opened an art gallery in the East Village, exhibiting artists including notable "outsiders" Tony Fitzpatrick and Joe Coleman and the venerable folk artist David Butler.
Following the gallery's demise, Capp wrote the liner notes to Pete (La Roca) Sims' Blue Note CD, SwingTime, and the reissue of his classic Turkish Women at the Bath on 32 Jazz. An impromptu duet with John Coltrane's last drummer, Rashied Ali, inspired him to take up the drums again, and he returned to active playing in 2000. Since then, he has toured France with the Open Jazz Quartet, and performed in New York with the John Hagen trio, Joe Giardullo's Language of Swans, and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffman, among others, at Cornelia St. Cafe, The Knitting Factory, Roulette, The Stone, Santos Party House - the gamut from ABC No Rio to Zebulon - as well as the 2010 Vision Festival.
Capp's longstanding ongoing collaboration with Bryan Eubanks and Andrew Lafkas, Oceans Roar 1000 Drums, has performed in Berlin and throughout the East Coast, including a set at the Sonic Circuits Festival in 2015, and produced two CDs. In recent years he has also performed with Connie Crothers at The Stone in New York, international artists Simone Wiessenfels, Per Gardin, and Hannes Buder at the Improhazard Festival in Peritz, Germany, and with Sylvain Kassap, Benjamin Duboc, and poet Steve Dalachinsky in Paris, France. In 2013, he formed Todd Capp's Mystery Train, an intergenerational eletcroacoustic improvising ensemble blending free jazz, minimal drone, and dreampop. He currently resides in Downtown Brooklyn, where he continues to improvise.