The Alicia Mangan Quintet Comes to the Berkeley Arts Festival

by E. "Doc" Smith on April 20, 2012

Alicia Mangan is an amazing, musical anomaly; an advanced, free-style and avant-garde tenor saxophonist from Southern California. In high-school, she won state-wide acclaim in classical competitions on alto saxophone. Later, she even played baritone with a Mexican band in SoCal, and traveled with them as far as Australia on tour. In the late ’90s she found her true love on tenor sax and broke new ground in the creative sounds of free improv and creative music while living in the Bay Area.

Mangan is back in the Bay Area for a short visit and has gathered some of her colleagues from the time she lived and played here with Jim Ryan’s “Forward Energy” group, and Marco Enedi’s big bands. She’s formed a quintet with Ryan that will play two sets at the Berkeley Arts Festival, next Monday, April 23rd, at 8:00 pm.

Mangan honed her chops in bebop, classical, and Latin based music, but opted for total dedication to the calling of avant-garde jazz. Her music is influenced by the exploratory methods used in the tradition forged by Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and Charles Gayle. Much of her early straight-ahead experience was gained in southern California with the popular L.A. salsa group “Son Mayor” where she played baritone saxophone and in the music program at San Diego State where she studied jazz with pianist Rick Helzer. Mangan spent the next ten years in the San Francisco Bay area where she performed with Eddie Gale’s Orchestra for World Peace, Ryan’s “Forward Energy”, and Eneidi’s “American Jungle Orchestra”. Mangan has also worked with the late Peter Kowald, Karen Borca, Donald Robinson, Lisle Ellis, Sabu Toyozumi, Ijeoma Thomas, Bonnie Barnett, Wadada Leo Smith, and Spirit.

Some of her recent projects included tours with Ryan’s Forward Energy to Minneapolis, Chicago, Long Beach, L.A., San Diego, and Santa Barbara; participation as a soloist in a Santa Barbara avant-garde music series; performances Dana Reason-Meyers Parallel 66 series in Claremont CA; performing at Disney Hall’s Red Cat Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles as a duo with Lisle Ellis for EarJam, and performing as one of the six soloists at the Schindler House in a SASSAS presentation of Exquisite Corpse II.

Mangan’s recordings include releases with L.A. Reeds, a CD of solos from Los Angeles reed players, as well as three albums with Jim Ryan’s Forward Energy: “Configurations” (2002), “Concept” (2003), and “Where Are They?” (2004).

Her band for next Monday’s concert will feature Mangan on tenor sax, as well as a stellar ensemble of label-mates from Edgetone Records, including Jim Ryan on sax/flute/trumpet, C.J. Borosque trumpet, and the one and only “Doctor Bob” Marsh on contra bass.

The Alicia Mangan Quintet
Monday 4/23/12 8:00PM
The Berkeley Arts Festival
2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA
Tickets $8-$10

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment