• California Avant Garde Released May 3, 2019

    Inventive quartet Chord Four offers a West Coast take on modern jazz with California Avant Garde, due out May 3, 2019. The exploratory foursome celebrates a decade together with their second full-length release, capturing their global influences and wide-ranging improvisations.

    On their long-awaited second album, California Avant Garde, Chord Four makes the case for a West Coast perspective on the forward-looking music. In keeping with their home state’s sunnier disposition (not to mention their own love of clever wordplay, as evidenced in their song titles), Chord Four approaches the idea with tongues at least partly in cheek, though with a spirited interplay deepened by a decade of exploration together. The quartet – saxophonist Andrew Conrad, trumpeter Brandon Sherman, bassist Emilio Terranova, and drummer Colin Woodford – were all students together at California Institute of the Arts, where they discovered a shared array of disparate influences and a common musical purpose.
    “The first time we played together, we realized how connected we all were musically and improvisationally,” Conrad recalls. “It was apparent that this was a fun combination and a really freeing group. We all feel like we can do whatever we want to do and act on what we each hear.” California Avant Garde, due out May 3, arrives more than eight years after the band’s self-titled debut; they’ve kept busy in the interim with a number of digital EPs and video releases while, most importantly, continuing to hone their wide-ranging and spontaneous sound live. In the summer of 2017 those efforts were awarded with first place honors in Italy’s Conad Jazz Contest, leading to a performance at the prestigious Umbria Jazz Festival.

    Downbeat hailed the band’s performance, praising original compositions that “coalesced a global array of rhythms and out-of-the-box structures to facilitate fresh thinking on the improvisations, which, indeed, were consistently focused and creative."
    The same accolades apply to California Avant Garde, which employs compositions that are challenging without being constrictive, like a labyrinth with countless exits. These zig-zagging pathways are built on rhythms that draw on a globe-spanning interest in musical traditions, learned directly from the source. The members of Chord Four have studied with master musicians from Africa, India, Indonesia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere, absorbing elements from each and applying them through their own perspectives without ever striving for an artificial “fusion.”
    “It’s very different being taught a style of music by people from within that tradition,”Conrad says. A lot of the learning happens in a very different way than we’re used to in the western academic style. West African drumming, for instance, is heavily based on listening and reframing how you think music works, and that influenced us all to heavily rethink and reevaluate how we approach composition."
    The very structure of California Avant Garde celebrates the band as a conglomerate of individuals. Over the course of the hour-long program, each member gets his turn in the spotlight with a brief solo improvisation (named for their instrument); at the end, all four join together for a brief improvisatory excursion, clocking in at under a minute but reveling in the sound of their collective voices.

    That framing grew out of the band’s unique recording technique, which approached each day in the studio like a live performance, with several sets played straight through. “We found that method of recording leads to the most interesting performances, especially for this group,” Conrad explains. “It feels more like a live setting, where we’re comfortable and feel free rather than getting bogged down with the idea of getting a perfect take of one song.”
    Whether it’s the spirited sense of irreverence, the lush harmonies, or simply the laid-back, day-at-the-beach vibe of their still vigorous improvising, California Avant Garde makes a strong and lively case for a left-coast experimentalism. “We definitely consider ourselves a jazz band,” Conrad concludes, “but the term ‘jazz’ is so vague nowadays that it would be easy to misconstrue what the music actually sounds like. The idea of California Avant Garde started out as something of a joke, but we’re not Chicago and we’re not New York – our music has a strong sense of playfulness and identifiable harmonies, and we like to leave open a lot of room to explore and elaborate and go wherever we end up.”

  • new EP released today!

    new EP released today!

    We're happy to announce the release of our second EP Live at the Bootleg Theater. It's a four track album recorded live in Los Angeles in August of 2017 featuring never before released compositions. Available now on bandcamp!


  • new videos

    Hey all,

    We made some new videos of a live concert at Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more updates. cheers and thanks!


  • We did a thing!!!

    Hi Friends!

    It is with great pleasure we announce that we won first place at the 2017 Conad Jazz Contest in Italy. As part of our prize, we performed on 16 July 2017 at the Umbria Jazz ® Festival in Perugia. We are so excited and greatly honored to be a part of this historic jazz festival!

  • Jam At The Barn

    This Saturday 6/4 we will be performing at the infamous Jam At The Barn Music Festival.  Held in Blue Diamond, NV (30min outside Las Vegas), JATB was started by a good friend of ours and is celebrating its 10th year this year!  There will be live music and dance performances from 11am-midnight, and it is sure to be a great time.

    Chord Four plays at 6:00pm on the outdoor stage.

    Las Vegas friends, hope to see you there!

    More info here.

  • EP release show at the blue whale

    Tonight, 6/21/12, we release our brand new EP, 'Nothing Everywhere,' for free download! To celebrate, we're having a show at los angeles' own blue whale jazz club, which we were invited to play at by Rocco Somazzi's 'Angel City Arts.'

    We're very excited, and hope you'll join us.

    download it here!!!

  • Thanks...

    ...for coming out to our few, yet amazingly fulfilling shows this time around! We really love sharing with you. In order to share with you further, we will be releasing live audio and video from this tour. So keep an eye out for those! Thanks again, cheers, and see you soon!



  • Tour Dates Listed!

    We have a few shows in the west coming up soon! Check them out on our shows page. Hope to see you at a show near you.



  • New Live Track Added

    Hi Everybody, 

    A new track "Jane McMillan" written by Andrew Conrad is available for FREE download now here at our live page.  Enjoy!



  • Welcome!

    Welcome to the new site! Keep your eyes peeled for info on our upcoming fall 2011 tour, new live recordings, and all kinds of new fun Chord Four media. Thanks for stopping by!!!