Originally trained to sing European art song and opera, since 1999 Carol Sawyer’s singing practice has largely centred on improvised music. A brief sampling of some of her recent musical activities are listed below – for more information, please visit the ‘performance’ section of her CV.
Since the late 1990s Sawyer has performed extensively with her improvising ensemble ion Zoo, which features Clyde Reed on bass, Steve Bagnell on saxophones and clarinets, Lisa Cay Miller on piano, and Sawyer making up songs and stories. They have released two CDs: ion Zoo set free at the Cellar, produced in conjunction with NOW, and the self-produced Venus Looks Good. Venus Looks Good was reviewed by Exclaim and Music Works, and is available for purchase.
In 2010 ion Zoo was commissioned by Los Angeles-based composer/improvising trombonist Michael Vlatkovich and Albuquerque-based poet Mark Weber to record the album Elasticity with them. You can listen to a sample, or purchase a download of the recording here. In 2015 Sawyer also contributed vocals to Vlatkovich’s amazing recording Mortality, which is reviewed, and can be previewed, here.
From 2007 to 2016 Sawyer and fellow-singer Kate Hammett-Vaughan organized and ran VOXY, a yearly series of workshops on improvisation for singers. Each six-week set of pay-what-you-can community workshops was facilitated by a different workshop leader, drawn from the theatre, dance, music, comedy and spoken word communities.
Lisa Cay Miller and Carol Sawyer at The Western Front, Vancouver BC, 2013.
In 2013 Carol Sawyer was invited by Music on Main’s artistic director David Pay to research and create a performance that combined early Berlin Cabaret music with improvisation. In collaboration with pianist Lisa Cay Miller, a selection of these deconstructed tunes were presented at two concerts at the Western Front, as part of Music on Main event Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire @ 100.
The Natalie Brettschneider project began in 1998 with a performance of Brettschneider’s repertoire – with Carol Sawyer singing, and Andreas Kahre playing piano. This short song recital was created at the invitation of curator and artist Lori Weidenhammer and presented at the Reinventing the Diva Festival, which was held at the Western Front in September of 1999. Some kind of recital component has accompanied most of the exhibitions of the work since that first unveiling of the project.
Sound Image Net (SIN)
In 2016, SIN was released, a collaborative project between Carol Sawyer, Paul Cram, Jared Burrows, Ralph Eppel, Claude Reed, and Gregg Simpson. The album is available for listening and purchase on BandCamp.