Bill Noertker, biography
bassist, composer, educator

 b. Pasadena, CA
16 February 1961

    Bassist/composer Bill Noertker has been active in the Bay Area jazz and avant-garde scene since the late 1980s.
    Since 2001, he has lead his own ensemble, Noertker's Moxie, as a forum for compositions inspired by visual artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró, architect Antoni Gaudí, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, sculptor David Beck, and others.  Noertker has composed over 175 pieces of music for this group and has released 14 CDs, including three volumes of his extended suite Sketches of Catalonia, three volumes of his extended Blue Rider Suite, three volumes of his druidh series, and three volumes of his most recent suite, Tricycle.
    He has also composed music for three films that showcase the intimately-scaled sculptures of David Beck, composed the score for a Nikos Koumoundouros film that screened at the Festival de Cannes 2010, and most recently scored the Olympia Stone film “Curious Worlds: the Art and Imagination of David Beck.”

• • • • • • • • •

    Noertker studied with various people, including bassist Putter Smith, cornetist Bobby Bradford, and bassist Mandy Flowers, but has learned mostly on the bandstand, and by listening and transcribing what he hears on records.

    Noertker played trombone in grammar school, but when he got braces, it was too painful to continue. In 1974, while at San Gabriel High School, a friend gave Noertker his first electric bass. He began attending jam sessions and playing in heavy metal groups. He was strongly influenced by the melodic/contrapuntal rock bassists John Paul Jones, Geezer Butler, and Roger Glover. In his sophomore year, a teacher gave him a Count Basie record (Count Basie Jam: Montreux '77) with Ray Brown on bass. Later that year, he heard Benny Goodman's version of Sing Sing Sing while he was tripping on acid. These two events changed his listening habits entirely.

    In 1978, Noertker began his studies in anthropology, sociology, and religious studies at Occidental College. His particular emphasis was in cultural syncretism. Some of his fellow students introduced him to the avant garde music of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Also at this time he was introduced to soul music, reggae music and classical music. Again his listening habits changed.

    In 1983, Noertker learned that the renowned cornetist Bobby Bradford was teaching at Pasadena City College. He went there to study with him. In Bradford's course, "Afro-American Music History," Noertker embraced the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Fletcher Henderson, Charles Mingus, and especially Duke Ellington. His listening habits became expansive and diverse.

    In 1985, Noertker moved to San Francisco. In 1987 he studied composition under the tutelage of Aldo Ryzy-Ryzky while a member of the experimental art rock band, Bardo. At this time he switched from fretted to fretless electric bass.

    In 1989, Bardo disbanded, and Noertker, along with other former Bardo members Annelise Zamula (reeds, flute) and Dave Mihaly (drums), formed the After the End of the World Coretet, in which Noertker was the primary composer. These three were joined by various fourth and fifth members (including Tracy McMullen - reeds, Jon Birdsong - cornet, Graham Connah - piano, Eva Festa - violin, Hugh Schick - trumpet, Jim Peterson - saxophones, David Cooper - marimba/vibraphone, Tom Yoder -   trombone, Mara Fox - trombone, Mike Richards - guitar) during their heyday from 1989-1996.

    In the late 1990s, Noertker traveled to Europe, to soak up the culture and play music. Upon his return he finally switched from electric to upright bass.

    In 2001 he formed his own group, Noertker's Moxie, as a vehicle for his compositional ideas. He is joined in Noertker's Moxie by his long-time musical co-collaborator, saxophonist/flutist Annelise Zamula. Many other fine bay area musicians have performed with Noertker's Moxie, including Jim Peterson (saxes, flute), David Slusser (tenor sax), Yehudit (five string electric violin), Jenny Maybee (piano), Hugh Schick (trumpet), Darren Johnston (trumpet), Rob Ewing (trombone), Greg Stephens (trombone) Beth Snelling (cello), Niels Myrner (drums), Rolf Wilkinson (drums), Dave Mihaly (drums), and Jason Levis (drums).
    Inspired by his travels, in 2001 Noertker composed and performed his three part suite, Sketches of Catalonia, an ode to Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Antoni Gaudí. He also began work on the Blue Rider Suite (inspired by the art of Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Franz Marc) and Angels and Acrobats (a jazz ballet inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies).
    Also in 2001, Noertker and saxophonist Rent Romus began producing the Static Illusion/Methodical Madness music series, which presents two creative music concerts per month at the Musicians Union Hall in San Francisco. As of this writing (2011) the series is going strong.

    In 2002-2003, Noertker continued his experimentation with the jazz suite, and his interest in music inspired by the works of artists and authors. He also began trying out unusual jazz instrumentations (bassoon, violin, cello, multiple trombones). 

    In September 2003, Noertker's Moxie released its first CD, Sketches of Catalonia, Vol. 1: Suite for Dalí, on Edgetone Records.
    The year 2003 was brought to a rousing close (and 2004 a rousing opening), as Noertker received a commission to compose a soundtrack for Animatique, six short films by sculptor David Beck. The films (and soundtrack) received acclaim as part of Beck's 2004 exhibit at the Allan Stone Gallery in New York.

    In 2004, Noertker continued working with living artists.  At a February happening at San Francisco's ICAN Gallery, Moxie debuted new open-ended compositions and improvisations in interactions with live painters (Tan Khanh, Liz Morton, Marinaomi, and Kyle Brunel) and a videographer (Monika Romero). 
    Also in 2004, Noertker's Moxie released CD-Rs of two of its live performances: 7 Days in February,  a suite composed during the week prior to Noertker's 43rd birthday, and Haiku Songs, a suite inspired by a haiku exchange between Noertker and one of his bass students.

     In 2005, Noertker traveled to Catalonia once again. He came back with another suite of music, Homage to Catalunya, a series of tonal portraits of Las Ramblas, Park Güell, Girona, the Ampurdan plain, and La Manzana de la Discordia. While in Barcelona, he played music with trumpeter Guillermo Torres. He also took a trip to Claira, near Perpignon (in French Catalonia), to play with John Tchicai and Margarite Naber-Tchicai and meet their son Yolo. Back in San Francisco, this led to a performance of solos, duos, and trios with Margarite and saxophonist Jim Peterson.
    Also in 2005, Noertker formed an electric ensemble, the Jugglers, as a forum for his groove-oriented tunes. 
    Early in 2005, Noertker and drummer Dave Mihaly challenged each other to compose a string quartet to be performed in July. Noertker wrote six exercises for string quartet which he calls Peculiar Little Creatures, while Mihaly wrote a full piece entitled Influences of the Invisible. These were performed by the Strawberry Moon String Quartet — Sarah Jo Zaharako (violin), Linda Robertson (violin), Yehudit (viola), and Beth Snellings (cello).

    In April 2007, Noertker's Moxie released its second CD, Sketches of Catalonia, Vol. 2: Suite for Miró, on Edgetone Records.
    In June Moxie performed the music of Annelise Zamula, a departure from it's usual all-Noertker fare.
    In July, the After the End of the World Coretet celebrated its 18th anniversary with a performance that included special guest trumpeter Ara Anderson.
    In July Noertker composed, and in August 2007 Moxie performed, the
Blue Rider Suite, Vol. 2: for Wassily Kandinsky. Members of the California Outside Music Associates (C.O.M.A.), saxophonist John  Vaughn and drummer Dax Compise, travelled from Stockton to join Zamula and Noertker for the performance of the suite.
    Also in August Noertker teamed up with Austrian singer
Annette Giesriegl, saxophonist David Boyce, drummer Dave Mihaly, and dancer Laurie Buenafe Krsmanovic for an improvisational/international collaboration. 
    September 2007
saw the première of Noertker's newest string quartet, the long awaited Eurydice.
    Noertker's performance season closed with a show celebrating music for film, including compositions by stalwarts Rota, Morricone, and Bacharach, as well as original compositions by Noertker and baritone saxophonist David Beck, who joined Moxie for the performance.

    Noertker's 2008 performance season began with a new Birthday Suite, composed in February and performed in March.
    In July 2008, for the Edgetone New Music Summit, Noertker renewed his collaboration with sculptor David Beck, composing a suite of music, La Naturecanique, for live accompaniment of a screening of film loops of Mr. Beck's intimately-scaled moving sculptures.  In September 2008, Noertker composed and recorded an octet for a short film of David
Beck's epic work , L'Opera.
    In November 2008 Moxie was joined once again by fellow Edgetone Records' artists John Vaughn and Dax Compise for the performance of a new work, Blue Rider Suite, vol. 3: for Franz Marc.

    Moxie's 2009 performance season began with yet another birthday suite, 7 Songs in 7 Days, which was composed from February 15-21.
    In April 2009, Noertker composed music for the
Nico Koumoundouros film, The Commandments or the Nostril of Ektor Kaknavatos. This film has been selected for the Festival de Cannes 2010 - Short Film Corner.
    Also in April, Noertker's Moxie
released its third CD on Edgetone Records, Sketches of Catalonia, Vol. 2: Suite for Gaudí.  
    In June 2009, Moxie was invited to do a
live radio performance on the Locals Only show with guest host DJ Schmeejay at KUSF 90.3fm. Noertker and Zamula were joined by oboist Amber Lamprecht for improvisations inspired by six paintings by Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies.
    In August 2009, Moxie continued with the Antoni Tàpies cycle. Noertker composed Sketches of Catalonia, Vol. 4: Suite for Tàpies, seven new tunes for flute, oboe, and two contrabasses. Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa joined Noertker, Zamula, and Lamprecht for the performance.
    In September 2009, Noertker collaborated with dancer Laurie Buenafe Krsmanovic to create and perform window/frame for Richard Waara (inspired by the film Peter Ibbetson), a short Butoh piece that they performed at Bare Bones Butoh 15.
    October 2009 saw the première of Noertker's Ariadne (a quartet in six movements) with Annelise Zamula - flute, Amber Lamprecht - oboe, Ilana Matfis - viola, and Shain Carrasco - cello.
    Also in October 2009, Noertker's Moxie released
druidh lacunae, its sixth CD (and the fourth on the Edgetone Records label).
    In 2010 Noertker took a little break from composing music as Moxie did live recordings of the Blue Rider Suite for an autumn CD release.
    In June 2010 Noertker formed, and performed with, a new group, Tenor Gladness, with four tenor saxophonists: Tracy McMullen, Annelise Zamula, David Boyce, and Ralph Carney, and drummer Dave Mihaly.
    In July, Noertker's Moxie debuted a new suite, While You Were Out, inspired by someone else's travels.
    In August 2010 Austrian vocalist Annette Giesriegl was in town for some improvised music with Noertker, Boyce, Mihaly, and pianist Dena DeRose.
    In September 2010, Noertker and David Beck debuted their new group, the Melanchoholics, and Noertker's Moxie performed some more improvisations and compositions from the  Antoni Tàpies cycle.
    In October 2010, Noertker's Moxie released its seventh CD,
Some Circles (Blue Rider Suite, vol. 1), compositions and improvisations inspired by the Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, and Paul Klee.

    In 2011 Noertker continued with performances and recordings of the Blue Rider Suite for a projected release date of Autumn 2012.
    From January through March 2011, drummer Jason Levis returned briefly from Berlin and participated in three recording sessions with Noertker, Annelise Zamula,  Amber Lamprecht, and Jenny Maybee.
    In April 2011, Tenor Gladness (Boyce, Carney, McMullen, Zamula, Noertker, Mihaly) returned for its second year.
    In May 2011 Noertker and Zamula were joined by pianist Motoko Honda for Strength for Japan, a benefit for Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund.
    In July 2011 the After the End of the World Quartet celebrated its 22nd anniversary with the original personnel of McMullen, Zamula, Noertker, and Mihaly.
    In August 2011 Austrian vocal gymnast Annette Giesriegl returned to the Bay Area for the third time and performed with the improvising quintet of Noertker, DeRose, Boyce, and Mihaly.
    October 2011 saw the debut of a new group, Obstreperous Doves. Noertker is joined in this project by saxophonist David Boyce, guitarist Karl Alfonso Evangelista, and drummer Jordan Glenn.
    The 2011 season closed with a couple of performances by the most recent iteration of Moxie, a quintet consisting of Annelise Zamula on tenor sax and flute, Amber Lamprecht on oboe and flute, John Vaughn on baritone sax and flute, Dax Compise on drums, and of course, Noertker.

    The quintet iteration of Moxie opened the 2012 season with a series of performances in March and April. These performances were recorded by Karen Stackpole. In June, Noertker and Andy Scott began mastering selections from these dates and dates from 2011. In October, Edgetone Records released the new CD, Little Bluedevil (Blue Rider Suite, vol. 2).
    In June 2012, the Obstreperous Doves (Karl Evangelista - guitar, Jordan Glenn - drums, Bill Noertker) re-united.
    In July 2012, saxophonist Kasey Knudsen joined Noertker, Zamula, and Compise for a quartet performance.
    In August 2012, Noertker and vocalist Annette Giesriegl teamed up for their fourth Bay Area performance. They were joined by Dena DeRose on pianio and Alex Walsh on harmonica.
    In September 2012, the Melanchoholics (David Beck - baritone sax, Noertker) returned for a rare performance of their original jazz compositions.
    October 2012 saw the debut of a new duet, Talking Frog (Karen Stackpole - gongs, Noertker).
    The 2012 season closed with a CD release party in November. Rather than perform tunes from the new CD, instead Moxie performed unreleased tunes from the 3rd volume of the Blue Rider series.

    2013 started off with Noertker composing a string quintet piece, Blue Dragon, for the Musical Art Quintet.
    Zamula and Noertker were joined by eleven different musicians in seven different iterations of Moxie.
    Talking Frog, Noertker's duo with gong master Karen Stackpole, performed.
    Noertker debuted a new duo, Impromptu Latticework, with pianist Eli Wallace.
    The year's end saw Noertker beginning work on the score for an upcoming documentary about his friend, sculptor David Beck.

    In 2014, Moxie continued its tradition of a different iteration for each performance, with returning members
Amber Lamprecht, Brett Carson, Eli Wallace, Dax Compise, Jordan Glenn, and Joshua Marshall, and new members Theo Padouvas and Jon Arkin, joining Noertker and Zamula for seven performances at the SIMM Series.
    Noertker began working with Mark Oi who was John Tchicai's guitarist for many years.   
    The Obstreperous Doves performed at the 13th annual Outsound New Music Summit with members Nava Dunkelman, Christina Stanley, and Dave Mihaly joining Noertker and Karl Evangelista for an set of improvised music.
    The Stackpole/Noertker duet known as Talking Frog continued their  yearly October performance tradition.
    In the late summer, Noertker finished scoring
the upcoming Olympia Stone film “Curious Worlds: the Art and Imagination of David Beck.” In November a preview screening was held at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.    

    In 2015, Noertker and Zamula performed as Moxie with a revolving cast of featured Bay Area luminaries.
    The Noertker/Oi duo performed live in the Pit at KFJC 98.7 FM, and at the SIMM Series.
    Stackpole/Noertker converged for their yearly performance.
    Olympia Stone's film Curious Worlds screened at various festivals
across the country and internationally, including the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC.
   In November, Noertker's Moxie released Simultaneous Windows (Blue Rider Suite, vol. 3).

    In early 2016 Edgetone Records released Curious Worlds, the soundtrack from Olympia Stone's film, with music by Noertker's Moxie and the Melanchoholics.
    Throughout 2016, Moxie performed as a core trio of Zamula, Levis, and Noertker with cornetist Theo Padouvas, oboist Amber Lamprecht, and pianists Brett Carson and Eli Wallace
as rotating fourth and fifth members.
    The Noertker/Oi duo and the Melanchoholics performed at the SIMM Series and are each preparing for CD releases in 2017.
    In November 2016, Noertker's Moxie capped its performance season with the release of a new CD, druidh penumbrae.

    In addition to performances with esteemed Moxie alumni Brett Carson, Joshua Marshall, Eli Wallace, Jim Peterson, and Jason Levis, in 2017 Moxie performed with illustrious newcomers Masaru Koga (tenor sax, flute), Beth Schenck (alto sax), and Max Shrieve-Don (bass clarinet).
    2017 also saw/heard a new edition of Noertker's improvising ensemble Obstreperous Doves, this time featuring paired groupings of woodwinds (Annelise Zamula, Josh Marshall), percussion (Bethany Schwarz, Daniel Pearce), and bass (Scott Walton, Bill Noertker).
   Noertker was honored to continue his participation in two groups not his own: John-Carlos Perea's Intertribal Ensemble and the Erik Ian Walker's Climate Music Project.
   The year's end was celebrated with the release of a new CD, druidh fenestrae.
    2018 was another productive year.
    Guitarist Mark Oi
and Noertker (on electric bass) released a CD that documents their long-standing duo collaboration, nOOi
    In late spring Noertker travelled to London, Sidmouth, and Mexico City. The result is a three-part suite, Tricycle, inspired by his journeys. Noertker's Moxie performed the suite several times at the SIMM Series with his stalwart companions Annelise Zamula, Josh Marshall, Brett Carson, Amber Lamprecht, John Vaughn, Daniel Pearce, Jason Levis, Dave Mihaly, and Jordan Glenn.
    While in Mexico City, Noertker performed with
Erik Ian Walker's Climate Music Project.
    In the early summer Noertker was honored to perform with his mentor, cornetist Bobby Bradford, at the Outsound New Music Summit as part of Bradford's Brass 'n' Bass,  an unusual quartet setting consisting of two cornetists (Bobby Bradford, Theo Padouvas) and two contrabassists (Noertker and Scott Walton).
    The autumn saw the beginning of a new (to Noertker) type of exploration with electronic musician Bethany Schwarz. The duo, Sniff Test, is a collaborative dialogue that improvises narrative shapes through the use of unusual timbres and extended instrumental techniques.

    In 2019 Moxie continued to perform and record the 24 tunes that comprise the three-part Tricycle suite. In October the recording was finalized and super genius Myles Boisen mastered the recording for release in April 2020.
     In spring of 2019 Noertker participated in a four-hour live broadcast on KFJC 89.7 FM with the Transbay Bass Choir, a project for 12 contrabassists spearheaded by the endlessly inventive and tireless Lisa Mezzacappa.
    Noertker continued his exploration of looping pedals,
effects pedals, and prepared electric bass in duets and trios with Mark Oi and Bethany Schwarz.
    On March 8, 2020 Noertker's Moxie played the first and last show of its 20th season. A fine show it was, with drummer Jon Arkin joining Moxie stalwarts Brett Carson and Annelise Zamula.
    A shelter-in-place order was issued one week later, which put the kibosh on any 20th anniversary plans, including the CD release show for Tricycle, Moxie's latest album trilogy. Undaunted, Edgetone Records moved forward with the release, and Amor Fati, Elysium, and Leonora were able to see the light of day.
    Noertker began to review live recordings from Moxie's 20-year residency at Outsound's SIMM Series.
    Summer 2020 found Noertker composing a chamber suite of 57 ditties for viola, bass trombone, piano, and celesta.
    Colleagues Lisa Mezzacappa and Jason Levis introduced Noertker to the online music performance platform Jamulus. As a result, nOOi (Mark Oi on guitar and Noertker on electric bass) started working on textural improvisation dialogues using looping and effects pedals.

   By 2021, Noertker had assembled 25
previously unreleased live Moxie performances (spanning two decades) into a new trilogy—In Billville. In June 2021 the music was mastered by the master of mastering, Myles Boisen, at his Headlesss Buddha Mastering Lab, and by October 26 Edgetone Records released the three new albums—Walking on Blue Eggshells In Billville, More Fun In Billville, and Pantomime In Billville.
    In 2022, Noertker's Moxie performed twice at San Francisco's Bird & Beckett Bookstore. You can stream the sets here, here, and here.
    During the November performance, they woodshedded some of the Watt/Knott suite, a work in progress inspired by Samuel Beckett's 1945 novel.
    Talking Frog, Noertker's duet with gongmaster Karen Stackpole, released an eponymous CD on Edgetone Records.
    At long last, the Noertker Songbook is now available. Including sheet music for all the tunes on the 15 Moxie CDs, as well as some early compositions and some unreleased material, the song book is available in bass clef, concert pitch, and transposed for Bb and Eb instruments.