The Avant-Garde Alliance, an experimental music group that features improvisation, will perform original live scores to classic silent art films on Saturday at the Roxy Theater.
The group comprises Derek Smith on drums, Matt Olson on guitar and bass, Nathan Hoyme on tenor saxophone, John Sporman on guitar and bass and Ben Weiss on keyboards and synthesizer. All are veterans of multiple bands around Missoula; and Sporman has written numerous live scores for silent films for the Roxy and for dance ensembles.
"We're quite proud of this show," Sporman said. "It's probably our best work."
The group, which was formed about nine months ago, has improved in its improvising and communication, "which improves the quality of the show, he said.
Each score features original compositions, and the groups use cues from the film for their mood and their improvisations.
"You'll definitely distinguish the tunes. They're that lucid," Sporman said.
The group improvises over original compositions, and they're careful to note that it's not jazz. It's in the spirit of avant-garde jazz, Olson said, but pulls from noise, experimental music, classical, rock and more.
The films they selected are "L'Étoile de mer (The Sea Star)" (1928) by Man Ray; The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra (1928) by Robert Florey; "Ballet Mécanique" (1924) by Fernand Léger; and "Le tempestaire (The Tempest)" (1947) by Jean Epstein.
"We tried to break up our time that we're on stage with the style of movies that we're choosing.
First half is very abstract from the standpoint of the films and the music," said Olson.
The first three are more abstract art films, and the music will reflect that, while "The Tempest" is more of a narrative film and will feature more composed work.
The Avant-Garde Alliance will perform their original live scores on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 9:15 p.m. at the Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students or seniors, and $5 for youths. To purchase, go to the box office or theroxytheater.org.