Incognito Express features Dan Cantrell on accordion, Darren Johnston on trumpet, Gregory Masaki Jenkins on clarinet and alto sax, Marco Peris on tupan, and Andrew Cohen on sousaphone.
The band takes you on a musical joy ride through Eastern Europe, showcasing Romani, , Bulgarian, Serbian, Greek and Macedonian traditions as well as Balkan-inspired originals.
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Cantrell’s recent works include the score for three seasons of the Annie Award nominated cartoon television series Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack on the Cartoon Network, an Emmy Award winning scores for Home Front and Hope on the Streets (a PBS Documentary about gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area), and the Gerbode Grant sponsored commission of the Rootabaga Opera (a Fire Arts infused multimedia shadow play and lyrical ballet based on the children’s stories of Carl Sandberg) presented at The Crucible's 2009 Fire Arts Festival. Some of Dan’s other recent projects include the Golden Gate Award winning score for Divided Loyalties (a documentary about cultural identity on the divided island of Cyprus) and a commission from Kitka women’s vocal ensemble for the composition and direction of Musical Fortunes (A MAP sponsored collaboration featuring Kitka, Dan, Voice of Roma, and Brave Old World's Michael Alpert) which was the opening and centerpiece of the 2007 Jewish Music Festival, and explores roots and ties between Romani(Gypsy) and Klezmer music traditions in Eastern Europe.
Dan’s music is influenced by the traditions of Eastern Europe from Bulgarian Roma Wedding Bands to polyphonic vocal laments, Early American Jazz and Film music from Busby Berkeley, and Cab Calloway to Scott Joplin, and modern alternative rock like Radiohead, Bjork, and Soundgarden. His extensive scoring catalogue for film and television is described as “hauntingly beautiful…quirky and energetic” (SF Bay Guardian). His soundtrack artistry spans a wide range of emotion and style, and has supported hundreds of cinematic works with rich with virtuosic performance, lush acoustic orchestrations, sonic textures resonant with sound design, and strikingly innovative melodic themes.
Playing piano, accordion, musical saw, Hammond organ, harpsichord, and pump organ, his unique sound can be heard on the albums of Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Beats Antique, and the Toids, as well as in Major Motion Pictures such as Paramount Pictures' Mean Girls, and Roberto Benigni’s The Tiger and the Snow. Dan performs and tours regularly with several ensembles including Beats Antique, Fishtank Ensemble, Gaucho, the Toids.
Dan has numerous self-produced albums represented by the independent record label Odd Shaped Case. Odd Shaped Case was co-founded by Dan and musical colleague Ryan Francesconi to represent intriguing and innovative new music using acoustic and often folk instrumentation infused and along side modern electronic and popular independent music styles. Dan also is a founding member of Xenology, a licensing library featuring a unique blend of genre bending composers fluent in the vernacular of world music shaped by modern modalities and electronics.
Dan has also collaborated extensively within the medium of dance. He has composed and collaborated with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, San Francisco based ODC dance, Ballet Afzaneh, UltraGypsy, as well as international touring shows such as Bellydance Superstars, and Bellydance Evolution. He has created innovative dance shows such as Waxing Cinematic (A two act musical dance drama integrating shadow puppetry and projections), and The Cabbage Sellers of Haities (a dance based theatrical musical based on Diaspora culture in 1920’s Greece in the emergence of Rembetico music). Dan’s music can also be heard accompanying individual choreographers and performers such as Elizabeth Strong, Rachel Brice, Mira Betz, and Samantha Emanual on stage and in film.
Dan has recently performed as a featured soloist with the San Francisco Symphony playing accordion on Thomas Larcher’s premier of Red and Green. He also performs with the Oakland Symphony, Mike Marshall, members of the Klezmatics, Brave Old World, and Fishbone.
“Johnston explores the limits of his instrument with a hankering for originality…running away and never looking back.”
– San Francisco Bay Guardian, “Pick of the Week,” July 5-11, 2006.
“fantastic…with a big bell tone and a tart phrasing style that really cuts through.”
– Signal to Noise #48.
“a resourceful improviser who writes vivid, episodic themes.”
– Downbeat Magazine, June 2007, “25 Trumpeters for the Future.”
“Someone to watch, on trumpet of course, but as a composer and bandleader as well.”
– John Corbett, Downbeat Magazine, Aug 2009
Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter/composer/songwriter Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists. His interests rotate around composing instrumental music, writing songs, and performing all styles of jazz, experimental and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, and the Arab world