On any given weekend, the small stage at the back of Bar 355 is usually filled with people dancing, but on the first Sunday of every month, it turns into a playground for avant-garde musicians. Local drummer and man-about-town Sam Ospovat started Improvised Music Session last year, enlisting friends and bandmates from Anteater, Beep, Naytronix, Kapowski, and Oakland Active Orchestra, to name a few, to join him in an improvised jam session. He starts off the evening with a set of originals — usually accompanied by regulars Kasey Knudsen, Michael Coleman, and Kim Cass — and then branches off into bop standards and improvised tunes, inviting anyone to play. The jam, which goes late, offers a rare opportunity to watch musicians in their natural state, trying to challenge one another and keep a sometimes-skeptical crowd engaged with the often-strange music.
© 2017 East Bay Express