Archer Spade is an experimental chamber group comprised of trombonist and Dan Blacksberg and electric guitarist Nick Millevoi. Equally capable as composers, improvisers, and interpreters, Blacksberg and Millevoi are redefining and expanding the traditional composer/performer relationship in contemporary chamber music. From their base in Philadelphia, the duo is developing a dynamic repertoire of new works commissioned from contemporary composers and pieces composed by Blacksberg and Millevoi themselves. Archer Spade is a new model for the creation and presentation of new music; a small, versatile, and efficient ensemble of multi-talented artist/interpreters designed to meet and reflect the current demands of innovative new music.
Blacksberg and Millevoi formed Archer Spade in late 2010 – taking their name from Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon – to bring their unique compositional voices and adventurous sonic palate to the world of chamber music. Drawing from a deep history of collaboration, the duo distills influences spanning experimental music, jazz, rock, and Jewish music, into music of virtuosic intensity and moody austerity. It’s a sound world that dramatically expands the vocabulary and repertoire of electric guitar and trombone into a realm of lyrical abstraction that the Philadelphia City Paper has termed “Cosmic Neo-Noir.”
Archer Spade has premiered many works co-written by the duo, as well as pieces commissioned from composers Gene Coleman, Mick Barr, David Soldier, and Johnny Deblase. Augmented by saxophonist Drew Ceccato, the duo has performed the music of Roscoe Mitchell, including new arrangements of his pieces, “L-R-G” and “Nonaah.” Blacksberg and Millevoi are also dedicated improvisers, and often program fully improvised pieces alongside noted compositions in their concerts. A highlight of this practice is their ongoing collaboration with no-input mixing board master Toshimaru Nakamura.
Archer Spade is also deeply dedicated to the presentation and promotion of new and experimental music. Since early 2012, the duo has curated the Archer Spade Performance Series, a monthly series that presents local groups alongside globally known artists in venues across Philadelphia. The Archer Spade Performance series has presented artists such as Anthony Coleman, Mick Barr, Toshimaru Nakamura, Susan Alcorn, Ava Mendonza, Jeremiah Cymerman, Chris Forsyth, Nate Wooley, Willam Parker, Frank London, and many others.