Life's Blood Ensemble Lords of Outland Deciduous Otherworld Ensemble Road to Aacheron The Otherworld Cycle Bloom Project
Rent_Romus_Sacramento_2016_byGeorge-Thompson
Short Version
Rent Romus is a saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, music producer, and community leader hailed by Downbeat as having "...a bold sound, unmistakable sincerity and conviction". A third generation Finnish American born in the great north of upper Michigan and growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Romus' work on the saxophone has been dubbed “ferocious” by the San Francisco Weekly and “central to the creative music world of the West Coast” by writer jazz critic Frank Rubolino. From his very beginnings as a student of jazz while being exposed to the twilight tutelage of Stan Getz he found himself drawn to the outer realms of Sun Ra and Albert Ayler, as well as Arthur Blythe, Derek Bailey and Merzbow. He leads the Lords of Outland a free improvisation unit since 1994, the Life’s Blood Ensemble a compostional contemporary ensemble, and works with pianist Thollem McDonas in the Bloom Project as well as the collective improvisation group The Ruminations.
He has recorded over 40 albums exploring improvisation and composition in a wide variety of musical settings both as a leader and sideman which have included Chico Freeman, John Tchicai, Vinny Golia, Thollem McDonas, Stefan Pasborg, James Zitro, Heikki "Mike" Koskinen, and Jon Bridsong to name a few. He is the founder of Edgetone Records with over 30 years of independent music production, and performance experience as well as the founder and Executive Director of Outsound Presents under which curates the bi-weekly music series known as SIMM at the Musicians Union Hall, the weekly Luggage Store Gallery Creative Music Series, as well as annual Outsound New Music Summit, the Bay Area's creative music festival held every summer in San Francisco.


Extended Version
Rent Romus is a saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, music and performing arts producer, and community leader who currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A third generation Finnish American born in the great north of upper Michigan and growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Romus began playing piano at the age of five until he was thirteen when he decided to play the alto saxophone, which his mother also played. In 1982 and 1984, Romus attended the Stanford Jazz Workshop summer programs where he participated in master classes lead by Stan Getz, Bruce Forman, Eddie Moore, and Dizzy Gillespie. Romus’s exposure to Stan Getz was a pivotal moment in his early development where Getz would ask him to find a mirror and work on his tone watching his embrasure as he played. His pivotal experience with the tenor saxophonist was when Getz picked up his horn and joined him in a rendition of the song "I’ll Remember April" during a master class. When Romus was sixteen years of age, his first experience in curation was hoisted upon him after his high school teacher Dick Goodrich quit his job leaving him in charge of a 17-piece big band called the North Area Youth Jazz Ensemble (NAYJE). From 1987 - 1991 he attended the University of California at Santa Cruz. While at college he led the band Jazz on the Line which he had founded in 1984 that served as a vehicle for the member’s compositions and performances.


Between 1989 and 1994 Romus produced three albums with Jazz on the Line including ‘’In the Moment’’ with tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman. Other performing members during the group’s history included saxophonists Michael Sidney Timpson and Dan Magay, pianist Stephano DeZerega, trumpeter Jason Olaine, vocalist Anna Gurski, and drummer Ben Leinbach. Other guest artists included drummer Steve Rossi, bassists Ravi Abcarian, Corin Stiggall, and Ernie Provenchure. After graduating from the University of California in Santa Cruz in 1992, Romus worked odd jobs before moving to San Francisco in 1993 where he formed a trio with drummer James Zitro and former Sun Ra Arkestra cellist Kash Killion, originally called the RKZtet and later dubbed the Lords of Outland. In 1995 Romus changed personnel of the group to include his long time associate Jason Olaine along with drummer Andrew Borger and bassist Vytas Nagisetty (aka Brock Lee). In the summer of 1995 and 1996 Romus toured in Denmark with pianist Jonas Müller , drummer Tomas Barfod, drummer Stefan Pasborg which later lead to his 1999 recording with Pasborg and bassist Jonas Westergaard as the Life's Blood Trio. In 1997 Romus performed and recorded with Jon Birdsong, Dave Mihaly, and guest tenor saxophonist John Tchicai known best for his work with John Coltrane and Albert Ayler in the 1960’s. In 1998 Romus worked with instrument inventor Tom Nunn, cellist Doug Carroll, guitarist Joel Harrison and drummer Dave Mihaly. This formation focused on a set of compositions inspired by the writings of author Philip K. Dick.

In 2001 Romus reinvented the Lords of Outland with bassist Bill Noertker, drummer Dave Mihaly and the late trombonist Toyoji Tomita, and later that year recorded Avatar In the Field a tribute to the late saxophonist Albert Ayler. In 2002 Romus began working with poet/musician/artist CJ Borosque whom he later married. Together they produced The Metal Quan Yin (destinations suite) with an expanded group that included vocalist Jesse Quattro, and Andre Custodio based on her self published book of the same name. That same year also marked a shift in Romus’ musical exploration branching out into complete free improvisation when he along side guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante created The Abstractions a collective ensemble that ranged in size from two to ten players. The group toured the west coast of the United States in 2002 and 2004 and released three recordings and included Jesse Quattro, Scott R Looney, Bob Marsh, Philip Everett, Sandor Finta, CJ Borosque, Ray Schaeffer, Lance Grabmiller, Alwyn Quebido, and Dina Emerson. In 2006 Romus toured through the midwest of the United States performing in St. Lois Missouri, Urbana Illinois, Detroit Michigan, and Columbus Ohio with stops along the east coast to Philadelphia and New York City with composer and pianist Thollem Mcdonas and drummer Jon Brumit as the Bloom Project. They went on to release two more albums in 2007 and Sudden Aurora in 2009. In contrast to the Lords of Outland, Bloom Project featured a more sparse melodic repertoire. During that same year Romus shifted the roster of the current Lords of Outland with drummer Philip Everett, bassist Ray Schaeffer, and CJ Borosque on no-input effects pedals mixing harsh noise and free improvisation and producing recordings to present day.

In 2010 he released his first album with strings featuring the The Emergency String (X)tet, an amophus string ensemble loosley lead by cellist and muiltiinstumentalist Bob Marsh from San Francisco that changes membership on a regular basis. That same year Romus' suite of music "Edge of Dark" inspired by Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune novels was recorded with guest work by multi-reedist/saxophonist Vinny Golia, and was released in 2011 on Nine Winds and Edgetone Records. The music focused on early compositional processes by Romus incorporating a more acoustic approach to the music with CJ Borosque adding a third horn on tumpet and opening up solos to inlclude much of Vinny Golia's cache of reed instruments. Continuing this exploration of a balanced approach to acoustics and electronics Romus released Thee Unhip in 2012 by the Lords of Outland consisting featuring a cross section of older and new compositions including compostions inspired by Kraken Mare discovered on Saturn's Moon of Titan by the Cassini space probe and a dedication to Italian horror director Amando de Ossorio. In 2013 and 2014 the Life's Blood Ensemble returned to release Truth Teller and Cimmerian Crossroads with bassists Kim Cass, Markus Hunt and Timothy Orr. Later in 2014 through 2015 Romus presented The Otherworld Cycle with an extended 12-piece Life's Blood Ensemble in a series of improvisations and compositions inspired by the Finnish National Epic known as the Kalevala.


As a Curator
From his first experience as a young music producer in 1984 with the North Area Youth Jazz Ensemble (NAYJE), Romus continued to produce and curate performances and presentations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Romus runs Edgetone Records launched in 1991 originally a vanity label to support his recordings and later in 2001 began releasing other artists primarily from the San Francisco Bay Area crossing many forms of improvised and experimental music. He was the Executive Director of Jazz in Flight from 1996-1997 a non-profit jazz presenting organization based in Oakland California until it disbanded in 2001 which booked creative touring and local performing musicians at Yoshi's (jazz club) in Oakland California. He founded Outsound Presents a non-profit artist based organization and serves as the Executive Director while curates The SIMM Music Series at the Musicians Union Hall as well as the Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series in San Francisco. Romus co-founded and was the Director of Promotion for the SFAlt Festival in 2002-04 which lead to him create and organize the annual Edgetone New Music Summit, a national experimental music festival held in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The festival is now produced under the Outsound Presents banner which continues at the present under the title, Outsound New Music Summit.


SELECTED GRANTS & AWARDS
2017 Finlandia Foundation National Travel Grant for Otherworld Finland Tour
2016 San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music Musical Grant Program for The Road to Aacheron Oratorio Berkeley, CA
2015 Finlandia Foundation National Grant for The Otherworld Cycle, Berkeley, CA
2014 San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music Musical Grant Program San Francisco, CA
2013 New Music USA Metlife Creative Connections Grant, San Francisco, CA
2006 Meet the Composer Creative Connections Grant, Philadelphia, PA
2003 Meet The Composer Grant, Meridian Gallery Series, San Francisco, CA


PROJECTS
2017 The Road to Aacheron an original oratorio inspired by fantastic fiction writing of the 1930's
2014-2015"The Otherworld Cycle" for Voice and Large Ensemble, a new music odyssey inspired by the
Kalavela Finnish National Epic
2013 "Cloudknitter Suite" Improvisations on the story and art of Leo Reijnders
2011 "Edge of Dark" Inspired by Frank Herbert's Dune Series featuring Vinny Golia
2011 “The Proceedings Suite #1” based on new literary writing of Dr. Charles Poncé
2009 "Legion of Dagon" Music inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft
2001 “Rent Romus’ A Dark Spring in San Francisco, Ravens’ Gate” inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe
2001 “Children of the Black Hole” inspired by the Dune series by author Frank Herbert
2000 “VORTEX MUSIC” Improvisations on Sci Fi Author Phil K. Dick
2000 The Sonic Scream String Ensemble with the readings of Edgar Allan Poe
2000 The Metal Quan Yin, "Destinations Suite", music based on the writings of poet C.J. Reaven Borosque
1996 “Jazz and Dance with Maia Heiss” @ Kuumbwa Jazz Center Santa Cruz
1995 “Jazz and the Art of Sharon Moore” @ SF Community Music Center

SELECTED PERFORMANCE LOCATIONS
San Francisco CA, San Jose CA, Oakland CA, Portland OR, Los Angeles CA, San Diego CA, Olympia WA, Ashland OR, Bakersfield CA, New York NY, Brooklyn NY, St. Louis MO, Champaign IL, Columbus OH, Detroit MI, Philadephia PA, Chico CA, Sacramento CA, Stockton CA, Copenhagen Denmark, Arhus Denmark, Karbaksmin Denmark, Tijuana Mexico, Helsinki Finland, Kerava Finland, Tampere Finland

DISCOGRAPHY AS A LEADER:
Rising Colossus, Life’s Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2016
The Otherworld Cycle, Life's Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2015
Lords O Leaping, Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2015
Cimmerian Crossroads, Life's Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2014
The Proceedings of Dr. Ké, Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2014
Truth Teller, Life's Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2013
Thee Unhip, Lords of Outland, Nine Winds 2012
Cloud Knitter Suite Live, Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2012
Edge of Dark, Lords of Outland with Vinny Golia, Edgetone 2011
Emergency Rental, The Emergency String (X)tet meet Rent Romus, Edgetone 2010
XV (the first fifteen years 1994-2009), Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2009
Sudden Aurora, Bloom Project with Thollem Mcdonas, Edgetone 2009
GRID, Ministry of Rites, Edgetone 2008
Thundershine, Jazz On The Line with Chico Freeman (re-issuse), Edgetone 2008
Prismatic Season, Bloom Project, Edgetone 2008
You can sleep when you're dead!, Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2008
Bloom, Bloom Project with Thollem Mcdonas, Jon Brumit, Steven Baker, Edgetone 2006
Culture of Pain, Lords of Outland, Edgetone, 2006
Reverberations of Spring Past, Pax, 2006
The Foolkiller, Tri-Cornered Tent Show, Edgetone, 2005
Tri-Cornered Tent Show LEGION OF DAGON, Edgetone, 2004
Novo Navigatio, The Abstractions, Edgetone/Pax Records, 2004
ARS VIVENDE, The Abstractions, Edgetone/Pax Records, 2003
Sonic Conspiracy, The Abstractions, Edgetone/Pax Records, 2002
The Metal Quan Yin, Lords of Outland with poet C.J. Reaven Borosque, Edgetone, 2001
PKD Vortex Project – New Music composed inspired by the Stories of Phil K. Dick, Edgetone, 2001
Out of Town, Guinea Pig, Edgetone, 2001
Avatar In the Field – A Tribute to Albert Ayler, Lords of Outland, Edgetone, 2001
Blood Motions, Life’s Blood Trio, Jazzheads Records, 1999
Adapt…or DIE!, Lords of Outland with John Tchicai, Jazzheads Records, 1997
You’ll Never Be The Same, Lords of Outland, Jazzheads Records, 1995
Jazz On The Line with Chico Freeman, In The Moment, Edgetone Records, 1994
Jazz On the Line, no boundaries, Edgetone Records, 1991
Jazz On The Line, Dark Wind, Edgetone Records, 1988

DISCOGRAPHY AS A SIDEMAN:
C.O.M.A. California Outside Music Associates, Edgetone/Jazzheads Records, 2004
Jim Ryan's Forward Energy CONFIGURATIONS, Edgetone, 2002
Moe!kestra!, TWO FORMS OF MULTITUDES, Edgetone/Pax, 2003
Paris Slim with Joe Lewis Walker, Sonny Rhodes, Bleedin’ Heart, Globe Records, 1996

ENSEMBLES
Lords of Outland
Bloom Project
Life's Blood Ensemble
The Runminations

PRODUCTION WORK
Executive Director of OUTSOUND.org
Owner & Artistic Director: Edgetone Records
Director, The Annual Outsound New Music Summit
Co-Curator, SIMM Music Series in San Francisco
Co-Curator, Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series