The Crushing Spiral Ensemble, originally formed by Small in 1998, is re-emerging from a long hiatus with a new cast of players and a repertoire of new music, written by Small between 2006 and 2008. As before, the Ensemble features a rotating cast of Bay Area players with a core of Ensemble regulars. The new core group consists of Steve Adams (saxophones), Sylvain Carton (saxophones), Mitch Marcus (saxophones), Henry Hung (trumpet), and Micah McClain (drums). From 1998 to 2002, Small wrote for, performed in, and produced the original version of this band. The group’s performances included appearances at the San Francisco Jazz Festival (2001), the Monterey Jazz Festival (2000), the San Jose Jazz Festival (2000), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2000), and numerous appearances at Bay Area venues, such as Yoshi’s, Bruno’s, Jupiter, Café Du Nord, and others. Small and his music were also featured on National Public Radio’s "West Coast Live" in 1999 and 2000, which included live performances and interviews on-air.

Small released two albums with the original group, Pictures of an Inhibition (1999), and The Count of San Francisco (2000). “Beautifully surreal and hauntingly languid…demonstrating Small’s affinity for wry humor and quiet grandiosity” said the San Francisco Bay Guardian of the first release. The San Francisco Weekly described the second album as “seductive and mysterious…shifting effortlessly among klezmer, pop, rock, and improv jazz…Small infuses his quirky compositions with both breadth and intimacy.” In a live concert review, the late, revered Phil Elwood of the San Francisco Examiner raved “Small’s magnificent and imaginative bass playing creates a kaleidoscope of impressive sounds…the music (the Crushing Spiral Ensemble) plays has an integrity and excitement about it that many of the veteran jazz giants seem to have lost over the years.”

Sylvain Carton


Born in Chartres, France, raised in the U.S. and currently SF Bay Area– based, Sylvan Carton composes for, performs with, and arranges for a vast array of ensembles. He co-leads the Mitch Marcus Quintet and an extended, 18-piece version of the quintet called the MMQ + 13 Big Band, for which his compositions won a 2004 Subito grant from the American Composer's Forum. He is the primary composer for the Japonize Elephants, an eclectic gypsy-bluegrass-klezmer-jazz ensemble. In addition to composing for various chamber groups, Carton co-leads Spaceblaster, a surf-metal spaghetti western band, and writes and performs with Aphrodesia, a 10-piece Afro-funk ensemble.


Mitch Marcus


Mitch Marcus is a performer, composer and arranger who has been an integral part of the Bay Area music scene since 1998. In 1999 he founded the Mitch Marcus Quintet (MMQ) and the MMQ + 13 (an 18 piece big band). These groups deliver a unique brand of original music from post-apocalyptic jazz to trance hypnotism, and feature many of Mitch’s extended compositions. In 2004, he was awarded a Subito grant from the American Composer’s Forum for his work with the MMQ + 13. As a composer, his commissions include chamber and orchestral scores for original ballets with Ballet Counterpointe Repertory.

Steve Adams


Steve Adams composes and plays saxophone and flute. He is a member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, which has be hailed as "one of the most daring ensembles of any instrumentation to emerge in recent years" by Downbeat. Steve can be heard on more than 50 recordings, including 22 with Rova and six as a leader or co-leader for the 9 Winds and Clean Feed labels. Steve received a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2000 and a Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest grant in 1993, and currently teaches at Mills College. He also plays with the Bill Horvitz Band and the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble.

Henry Hung


Henry Hung started his musical career in New York, studying trumpet and music theory with Dave Burns, a revered member of Dizzy Gillespie’s original big band. A versatile performer, Henry is now based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he plays with groups that span the musical spectrum, from traditional to avant-garde. He plays with world music ensembles, such as Anthony Brown’s Grammy-nominated Asian American Jazz Orchestra, in addition to being an active member of the vibrant Bay Area Latin/salsa music scene, pop, funk, Afro beat, African Hi-life, and classical realms.



Micah McClain


A student of drumming for over 20 years and a teacher for over 15, Micah has performed with artists representing a rich cross-section of musical traditions - jazz luminaries Red Rodney, David Baker and James Moody, MTV favorites Oh My God, traditional Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Ugandan, Ghanaian, and Native American ensembles, the rockabilly circus music of The Kehoe Nation, and bass clarinet quartet Edmund Welles. His current projects include the Terrence Brewer Quintet, Stanley, Project Pimento, Water Babies, and all of Matt Small’s current ensemble projects. Micah attended Indiana University, where he studied with Kenny Aronoff and David Baker.