“This ensemble has effectively picked the pocket of a score of musical styles from all over the world to create a melodic and cohesive work of originality, humor and melodic invention.”
– Eric Feber, The Virginian-Pilot
From the street corner to the concert hall, the pickPocket ensemble create a contemporary chamber cafe music that moves both body and soul. Based in Northern California, we have toured internationally and released 6 CD’s of original music. Our music has been featured in several films and on NPR and public television.
To listen to the pickPocket ensemble is to embark on a journey. Speak to audience members after a performance: one will have been to Bogota, one to Prague, one to Paris. Yet for all its wide-ranging inspirations, the music of the pickPocket ensemble remains intensely personal and immediately engaging, an invitation to listen in on an intimate and ongoing conversation.
Rick Corrigan (accordion, piano, composition) has been an electronic music composer and film composer, with several scores for experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage to his credit, and has produced live film and sound performances with filmmaker Paul Lundahl at San Francisco’s Exploratorium and SF’s Cinematheque.
Marguerite Ostro (violin) is a member of the Pickpocket Ensemble, Iron and the Albatross, and Kugelplex. She has recorded for the Cartoon Network, Zion-I, MC Rai, Stewart Copland’s Groove Addicts Studios, and Pete Sears of Jefferson Airplane, toured in France, Holland and Egypt, and performs frequently for Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Foundation. She has been featured on West Coast Live, performed with Frank London of the Klezmatics and Shana Morrison, and performs with the Oakland Symphony as a guest artist with Kugelplex.
Yates Brown’s guitar, banjo, bass, and sitar playing appear on over 30 recordings, including 7 solo albums, with live performances including Spoleto Festival USA. He performs regularly with the traditional Arabic orchestra ASWAT and has toured with progressive rock group Ventid.
Kurt Ribak (double bass) is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and a longtime Bay Area music veteran who composes and performs his own music with the Kurt Ribak Trio.The trio has released 3 CD’s and has performed throughout the Bay Area, including such venue’s as Yoshi’s Jazz Club. His compositional influences include Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Astor Piazzolla.
Michaelle Goerlitz and Brian Rice - percussion Lila Sklar – violin
Sam Bass and Myra Joy - cello Peter Jaques – trumpet and clarinet
“Sometimes the best albums take the longest to get to know: Bay Area instrumentalists Pickpocket Ensemble’s latest album Memory is one of the most unselfconsciously beautiful ones to come over the transom in recent months. Their dark, austere, gypsy-tinged acoustic melodies linger over tricky rhythms that sometimes shift shape to the point where it’s impossible not to get lost. Plaintive but not sentimental, wistful without being hokey, this is tremendously captivating rainy-day music.”
Our first live CD
“As always Rick Corrigan and co. conjure somber, slinky atmospheres from their ensemble of violin, double bass, guitar, accordion, and percussion… Terrific!”
Fingerpainting in Red Wine
“Finger-painting in red wine is a fresh, open minded cd with well played music. A real pleasure to hear.”
If I Were A Highway
“If you only knew how good this act is. the pickPocket Ensemble play a certain style of music that can’t be found anywhere… Middle Eastern? Gipsy Music? let’s call it pickPocket style. If I Were A Highway is their best production and it should be looked closely not as a pop phenomenon nor as a potential world success, but just as beautiful music with no boundaries of any kind. The world needs this band ASAP.”
A Streetcar Too Far
International House of Dreams
Join us on Friday, September 13
at The Red Poppy Art House, 2698 Folsom Street, SF
with special guests Doralice
Doors open at 7pm, music from 7:30-9:30.
$15 at the door
magical and mysterious chamber cafe entertainment in the Mission
We’ve long known that the veteran San Francisco acoustic group Pickpocket Ensemble never fail to deliver the goods, and their sixth cd reaffirms this. Those of you outside the Bay Area might already be familiar with them and this album from their airplay on NPR. It’s sure to please old fans as well as attract plenty of new ones. Always rich in mood and atmosphere, they deftly meld inspirations and instrumentation from around the globe. Some are fleeting like single threads in their lustrous tapestry, while others (such as the Appalachian folk and Balkan gypsy influences) appear more solidly, forming artfully arranged patches of the PPE musical quilt. Along the mesmerizing way, they visit and revisit the twist and turns of jazz, flamenco, tango and chamber music. Equally at home in a sunny sidewalk cafe or a vivacious cabaret, Memory is a dark and sultry album that captures the flair and charm of a bygone era.
- Aquarius Records
Sometimes the best albums take the longest to get to know: that’s our excuse for sitting on this one as long as we have (it came out last fall). Bay Area instrumentalists Pickpocket Ensemble’s latest album Memory is one of the most unselfconsciously beautiful ones to come over the transom in recent months. Their dark, austere, gypsy-tinged acoustic melodies linger over tricky rhythms that sometimes shift shape to the point where it’s impossible not to get lost. Plaintive but not sentimental, wistful without being hokey, this is tremendously captivating rainy-day music.
The opening cut, Home, blends elements of Belgian barroom musette with tricky gypsy rhythms, bandleader/accordionist Rick Corrigan layering one track over another like a piece of baklava, guitarist Yates Brown and violinist Marguerite Ostro’s lines mingling with the wary ambience over the shifting pulse of bassist Kurt Ribak and percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz. The aptly titled 3 AM veers closer to gypsy jazz with staccato piano and memorably spiky solos from both piano and guitar. The third track, If (not to be confused with the cheeseball 70s hit by Bread…or the Pink Floyd tune, come to think of it) is another brooding minor key number, violin taking the lead over incisive, thoughtful fingerpicked guitar. Brown’s gorgeously spiraling solo over shuffling acoustic guitar and bright piano on the fourth track, Sometimes Never, is one of the album’s high points.
Baroque meets jazz on the wistful ballad Bird in a Web, featuring another beautiful Brown solo. They follow that with the bittersweet, elegaic waltz For Those Who’ve Left and then Seriously, which blends gypsy jazz with a cosmopolitan, Astor Piazzolla-ish elegance. The title track adds banjo and brass – and a sizzling muted trumpet solo – over a bracing minor-key gospel melody; after a brief Arab-flavored spot for solo cello, they close the album with a characteristically pensive, rhythmically dizzying number titled Nowhere Else. Fans of eclectic pan-global bands from Beirut to Kotorino will enjoy this: count it among the best we’ve heard lately.
-Delarue, Lucid Culture
The Pickpocket Ensemble features acoustic café music on its independent release, “Memory”. Waxing nostalgic for Eastern European fare and the French musette (without the bagpipes), the ensemble hops and skips its way through global street side cafes. You can easily picture yourself sitting in a Bulgarian or Parisian café sipping designer coffee while buskers serenade you with these little gems.
Featuring accordion, guitar, banjo, piano, violin, percussion, and bass, this Bay Area ensemble will have listeners lapping from their coffee cups.
The musicians perform short songs, with the longest one, “Nowhere Else” clocking in at 4 1/2 minutes, and the shortest in less than a minute. The instrumental recording presents potent melodies with a circus tinge. However, on “For Those Who’ve Left” portrays an Erik Satie melancholy with its conversation between piano and violin.
The title track, sounds liked it hailed out of Bulgaria alternating with Central France with its plucky banjo, and swinging violin.
Sad or happy songs, you can hear the musicians having fun as they give their listeners an earful of yummy acoustic flavors. I’ll personally thank the bandleader and founder, Rick Corrigan (accordion, piano and composition), for leaving electronic music behind and charting in territory that journeys backwards in time. And after listening to heavier produced music, listening to “Memory” compares to eating an after dinner mint, it’s the final taste that lingers on the tongue.
- Patricia Herlevi, World Music Central
If the original Hot Club had a folkie edge and a more universal outlook when the world was less of a melting pot, they would have sounded something like this. With less of a gypsy jazz edge, their self styled café music is a little too engaged for playing at Starbucks but anyplace the bohos outnumber the fauxhos, there’s going to be open ears for this youthful take on a timeless sound and vibe. Fun stuff that knows how to deliver the proper audio getaway. Check it out.
-The Midwest Record Blog
“Beautiful, Contemplative, Reflective, Evocative”
- Inanna Naked
This album of catchy, original compositions agglomerates several old world styles, including klezmer, gypsy, flamenco, and tango. Marguerite Ostro’s violin is mesmerizing. “Bird in a Web” lays a languid melody over a drum pattern that actually swings. “Seriously” has the shuffling rhythm of a dance number. The title track combines fiddle and banjo in a way that recalls the gothic south.
- Rachel Swan, The East Bay Express
Great playing and a delicious mix of styles.
- KZSU Radio Music Reviews- Stanford
The San Francisco band could be termed “world music” for the diversity of their influences, but their all-acoustic, honed-from-playing-live arrangements set them apart from the increasingly dull digitalization of global sound. On Memory, the Ensemble draws from Serbian and Gypsy influences, with echoes of jazz and Appalachia, on instrumental compositions that could be the soundtrack to an art house film no one has made. Memory is music to dream with.
-David Luhrssen, ExpressMilwaukee
Group founder, accordionist and pianist Rick Corrigan calls his quintet’s acoustic instrumental output “cafe music.” That’s as good a label as any for the delightfully playful tunes he composed for an ensemble that includes a violinist, guitarist, bassist and percussionist
Using Corrigan’s keyboard prowess and Marguerite Ostro’s lively klezmer violin touches, this group creates a sweet swirl of exquisitely performed music informed by French Chanson, Gypsy swing, Balkan beats, contemporary chamber music, film scores and North African melodies, along with blues, jazz, folk and Latin elements.
“Memory” is only a half-hour long, but its 10 compositions are completely satisfying, with each piece a fully realized work of musical heft. The musical execution is often lighting quick, and at other times lyrically serene. This ensemble has effectively picked the pocket of a score of musical styles from all over the world to create a melodic and cohesive work of originality, humor and melodic invention.
- Erc Feber, The Virginian-Pilot
Instrumental compositions of near perfect cafe music… If they were playing a cafe near me I’d drink there all day.
- Nick Browne, whisperin&hollerin
No shows booked at the moment.