BoxDeserter is an long-running improvising chamber orchestra that features pianist Thollem McDonas and bassist Joel Peterson usually with stalwarts Kurt Prisbe and Michael Carey and an ever growing pool of collaborators. Many versions of the group have existed over the years, including one with Faruq Z. Bey in his final full concert performance. The California label Edgetone released BoxDeserter's debut CD, Two Revolutions, in 2008.

“Thollem is an astounding pianist who understands the huge scope of the instrument“ —Terry Riley

A brief cross section of Thollem's many recent collaborators include William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, Stefano Scodanibbio, Nels Cline, Mike Watt, Martha Colburn and Matthew Barney. He is the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a Mexican-American cross border ensemble for musical exchange as well as the lead singer of the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti. He's also a published author about art, politics and his travels in The Anthology of Essays On Deep Listening, Full Moon Magazine (Prague) and First American Art Magazine and, along with ACVilla, is presently working on two completely different documentaries about America along their travels.

Members of BoxDeserter

Thollem McDonas (piano) 
Joel Peterson (double-bass) 
Kurt Prisbe (percussion)
Michael Carey (winds)
Marko Novachcoff
Faruq Z. Bey (winds)
Skeeter Shelton (winds) 
Hasan Abdur Razzaq (winds)
Abby Alwin (cello)

Steven Baker
Molly Jones (winds)
Marcus Elliot (winds)
James Cornish (brass)
Matthew Smith (brass)
Tyler Hicks (guitar)
James Baljo (tapes, percussion)
Brad Duncan

Two Revolutions
Released January 28, 2008
Edgetone Records
Available as Digital Album and CD

Recorded live in Detroit at the Bohemian National Home, the performance captured a semi-structured improvisation of seven musical participants and a short interwoven recitation about Portuguese colonization of Africa and the eventual uprising centuries later. The lineup came together spontaneously and results in many combinations of timbre, seamless transitions, abundant ideas, and virtuosic interaction. This is a sonic story of violence, oppression, and rebellion. 

1. Oneathome
2. Oneabroad

Brad Duncan - Lecture
Hasan Abdur-Razzaq - Reeds
Michael Carey - Reeds
Marko Novachcoff - Reeds
Joel Peterson - Double Bass
Kurt Prisbe - Drums
Steven Baker - Laotian Mouth Organ
Thollem Mcdonas - Piano, Conduction

“TwoRevolutions was recorded live in Detroit at the Bohemian National Home by pianist/conductor Thollem McDonas and his ensemble called BoxDeserter. This live, 2 song, near 80 minute set, features eight musicians performing free form, avant-garde jazz, mostly lengthy improvisations woven together, with the end result coming across as quite savage and dissonant at times. Fans of Ornette Coleman's 60's material, or even the modern day stylings of Taylor's Free Universe, will love these noisy and adventurous sonic explorations. While McDonas at times adds in plenty of majestic piano lines, it's the reed trio of Hasan Abdur-Razzaq, Michael Carey, and Marko Novachcoff that provides most of the excitement here, their dueling saxes and oboes squonking away like battling geese, with Joel Peterson's rumbling double bass more than reminding of the late, great, Charlie Mingus. You'll hear some occasional lecture/narration from Brad Duncan (the story behind this event deals with the Portuguese colonization of Africa and the eventual uprising centuries later), but for the most part this is all instrumental free-jazz. The first piece "OneAtHome" is the more chaotic of the two, offering up plenty of spontaneous combustion and wild, violent bursts, while "OneAbroad" takes plenty of time to unwind, starting off with almost an minimalistic approach before McDonas' tinkering piano lines and Kurt Prisbe's lazy drum fills slowly bring the rest of the musicians into play for some jarring explosions” —Sea of Tranquility

These are seasoned professionals who understand the art of improvisations, who have a keen ear for the most minute detail… — Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta