Life's Blood Ensemble Lords of Outland Actual/Actual Otherworld Ensemble
Itkuja Suite Manala Road to Aacheron The Otherworld Cycle

Rent Romus 2022 photo by Lenny GonzalezShort Version
Rent Romus is an Emmy award winning saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, music producer, and community activist. Since 1988, his 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 Frank Rubolino. He leads the Lords of Outland a free improvisation unit, the Life’s Blood Ensemble a composition based contemporary group, and the Otherworld Ensemble a Finnish/American collective exploring new perspectives in heritage and traditional folk. He has recorded over 50 albums exploring a wide variety of musical settings which have included beat poet founder ruth weiss, and creative music pioneers Chico Freeman, John Tchicai, and Vinny Golia, Teppo Hauta-aho, Heikki Koskinen, Thollem McDonas, Stefan Pasborg, Marcos Fernandez, and Ernesto Diaz-Infante to name a few. He is the founder of Edgetone Records a community driven label with over 30 years of independent music production, and the creator of Outsound Presents, an all-volunteer musician run non-profit music presenting organization since 2000.

His main instrument is the alto saxophone doubling on c-melody, soprano, sopranino saxophones, various flutes and small percussion. His interests cross both genre and music notation styles from freeimprovisation to composition and graphic score. In addition to a background in jazz he is well versed in experimental, noise, drone, blues, rock, and traditional folk music forms.

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 on Hancock of the Upper Peninsula of 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’ 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 during a master class when Getz picked up his horn and joined him in a rendition of the song "I’ll Remember April". When Romus was sixteen, 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 earlier co-founded in 1984 with Michael Timpson and Daniel Magay 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 pianist Stephano DeZerega, trumpet player Jason Olaine, vocalist Anna Gurski(Christina), 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 longtime 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 alongside 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 sparser 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.

In 2010 he released his first album with strings featuring the The Emergency String (X)tet, an amorphous string ensemble loosely lead by cellist and instrumentalist 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 trumpet and opening up solos to include 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 compositions 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.

Starting in 2013 Romus revived the Life's Blood project initially as a trio with the release of "Truth Teller" featuring Timothy Orr on Drums and Kim Cass on double bass. Later in 2014 he added a second bassist Markus Hunt and released "Cimmerian Crossroads". That same year he met founding beat poet ruth weiss (who preferred to use all lower case letters on her name “in protest of all forms of authority”, she later told him). From 2015-2019 Romus performed with ruth in her quartet in the local San Francisco Bay Area as well as working with her during the filming of two documentaries "ruth weiss: The Beat Goddess" and "One more step west is the sea". In 2018 they recorded her last known album which was released posthumously in 2021.

In 2015 Romus expanded the core group now known as the Life's Blood Ensemble and included vibraphonist Mark Clifford, bassists Safa Shokrai and Max Judelson as well as saxophonist Joshua Marshall and trumpet player Heikki "Mike" Koskinen. In 2016 they recorded “Rising Colossus” and released it as a double vinyl LP. Also in 2015 Romus began his first ethno-cultural research composition project "Otherworld Cycle" which combined the ancient stories from the Finnish National Epic the Kalevala and American large ensemble jazz for thirteen pieces. The album was originally released on 2015 and later remastered in 2020.

In 2017 alongside Finnish jazz musician and composer Heikki "Mike" Koskinen toured the Otherworld Cycle across Southern Finland with double bassists Teppo Hauta-aho, Ville Rauhala, drummers Olavi Louhivuori, Simo Laihone, and saxophonists Mikko Innanen and Tane Kannisto. There he recorded two albums under the group name Otherworld Ensemble later released in 2018. Later in 2018 he created “Manala” based on Kalevala poems of the Finnish underworld co-composing with Heikki Koskinen. In 2019 Romus and Koskinen returned to Finland touring to Central and Southern Finland featuring Professor, folk musician, and vocalist Heikki Laitinen, bassists Eero Tikkanen and Teppo Hauta-aho, and saxophonist Mikko Inanen. During that time they began a field study for the Itkuja Suite began in Joensuu Finland while on tour and continued with the collection of research material of relevant historical, cultural and audio documentation from Nordic University post-doctoral research, Library of Congress, and books from Dr. Heikki Laitinen. In 2020 they released “Manala” with the Life’s Blood Ensemble and “Return from Manala” with the Otherworld Ensemble. In 2022 he debuted the premier of Itkuja Suite at SF Music Day Festival in San Francisco later releasing the full album with an eleven piece band in 2023. Also in 2023 the Film released in 2019 "ruth weiss: the Beat Goddess" which featured Romus as a performing artist won a Northern California Emmy® Award for Best Cultural and Historical Documentary Feature.

2023 52nd Annual Northern California Emmy® Award Winner
Best Cultural and Historical Documentary Feature"ruth weiss: the Beat Goddess"
2022 Finlandia Foundation National Grant to complete the Recording of Itkuja, Oakland CA
2021 Intermusic Music Grant Program to complete the Recording of Itkuja, Oakland CA
2019 Suomi Seura, Finland Ministry of Culture Grant to debut performance of Manala, Berkeley, CA
2019 Finlandia Foundation National Grant for the debut performance of Manala, Berkeley, CA
2019 Intermusic Music Grant Program to complete the Recording of Manala, San Francisco CA
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

2020-2023 Itkuja Suite, Invocations on Lament
2018-19 Manala, an original suite inspired by the netherworld runes of the Finnish Kalevala
2017 The Road to Aacheron an original oratorio inspired by fantastic fiction writing of the 1930's
2014-15"The Otherworld Cycle" , 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

2021 One More Step West is the Sea: Ruth Weiss (Documentary)
2019 ruth weiss: the Beat Goddess (Documentary)

Bakersfield CA, Chico CA, Los Angeles CA, Oakland CA, Sacramento CA, Stockton CA, San Francisco CA, San Jose CA, San Diego CA, New York NY, Brooklyn NY, Ashland OR, Kansas City MO, St. Louis MO, Champaign IL, Springfield IL, Cincinnati OH, Cleveland OH, Columbus OH, Yellow Springs OH, Portland OR, Detroit MI, Philadephia PA, Erie PA, Pittsburg PA, Olympia WA
Karrebæksminde, Copenhagen, Arhus
Helsinki, Kerava, Tampere, Joensuu, Savonlinna, Riihimäki, Hämeenlinna, Jyväskylä

here for the outside, Rent Romus' Actual/Actual, Edgetone 2023
Itkuja Suite, invocations on lament, Life's Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2023
Baptismal, Rent Romus' Actual/Actual, Edgetone 2022
we are sparks in the universe to our own fire, ruth weiss, Edgetone 2021
Return from Manala, Otherworld Ensemble, Edgetone 2020
Manala, Life’s Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2020
The New Neighbors, Guniea Pig, Edgetone 2020
25 years under the mountain, Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2019
side three New Work, Life’s Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2019
Northern Fire, Otherworld Ensemble, Edgetone 2018
Live at Malmitalo, Otherworld Ensemble, Edgetone 2018
Rogue Star, Life’s Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2018
In the darkness we speak a sound brightness and life, Lords of Outland, Edgetone 2017
Deciduous / Midwestern Edition Vol. 1, with Gerard Cox, Hasan Abdur-Razzaq and others, Edgetone 2017
Rising Colossus, Life’s Blood Ensemble, Edgetone 2016
LiR, with Daniel Pearce, Teddy Rankin-Parker, 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
LEGION OF DAGON, Tri-Cornered Tent Show , 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

The one time we met, Zell Morris Trio, 2022
In the Water, Trouble Ensemble, Edgetone Records, 2018
Jazz & Haiku, ruth weiss, flugschrift/Absurdia Records, 2018
Sisällä​/​Ulkona (Inside​/​Outside), Heikki Koskinen's Northern Winds & Voices, Edgetone Records, 2016
Ear of the Storm, T.D. skachit & Co., Edgetone Records, 2013
The Awakening, Jim Ryan's Forward Energy, Edgetone Records, 2012
The Foolkiller, Tri-Cornered Tent Show, Edgetone Records, 2005
Reverberations of Spring Past, Diaz-Infante/Montoya/Fernandes/Romus, Pax, 2005
C.O.M.A. California Outside Music Associates, Edgetone/Jazzheads Records, 2004
TWO FORMS OF MULTITUDES, Moe!kestra!, Edgetone/Pax, 2003
CONFIGURATIONS, Jim Ryan's Forward Energy, Edgetone Records, 2002
Bleedin’ Heart, Paris Slim with Joe Lewis Walker, Sonny Rhodes, Globe Records, 1996

Life's Blood Ensemble
Lords of Outland
Otherworld Ensemble
Rent Romus Trio
Bloom Project
The Ruminations

Executive Director Outsound Presents
Owner & Artistic Director Edgetone Records
Director, The Annual Outsound New Music Summit
Curator, SIMM Music Series in San Francisco
Curator, Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series

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