Toby Summerfield was born in Ann Arbor, MI in 1978. First musical memory: dancing on his sister’s bed with Duran Duran, Human League and X in the headphones. Saw Back to the Future and was inspired (after a summer of playing air-, broomstick- and baseball-bat-guitar) to learn the electric guitar. Started first band. Became a fixture at the record store at 13, after joining the school Jazz Band. Started playing bass (upright and electric) in high school.
Toby is a Composer, Improviser and Collaborator. His main compositional vehicle is Never Enough Hope, which he also conducts. He has written for smaller ensembles, (solo guitar, trio, quartets, sixes, twelves) and has scored two films.
Toby has been an active participant in the Chicago free music scene since 2001, playing with improvising luminaries Frank Rosaly, Jaimie Branch, Tim Daisy, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Josh Berman, Keefe Jackson and many others.
Toby has spent his entire life writing music collaboratively with his friends; the equal-footed collaborations of Crush Kill Destroy and Poignant Plecostomus, a foil to (maybe interpreter of…) Bill Brovold’s mad genius in Larval; a sounding-board, editor and producer with virtuoso violinist/chanteuse Dina Maccabee.
Toby likes how the three practices inform and enrich one another. The improvising feeds the collaboration and composition. The collaboration inspires the composition and lubricates the improvisation. The composition gives shape to the collaboration and improvisation.