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MP3 Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble - Sound Textures

Improvised Contemporary Classical Music

7 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary, ELECTRONIC: Experimental


Musikmacher Productions’ first offering brings together Stanley Schumacher, Hans Tammen, and Ricardo Arias to create an adventurous program of pieces which are characterized by their rich electroacoustical textures.

From the opening piece, “Four Steps to Parnassus”(a reference to the Mount Parnassus of classical Greece), it is clear that to hear this music correctly the listener needs to minimize his attention to melody and harmony and instead focus on the ebb and flow of textures and colors within a varied rhythmic context. This is no small task since listeners have for years been conditioned to regard melody and harmony as the central focus of music listening. These musicians have turned the world upside down and are challenging their audience to listen to sound for its pure joy.

Just because we are listening to sound and its evolution doesn’t mean there isn’t any structure in these pieces. There is and a lot of fun as well. Arias is a revelation with his balloon kit while Tammen makes a huge contribution to the electronic environment.
Schumacher, meanwhile, taunts us with both trombone and voice in almost every piece. Just when the listener thinks he is going to play something traditional, he ends up somewhere else.

Special mention should be made of the last piece, “See Sharp.” This collaboration of Stanley Schumacher, Larry Pittis, and Richard Smith was taken from a different recording session. It has been added here to illustrate the marriage of minimalism and electroacoustical sound sources. This idea which fits happily with the preceding program allows the listener the additional fun of focusing on very small musical changes and how they evolve into a piece.

Steven Eversole

MUSIC NOW ENSEMBLE: This ensemble is a collective of improvisers and composers of exceptional musicianship and imagination. The members of the collective perform in various combinations of players in order to offer a kaleidoscope of instrumentations consistent with the philosophy of free improvisation. Stanley Schumacher founded the ensemble in 2003 to present performances in both acoustical and electroacoustical formats and to promote the diversity and spontaneity of improvised contemporary art music.

STANLEY SCHUMACHER: A multi-faceted musical background informs the improvisations of trombonist and vocalist Stanley Schumacher. Stanley has performed with contemporary art music ensembles, Dixieland jazz bands, concert bands, swing bands, orchestras, and blues and rock bands. In addition, he composes contemporary art music. Most of his compositions are for small ensembles and combine pre-planned, aleatory, and improvised elements. A number of his works employ narrative texts, which often exhibit a humorous theatrical element. This theatrical element may also be seen in his colorful improvised vocalizations. Stanley’s varied experience as a performer, his strong background in jazz, and his training and experience as a composer converge to produce a unique and disciplined performance. He regards free improvisation as “instant composition” and brings form and order to the unfolding piece

HANS TAMMEN: Hans Tammen performs with a remarkable collection of mechanical devices on his multi-channeled “endangered” guitars and chases these sounds through a computer for processing them live on stage. His sounds are “extreme, torturing noise scrapings, an alien world of bizarre textures, hard-to-believe sounds, the bowing of metal resting on top of vibrating guitar strings, a yanked out tape measure violently squished against the same strings, a journey through the land of unending sonic operations and an infinite index of metals.” (Bruce Gallanter).

RICARDO ARIAS: Ricardo Arias began improvising as an outgrowth of his studies of electroacoustical music. These studies transformed his idea of musical instrument into the broader concept of “sound source.” He came to consider any object or arrangement of objects capable of producing sound as a potential instrument. He is a flutist who occasionally uses the flute as a sound source for improvisation, but for the last ten years he has most frequently teased improvised sounds from his personal assemblage of rubber balloons which he calls his balloon kit.

RICHARD SMITH: Born in Glendale, West Virginia, Richard Smith began studying saxophone and music theory at an early age. He has earned degrees from Berklee College of Music and Manhattan School of Music and has studied privately with Hugo Norden, Bob Brookmeyer, and Joel Thome. Richard has improvised with numerous players in the Mid-Atlantic States, including performing at the Trenton Avant Garde Festival. He resides in New Jersey with his wife and three children.

LARRY PITTIS: Born in Montclair, New Jersey, and currently living in New York City, Larry Pittis has always been interested in art and music. He received a BFA degree from the University of Michigan and attended Mason Grosse College at Rutgers University. He has studied composition with Joel Thome since 1984. Larry’s interests in art and music converge when he uses drawing techniques for graphic notation in his compositions.

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