Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble | Sound Textures

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Classical: Contemporary Avant Garde: Free Improvisation Moods: Type: Improvisational
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Sound Textures

by Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble

Improvised Contemporary Art Music
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Audio Logo
0:10 $0.99
2. Four Steps Toward Parnassus
10:18 $0.99
3. Whimper
6:34 $0.99
4. 5:29 to Zero
5:33 $0.99
5. A Little Plunge
4:52 $0.99
6. Bad Diversity
4:55 $0.99
7. See Sharp
9:44 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

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.



to write a review

Hans Grüsel, electronic music improviser, San Francisco

WoW! super stuff!!!
. . . . . listening to your cd. WoW! super stuff!!!

Dave Howell, Rambles.NET

Fascinating Textures
Stanley Schumacher and his Music Now Ensemble are practicing free improvisation here. In much of the CD, Schumacher solos over the balloons and electronics. At times he plays quickly in quick bursts, while at others his notes come at a slower pace. On “Bad Diversity” he does a stretch of modified scat singing, making strange vocal noises that seem as if he is speaking in tongues. . . . With close listening you hear patterns as the musicians relate to each other. Often, Schumacher seems to be talking with his horn, directing his players. There may not be rhythm but there are musical notes, just in an unusual context. It helps to see free improv live. With this group, it would be interesting to see how Arias produces sounds from the balloons. But these textures can also be fascinating to listen to, if you give them a chance.

Donna Knudson, Bethlehem, PA

Wow! Now that was something else!
Wow! Now that was something else! I really really enjoyed this CD. Talk
about shapes, and colors and movements and all kinds of sensations going
through the body when listening to it! And it's hard not to listen to it
without what you see visually and feel tactilely mixing in with it all. I
felt a sudden breeze through the window and I thought it was part of the
music, or I thought it *was* the music. And no I'm not on drugs or
schizophrenic. It's just that this music lends itself to these kinds of
experiences for me and it was great. I loved Stanley Schumacher’s vocal stuff. Ending that one piece with the snoring was hilariously funny, and I thought the vocal sounds Stanley made while playing the trombone were really neat. Some of it reminded me of some of the vocal stuff I used to do while improvising. Where it just happens and you aren't doing it anymore. And the last one was such a powerful way to end the CD. Really really neat. All of it. I'll definitely listen to it again. What a trip.

Robert Iannapollo, Cadence Magazine

An Interesting Dialogue – Smart and Funny
SOUND TEXTURES (Musikmacher Productions MM001) by STANLEY SCHUMACHER AND THE MUSIC NOW ENSEMBLE is a set of experiments in abstract sound led by trombonist Schumacher. Most of it is by a trio (Schumacher, tbn, vcl; Hans Tammen, g, elec; Ricardo Arias, balloons.) that produces small noises ranging from indistinct knocks and whispers to electronic beeping and actual trombone honking. The balloons seem to produce most of the squeakier and more abrasive sounds which fit right in with the grinding guitar and tooting trombone of “5:29 to Zero.” The trio produces an interesting dialogue between electronic thuds and glitches and the warmer sound of played brass and strings. The last piece is from a different trio (Schumacher; Richard Smith, ts; Larry Pittis, b,elec.) and is basically a drone that slowly changes pitch and volume before climaxing in loud feedback. The entire set (Audio Logo/Four Steps Toward Parnassus/Whimper/5:29 to Zero/A Little Plunge/Bad Diversity/See Sharp. 42:09) comes off as a smart and funny example of this kind of electroacoustic work.

Christy Nixon, Ohio State University

a unique modern sound
I like the techniques used in the pieces I heard. But I felt it would be more exciting to listen, if I saw it live from the audience at a show. It is really hard for me to critique your work, because I am not used to this kind of music, but overall I liked what I heard. I feel the pieces are very well put together and the sounds complement each other throughout the pieces. Nice Work

James T. Decker, International Trombone Association Journal

An Inspiration for Composers and Performers Alike
. . . . SOUND TEXTURES transforms our concepts on creative use of musical instruments, everyday items, and electronics, resulting in effective musical results and unique sound templates.
. . . Noteworthy on this CD is the seamless mesh between traditional musical instruments and electronically-created sounds. Stanley Schumacher plays many interesting musical motives and events that make the listener realize the versatility and adaptability of the trombone in any textural environment . . . . The textures created are quite dynamic and always changing and evolving into different sonic pictures, resulting in compelling buildups of tension and release. These textures are “orchestrated” in such a way that they draw the listener into these sound environments. . . .The versatile and creative performances by Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble serve as an inspiration for composers and performers alike to create musical tapestries far beyond those of traditional musical acoustics and syntax. . . .