Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble | Uber Brass

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Classical: Contemporary Avant Garde: Free Improvisation Moods: Type: Improvisational
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Uber Brass

by Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble

Improvised Contemporary Art Music
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Audio Logo
0:10 $0.99
2. Reddy Teddy
3:13 $0.99
3. Heterodoxy
6:53 $0.99
4. Uber Brass
5:26 $0.99
5. Try Try Again
5:47 $0.99
6. New Idiom Now, Mov I
4:12 $0.99
7. New Idiom Now, Mov II
3:36 $0.99
8. New Idiom Now, Mov III
4:42 $0.99
9. Uber Brass 2
4:17 $0.99
10. Double Trio
10:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

The pieces on Uber Brass are best understood as a complete program. In fact, this CD is an outstanding example of how to create a program which is continually evolving to some defined end, in this case the evolution from pitch to texture as the primary structural parameter.

Beginning with “Reddy Teddy” and “Heterodoxy,” things start off in a traditional manner with a lot of acoustical counterpoint. But wait a minute! This music is not very tonal, and the musicians even seem to lose track of the pitches at times. Next we hear “Uber Brass” in which the ensemble proceeds to elicit even more tonal angst by introducing an electroacoustical environment. “Try Try Again” then tries to re-establish some measure of tonal order by sounding a repeated pitch center to rein in the musicians (no doubt some Schumacher cynicism). This is followed by a brief respite in the three movements which comprise “New Idiom Now.” Here are some “nice,” almost tonal brass solos, but a rather strange idea of harmony makes them sound a bit off center. Just when you thought you might get off easy, “Uber Brass 2” brings back the tonal angst along with some edgy vocalizations by Schumacher.

Finally, we arrive at “Double Trio,” the piece de resistance. This magnificently complex and beautiful piece completes the evolution from pitch to texture as the primary structural parameter by creating a contrapuntal environment so complex that the listener can no longer follow the contrapuntal lines and must instead focus on textural evolution.

The Music Now Ensemble has explored pitch-based to texture-based music in nine tracks with some digression, a little cynicism, and a lot of teasing. Some people are going to love this and some are going to hate it, but only the dead will be passive. This is definitely not your father’s brass ensemble.

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 contemporary art music.

STANLEY SCHUMACHER: From his first experience playing euphonium, through performance in a variety of band ensembles in high school and college, through a doctoral dissertation on unaccompanied brass solos, to writing compositions such as “No Technique” for three trombones, Stanley Schumacher has been immersed in music for brass instruments throughout his career as a musician. Uber Brass, featuring improvisation by trombone, trumpet, and tuba, extends his expertise in brass music into a new arena, improvised contemporary art music. Stanley has an established resume in free improvisation, having performed with Ricardo Arias, Gary Hassay, Rosi Hertlein, Evan Lipson, Hans Tammen, Todd Whitman, and many others. However, Uber Brass is his first opportunity to improvise with an all brass ensemble, adding another dimension to a lifetime of musical activity involving brass music.

Stanley is director of the Music Now Ensemble and president of Musikmacher Productions. His trombone improvisation can also be heard on the first release from Musikmacher Productions, Sound Textures (MM001). At any given time, Stanley may be heard playing unorthodox music in unorthodox places throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.

NATE WOOLEY: Nate Wooley, born in 1974, began playing professionally with his father at age 12 in the Pacific Northwest. After a brief stop in Denver, where he studied and played with Ron Miles, Art Lande, Fred Hess, and Hugh Ragin, Nate moved to Jersey City, NJ, where he has performed/recorded with Anthony Braxton, John Butcher, Paul Lytton, Daniel Levin, Joe Morris, Whit Dickey, Alessandro Bosetti, Jack Wright, and many others. Dave Douglas recently proclaimed Nate “the most interesting and unusual trumpet player I have heard in the last decade. . . and that is without hyperbole,” at a panel discussion on new trumpet music.

DAVID HOFSTRA: Tubaist and bassist David Hofstra was born in 1953 in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was educated at the University of Kansas and has, since he was sixteen, played, toured and recorded extensively in jazz, blues, and contemporary art music. Hofstra was featured in the premier issue of Bass Player magazine in the Spring of 1990. He has also been featured in jazz ensembles including Phillip Johnston’s Transparent Quartet and Big Trouble, the Microscopic Septet, and with jazz greats Denis Charles, William Parker, Jemeel Moondoc, Joel Forrester, Bobby Previte, and Lou Grassi. Hofstra’s blues credits include playing with Bobby Radcliff, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, Earl King, James “Thunderbird” Davis, Grady Gaines, Debbie Davies, Robert Ross, and Chris Carter. He has also played with improvisers Elliot Sharp, Marshall Crenshaw, Marc Ribot, John Zorn, and Rachelle Garniez.



to write a review

Christofer Varner, Trombonist, Munich, Germany

The cd is rich on colours and alternations
You made a wonderful "Uber Brass" CD. Although only 3 brass instruments, the cd is rich on colours and alternations. It’s hard to mention some favorites but I love your lyrical solo on "New Idiom Now II" and "Heterodoxy".

T. J. Ricer, International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal

The whole is larger than the sum of the parts
According to their own liner notes, “some people are going to love this and some are going to hate it, but only the dead will be passive.” With that in mind, Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble have set out to explore new frontiers in brass music. Uber Brass is the group’s follow-up to their debut album, Sound Textures. In this album, they are able to achieve an impressive number of sound colors and combinations for a group of only three brass players. The brass sounds are enhanced sparingly by electronic effects, extended techniques, and vocalization. Most often, though, the music is allowed to speak for itself, allowing the effects to be that much more striking when they are utilized. . . . . .The Music Now Ensemble is likely to be doubly suspicious to new listeners by associating themselves with both free improvisation and contemporary art music. They set themselves apart by avoiding any association with jazz in relation to their improvisation (although Hofstra has extensive experience as a jazz and blues bass player) and by existing in the art music field without relying on a composer’s name recognition. . . . . . From the beginning it is clear that pitch and harmony are not the main focus of this album. Notes (especially in the higher register) are often played off-center as if no specific pitch was intended. This digresses into simple noises in “Try Try Again.” When a single chime is sounded in this track, it is almost as if the ensemble is reminded that there is a pitched world to return to. The extensive trumpet solo in the following track, “New Idiom Now,” begins with the most accessible, tonally grounded motions of the album. The use of repeated pitches and “unirhythm” in the accompanying voices add to the feeling that the band might be moving toward more tonally based music. After five tracks with nearly no tonal basis, this music feels strangely foreign to the ear. This again digresses to “valve wiggling” types of sounds. This ebb and flow of what is accessible and what is exotic lends much interest to the album and, in some ways, makes the whole recording larger than the sum of the parts. . . . . . In the end, the Music Now Ensemble creates music that sounds very much like composed-out modern classical music. In some ways, because of the nature of improvisation, they achieve better ensemble results. The members are specifically trying to react to one another, as opposed to the disconnect that often occurs when performers of contemporary art music have to obsessively count and fight through unfamiliar pitch relationships just to survive a new piece. While Uber Brass may not ever become a mainstream classic, it is an interesting listen and it can only be positive for our community as a whole that there are people trying to discover new niches for brass players and art music in general.

Douglas Warner, International Trombone Association Journal

“Some people are going to love this and some are going to hate it, but only the dead will be passive.” So observes Steven Eversole in the program notes of this recent recording by trombonist Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble. With the assistance of trumpeter Nate Wooley and tubist David Hofstra, Schumacher has compiled a series of pieces which demonstrate the extensive use of improvisation (or improvisatory-like material) in contemporary art music. The pieces are perhaps better called episodes, as the program notes indicate that, in order to best comprehend them, they must be heard as a “complete program.” The episodes have somewhat descriptive titles, but the listener must, in many cases, make an imaginative guess as to how the title applies to the music, as the program notes provide only a skeletal explanation of the overall theme or purpose of the recording, specifically, to create music that exhibits the “evolution from pitch to texture as the primary structural parameter”……The trio achieves a remarkable variety of musical textures, utilizing multiphonics, non-conventional sound effects, electroacoustic alterations, and vocalizations, in addition to traditional brass techniques. The players demonstrate not only a mastery of all these techniques, but also a sense of complete comfort with them, as if they were merely a part of the modern brass player’s vernacular……As the program notes imply, this recording is not for the musically faint of heart. The casual listener will probably not care for it. Armed with the brief but insightful program notes, however, the serious fan of contemporary music will discover a fascinating exploration of the infinite textural variations available to the modern musician.

David Dupont, Cadence Magazine

The session is expertly rendered, not surprising given the cast
. . . . Uber Brass sounds like an electronic music score transcribed for brass. . . . Even when Schumacher injects his voice into the action on “Uber Brass 2” it evokes circuitry as much as a human voice. The session is expertly rendered, not surprising given the cast. Nate Wooley works well within the ensemble, and his horn is showcased on the first and third movements of “New Idiom Now.” On the third movement, his slippery, half-valve work is especially engaging. The second movement showcases the leader’s wah-wah horn on a stately ballad. These solo endeavors are a break from the tightly wound ensemble work of the rest of the date. The CD closes with the most varied track, “Double Trio,” that includes a march episode pushed along by Hofstra’s assertive tuba. . . .

David Gunn, Composer, Barre, Vermont

In a nutshell, thanks oodles!
Ahh, just finished listening--for the second time, mind you--to Uber-no-umlaut Brass. And a fine time was jihad by all! Just for my own edification, I made some notes on the tunes, and please correct me if I got anything wrong. For sure, the tone of the CD is set by the audio logo, whose simple logarithmic melody haunts me even now. Then Reddy Teddy's homage to Bugler's Holiday quickly whisks me off into new, tertiary-themed territory. Familiarity returns, however, when Victor Herbert meets William Grant Still in Heterodoxy. I had to listen to Uber-no-umlaut Brass three times before I finally sussed the mensuration canon (and an effective one) on the 13th century Dies Irae motif, well done! My CD player thought Try Try Again was a large jpg file, and tried (and tried again) to render it into a Photoshoppe image--one of your quirky touches, no doubt! I'm guessing NIN's first movement was a variation on the Czardas from Delibes' Coppelia Ballet (Act 1), yes? I seem to recall you were fixated on the melody thirty-some years ago. I had to play the second movement a dozen times just to make sure my ears didn't deceive me: every other time you play it, the melody is inverted. Now, that's clever! And that third movement? All I can say is "Sibelius." But in a GOOD way! The reprise of Uber-no-umlaut brass instantly brought to mind a question that has haunted me for ages (much like I suspect the audio logo will from now on): "A U.S. or foreign flag vessel that does not comply with the Officers Competency Certificates Convention of 1936 may be detained by which designated officials?" Sure, I know one is a Coast Guard petty officer, but what are the others? And lastly, if Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys had a trombone in the band, they'd sounded like Double Trouble, which is a nice way to bring this CD to
a mellow close. In a nutshell, thanks oodles!

Brett Long, International Trumpet Guild Journal

Creative Approach to Free Improvisation
Trombonist/singer Stanley Schumacher’s latest release with the Music Now Ensemble displays the group’s creative approach to free improvisation. Including trumpeter Nate Wooley, the recording features nine tracks that evolve from pitch-based selections to more texture-oriented works. Several tracks, including “Uber Brass” and “Uber Brass 2,” incorporate an electroacoustical element that obscures a strong sense of tonality and draws the listener to the textural aspects of the works. This reviewer enjoyed the three movements of “New Idiom Now,” where each instrumentalist presents an extended improvised solo while surrounded by an abstract harmonic environment. The liner notes by Steven Eversole are certainly helpful in understanding the context of the recording. As he suggests, “Some people are going to love this and some are going to hate it.” This album is worth exploring for those interested in free improvisation and texture-based music.