CD Stanley Schumacher: Sound Textures

MM001, recorded 2003 at Harvestworks, New York, released 2006 on label Musikmacher Productions. Total Time: 42:09 Minutes. Stanley Schumacher – trombone, on tracks 2-6 with Ricardo Arias – balloons, Hans Tammen – guitar/electronics. Track 7: Stanley Schumacher with Richard Smith – tenorsax, Larry Pittis – bass/electronics.

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These Musicians Have Turned The World Upside Down / Steven Eversole (Liner 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

Bagatellen / Massimo Ricci
Released in 2006, this album contains an energizing collaboration between the leader [Stanley Schumacher], Hans Tammen (guitar, electronics) and Ricardo Arias (balloons) except for the final “See Sharp”, which features Richard Smith on tenor sax and Larry Pittis on bass and electronics. The trombone belongs to the category of instruments which, in the right hands, can maintain a slight extent of lyricism even in the most absurdly noisy circumstances. In that sense, Schumacher seems discreetly content to keep his timbral regularity in check, utilizing a corpulently concise and slightly garrulous approach throughout, despite repeated attempts by his cohorts to deviate the whole towards the extremities of audio range.

“Bad Diversity” is the lone episode which proposes the leader’s vocal ingenuity, with not really memorable results. Tammen’s endangered guitars, whose innovative yet nonchalant vibrancy is still culpably underappreciated, chew splinters and shards of regular chords with impassiveness, the substances deriving from those dissections a fundamental element in the economy of interplay. Arias, who extracts mercilessly ear-distressing squeals and yowls and impressive low-frequency quaking from manipulated latex, is the somewhat antithetic constituent (or indispensable divergence) of the trio. The Schumacher/Smith/Pittis track is a completely different proposition, a static piece that halfway through gives a sign of respect to Phill Niblock and Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening Band