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Experimenting With Household Chemicals

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Album Review

This opus by composer and trombonist Peter Zummo was created between 1987 and 1992. Originally conceived as a solo trombone work, it featured strange notations that moved toward exacting slide mechanics that lie apart from chord changes or diatonic harmonic structures. Instead, Zummo worked out a system of multi-modal approaches that allowed him — within the notation — to follow superimposed, well-defined mental diagrams while creating new and unexpected melodic components free of the trappings of more "normal" musical procedures. Since the time of its inception, Zummo has performed the work solo and in concert with up to seven musicians, including the late cellist and composer Arthur Russell and reed and woodwind team Jon Gibson and Josef Kubera. Each time a performance of the work took place it was recorded. Here, with the wonders of digital editing, the piece takes on its latest incarnation, with slices and dices of all the performances and rehearsals that were recorded making up the thing itself. Elements of jazz improvisation, swing, group chaos and tension, serenity, pastoral beauty, and unidentifiable noise wind together in a thoroughly musical but outrageously unconventional work that speaks as much to the variations found within the harmonic partials in a trombone slide as to different compositional, dynamic, and sound placement strategies. For all of its cutting and pasting, this is a strikingly "whole" work that flows together beautifully. There is only one question it seems to ask at its end: "Can it be extended any further now that it's been recorded?"


Born: 1948

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Instrument training, trombone and other winds with the legendary Carmine Caruso. Also studied with Roswell Rudd, Jim Fulkerson, didgeridoo with Stuart Dempster, electronic music with Alvin Lucier, and was in the World Music program at Wesleyan University. Zummo's many compositions for ensemble (incl. Zummo Labs, the Environmental Combo, etc.) build on original melody and melodic fragments, generating interactive situations for musicians. Radical Filtering premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival,...
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Experimenting With Household Chemicals, Peter Zummo
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