Penumbra Music artists

Hal Rammel, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, and Lou Mallozzi

at the Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, January 2010.

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As a visual artist, composer, and performer HAL RAMMEL has been designing and building unusual one-of-a-kind musical instruments since the mid 1970s utilizing these unique sound sources in the service of composition and improvisation.  He has released numerous recordings on Penumbra Music along with many side projects on Crouton Records (the trio Raccoons with Chris Rosenau and Jon Mueller), Necessary Arts (with the trio Audiotrope with Thomas Gaudynski and Steve Nelson-Raney), and Atavistic. He has written numerous articles and liner note essays on experimental music for the journal Experimental Musical Instruments, Atavistic Records, CRI Recordings, and Musical Traditions.  His full-length study of American vernacular traditons, of surrealism and American folklore, from cartoons to film to early radio – Nowhere in America: The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Other Comic Utopias – was published by University of Illinois Press in 1991. He presently resides in southeastern Wisconsin.

CHRISTOPHER BURNS is a composer, improviser, and multimedia artist. His instrumental chamber works weave energetic gestures into densely layered surfaces. Polyphony and multiplicity also feature in his electroacoustic music, embodied in gritty, rough-hewn textures. As an improviser, Christopher combines an idiosyncratic approach to the electric guitar with a wide variety of custom software instruments. Across all of these disciplines, his work emphasizes directionality, layering and intercutting a variety of trajectories to create form. As a committed educator, Christopher teaches music composition and technology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

JON MUELLER has been composing, recording, and performing in various musical arrangements since his studies in Chicago with late jazz legend Hal Russell.  Now residing in Milwaukee, his most notable work continues on drums and percussion for the band Collections of Colonies of Bees, with whom he has toured internationally. He also works with voice, keyboard, and tapes, in a multitude of projects with Jason Kahn, Jack Wright, Z’ev, and many others.  From 1999 until 2009 he directed the Crouton label which released a wide variety of his own recordings, collaborations, and other artists’ work.

LOU MALLOZZI is an audio artist in Chicago who has been dismantling and reconstituting language, sound and action on radio, recordings, stages, and sites since l986. His audio art works have been broadcast on over 70 stations in North America, Europe, and Australia, and he has performed and exhibited on two of those three continents. He has made live and recorded sonic experiments with Gregory Whitehead, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Michael Zerang, Hal Rammel, Gene Coleman, John Corbett, Terri Kapsalis, and many others. He is a founding member and Associate Director of the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago and teaches sound and interdisciplinary arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Cellist FRED LONBERG-HOLM leads an ensemble called the Light Box Orchestra, an improvising ensemble of approximately 25 rotating members, utilizing Lonberg-Holm’s unique system of colored lights and cue cards to explore his unique approach to collective cued improvisation. Fred Lonberg-Holm also works with fellow Chicagoans Michael Zerang and Ken Vandermark in a number of ensembles, including the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Octet/Tentet.

Percussionist, improvisor and composer MICHAEL ZERANG was born in 1958 in Chicago, Illinois. He has co-founded and performed with the musical groups Liof Munimula, The Neutrino Orchestra, Trio Troppo, The Wonderfuls, The Blue Angels, Sam Pappas’ Tumbling Strains, Frozen Lucy, The Quirt Quintet, Musica Menta, The Vandermark Quartet, Dream Cheese, The Sputter Ensemble, In Zenith, and Broken Wire . In addition to these ensembles, Zerang currently performs with many innovative musicians including AACM co-founder Fred Anderson, Mats Gustafsson, Raymond Strid, Sten Sandell, Don Meckley, Jaap Blonk, Daniel Scanlan, Peter Brötzmann, Kent Kessler, Barre Phillips, Jim Baker, Hamid Drake, Ken Vandermark, Luc Hautkamp, and Fred Lonberg-Holm.

TOM HAMILTON has been composing and performing electronic music for over 25 years, often featuring older analog synthesizers in performance and recording. His music frequently contrasts structure with improvisation and textural electronics with acoustic instruments. He has collaborated with visual artists, including the late photographer Ernst Haas and video artist Van McElwee. His recent performances have included Peter Zummo, Jonathon Haas, Todd Reynolds, and Richard Lerman. He performs and records with the improvising quartet Act of Finding with Bruce Arnold, Thomas Buckner, and Ratzo B. Harris. Since 1990, he has been a member of the composer Robert Ashley’s touring opera ensemble, performing sound processing and mixing both recordings and concerts, in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. Tom Hamilton has previously released the CDs Act of Finding (O.O.Discs, 1995), Off-Hour Wait State (O.O.Discs, 1996), and Sebastian’s Shadow (Monroe Street Music, 1997)

STEVE NELSON-RANEY is a composer/ performer active in jazz, free improvisation, and contemporary classical music. His compositions have been performed throughout the U.S. and Europe. His own Cody Recording has released the LP some piano music (1978), the CD Summer 1994 (featuring solo improvisations on soprano and sopranino saxophones and hi-hats), and, most recently, The Zeus Series (1999), featuring solo tenor saxophone and piano improvisations. He is a co-founder (with Hal Rammel) of the Great Lakes Improvisation Project dedicated to producing and promoting performances of improvised and experimental music in southeastern Wisconsin.

JOHN CORBETT is a guitar player, turntablist, and sound mixologist who has been playing freely-improvised music since 1984. He is also one of the most active contemporary music journalists, writing on sound and music in a variety of contexts ranging from popular magazines and newspapers like Down Beat, Pulse!, and The Chicago Reader to scholarly journals such as October, Stanford Humanities Review, Die Beute, Semiotext(e), and TDR. Corbett’s book, Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein, was published by Duke University Press in 1994. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and hosts radio programs on WHPK and WNUR in Chicago. His essay “The Dust Blows Back” is included in the Captain Beefheart retrospective Grow Fins: Rarities 19651982 (Revenant). As an improvising guitarist he can most recently be heard on Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Site-Specific: Duets for Cello and Guitar (Explain) and Mats Gustafsson’s Sticky Tongues and Steak Knives. Atavistic Records has just released a CD of his studiophonic works I’m Sick About My Hat.

THOMAS GAUDYNSKI has been active in the creation and performance of contemporary music since the mid 1970s. In addition to his own works for voice, electronics, and unique ensembles, he has realized works by composers such as John Cage, Steve Reich, Christian Wolf, and John Zorn as well as members of Fluxus. He has performed throughout the United States and in Canada and has worked with musicians Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith, Anne LeBaron, George Cartwright, David Moss, Michael Lytle, Malcolm Goldstein and was a member of the trio DG&G. During the 1980s he developed a number of large scale music/theater pieces as well as worked extensively with modern Dancers. His collection of essays on experimental music and graphic design, Artifacts, was published by Necessary Arts in 2001.

TERRI KAPSALIS is a writer and performer. Her essays have appeared in interdisciplinary journals such as Public and Lusitania, and her book Public Privates: Performing Gynecology from Both Ends of the Speculum is available from Duke University Press. She is a long-time member of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck, and as an active free-improvising violinist has recorded and performed with Tony Conrad, Gastr del Sol, Dan Scanlan, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Lou Mallozzi, Phil Wachsmann, John Butcher, Paul Lovens and many others. .

Bassist TORSTEN MÜLLER, born in Canada, presently lives near Bremen, Germany. He came onto the free improvised music scene in the mid-70s, first playing with Free Music Communion (ensemble with guitarist Herber Janssen and pianist Udo Bergner). Since that time, Müller has divided his time between making music, teaching and working as a radio programmer. Free Music Communion recorded three LPs (on their own Fremuco Records label), the third of which was Ham Days (Fremuco 1004, 1981) that included American guitarist Davey Williams and violinist/viola player LaDonna Smith. Among other entries in his short, potent discography, are LPs Müller recorded with legendary Hannover-based improvisor, trombonist, cellist and bassist Günter Christmann. These include a quartet with Christmann, Williams, & Smith, White Earth Streak (Trans Museq), a duet record Carte Blanche (FMP) and others recordings as a member of Günter Christmann’s ever-shifting enemble Vario. Additionally, Torsten Müller was bassist in the outstanding improvised large ensemble King Übü Örchestrü, with whom he recorded Binaurality (FMP).

Percussionist RAYMOND STRID, born in 1956, grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. He has exclusively worked with freely improvised music for over 15 years in many collaborations with composers, improvisers, choreographers, visual artists, and actors. He has recorded duets with Paul Pignon on the Alice CD Far From Equilibrium (1991) and trios with Mats Gustafsson and Sten Sandell (as the trio GUSH) on two Dragon CDs including From Things to Sounds (1990). His arsenal of sounds frequently include drums, guitars, and various amplified instruments. In the words of Mats Gustafsson: “A pronounced feeling for form and texture gives his music a clear body and character that is balanced against the intuitive and unexpected.” In Mats Gustafsson’s Essays Solo, Strid writes: “I try to play a music which above all has no ‘beat’ but also has no ‘tempo’ either. It is rather that the music has an underlying pulse and tempo which derive from my natural breathing cycles.”

Cellist, pianist MATT TURNER has performed everything from jazz standards and 20th century new music to alternative rock and freely improvised avant garde. He completed his undergraduate studies at Lawrence University and his Master of Music degree in Third Stream Studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with David Holland, Geri Allen, and Joe Maneri. He has played at numerous music festivals including the International Cello Festival in Montreal and the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and has performed with CUBE, Present Music, John Butcher, Randy Sabian, and Gerry Hemingway. He taught at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music as a lecturer in jazz studies from 1993-1996. He is featured on thirty recordings with such artists as Marilyn Crispell, Joseph Jarman, Jeff Song, Scott Fields, and John Harmon, and future releases will feature him with Hal Rammel, Myra Melford, and Francois Houle. Matt Turner may be reached at TurnMatt@aol.com.

Composer/performer GARY VERKADE was born in Chicago. He studied music, including organ performance, composition, form and analysis, counterpoint, musicology, at Calvin College and the University of Iowa in the United States and in 1978 received a Fulbright grant to study at the Folkwang-Hochschule in Essen, Germany. Gary Verkade has performed a plethora of New Music throughout Europe and the United States, including that of Luciano Berio, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Ernst Helmuth Flammer, Jörg Herchet, Mauricio Kagel, György Ligeti, Scott Roller, and Christian Wolff. In addition to performing and holding master classes at music festivals and conferences, he has been an active performer at the World Music Days, premiering Antiphony X (Winded) for organ and 8-channel tape by Kenneth Gaburo in 1991 (Zurich, Switzerland) and being invited in 1995 (Ruhrgebiet, Germany) to perform organ music by Hans-Joachim Hespos. He is the composer of music for organ, electronics, chamber and improvisation ensembles. Both his performances and compositions have been recorded as well as broadcast by radio and television. He was co-founder, with organist Matthias Geuting, of the Essen, Germany-based improvisation ensemble SYNTHESE, in which he performed on synthesizers and computer. Gary Verkade has recorded on the innova, Mitra (Germany), and Arton (Switzerland) labels. He continues to teach, perform, compose, improvise, record, and write about music. He is presently on the faculty of the Musikhögskolan i Piteå, Sweden, one of only four university schools of music in that country, teaching organ performance.

PETER ZUMMO has been composing since 1967 and has performed his works for solo trombone and ensemble worldwide. He has pioneered new approaches to instrumental technique on the trombone. Choreographic commissions include Trisha Brown’s Newark (with Donald Judd) and Lateral Pass, which won a Bessie award. Peter Zummo also performs and composes for the Downtown Ensemble and has developed and performed seminal works for many composers, including David Behrman, Rhys Chatman, Anthony Coleman, Dan Froot, Jon Gibson, Daniel Goode, Peter Gordon, Tom Hamilton, William Hellermann, Guy Klucevsek, Joan LaBarbara, Steve Lacy, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Lucier, Jon Lurie, Phil Niblock, and Arthur Russell. He has previously released the recordings Zummo with a X (Loris Records) and Experimenting with Household Chemicals (XI, 1987).

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