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Catalog Number: CPS-8681
Audio Format: Digital Stereo
Playing Time: 63:40
Release Date: 2000

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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1. 1985 (5:38)
  2. King Friday (5:30)
  3. At the Refrain (5:08)
  4. Coming Together (17:31)
  5. Pushing Up Daisies (5:47)
6. Blackbird (3:21)
  7. Teachable Moment (8:20)
  Three Poems by James Hazard
  8. 1954 (5:01)
  9. A Simple Memoriam for my Father (3:29)
  10. Negroes in Whiting, Indiana (3:50)



Australian Clarinet & Saxophone - March 2001 - by Diana Tolmie

"'What do you think of Michael Lowenstern?' Precisely the first words spoken on this recording.

Michael Lowenstern is a soloist, bass clarinettist with the New Jersey Symphony, on the faculty of the Julliard School, the head composer for Grey Advertising's eMarketing division, and a regular with the Klezmatics, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Jerome Kitke's 'The Mad Coyote'. Having appeared on over thirty CDs, this is his second solo recording. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

It is a relief to hear such a fine musician possessing a completely fresh approach to composition involving a great sense of humour with a total grip on reality. The best example of this is ironically the first work from which the CD gets its name - 1985. Two friends of Lowenstern's performed a set of taped interviews with kids from his old high school asking them what they thought of Mike Lowenstern. As he writes, 'I was, to put it gently, unpopular'. Spoken word is either interspersed or superimposed with bass clarinet, synthesized keyboard/original sounds and percussion accompaniment with a strong jazz and minimalist modal influence. The structure and timing of all components is such that the work presents itself as very listenable contemporary music.

King Friday is a work inspired by the outrageous statement made by a certain Mr. Richard Stolzman (yes the one and the same) commenting on the bass clarinet as 'Found mostly in bands; it's pretty obscure and hard to play. There really isn't much call for it'. For bass clarinet and CD, King Friday explores a large range involving very quick and wide leaps with at times a hard core Techno-backing with some great additional original sounds. I think someone should apologise.

A particular eclectic group of works - all originals or collaborations, except for Coming Together by Frederic Rzewski (1972), each has a definitive purpose for composition.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney make a guest appearance with Lowenstern's beautiful jazz/quasi-gospel arrangement of Blackbird for what I can hear as maybe 3 bass clarinets and solo Bb clarinet with what I thought at first was brush snare drum accompaniment. It's Michael on amplified bass clarinet making the sound with his breath and tongue - the occasional slap tongue gave it away. Clever guy!!

Lowenstern's gift for composition is evident as is his talent as a clarinet/bass clarinettist. His overall dedication to contemporary music is exemplary especially in At the Refrain based on John Coltrane's After the Rain. The process in evolving this work to its present performance included writing a computer program to count and register every note Coltrane played, ordering the notes from most frequently played to least. The information is then used to structure the improvisation of the bass clarinet. As mathematical as it sounds, the end result is completely free sounding composition with instantaneous appeal.

Last reviewed in this magazine by Michael Lowenstern was SPASM - New World Records 80468-2, his first solo recording. Both CDs can be ordered online at www.earspasm.com/shop with free downloadable MP3 recordings, sheet music and fingering charts. This is an amazing, inspiring work. Do not miss out on the opportunity to hear this."