CD release April 2017: TRAUMTON Records Berlin
Release tour - May and October 2017
John Dennis Renken – trumpet
Angelika Niescier – alt saxophone
Sebastian Gramss – double bass
Christian Thome – percussion / electronics
One of the greatest mysteries of humanity is the inexplicability of death. The big question: „Where do we go…?“ also preoccupied artists and musicians through all epochs. And at the same time the antithesis is always present as well: „What does man counter pose to this mystery?“ And which form of artistic expression, inspiration and actual works find their artistic power / source here?
The two ECHO awarded musicians and composers Angelika Niescier and Sebastian Gramss investigate the paradox of these questions with their latest collaboration „THE GREAT DIVIDE, Streben and Sterben“.
Jan 29 - Cologne, Stadtgarten (Premiere)
Jan 31 - Düsseldorf, Palais Wittgenstein
Feb 12 - Dortmung, Domicil
Sep 02 - Alsdorf, Energetikon
Sep 03 - Duisburg, Platzhirsch Festival
Wiikipedia: "Atopie (griechisch ατοπία atopía „Ortlosigkeit“, „nicht zuzuordnen“, „von hoher Originalität“) bezeichnet die „Unbeschreiblichkeit“ des überaus selten zu Erlebenden, des Herausgehobenen, des Originals im besten Sinne. Es handelt sich um eine − an sich oder anderen − beobachtbare (Erlebnis-)Qualität, nicht um ein Ideal...".
Double the Double Bass is a long-term double bass duo project.
The format of the concerts is simple and proven: pure double bass - solos and duos in spontaneous succession.
It all began in 2008, when Gramss began a duo cooperation with the legendary bass master Stefano Scodanibbio (concerts and recordings). Further cooperation with Barre Phillips, Tetsu Saitoh, Mark Dresser and Barry Guy.
William Parker - double bass
Sebastian Gramss - double bass
“Two aces on the bass” (Bremer Nachrichten):
“The highly energetic Barre Phillips, at the age of 78, has found an ideal dialog partner in Sebastian Gramss: both unify the same preferences for playing between experimental passages and extremely melodious singing parts…. In addition, both musicians hook up in their willingness to advance into the area of New Music, which Gramss accentuates in an equally penetrating as well as impressive solo with two bows. And in the top-class duo there was a good dash of humor, again and again. A fabulous performance!”
Wolfram Knauer - Jazz Institute Darmstadt:
"“Both double bassists, Sebastian Gramss and Tetsu Saitoh, in a phenomenal concert in the vaulted cellar of the Jazz Institute:
purely acoustic, highly virtuosic and still unbelievably grounded!”
NRZ 08 “Sebastian Gramss and Stefano Scodanibbio form a sound orchestra in aesthetic completion….”
“Acting and reacting: both master bassists exploit the possibilities of their instruments with virtuosity….”
BASSMASSE 50 is an orchestra consisting of up to 50 double basses. It was founded in 2012 by Sebastian Gramss.
ARTE.TV: link to the complete BASSMASSE performance (June 6, 2014) at MOERS Festival:
JAPAN:【Yumegareki 022】Within a tone cluster of the overwhelming contrabass, I sensed a refreshing passion and spirit of more than 50 bassists gathered in a hall. For some reason, it made me feel good, invoking a sense of stylishness, called “Iki” in the Edo period in Japan. A community that preserves individual uniqueness moves with intense presence through the shadow and accentuates the process of music. It implies that the shadow is not just a concomitant to the light but rather supported by its own unshakable affirmation. The shadow seems to have a hint of death. “BASSMASSE” was born as “BASS,” a shining individual, and soared through the death sharing community. Rather than leading a premeditated life as a shining light, the shadow lives while listening to the world. This “BASSMASSE” album manifests a temporal horizon of another invisible light standing out dynamically through the musical instrument called contrabass.
I met Stefano for the first time in 2008. We spent some days at my place in Cologne sharing Italian pasta recipes and walking in the woods talking about the bass and life, in our evenings off playing the bass, sharing compositions, listening to music and hanging out at the rehearsal room in my garden. On other occasions, we had some duo concerts in the area, and collaborations and recordings with players like percussionist Stephan Froleyks and flutist Dorothee Oberlinger.
It was back in 2005 when I first discovered Stefano’s work. At that time he wasn’t that well-known in the German bass community. I remember well playing his Voyage That Never Ends to bass friends and colleagues, sharing it with them.
This record is a very special part of his works. Apart from the visionary contemporary explorative side, it is also connected to Stefano’s early musical roots as an electric rock bass player. Roots that include the great Jimi Hendrix, which was turned into one of his later works & Roll, as he pointed out in our conversations.
Later on I met Stefano several times on various occasions. Unfortunately, all plans for further cooperation were interrupted by his sabbatical due to health issues. On 8 January 2012, he passed away much too early at the age of 55, after a battle with ALS.
In 2013, inspired by John Cage’s Time Length Pieces (Martin Schmidt/Gligg Records) I started thinking about a memorial project – both a tribute to Stefano’s work as a bass player and composer, and a personal continuum of the bass explorations he stood for. The question was finding the proper setup – appropriate for the mastery of Scodanibbio.
Finally, I found an answer in Stefano’s work Oltracuidansa – a multitrack recording with dozens of layers of double bass tracks – and decided to use the same approach but with 11 players. The incredible international team gathered for this project is connected either because they knew Stefano and/or they knew his work very well. Each player has a unique and outstanding voice in the wide field of contemporary and improvised music and very different personal musical backgrounds. Apart from what they could contribute to the written work, I also wanted to include their individual solo contributions.
The first meeting about the project and how it could be done was with Dieter Manderscheid and Barre Phillips in April 2013 in Cologne. It was Barre who came up with the perfect title for the project. As he pointed out, THINKING OF … is a very open title – it is clearly connected to Stefano, and it leaves space for thinking of … what? Thinking of … music? … the bass? … the inspirational sources? … developing traditions? … emancipation of the double bass? … of a bass continuum?
The music I wrote for this recording in winter 2013/14 was, first of all, a sum of the many musical encounters and my personal biographic roots in jazz, improvised and contemporary music. But obviously it is truly influenced and refers to many of Stefano’s bass explorations and is inspired by some of the composer friends of Stefano’s generation like György Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, John Cage, and Iannis Xenakis.
Each of the 11 bass players contributed for free. Respecting the wish of Stefano’s widow, Maresa Scodanibbio, all the proceedings from the album will be transferred to Rassegna di Nuova Musica (founded by Stefano). Apart from their annual festival in Macerata, Italy, one of the goals of the association is to edit and release Stefano’s complete work as a composer.
Macerata, Italy, June 18, 1956 - Cuernavaca, Mexico, January 8, 2012
Stefano Scodanibbio occupies a central place in the overall history of the double bass and the most prominent place in the history of modern double bass by contributing, as a performer, and especially as a composer, to the revival of the instrument for more than three decades. His work, unprecedented and exemplary, consists of charismatic interpretation of a varied repertoire for the double bass in contemporary music festivals; the release of dozens of works written for him by Bussotti, Donatoni, Ferneyhough, Frith, Globokar, Sciarrino or Xenakis; creation of original bands for improvisation and interpretation – duo with the cello player and improviser Rohan de Saram, duo with the trumpet player and composer Markus Stockhausen, duo performances with Terry Riley, and recitals of music and poetry with Edoardo Sanguineti; and an ability to give the double bass an unerring basis for a truly new music.
Working as both a performer and composer, Scodanibbio managed to combine in his work both technical innovation and aesthetic invention. Always an artist and always an artisan, he amplified the timbre and the range of the double bass to the extreme, contributions whose previously unheard articulations have influenced the development of a new Italian school for strings. Note, among many others, the harmonic pizzicato, simultaneous finger and bowglissandi, or arco mobile à la Stefano Scodanibbio – recognized by Luigi Nono in thePrometeo score, all of which lead in return to Giacinto Scelsi asking for his cooperation as an interpreter, or him asking Luciano Berio to create the original transcription for double bass of his Sequenza for violoncello.
The issue of interpreting - composing was central to Scodanibbio, who thirty years ago founded Rassegna di Nuova Musica, an annual festival held in Macerata, Italy, that emphasizes the indispensable dialogue between the contemporary composer and performer. The performer-composer binomial was essential at the beginning of Scodanibbio’s career as an emblem in front of the audience, but in his years of greatest artistic evolution this represented an obstacle to giving more visibility to his creative output and became a good reason to reduce repertoire from other composers and increase the interpretation of his own work in concerts. That Scodanibbio’s living artistic conflict between the performer and the composer can be seen through the outside perspective of other authors, such as John Cage, who said:
Stefano Scodanibbio is amazing. I haven't heard better double bass playing than Scodanibbio's. I was just amazed. And I think everyone who heard him was amazed. He is really extraordinary. His performance was absolutely magic.
While Cage distinguishes the performer, Conlon Nancarrow, a regular member of the audience at Scodanibbio’s concerts in Mexico, appreciates even more the composer and expresses it with characteristic frankness:
When I heard Scodanibbio’s concert, I was impressed by his music, constantly discovering unpublished sounds of the bass and that is much more interesting than the repertoire addressed, because it surpasses anything known.
Stefano Scodanibbio also occupies a crucial place as a creator of a large catalog that day by day gains more meaning and importance: although his work was ultimately dominated by sting instruments, during his last 20 years he enriched it with reeds, percussions or keyboards, he explored electronic or radiophonic creation, he added the singing or narrating voice to move closer to opera, to dance and to video. Because of its indelible quality, the music history has years ahead to continue to nurture the artistic essence of his full body of work.
TRANS|LOCAL is an intermedial and transdisciplinary network cooperation of various partners in Mexico and Germany:
Mexican and german musicians/artists from 5 art genres,the Goethe Institute,
various institutions, venues and local cultural associations in both countries and miscellaneous universities and academies in both countries
January/February ´14 in Germany29. januar: Hofheim (Stadthalle via Jazz:yl Freiklang Freunde e.V. )
Feb, 24th - 10th of March 2014: Cooperations + Concerts in Mexico
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