To be a musician in the 21st century, is to be active during an unprecedented time in the history of music. A vast array of music from around the world is available to us and a tremendous variety of activity is possible. We know the music from many cultures. We are fluent with many styles. We are adept at many techniques. The age of specialization is giving way to an age of multi-specializations. The 21st century musician is becoming a kind of Renaissance musician - versed in many things. Hans Sturm is this kind of a musician and Altered States of Bass is this kind of a CD. But this isn't just a CD, there are 3 CDs co-habiting this single disc. A different aspect of Hans Sturm's musicianship is brilliantly captured on (each of) these CDs.
One disc is of Hans Sturm the technologist. Altered States of Bass is thoroughly infused with present-day music technology. Hans has a thorough understanding of electronics. He uses them idiomatically and with taste as evidenced in Residue V. Effects are used as integral elements in his compositions and bass playing, not as sound novelties. Whether listening to Growing Bells, Fragments, Buoyancy, (or any of the works on this disc), one is aware that the electronics merge with the double bass, forming a unified musical voice.
Another disc is of Hans Sturm the composer. Seven of his compositions are included, each with a distinct personality and clear musical conception. One is struck by the lyricism in the Passacaglia, the lovely melodies in Guy Fox or the expressiveness of Dark Chant. Hans' formidable command of styles is evident as his compositions go from the jazzy 2 Madlines for Madeliene in Madison compositions, to the experimental explorations of Buoyancy, to the funkiness of Guy Fox, and the 'other-worldliness' of Growing Bells. Artful content, engaging contrasts and musical sophistication are hallmarks of these compositions.
The third disc found within this 'set' is of Hans Sturm the bass player. His virtuosity abounds. Hans has chops! His deep grooves in Guy Fox, expressive, melodic, arco playing in Dark Chant, driving pizzicato work in Madlines for Madeliene in Madison II, or soulful interaction with technology in Growing Bells reveal a musician who has total expressive and technical command of his instrument. Add to this his tasty improvisations and tight ensemble playing with Cleve Scott and Joan Wildman, and one fully understands the breadth of his talents.
Of course, when one listens to this disc, one hears the totality of Hans Sturm, not the individual parts. The composer, bass player and technologist all come together into a powerful and inseparable whole. A voice. A vision. This is a disc that will reward the listener on many levels. It is significant that many of the tracks are dedicated to important bass players as well as Madeleine Crouch from the International Society of Bassists. With this act of homage, Altered States of Bass resonates at a deep and profound level.
Professor of Double Bass, Hartt School of Music
Bang On A Can All-Stars