"Only one word suffices to describe the sounds emerging from David Rothenberg's CD Why Bird Sing: sublime. This is music that transports you to another world." --Discover
"Rothenberg... merges the intentional music of an improviser with the more mysterious sounds of feathered friends." --All About Jazz
"Rothenberg is a participant in the passerine orchestra, not just an observer. Benny Goodman, eat your heart out!" --E Magazine
"Why Birds Sing is one of those ramblings that transforms one of those taken-for-granted things into let's-think-about-it-again stuff."--The New York Times
David Rothenberg finds musical inspiration beyond the human world. He jams with lyrebirds and laughing thrushes, catbirds and bou bou shrikes. This recording has been five years in the making, and it involves cutting-edge musicians from all over the world mixing their sounds with the wonderful musical melodies and tones of birds. Hear the interspecies jams that set the book in motion, as Rothenberg's clarinets and Michael Pestel's flute meet a white-crested laughing thrush in the National Aviary, and a wild Australian lyrebird named George in his rainforest home. These pieces are live interactions betweeen humans and birds, and the music lies somewhere along the uncharted flyways of evolution. Back in the studio a stretched-out hermit thrush song meets the bass clarinet, and Maori flutes, Estonian guitars, and live Finnish electronics meet catbirds, starlings, skylarks, and waves.
David Rothenberg is an improvising composer and philosopher with numerous recordings, performances, and books to his credit. His 1995 record, On the Cliffs of the Heart, with percussionist Glen Velez and banjo player Graeme Boone, was released by New Tone Records. A few years earlier John Cage praised this trio's "sense of virtuosity traveling all over the world." Jazziz named it one of the top ten releases of 1995. His 1997 record, Unamuno, blending improvised music with natural soundscapes, was featured on NPR, WDR German Radio Cologne, and Radio Mafia in Finland. In 1999 he released Bangalore Wild, a collaboration with the Karnataka College of Percussion in Bangalore, India, in collaboration with the WILD Foundation. In 2000 Before the War was released, a collaboration with natural sound artist Douglas Quin, from EarthEar Records in Santa Fe. It was cited as "a notable release" in Billboard, and The Guardian in Britain praised it as "genuine 21st century music." His most recent CD is Soo-Roo, featuring Estonian guitarist Robert Jürjendal and percussionist John Wieczorek.
Rothenberg has performed with Marilyn Crispell, Hamid Drake, Ray Phiri, Barry Guy, and various cutting-edge music figures from New Zealand to Norway including Richard Nunns and Jan Bang. Rothenberg is also co-editor of The Book of Music and Nature (2001), and he produced the accompaning compilation CD which includes the music of Pauline Oliveros, Brian Eno, Tuvan throatsingers and Australian butcherbirds. His book/CD memoir, Sudden Music: Improvisation, Art, Nature, came out in January, 2002.
Also appearing on this record are flutist and performance artist Michael Pestel, Finnish electronic wizard Petri Kuljuntausta, New Zealand Grammy-award winner Richard Nunns, whose Maori-based music appeared in Whale Rider and Lord of the Rings. Also Estonian guitar master Robert Jürjendal, and versatile percussionist John Wieczorek.
The record is co-produced by Rothenberg along with tuba player Patrick Donahue, known for his work as surround-sound mixer on Bowling for Columbine and Control Room.
See www.whybirdssing.com for more details on the project and the simultaneously published book Why Birds Sing, which Bill McKibben has said is "exhuberantly intellectual, exhuberantly alive."
"David Rothenberg," says Paul Winter, "is one of the rare musicians who is devoted to exploring the voices of the natural world. I would hope this work might encourage others to follow suit."