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Sand is the composition of American, Cologne-based guitarist-composer-educator Scott Fields for a 24-musician pan-European ensemble, including three female vocalists – singing in English and French – and Fields as its conductor. Like previous works of Fields for his Multiple Joyce Orchestra or the Ensemble – Moersbow/Ozzo (Clean Feed, 2011) and Seven Deserts ((New World Records, 2020), It combines three areas in which Fields has often worked: modularity, manipulation of text, and integration of composition and improvisation.

Fields composed for Sand extended melodies, chordal movements, lyrics (from his own short stories. Fields adapted before texts of David Mamet, Charles Bukowski and Samuel Beckett for his compositions), and pulse tracks, then sliced, diced, and reharmonized them into modules according to a simple mathematical formula for the Ensemble. In performance, Fields spontaneously selects, mixes, combines and sequences these layered modules and creates spaces for improvisational elements within structures and «organic cues» in which characteristics of a musician’s natural performance. Sand was recorded live at the Alte Feuerwache in Cologne in February 2022.

The ensemble features Italian guitarist Sergio Sorrentino, Swedish guitarist David Stackenäs, German clarinetist Frank Gratkowski, Czech-Pakistani alto sax player Salim Javaid, German tenor sax player Matthias Schubert, trombonist Matthias Muche and vocalist Hanna Schörken, Ukrainian vocalist Tamara Lukasheva and Belgian vocalist Sophie Tassignon, among many others. The album offers nine lush and engaging, chamber-orchestral, contemporary but free «Sand» pieces that are not shy of being strange, enigmatic or even flirting with abstract and noisy sounds, but eventually, all pieces gravitate into their own kind of eccentric grooves. The three vocalists add the emotional, fragmented story-like narrative of this composition with associative, daily life experiences. And Fields triggers the improvised parts in the same way that the ensemble’s musicians are allowed to set forces in motion, and then, based on their articulations, initiate the next iteration. It is a wise and insightful composition that deserves repeated listening to appreciate its many wonders.

Eyal Hareuveni

Axel Lindner (vio), Carolin Pook (vio), Annegret Mayer-Lindenberg (viola), Katharina Hoffmann (c), Scott Roller (c), Jonas Gerigk (b), Miles Perkin (b), Tal Botvinik (el.g), Sergio Sorrentino (el.g), David Stackenäs (el.g), Daniel Agi (fl), Norbert Rodenkirchen (fl), Frank Gratkowski (cl), Salim Javaid (as), Matthias Schubert (ts), Udo Moll (tp), Matthias Muche (tb), Melvyn Poore (tuba), Shiau-Shiuan Hung (perc), Arturo Portugal (perc), Tamara Lukasheva (v), Hanna Schörken (v), Sophie Tassignon (v), Scott Fields (cond)

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