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Sound Liberation

Denys Baptiste

Sound Liberation, an eclectic chamber ensemble/band, was formed in 1996. The band has gained exposure in the New York city area and has generated a loyal core following playing such notable venues as Joe’s Pub, Wetlands, Knitting Factory, The Blue Note, Downtime, New Music Cafe, Cutting Room,, Le Poisson Rouge and many other performing spaces. The group performed at the Outreach Festival ’06 and again in ’07 in Schwaz, Austria. Also in ’07 Sound Liberation performed at the Estonian House and presented Gene Pritsker’s Opera ‘Money’ at the Players Theatre and Flea Theatre in New York. In May of ’08 ‘Money’ was performed at the Etna music Festival in Catania, Sicily and Sound Liberation played in Ragusa, Sicily. In July ’08 they performed at the Blaine jazz Festival in Blaine, Wa. In May of ’09 Sound Liberation presented 2 nights at the Flea theater, performing Gene Pritsker’s one hour VRE Suite written for the Sound Liberation Quintet and a concert with B3+ of music from their albums on Col-Legno records. In September 2011 they performed at the Bremen Musik Fest in Germany. In past years the group was part of the Peekaboo Festival of New Music and Theater and has toured Newfoundland, Canada in April of ’99.

In August of ’09 the Song No Truth, from the 2nd album, was featured in the Universal Home Videos motion picture ‘The Wedding Bothers’. In the fall of 2010 ‘Human Condition’ was featured on PBS’s Road Trip Nation series. The band played a very publicized concert at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge in January ’10, the New Yorker wrote: “Pritsker, a rule-breaking composer-guitarist (and rapper) who impresses funk and rock beats onto classical structures, fronts this eclectic jazz-type combo of singers and instrumentalists”

The band has released their 2nd album ‘Open Up Your Ears and Get Some’ on Col Legno Records ( and had an album release concert at Drom in New York in November ’08.  New Music Connoisseur, wrote: “A glorious result it truly is….. This is the best Sound Liberation product so far”. “The freedom of sounds, as the name suggests, is truly implemented in a masterful way” wrote Jazzethic Magazine and Wildy’s World wrote this of the album “Sound Liberation create a recording as alive as creation itself… “.  Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog writes in Nov. 2010 “..this is some startlingly original music. I am very encouraged when I hear music like this.” “…an exceptionally complex and challenging record that lays down a gauntlet to the listener. After listening to a the album on and off for a week, I feel that I’ve only just started to get under the skin of Sound Liberation ” wrote Jodi Mullen writing in This is Not A Scene July, 2012.

In July 2010 Innova Records released Gene Pritsker’s ‘VRE Suite’ written for the quintet portion of Sound Liberation.

“4 stars”  “unexpected twists and turns…The result my have you seeing visions…strainsof jazz, contemporary classical music, minimalism, and even hip-hop and and African rhythms ” – John Ephland, Downbeat, Nov. 2010

“Barring the obvious exceptions, much of 21st century composition appears to be thinning in significance, but this might be about to change. Gene Pritsker is one of a very spare handful of composers effecting this change, and evidence of this is found in the Varieties of Religious Experiences Suite, a towering instrumental extraction from his opera of the same name.” – Raul d’Gama Rose, All About Jazz, June 2010

“Sound Liberation are afraid of nothing, mixing rhythm and genre to the point where the listener simply gives up on labels and enjoys the ride!….grab this indie gem now!” –

“VRE Suite is one of the more unusual works-performances I’ve heard in some time. It will no doubt appeal to those who look for rock that moves deeply into the “serious” music category.  – Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog, Aug. 2010

Two pre release shows for the VRE Suite: At Cornelia Street Cafe, presented by 21st Century Schizoid and at DROM NYC with special guest IDO.

Sound Liberation’s musical philosophy, developed by band founder Gene Pritsker, is based upon “ending the segregation of sound vibration (i.e. musical Genres)”. The group incorporates its philosophy by performing compositions that encompass a diverse range of musical genre, heavily influenced by hip-hop and rock rhythms. This enables one to hear elements from classical music to Jazz to music of various cultures at a Sound Liberation show.

The members of Sound Liberation include: Gene “Noizepunk” Pritsker (composer, guitarist, rapper), David “Criminal Cello” Gotay (rapper, cellist), , Greg “B-man” Baker (guitarist), Charles “Das Krooner” Coleman (singer), Chanda Rule (voice), Mat Fieldes (bassist), David Rosenblatt (drummer) as well as guest performers such as: James “The Prophet” Gotay (rapper), Franz Hackl (trumpet), Dave Taylor (trombone), John Clark (horn), Vessko Gellev (violinist), Dan Barret cellist/conductor), Mychio Suzuki (clarinetist), Margaret Lancaster (flutist), Melenie Mitrano (voice) and many other outstanding musicians throughout the years.

Sound Liberation delivers the music of a new millennium to today’s audience. I look forward to discussing any possible collaboration. Please do not hesitate to contact me by phone.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Gene Pritsker


“A glorious result it truly is….. This is the best Sound Liberation product so far.”

“There is something for every kind of music enthusiast in this album. This is part of the Sound Liberation philosophy.”

“Nerve Crashes is an amazing tour-de-force of harmonic and rhythmic writing. Harmonically it explores new places in progression. Pritsker gets away with this and still has, essentially, a pop song. Likewise, the rhythms are unusual”

– Joseph Pehrson – New Music Connoisseur, winter/spring 2008-09

“The freedom of sounds, as the name suggests, is truly implemented in a masterful way”

– Thorsten Bendnarz – Jazzethic Magazine, August ’08

“Sound Liberation create a recording as alive as creation itself… You can’t help but be intrigued by such an ambitious and original cycle of songs… Sound Liberation always keeps things new and interesting.”

– Wildy’s world May. ’09

“The future belongs to Sound Liberation . . . even if takes a while to get there”

– Frank Bender- Ragazzi online magazine, March ’09

“Never had I heard Pritsker try to put all these elements together in one composition. Here, in Money, he does, and it is the apotheosis of his form. This is the best Pritsker work I have ever heard. We can only hope that Gene Pritsker, in his perfection of this very personal and idiosyncratic form and the strength of his exceptional talent, can reach the very pinnacle of the compositional mound.”

– Joseph Pehrson, The Music Connoisseur, Fall 2006

Gene’s rap songs are clever, complex, and very interesting musically, exactly what the market stuff is not.

– Barry L. Cohen – The Music Connoisseur

The cover of this demo shows the two rappers behind bars, heads hanging down. Lighten up guys, I say, since as I peruse the liner notes, I see words like “cello” and “flute” next to people’s names. What?!? A rap disc with cello and flute?!? Yo G, straight up. Perhaps it’s surprising because I’ve never really heard rap over classically infused music, and I have to admit, it’s pretty interesting. Sound Liberation have been at it a few years now, and if this disc is any indication, they seem to be in peak form. The juxtaposition of rapping over classical or jazz with hip-hop beats opens doors to improvisation; further, the band isn’t saddled with a DJ scratching noise to muddy up the mix. The only confusing thing here is why some A&R person hasn’t picked up on them yet.

– Bill Ribas – NY Rock Street Beat

Wow, indie rap. Two verbose MCs cram in as many syllables as they can between every measure of music. The music on “Loan Shark” includes acoustic guitar and synth strings repeating a minor key figure. “Which of the Days” is a nice pimp-jam with sweet beats and, uh, flute and bass. Not sure how convincing the “I-had-it-hard” lyrics are but the rhymes are good and the music is well produced. “No Truth” adds classical piano and strings to the funky mix. The lyrical flows are modern and intriguing. “Money” is this crew’s response to Wu-Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.” “What Shall I Do” flows over a, um, disco music bed. Disco ballad. Cool. “Rap Sense” has the fattest beat and wonders, “Can a MC get a lap dance?” Very cool.

– Ian C. Stewart – AutoReverse

The lyrics where a nice change with the intelligence and the smoothness of the flow from the rappers.

– Michael Allison – THE GLOBAL MUSE.COM

Strange crew from NYC, eight deep, rhyme and sing over traditional classical music. Symphonic strings, medieval harpsichords and straightforward beats behind thug flows, R&B crooning and even opera. Think Dre’s “Been There, Done That,” but more extreme.


I am definitely feeling the whole element here. I hope every listener can grasp what these musician’s are offering every listener.


This self-produced demo shows talent. The instruments are well done. And for this being a self-produced CD I am impressed at how clear everything is and how well the mix is. Overall, this is a pretty good CD. I would like to see where this group ends up in a year.

-Jade Kamden Nefarious Magazine

“a most unusual combination of hip hop, bebop, rock shred, show tunes, punk, funk and classical, and original contemporary compositional elements”

– Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog, January 2011

From New Music Connoisseur, winter/spring 2008-09

Music of Gene Pritsker: Sound Liberation – Open up your ears and get some. Col Legno records. Available through With Gene Pritsker, guitars, Dave Gotay, cello, rap, Chanda Rule, vocals, Charles Coleman, vocals, Greg Baker, guitar, Mat Fieldes, basses, David Rozenblatt, drums, Franz Hackl, trumpets, Vessko Gellev, violins, Mychio Suzuki, clarinets, and several other musicians.

I’ve been a follower of the Sound Liberation band for 12 years, since their inception in 1996. However, I have never seen as attractive and accomplished a CD as their latest from the Austrian company Col Legno. Col Legno has historically handled what might be termed “experimental new music” of primarily the European variety, with a little Ives and John Cage mixed in. A classics mixed with hip-hop album seems for them a stretch although, of late, they have indicated a desire and even a necessity to change their focus with changing times.

Perhaps Sound Liberation is just the right opportunity for them to express their new direction. A glorious result it truly is, enhanced by the exceptional Col Legno CD graphics and packaging. This is the best Sound Liberation product so far.

There is something for every kind of music enthusiast in this album. This is part of the Sound Liberation philosophy. Gene Pritsker is not the type to sit around wondering if his musical taste is relevant to today’s society. Instead, he includes and transforms all his varied musical interests into something that practically everybody will like and which has an important educational component to it as well. How many young people going to clubs, even jazz clubs today, are likely to hear Brahms and Mozart, however they are orchestrated? Certainly they do with Sound Lib.

Since there are so many fascinating cuts on this album, I will simply describe my favorites. The greatest song on the entire album is an original one, with words and music by Gene Pritsker called “Nerve Crashes.” It is an amazing tour-de-force of harmonic and rhythmic writing. Harmonically it explores new places in progression. Pritsker “gets away with this” and still has, essentially, a pop song. Likewise, the rhythms are unusual. There are unexpected accents (syncopations) and phrases going over bar lines that harken back to one of Pritsker’s idols, Frank Zappa. However, most of it is in 4/4, as is much of his music, so this means that since the accentuation is basically over the bar lines, the music is very playable and countable. Very clever. You should buy this CD just to hear “Nerve Crashes” alone.

How would you like a little unadulterated Don Giovianni? Well, Don Giovanni was a great adulterer and we do have a bit of a stretch here, with electric guitar accompaniment to the aria “Deh vieni alla finestra” (“Oh, Come to the Window”) from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This is sung by the inimitable Sound Lib. sidekick Charles Coleman, nicknamed “Das Crooner,” a baritone who has a fine voice and classy stage presence. Pritsker usually insists that Coleman wear a full tuxedo on stage. The classical singing and dress add a valuable element of contrast. Coleman, indeed, puts the “class” in classical.

But, how about a little Chopin? OK, let’s take the first cut, “Prelude 21st Century” based on Frederic Chopin’s piano “Prelude in E minor” as performed by Dave Gotay on the cello, to electric guitar accompaniment. Gotay also gets to rap, one of his other enthusiasms. Pritsker, himself, is a facile rapper, in addition to his other fine performance skills on guitar, including some adept classical work in yet another piece, “Mozart and 21st Century Klezmer” where he pairs with the expert playing of clarinetist Mychio Suzuki, a new music veteran, in a pop rendition of Mozart’s “Quintet for clarinet and string quartet” K. 581.

One great aspect of this album is that the classical pieces from which the tunes are derived are all carefully indicated in the graphically engaging program notes. There is also significant contrast between more straightforward popular songs like “Which of the Days” and “What Shall I Do,” both sung convincingly by Chanda Rule and cuts that feature instrumentals and jazz improvisation, such as “Ashes” and “Let Go of My Soul.” I hear a bit of a Miles Davis influence in the latter, from the synth accompaniment to the trumpet work of Franz Hackl.

It should be mentioned that this CD and the recent work of the Sound Liberation Players has been greatly enhanced, in my opinion, by the inclusion of acoustic instruments and more of a jazz influence than was present in their work of, say, around the year 2000, when they were more a rap-rock type band. Franz Hackl, trumpet and Vessko Gellev, violins as well as Mychio Suzuki on clarinet add to this variety.

As an example, we should mention their signature number, “Infinity,” based on Brahms’ Symphony #4. It now has a jazzier feel than in earlier days and includes trumpet work, while still retaining the surefire poise of “Das Crooner” Charles Coleman. This is usually enough to get close to a standing ovation at a club. Well, expectedly, Brahms is a pretty good composer (smiley face here). However, nowadays, particularly with the state of music education as it is, who would know it without the mighty work of Gene Pritsker and the valiant Sound Liberation Players?

Joseph Pehrson