Communication in Cadillac Orchestra

Whether it's Pata Trio, Pata Horns, Pata Orchestra, Pata Masters or Pata Generators - if it bears the name Pata, it contains Norbert Stein. Decades ago, the saxophonist and composer from Cologne found a recognizable umbrella term for his music modeled after the Pata physics of the French author Alfred Jarry. For his new recording, he takes the Pata principle for a ride in a Cadillac.

GruppenbildNobody is born into an empty space. In place and time we encounter a certain culture, music flows through us. With this in our formative childhood years, it stays with us forever. We have the same internal reference, we have tradition. Both enable communication. For the Pata musician Norbert Stein, it is the key to music and communication.

Klaus Huebner: The Pata idea you've been following for many years never seems to run out of new input. How do you manage to keep inspiring yourself?
Norbert Stein: I am alive and in this world and I want to grasp this world in tune and portray it as a musician. There is not only one answer to this, but rather it continues on and on, on many levels. Inspiration is a continuation, and the possibilities for working with it are extremely diverse.
Klaus Huebner: In an interview three years ago we talked about the term reality. Among other things, you said: "In a musical context, I am confronted with that which can be reality and my music should withstand this." Has your music continued to withstand it since?
Norbert Stein: I believe so. In comprehending everything with which I go on as a person, the music also wants to continually be further updated and formed. The basic forces may remain the same, but I think that the music withstands what I formulated as a requirement back then. The question as to what reality is and how I deal with it remains exciting. Back then it was about music and the realization of what consciousness actually is, where the limits are, what one can understand and what not, what are incomprehensible processes about which we have no idea. This all remains true. To answer the question: So far everything is still consistent.
Klaus Huebner: Has the music on your new CD Pata On The Cadillac more become real in the sense of more communicative?
Norbert Stein:I have always focused on communication because it's what the whole thing is about. This is not only limited to gaining personal insight, but also about communicating as a person in this world. In this regard, music and art in general is an extremely good medium. I attach great importance to music being comprehensible for those who want to comprehend it or possessing at least the beginnings of an understanding. It contains cultural references of things we know, which act as a useful means of communication - through our common language.
Klaus Huebner: In comparison to the predecessor project Silent Sitting Bulls, the cast has doubled. Does this automatically mean a greater amount of musical communication within the band?
Norbert Stein: No, I wouldn't necessarily emphasize that. There can be a large amount of communication within a trio as well as in other combinations. No, it contains a completely different range of colors and it is possible to deal with completely different forces. In my current formation, it is more like rhythm section and wind section. On a rhythmic flow, many lines can change and flow into each other, because there are more players, which means that I have the possibility to add simultaneities to the composition. To put it another way, with eight musicians I have eight polyphonic parts. In this case, the tendency is toward working in an orchestral manner. Here it is possible to compose pictures which are entirely different.
Klaus Huebner: The sound space grows, yet the intimate aspect of a chamber music context exists. I see the piece "In a man's mind" as the best example for this. Can one regard these relations as a framework of the production? Is there still a desire to experiment, to move in uncertain territories?
Norbert Stein: In response to the first part of the question: Yes, you identified it correctly. From this point on, I can paint other pictures. A small orchestral situation has been formed. On the other hand, I continue to stumble over the word experiment, because I am not moving in uncertain territory. Experiment means: to attempt something. That's not what this is, though, as it was clear from the beginning what should be captured. The musicians with whom I work - some of them for many years now - are capable in this cast and in terms of their ability and understanding of quickly, precisely and expertly capturing  what my composition is all about. The music is a realization of what should be portrayed and communicated. As such, it is not an experiment. Of course, I also experiment for myself, but not in a production. A production is the result. In the result, the question is answered as to whether everything I wanted to include in the composition as a value is actually included. Of course, this cannot be frameless and is subject to a certain measurability. Melodies open up in free spaces, where they become lines and where rhythm becomes a simple flow or harmony becomes a sound. The terms which remain supportive and comprehensible for the listener  broaden in their elementary being. If I can then also successfully make my understanding of reality tangible, that's good.

Predetermined landing place

GruppenbildKlaus Huebner: Are your pieces completely pre-composed? What guidelines do the musicians receive from you?
Norbert Stein: No piece can just lead anywhere, without a predetermined landing place. They are all composed pieces with a precisely determined beginning, flow and end. The term composed spaces means that I have composed for improvisers and designed processes. It is up to the musicians themselves how they fill the spaces.
Klaus Huebner: Was the music on Pata On The Cadillac created especially for this project?
Norbert Stein: When I began to make music myself following my musical socialization, I was fascinated by the area of improvisation. I later started to form and compose by myself. Back then, I was already working with complete conviction on the one thing, i.e. the composition, not suffocating the other, i.e. the improvisation. Rather, the composition should inspire the improvisation to bring what I like about it to life. This task as composer of composing for improvisers didn't just arise in the last few years. It was there from the very beginning.
Klaus Huebner: You have often worked together with large casts. Where do you personally feel at home  - in a large or small group?
Norbert Stein: In this music, it is of great importance to me to do what we do in our area of freedom together with other people. For me, this begins in a duo and becomes more interesting in a trio. On top of this is the fact that I'm a saxophonist and love it when I can play myself and have the space to do so. As composer I love the many colors and larger casts. These, however, have to be organized differently. I feel two souls: A small cast leaves more room to play, a larger cast promises the composer more colors and deals with more forces.
Klaus Huebner: The term Cadillac points towards the American car brand. Is this the case for your album?
Norbert Stein: Cadillac is Cadillac. It is the car. How did the title come about? I think it's good if this question remains open. Cadillac is a proud term, for something big, something sophisticated. I'm somewhat hesitant to provide my own interpretation. Cadillac also has something to do with joie de vivre.
Klaus Huebner: Doesn't the term Pata restrict you after so many years?
Norbert Stein: No, because the term is so iridescent that I can always keep filling it with current life. It doesn't hold me prisoner or set boundaries for me.

Interview by Klaus Huebner, Jazzthetik

PATA BILDBanishment from paradise

Concepts to improve the world are as plentiful as the sands at the sea, and to date none has succeeded. While physics continues poking around in haystacks, the field of pataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions, with its burlesque, absurd answers, would appear to have a leg up on the competition.

For his part, Norbert Stein is a patamusician, and on his new CD, Silent Sitting Bulls, he offers his views on existential questions of sound and the end of paradisiacal conditions. ‘Pataphysics alone undertakes nothing to save the world,’ wrote the Collège de Pataphysique (the artists’ group founded in Paris in 1948 by absurdist and playwright Alfred Jarry [Ubu], its membership including, among others, Max Ernst, Jean Baudrillard, Umberto Eco, Man Ray and the Marx Brothers). This is a movement from which Norbert Stein has something to gain.

Klaus Huebner: The term ‘pataphysics’, a compound word the first part of which can be found in your project, ‘Pata Music’, once interpreted as the science of imaginary solutions: Do you strive to create these kinds of solutions with your music?
Norbert Stein: At least the term refers to the attempt to capture something with sounds that can be captured. And that’s what it’s about: music as the art of generation that gives people something substantial for presentation and communication.
Klaus Huebner: French author Alfred Jarry became literarily deeply involved in the pseudoscience of pataphysics, such as in his book about Dr. Faustroll. Do you sense a kindredness of spirit with this?
Norbert Stein: Reading Jarry’s most famous piece, King Ubu as a young man, I sensed something in the normality of the time and discovered something pointing beyond the things that manifested themselves in the circumstances of my life. With the main character’s elemental powers, the burlesque piece points to the fact that there is more out there, past the boundaries of normality. To me, King Ubu means setting out into something felt yet still unknown.


Klaus Huebner: How did Pata Music come about?
Norbert Stein: In my development as a saxophonist who articulates something on his instrument, I increasingly came to the point where I wanted to articulate beyond the instrument itself – in other words: to compose. I wanted to grasp things that were valuable to me and to give them a name. Including in view of a situation in which the sources were very multi-faceted, with European music, New Music, jazz, folk music – everything that lays the foundation for musical socialisation. I needed a name that was open to all of this. Some time after the reading we just discussed, the term ‘Pata physique’ surfaced, followed by ‘Pata musique’. Through this play on sounds, I had found a word that is not unlike my own way of seeing and approaching things.
Klaus Huebner: How real is reality? To what extent are people involved in shaping reality, under the assumption that people themselves are just a part of the cycle of nature?
Norbert Stein: This is an incredibly exciting topic, one dealt with not only by philosophy but also by modern physics. What is reality? It has been urged that reality be anchored in some way, to give us a point of reference. A few decades ago, findings emerged, particularly in quantum physics, that have forced us to take an entirely different view of ourselves and the world around us. The world in which we live is a real one. But just what it is, and whether ours is the only world out there, remains to be seen. There are investigations that say: it's not like that. I am musically confronted with the question of what reality can be – and my music should stand up to that.
Klaus Huebner: Is it a speciality of yours, implementing this complex philosophical set of considerations in music?
Norbert Stein: Actually, no. I have always been interested in people who felt an obligation to the truth in their art. In my opinion, back then the issues were not simply amusement and pastime but rather elementary things. There were forces at work in free music that profoundly impressed me. It scratched open the surface of the things that were familiar to me and brought unknown forces to light. Take Cecil Taylor, for example – his piano playing is less about the sounds produced. The sounds themselves are only a means to an end, a way of transposing large movements onto the keyboard. Music interested me when, as an art, it seemed to suggest something of what reality is. Whenever we do something or assimilate something unfamiliar to us, we do so as beings that have already been formed. Taking this fact into account, and dealing with it playfully, is part of Pata Music.
Klaus Huebner: How strong is the influence of foreign cultures on your music?
Norbert Stein: Everything I have encountered, or that has impressed me, is something that I have experienced. Even if the perception was subjective, points of reference still emerge. If I know how a gamelan orchestra sounds because I have heard the metallic flowing sounds and the tonal system, then there is an auditory aesthetic reference within me that combines with the things that I have interpreted into the music. To me, these references constitute navigational aids in the sea of possibilities, and I enlist them as I move about in unfamiliar waters. Cultures are local occurrences, all of them in search of the same thing: to capture the things that music can capture. In my music, the matrix of all pieces constitutes the field in which musicians interact with one another in free play. There is always a point at which musicians are liberated from the things written down and set off into the realm of absolute freedom.
Klaus Huebner: The piece entitled ‘Paradise Lost’ laments the loss of an ideal state?
Norbert Stein: The music comes about through the compositional effort to find something that contains something valuable in order to cast it in an artistically interesting progressive form. It must become as clear as possible. At the same time, the child wants a name – the titles are not to be found in the notes but instead are often the product of the things I’m dealing with at the same time. They should exhibit interpretive plurality. In the case of ‘Paradise Lost’ it is the choral-based opening. The piece describes the fall of man, from paradise to the present day.

Interview by Klaus Huebner, Jazzthetik

PATA BILD pata music or the Concept of Composed Spheres

If you want to know the meaning of "pata" you will have to learn that your dictionary stubbornly refuses to reveal any information in this respect. To illuminate the origin of the little word we need a short literary excursion into the fascinating world of Doctor Faustroll. Because it was he who in 1898 under the overall control of the French Alfred Jarry created the expression of " pata physics ". In the epilogue of the German edition (Alfred Jarry, Heldentaten und Ansichten des Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysiker; Publisher: Zweitausendeins) the translater Klaus Voelker gives the following definition: "Pata physics is the science which is based on unreal logic and a new reality beyond the borders of the world of external appearences removed from the usual principles of causality. Everything is able to be mixed up, to be changed, to be turned around and exchanged: things, times and spaces. But nothing is arbitrary, only that every simplicity consists of an interrelated and self-penetrating complexity."

Following Jarry´s word creation, the saxophone player Norbert Stein, who lives near Cologne, derived some years ago the name Pata Musik establishing the collective term "pata" as a constant which should offer the listener a basis of identification of the composer-musicia´s different projects. ...

The changes of casts in every single Pata group may be compared to the rich variety of the resulting programs. To transpose his diverse musical ideas into acts worth listening to Norbert Stein chooses always top-class co-musicians from the colourful and creative Cologne scene ... none of them a musical leight weight, who may - within the given frame of Pata Musik - keep their creative licence. Norbert Stein is not interested in an egocentric self-portrayal, instead he turns his attention to the component of composing. In this respect he likes to talk about "composed sphere" which he creates, i.e. he creates a certain atmosphere for the players wherein they are allowed to be soloists. Very few passages of his pieces are arranged in detail, thus leaving much room for spontaneity and authentic interactions. Not least thanks to this Pata Musik presents refreshingly sparkling, thrilling and charming moments. The music is permanently developing, the committment of the individual becomes comprehensible and, thanks to the arising contrasts the listener´s ear will really be sensitized.

The Pata Musik is full of surprises and phrases, it is open to all sorts of influences, it tears down fences of seemingly contradictory idioms and, coming from jazz improvisation it builds up something new and exiting ...

Joerg Eipasch, Jazzpodium

PATA BILDVoyage through Times and Spaces

All about Norbert Stein is pata: music, scores, label, formations

All things have to flow, says Norbert Stein. This is his motto for life as well as for the music he writes, that is more a commonplace than a pearl of wisdom. Relating to music the flow-metaphor means: it should be in motion without being frantic but be steady even with changing tempos; it doesnít have to linger in idyllic landscapes, but rather should make the listener ready to be taken away in it; it should communicate tranquillity rather than allay you, and it should be far from suspending the listener´s self-perception. Also it should have stylistic limits that are not valuable until the end of time but be open and vague enough for changes and new influences.

Norbert Stein´s music suggests a special kind of letting time pass by. The flow-metaphor is above all ruled by the two parameters melody and rhythm You have to listen very well not to get caught in a trap suspecting only superficial anti-academic, anti-modernist new-age or the „back-to-c-major-and 4/4 beat“- affect. Both parameters are essential in Norbert Stein´s music: he sees melody and rhythm as a universal human basis for music. It should have something to sing along with, to hum along with, to recognise and to follow, and it should create a situation of unity for those who listen and those who play it. He is sure that even courageous listeners of contemporary avant-garde (Norbert Stein claims to be one of them) have this need. This shows the many requirements for encores in concerts. It all depends on how you see it: take it or leave it. Refusal, he says - and here another musical and vital principle comes up - doesn´t take you far, and some time or other you pretty mark time. Rhythm also must flow, not necessarily pulse, push or hammer, neither change permanently. It should be the centre of the music to which you like to return to, no bizarre component rebuilding the cutting rhythm of the world of media.

PATA PICTUREEncouraged by his father in his early exercises on the alto saxophone Norbert Stein was one of the first jazz music graduates in Cologne University. During the busy Seventies he was one of the musicians citizen-initiative of the Koelner Jazzhaus, which is one of the most successful and effective musicians co-operation of our time. He was also a member of the initiativeís central groups ...His compositions often deviated a bit from the diffuse consensus of the group. Even then he never liked ironically exaggerated humour: he found dissociating-destructive work with the music material and a composer´s eloquent craft work with humorous-sarcastic gestures too superficial. Humour, Norbert Stein says, should not be a medium for a need of limitation. Humour should not narrow stingily the horizon instead of widening it ambitiously, and make contradictions and oppositions bearable.

As he... started to go his own ways he founded his PATA music. PATA is a double syllable, found by Alfred Jarry (Taten und Meinungen des Pataphysikers Doktor Faustroll), and is in his phonetic structure similarly essential and far-reaching as DADA. Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions, and it defines the way to gain knowledge avoiding the rigorous rules of reason and tradition without disrespecting them). PATA is the name of his music, of his label and of the formations with whom Norbert Stein works. (PATA Horns, PATA Orchester, PATA Trio, PATA Masters). Some compositions contracts - Moers, Koelner Philharmonie - helped him to formulate his musical language which doesn´t lead into a definite vocabulary, and they fixed his relations to a circle of musicians who took part in the performances of different constellations.

PATA PICTUREA pata physician is no neo-romantic. Norbert Stein´s music is often loud, sometimes eruptive. Curiously he uses music electronics as a contemporary instrument but is not obsessed by it. He loves the little, song-like forms, but connects them to greater contexts and returns to already performed pieces to re-examine them. The compositions for his wind players give room to improvisation and often built the background for freethinking soloists: he learned from jazz without feeling obliged to its idioms, he learned as much from other idioms and idols.

It may happen that a homely melody turns out to be a twelve tone string. One central item of his scores is that he doesn´t prescribe every sounding moment note by note. While composing certain musicians with their virtues and abilities come to his memory. What he writes should be carried out as precisely and responsibly as possible - he insists on that like every composer does. But this includes also for example that metrical concepts that are not completely congruent create little frictions in rubato-parts. Such little deviations are intended bows in front of the performing situation, and like solos they give the musicians their stand in music. Thus, his pieces are not commanding works, rather schedules for performing situations, embodied with creative musicians who also bring their surprising ideas and their individuality to the team. And with that they also bring: pata-scores.

Pata music is like a living organism in motion and underlying changes. Years ago it sounded totally different. The LP Lucy und der Ball (1988) was recorded by the unusually casted Pata Trio: two saxophone players (Norbert Stein and Hennes Hehn) and one drummer (Reinhard Kobialka), the music is rough and uncompromising at the same time airy, unflowery and loud. That is, says Norbert Stein, the reverse of the „turn to the world-happiness“: the need for sparseness of a disillusioned Beckett setting only with the light of a bulb, the chairs in a empty room at the edge of the abyss of the absurd. In such a room you can easily think and create music. If a melody is composed here it has no candy topping, if there is rhythm in it, it is no pompous waltzing dream. If you compose there you don´t fill a plastic bag with bizarre surprises.

The compositions for the pata orchestra on the CD „Die wilden Pferde der armen Leute“ (1990) followed old music without forgetting contemporary music and jazz entirely. The wind quartet PATA HORNS on „Talking People“ (1992) plays a warm, swinging wind music that is often well composed with free solos and loud intermezzo. And the music of PATA ORCHESTRA on the CD „The secret Art of Painting“ - a composition contract for a Bayer exposition - finds itself in a surprising context of fine arts. Now, Norbert Stein is writing for a contract of the ARFI (Association de la recherche d`un folklore imaginaire) and their orchestra La Marmite infernale in Lyon. The music will be performed on the festival „Le grand barouf“ in Lyon and, after that, once in Paris on the Banlieue-Festival. He didn´t meet the musicians till now. With that he meets a new situation of composing: Pata Music flows on.

Hans-Juergen Linke, Frankfurter Rundscha


The blue spiral

Composer Norbert Stein at the triennial music festival in Colognecave art of escaping man

An octet for Norbert Stein is more than just eight players. It is a whole orchestra, with himself playing in it. Though unpretentious as a composer, Norbert Stein is not undemanding. Orchestras are not just required to play his music, but to turn it into something their very own. And audiences, more than just sitting still, are expected to open themselves up to that special quality of his music which transcends the audible. In this respect, Stein belongs as much to Karl Heinz Stockhausen as to the contemporary jazz tradition from which he has never departed since his spell in the "saxophone mafia" of Cologne. First and foremost, however, he is a stubborn individualist whose personal "Pata Music" label shields him from categorization.

At the triennial music festival in Cologne's "Stadtgarten", pata-music was the medium of his three-fold self-portrait as composer, conceptualist and saxophonist - three aspects best presented according to the thesis/antithesis/synthesis model. The thesis or "Pata Blue Chip" merges synthesized sound with a sequence of associative, non-figurative video images to form an integrated whole. This is done completely spontaneously using preset material. Stein, Xavier Garcia, Christoph Hillmann and Frank Koellges realize this concept without onomatopoeic sampling, keeping it, like video artist Reinhold Knieps' contribution, on an abstract, richly associative level.

cave art of man and animal and riverThe goal is to scan the size of a space rather than fill it with contents. The leitmotif is a blue spiral, turning to evoke harmony and endless movement, which lends the music an object-focused rather than fleetingly progressive quality. Music and pictures are completely disparate. Unlinked and unrelated, they form an acoustic-visual installation which illuminates one and the same object with different mediums. What this object actually is, escapes definition and probably lies in some imaginary center which pulls the attention of all on stage. Equally novel is the sound picture created by the Pata Masters - a quintett of three windplayers (Norbert Stein: tenor saxophone, Michael Heupel: flute, Reiner Winterschladen: trumpet) and two percussionists ( drummer Klaus Mages with Matthias von Welck on the slit drums and gongs). Taking the deepest of audible frequencies as their foundation (von Welck’s slit drums are immensely rich in upper tones and Heupel often uses his incredible sub-contrabass flute percussively), the Pata Masters build up a compact framework of poised, yet energy-laden rhythms.

Each closely intent on the other, the windplayers produce their solos - clear melodic signals, mostly arranged in parallel, sometimes rubato, elaborately structured, but archaic in inspiration. Dispensing with a long climactic build-up, idea is heaped on idea in dramatic cumulation. Fragments of melodies and sounds meet in a restrained but powerful confrontation, crowding around an imaginary center and clamouring for attention. This is the bustling disorder of a meditteranean market, with all its contrasts, and not the predictability of the self-service store.

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Each closely intent on the other, the windplayers produce their solos - clear melodic signals, mostly arranged in parallel, sometimes rubato, elaborately structured, but archaic in inspiration. Dispensing with a long climactic build-up, idea is heaped on idea in dramatic cumulation. Fragments of melodies and sounds meet in a restrained but powerful confrontation, crowding around an imaginary center and clamouring for attention. This is the bustling disorder of a meditteranean market, with all its contrasts, and not the predictability of the self-service store.

The strong socio-spatial element of the music was expressed most strongly in the orchestral (or octet) finale. The Pata orchestra, comprising the rhythm team (von Welck, Koellges, Hillman and Mages) and wind section (Stein, Heupel, Winterschladen and Gratkowski), backed up by Stein and Hillmann on the synthesizers, pays homage to a dense composition which, departing from a broad baseline, explores many different avenues without confining itself. Stein is less interested in subtly defined sound pictures than in free expression. But the freedom of the musicians to improvise does not make the result an arbitrary one. On the contrary, Stein is a sound craftsman with a precise aim in view and an eye both for detail and the final picture. Not just his music, but his exactingness and generosity on the stage turn the concert into a unique social experience. And one that stays in our memories too, since it shows us something we can all take home with us - an imaginary center.

Hans-Juergen Linke, Frankfurter Rundschau

Graphic saxophone in front of 	crescent-shaped globe Graphic saxophone in front of 	crescent-shaped globe
Graphic saxophone in front of 	crescent-shaped globe Graphic saxophone in front of 	crescent-shaped globe
Graphic saxophone in front of 	crescent-shaped globe Graphic saxophone in front of 	crescent-shaped globe