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Donald Rubinstein is a film composer, singer/songwriter, and multimedia artist. He worked with George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead), scoring Romero's films "Martin" and "Knightriders", and co-composed the theme song for the television series "Tales from the Darkside" (created by Romero; the theme was also used in the theatrical version).
Mr. Rubinstein wrote the title theme and episodic music for the television series "Monsters", scored the documentary "Tangled Up in Bob: Searching for Bob Dylan", and most recently scored "Absolutely Nothing, Next 22 Miles" for Emmy-winner Miguel Grunstein.
Beyond his film scoring, Mr. Rubinstein is best known for his avant-garde jazz/rock collaborations with the likes of Bill Frisell, Emil Richards, and Wayne Horwitz. He's also partnered with a number of other notable performers, including Hank Roberts, Bob Moses, Steve Gorn, Vinny Golia, collaborating in film recordings and live performances.
A work for French Horn was commissioned by Peter Gordon (Boston Symphony Orchestra), and thereafter a work for jazz trio, this including bassist Anthony Jackson and percussionist Gordon Gottlieb (New York Philharmonic Orchestra). Jazziz Magazine included the duet "Fingers" by Rubinstein and Bill Frisell on their "Celebration of the Modern Era" special edition 20th anniversary CD in 2003.
Donald crosses boundaries. His CD "When She Kisses the Ship on His Arm" (2009) includes Sharon Gilchrist on mandolin and a vocal-duet with "country outlaw" Terry Allen.
2010 saw the release of three new Rubinstein CDs, with three varied releases planned for 2011/2012. An iconoclast, Rubinstein has released 22 CDs with very little major label support. Maintaining an unusual tenacity of position he has produced a body of iconically distinctive works.
Of Rubinstein's musical work, Steve Huey of Allmusic wrote, "Singer/songwriter, pianist, jazz experimentalist, soundtrack composer, beat-style poet -- Donald Rubinstein has somehow juggled all those hats over the lengthy span of his creative career."
Things that need to be said
“George Romero’s deeply disturbing portrait of a modern day ‘vampire’ comes with an equally chilling score – haunting, minimalist jazz penned and performed by pianist-poet Donald Rubinstein…High art. One of the top 100 coolest film scores of all time.” Mojo Magazine
“Artful, beautiful tunes…devoid of transitory trendiness.” Los Angeles Times
“If I were a smarter human being I would now invent a word that would explain exactly how freakin’ cool and original in thought and execution Donald Rubinstein is with his music. This new word would have to embody the talent that you hear within the first 30 seconds of your first Donald Rubinstein song, that puts your brain on some new rails you didn’t even know existed between your ears…His prolific discography is something you should take the time to explore, to discover the genius landscape that Donald Rubinstein has sculpted over the last few decades…This is the first time I ever used the word “important” to describe an album. You need to hear these songs.” Adobe Airstream Magazine
“What’s the source of Donald Rubinstein’s strange, jazzy, unique songs? Judging from his well concocted but often twisted work, he must have the oddest muse in the world, and also one of the best. He’s got enough weird poetic/musical genius in his brain to rival Jim Morrison.” Santa Fe Reporter
“For sheer variety and entertainment, Donald Rubinstein’s novel, unpredictable one-man show is hard to match…stunning, house-shaking…hauntingly beautiful.” LA Weekly
“Donald Rubinstein’s sonic pallet spans from the nakedly acoustic to the eerily electronic to the heroically symphonic. There are those, meditators, test pilots and oblivion seekers of every stripe, who seek new horizons, vast landscapes, empty and aching with fresh possibility. Rubinstein is certainly to be counted among them. These compositions haunt, seeming to arise out of primordial emptiness, until suddenly they are gone with the very dawn the composer conjures. Donald is an unequivocal card-carrying visionary, a sonic gardener whose technicolor orchard bears fruit of strange shades and unexpected tones.” John Kruth, “Dawn Imagined”
“Songwriting genius Donald Rubinstein…Incredibly creative stuff…his music amazes me.” Derek Sivers, Founder CD Baby
“Donald Rubinstein works in the higher arts. He composes soundtracks with music ranging from contemporary experimental classical, to jazz, rock and Americana…How does one come to terms with this work? After an introduction of spoken word the first song takes advantage of Lloyd Maine’s splitting steel guitar. He sounds as if he has returned with Joe Ely and The Clash to The Venue in London. Experimental Americana is all with “Strange Eye,” a song with the super clean feeling of a dream machine driven by jazz piano…This is not an easy album, but one which impresses deeply.” Alternative Country Magazine, Netherlands
“Donald Rubinstein: A man on a journey to orbit the outer edges of the atmosphere and dive right to the heart of the human condition. His music and art defy categorization-complex scores of moving sound poetry, folk tunes that bop and rock, storytelling with a deep funky soul. He is a man who creates in a hermitage of thought and feelings filled with crystalline structure and form, buried treasures, ancient memories-ultimately an incredible archeology and encyclopedia of musical forms that invite us into his own Emerald City.” Trend Magazine
“Singer/songwriter, pianist, jazz experimentalist, soundtrack composer, beat-style poet — Donald Rubinstein has somehow juggled all those hats over the lengthy span of his creative career.” All Music Guide
“Martin and Pollock both represent the striking musical vision of composer Donald Rubinstein…Preferring to color his own work with relatively smaller ensembles, experimental jazz, exotic instruments, haunting voices and instantly memorable themes, Rubinstein’s novel cinematic approach… (is) distinguished by a singular “indie” voice-a cool, rebellious vibe developed long before that term was fashionable…a hypnotic sound.” “Donald Rubinstein’s Works of Art” by Daniel Schweiger
“The music was composed and played by pianist Donald Rubinstein…minimal, sad, lovely, melancholy and touching.” New York Downtown Music Gallery
“Ship to Shore Phono Co. breathes new life into Rubinstein/Romero’s obscure, yet beloved classic, “Martin.” The composer of the score — Donald Rubinstein helped to shed the common vampire story by providing a unique and innovative take on atmospheric horror themes. Rubinstein’s jazz leaning makes for a spectacular score, with a favorite example being “Martin Goes to the City”… And then there’s the real gem from the album, “The Calling (Main Title).” The siren wail, the somber piano, the cello and oboe movement, it’s all just perfect. Different pieces of “The Calling” pop up throughout the rest of the score, and it’s somber tone matches the mood of the film flawlessly. I really can’t say enough good things about it: it’s considered a classic for a reason.” Alan Miller Modern Vinyl
“Donald Rubinstein provides a cure for normalcy…a wild ride.” A Celebration of the Modern Era 20th Anniversary CD with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Frisell, Tony Bennet and others. Editorial Staff, Jazziz Magazine
“I’m a witness, and I’m here to testify that Donald Rubinstein’s newest release is a musical revelation. “The Witness,” displays Rubinstein’s highly developed skills for mood-inducing orchestral pieces and jazz. There are definite underpinnings of Gershwin’s jazz and Shostakovian epic symphony within this imaginative work, which displays both innovation and guts. I played “Music For Chamber Orchestra for a couple of my “Rock and Roll” buddies, and even they were impressed with the heavy emotional fever that drives this work. In order to describe it better, I fear I would have to wax poetic about the visual imagery it inspires within my twisted imagination…I am a firm believer in the power of The Witness.” Mic Line
“Rubinstein sings like an animal, his grizzled voice cracking with half-ironical desperation or descending to a conversational murmur…His tunes are instantly iconic.” Seattle Weekly
“A wildly diverse and exceptional beautiful album. Rubinstein’s musical pallet is vivid and varied as he’s joined by a variety of musical explorers such as guitarist Bill Frisell. From midnight blues to exquisite orchestral pieces that dance between light and shadow, this album covers a lot of territory. Whenever I hear an album like this I wish more artists had this kind of diverse talent. This is dream music where tender songs drift into dark musical landscapes and then back into morning light. A wonderful album.”
“If I could work with “D” (Donald Rubinstein) on every film I ever made, I’d do it. I have never worked with a person in the filmmaking process like him. He comes into the room, wants to know what the film’s about, and then works with you to completely realize the film for what it’s meant to be. He’s the purest guy I’ve ever worked with. He’s an absolute innocent. He’s there to do the work, and you’ve got to respect that…D doesn’t do shit for the fuck of it. He does shit from the heart. His heart, your heart. The amazing thing is that he can see and hear your heart. He says things you’ve been wanting to say. And he makes you feel less of an asshole for wanting to say them. Because when he says them, they suddenly make sense. Validation, man. I’m not the only sucker on this planet. There’s this other guy, D, who’s been suckered in too. And he’s here to explain how, why and what happened to us all. D Rules!” George A. Romero, director
“Donald is crazy. Like Charlie Parker was crazy. Like Kerouac and Bob Dylan are crazy. Perfect crazy. Full of surprises. I can’t say anything better about anybody. ‘Crazy’ on this idiot planet is as good as it gets. Donald is even better. A monster artist. (Not bad for a Yankee.)” Terry Allen, musician/artist
“Imagine Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy, and you’ll know what Donald means by ‘End of the Trail’ and ‘Lonely Try’. A very interesting blend, these two styles. I have never heard the modern folk and the modern classical put together so closely…Imagine Korngold (composer of the original Robin Hood) doing a song cycle , but instead of hiring an old white guy, Duke Ellington shows up out of the grave to play it, cracking his fingers, wanting to raise a little hell, fresh out of heaven. That’s this. Imagine John Lennon making an album in the late 60s with Yoko that you actually want to listen to more than once. That’s still this…You won’t be sure how to take it af first – unless you’re of a mind not completely pop/rock – but it WILL make you listen. This isn’t background music. It’s cool It’s night. It’s looking for an audience in a theater of alleys…Performance art you might say. Yet there are beautiful pieces like “Haven” which defy labeling, so what you get is a full service album. I find it freeing and relaxing. A ghost in a sometimes-dead world of music baying at the moon. Well worth relishing.” Music Dish
“Plays like the after-hours musing of a (much) hipper John Hiatt.” The New Times, Los Angeles
“Rubinstein’s music fascinates and captures our imagination. His songs are haunting in text and blend jazz, blues, folk and soul in their rendering. The sad, sultry, slightly raspy voice has the quality of a man worn down, The sounds and images linger long after.”
“What really knocked me out is the music for [the film] “Martin”, a showcase for Donald Rubinstein’s jazz chops. I’m amazed how varied it is: the instrumentation of course, but the approaches as well.” Gary Giddins
“Rubinstein’s voice was raw and he played piano beautifully- real eccentric things you wouldn’t ordinarily think of. It inspires you to do something that stirs within.”
KYPA Radio, Los Angeles
“Too Late To Die” is a fine illustration of the commercially forgotten concept of song as literature with sound effects…an intriguing world seen from a slightly different perspective.” Buddy Magazine
“I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Donald Rubinstein in all kinds of situations over the years. I’ve learned a lot from him. He is a total artist who uses everything – a guitar, a whistle, a symphony orchestra, spoken word, song, drawing, painting, dance, acting, etc., etc., whatever. There are not limits. These days it’s reassuring to know there’s someone like him around..After twenty years he’s still on that path, and still an inspiration” Bill Frisell, musician
“This is the soundtrack to every solitary late-night drive you’ve ever taken. Rubinstein’s rather like a less talkative Leonard Cohen, or maybe a less-animated Warren Zevon, with moments of John Hiatt and David Gray thrown in. A veteran of movie soundtracks, Rubinstein is accustomed to creating evocative works; when he’s set free to score the movies in his mind, the results are often picture perfect.” Splendidezine (A Man Without Love)
“With only the quiet power of Bill Frisell’s guitar providing a backdrop, Donald Rubinstein has created an awesome display of the hold that music can have. Rubinstein’s lyrics are decidedly poetic, yet these are songs in a more traditional sense than a poetry reading might possess, although the approach is similar to a poet shining his lonely spotlight back on his audience for them to peer inside of themselves. I’ve had this playing over and over for many months and it changes with me, like the best expressions do. “Time Again” is able to be majestic and deeply personal, displaying a solitary reflection that embraces humanity. The music has a free, improvisational feel throughout that is more blues than anything else, which I believe establishes a foundation for the emotions it speaks so beautifully. Frisell’s guitar is the perfect companion throughout. In fact you’re never quite sure if it’s the guitar or the vocalist who’s guiding you here;’ the match is that solid. A treasure. Gajoob Magazine
“His (Donald Rubinstein’s) art ranges from sophisticated music compositions to prints reminiscent of the characters in South Park. He is articulate, accomplished, and driven and he has never stuck to just one thing at a time. Almost everything he produces is an amalgam of forms and disciplines and they all have a spark. His works have a tension; a sense of questions asked and seldom answered that hint of the possibilities just outside the boundaries of what we understand.” Destiny Alison, Santa Fe.com
“You’ve never heard “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” sung with more feeling than Donald’s own Bonnie, God, that’s sad. However, my money is on the instrumentals of the CD like “Blues for Betti.” Improvisation or not, it’s interesting, spontaneous jazz that experiments within free jazz confines (if that makes any sense).
“Hollywood” take the blues feel and transforms it into words. Donald’s world of vocalizing is the deep, lazy, rich sort. I can’t tell if he’s black or white. but the voice is colorblind.
I hope he finds a home and genre for his realistic music. Oh yes, it’s realistic. Life is never sculpted from ABAAB patterns, you know. “ Ben Ohmart, Atn-Zone Magazine
“The quality and grace with which Donald Rubinstein fuses classical, traditional, medieval, folk, jazz fusion and rock is flawless…His music is superb.”
Music 4 Film
“A poet in a Dylanesque vein, Rubinstein’s singing voice reminds me of a tired, more world weary Bruce Springsteen. In the singer/songwriter vein, I’d rather hear Rubinstein than any of the more popular artists.”
“But perhaps the most unusual film jazz in the bunch is Donald Rubinstein’s score to ”Martin”, which has finally been transferred from lp to cd by Levelgreen. Rubinstein’s unique score mixes satirical horror cliches with night owl jazz. It’s a mournful take on the urban vampire, playing him like a barfly on the end of his immortal rope.”
Daniel Schwieger, Venice Magazine
“Martin’s overall mood is greatly enhanced by somber, evocative chamber
music, composed by Donald Rubinstein.”
Paul A. Gagne, The Films of George A. Romero
“Wow. We were so surprised when we heard this – and immediately fell in love with it! “Martin” is the absolutely beautiful and haunting jazz soundtrack to George Romero’s 1978 cult ‘vampire’ movie (his favorite). Donald Rubinstein has given us a fantastic and beautiful listening experience.
“Donald Rubinstein’s haunting score, with its somber female operatic chorus and stark piano strings, has a timelessness that Morricone at his best is able to capture.”
“The other major plus here is Donald Rubinstein’s moody jazz score. It’s superb; perfectly and tastefully underscoring the film. I’m still patiently waiting for a legal soundtrack release on CD. Despite Varese Sarabande putting this out on vinyl in the 1980’s, ‘Martin’s’ soundtrack has never been released on CD. No matter how desperate I am for this music, however, I will not buy some scratchy vinyl-to-CDR copy hawked on eBay at a ridiculous premium.”
ADOBE AIRSTREAM: THE ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR CITIZENS OF CULTURE
Donald Rubinstein, Man of New Words
Written by Groovey
Labels: CD releases
Donad Rubinstein, Man of New Words
“If I were a smarter human being I would now invent a word that would explain exactly how freakin cool and original in thought and execution Donald Rubinstein is with his music. This new word would have to embody the talent that you hear within the first 30 seconds of your first Donald Rubinstein song, that puts your brain on some new rails you didn’t even know existed between your ears. His music is inspirational and at the same time melancholy, and he wields his original tonal creations like a true master hitting you where you weren’t looking. Folk, jazz, rock, classical, this dude can do it all. His music is three dimensional. You can touch it and it will touch you back.
Donald Rubinstein’s career spans many genre-shaping landmarks. He has worked with many notable musicians including Emil Richards, Bill Frisell, Anthony Jackson and Vinny Golia. His prolific discography is something you should take the time to explore, to discover the genius landscape that Donald Rubinstein has sculpted over the last few decades.
He has collaborated with the slice of awesome that is Kiki Smith, for exhibits at both The Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. On top of all that Mr. Rubinstein is a world class film scorer and has worked with Ed Harris, and with one of my all time heroes George Romero. In 2002 Mojo Magazine listed Donald Rubinstein’s soundtrack for the Romero film Martin as “One of the top 100 Coolest Soundtracks of All Time.” Considering that the world cranks out about 100 feature length films a second and the movie industry is like 100 years old that award win is the kind of stuff for future history books.
So there’s some good news. Well actually it’s frickin great news. Donald Rubinstein just released a new album entitled, “WHEN SHE KISSES THE SHIP ON HIS ARM.” I’m not yelling I’m just pretty dang sure that’s the way it’s supposed to be written. This shiny new and just released CD is (This is actually where you should stop reading and just go buy it. But if you want more of my input here it be) a piece of audio artistry that will be stuck in your cars CD player til about late November until that one annoying friend of yours will ask to listen to Christmas music. But it’s okay cuz once they get out you will just put Rubinstein’s CD back into the player. “WHEN SHE KISSES THE SHIP ON HIS ARM” is a collection of 13 very important songs. This is the first time I ever used the word “important” to describe an album. You need to hear these songs. My personal fave is: I Cracked Up From Loneliness. It’s on his myspace and there’s samples of the new album all over the place. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. This interweb do-hicky is a 2-way road folks.
If any of you invent a new word in the process let me know. Cuz it might come in handy someday.”
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