NOW Ensemble has been a prominent member of the New York City indie classical scene for more than four years. With an idiosyncratic instrumenation of flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass, and piano, NOW is synonymous with its unique sound, blending five instruments into one virtuosic band. For its long-awaited debut album, the group chose 7 pieces from its core repertoire, a body of work that is helping to redefine chamber music for the 21st century.
NOW consists of two pieces by Judd Greenstein and one by Patrick Burke, both of whom serve as the ensemble’s artistic co-directors, two pieces by the ensemble’s guitarist Mark Dancigers, and one by Nico Muhly. Each of the pieces have received individual praise by a variety of sources. Greenstein’s “Folk Music” and “Sing Along” have been described respectively as the album’s “wistful” and “passionate” bookends (Time Out New York), and the former piece’s “melancholy flute line, above bobbing piano chords” is listed as “one of the disc’s highlights.” (Time Out Chicago). Time Out Chicago also described Muhly’s “How About Now” as having “a poppish sensibility” but taking “a crack team of player to pull off easy.” Burke’s “All Together Now” has been said to “artfully emphasize the sense of balance and discipline” among the ensemble’s players (All Music), and Danciger’s music for NOW Ensemble has been praised by the New York Times as “unabashedly rock influenced.”
The album has been praised most for its combination of “the formal elegance of chamber music with a pop-honed concision and rhythmic vitality” (TONY) which is manifest in all of the ensemble’s commissions and performances. The album’s repertoire was described as “plenty deep enough to be dredged on multiple passes without crawling up inside its head so far it misplaces the soul” (The Washington Post), and received five-star reviews from Time Out New York and Chicago.