Tin Hat

Forging a new acoustic sound that defies categorization while striking universal chords, TIN HAT makes freewheeling chamber music for the 21st century. Since their inception in 1997, each of Tin Hat’s six recordings has been regarded by listeners and fellow musicians as a benchmark in the ongoing exploration of vibrant new pathways in acoustic music. Concurrently, their captivating live performances throughout the United States and Europe have surprised and delighted audiences with well-honed compositions and the joy of spontaneous musical discovery. Hailed for “interweaving Old World Europe with post-modern America, south-of-the-border sensuality with concert-hall propriety, and odd-metered syncopation with deeply soulful grooves” (The New York Press), the ensemble has created an original American ethnic music of its own device. As the New York Times notes, “it’s solid, appealing and fresh.”

Tin Hat was formed in San Francisco by Carla Kihlstedt (violin), Rob Burger (accordion/ piano), and Mark Orton (guitar). Their vision was a composer’s collective committed to creating a personal, acoustic music that blurred the lines between composition and improvisation. When Rob Burger left the group in 2004, Mark and Carla invited clarinetist Ben Goldberg to join, and they achieved the alchemy of their current lineup with Rob Reich on accordion and piano.

After their 2007 release The Sad Machinery of Spring, a haunting meditation on the life and work of the Polish artist Bruno Schulz, and the breezy live album Foreign Legion, Tin Hat embarked on its most ambitious project to date, a 17 movement song-cycle based on the poetry of E E Cummings. This project is a true meeting of the minds: Cumming’s broad earthshaking vision, the inspired compositions of all four members of the group, and, at the center, the brilliant singing of Carla Kihlstedt. Intimate, warm, and robust, Carla’s singing perfectly complements Cumming’s tough-minded yet transparent words, all set to some of the most beautiful and ambitious compositions in the group’s history. The entire song-cycle, entitled the rain is a handsome animal, was released by New Amsterdam in August, 2012.