The Car Music Project uses brass, percussion, string and woodwind instruments constructed from the parts of a 1982 Honda Accord owned by its founder, Emmy Award-winning composer Bill Milbrodt.
Milbrodt decided in 1994 to have his dilapidated car taken apart and reincarnated as instruments; he gathered a team of musicians, an engineer, glass cutter, physicist and a metal fabricator with whom he then worked over the next year.
Metal sculptor Ray Faunce III spent 18 months dismantling the car and creating by hand a collection of western orchestral instruments, including the trombone-like Exhaustaphone and Strutbone, made from struts, shifter linkage and an exhaust system.
A "Percarsion" set with over 55 instruments comprises springs, gears, windows, pistons and crankshafts hanging from a circle of racks 15 feet in a diameter. A Tank Bass is made from a gas tank and cymbals are made up of floorboards.
The ensemble's current roster was assembled in 2005 and has Eric Haltmeier on its convertibles and tube flutes (made from strut covers and tubular parts); James Spotto on Strutbone and Exhaustaphone; William Trigg playing Percarsion, cymbals and drums; and Wilbo Wright on Tank Bass. Milbrodt plays the banjo-like Air Guitar, made from an air cleaner and break calipers and played with metal finger slides.
Spotto studied at Rowan University's Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz Studies and leads a brass quintet. Trigg is a noted a 20th century music expert who has worked with the New York City Ballet and Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Wright is a skilled bassist and improviser with a following in the U.S. and Europe.
The ensemble's classifies itself on its MySpace page as progressive, experimental and rock, and their music is described as a blend of toe-tapping beats and soundscapes, fusing jazz and classical styles. "Stuff you can hum," says Milbrodt.
For example, the piece 8-4-2-1 is a jazzy and lively shuffle that contrasts with Wrinkles in Space, which consists of both notated music and a sound collage allowing for free-form improvisation.
Writes one reviewer, "It's as if the entire history of music has been rewritten from scratch."
You can catch the Car Music Project at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Sunday, August 5 at 5:00 p.m. More information is available at www.lincolncenter.org.