"Santa Fe Celebrates Master Collaborator" July 9, 2007




Written by Groovey, Labels: CD releases

“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.”






Mar 16, 2018, by A. Loudermilk

"George A. Romero's 'Martin': On Lasting Intimacy with a Cult Cinema Vampire"

“...A key influence on a film viewer's impression of story and character, which the novel cannot help but lack is, of course, the soundtrack. Donald Rubinstein's experimental soundtrack for Martin -- a baroque fusion of jazz, string quartet, and electronic piano -- was named one of the "Top 100 Coolest Soundtracks of All Time" by Mojo...To convey Rubinstein's style, Jez Winship throughout his analysis of the film relies on comparisons to: Hitchcock composer Bernard Herman, Krzysztof Komeda's score for Polanski's Dance of the Vampires, impressionistic pianist Bill Evans, free jazz saxophonist Ornette Colman, jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and other '70s-era "jazz fusioneers". This is in addition to mentions of scurrying piano motifs, minimalist phrases, glassy chordal structures, pastoral flute, "old country" violin, friction drums, cymbal sounds, church bells, and nocturnal stridulation. Rubinstein also credits ARP strings and the phase shifter attached to his electric piano.

At a less-is-more 36 minutes, Rubinstein's soundtrack for Martin is packed with innovation and psychological ticks. Dealt like a Rorschach test for the ear, the 22 tracks often feel like sound poems to me...The music creeps or frets about one's personal space, neurotically scoring one's life, a mood-piece as introspective as it is prismatic. I asked Rubinstein if, when meeting fans like myself, do they tend to speak of the soundtrack in personal terms? "Yes, they have done so," he said, expressing gratitude and speaking of it as "a creative and emotional bond." A bond on par with fan response to the film itself, evidence of just how deeply idiosyncratic, how rightly fused, are Romero's film and Rubinstein's music.”   

“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

“Standout, beautiful tunes…devoid of transitory trendiness.” Los Angeles Times

“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

“Mr. Rubinstein is a polymath, a musician who writes, a poet who makes visual art. His colorful alter ego, ego-altering characters inhabit an open-ended world of non-sequiturs and ambiguous sophistication…an original and exuberant mind. “ Aline Branduer, curator Linda Durham Contemporary Art.

“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”

"Rubinstein’s unique perspective, equally informed by the wide-ranging implications of multimedia conceptual art, and by the immediacy and sincerity of classic roots-driven songwriting, makes for a refreshing and insightful listening experience." CD Universe

"Rubinstein’s uniquely drawn figures call to mind monsters, or the characters found in the drawings of New Yorker magazine legend Saul Steinberg." Albuquerque Tribune

“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. Elevates the horror score into high art.”  Mojo

“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...An inspiration” Bill Frisell, Composer, Guitarist

“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

"Like all great artists, Donald Rubinstein creates because he has to; probing his soul and his psyche with originality, beauty, humor, pathos, lyricism, energy and an abundance of love...opening windows to an aesthetic that is both accessible and unique. His work is truly inspiring, whether it be classical, jazz, folk or rock composition, poetry, painting, drawing, whimsical computer generated figures, live performance, or a combination of any of the aforementioned art forms...with great respect and a deep appreciation for his genius." Ed Harris, Actor/Director                                    

“Songwriting genius Donald Rubinstein…Incredibly creative stuff…his music amazes me.” Derek Sivers, Founder CD Baby

“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

“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

“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

"Paper Pieces for Key Board" is a contemplative collection of piano solos...This is one of the CDs – along with the Bach violin solos by Christiane Edinger and the Bach cello solos by at least three different people – that I can happily lose myself in, wandering through the black-and-white “landscape” of the keyboards.  Tom Geddie, Buddy Magazine

“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

“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

“Too Late To Die” is a fine illustration of the commercially forgotten concept of song as literature with sound effects…mixes folk and rock with that loosely defined roots genre Americana, played by the likes of Lloyd Maines (pedal and lap steel, banjo), David Mansfield (mandolin) and Hani Naser (hand drums). Rubinstein sings and adds guitar, keyboards, harmonica, percussion, samples, and what’s described as “electrical oddities.” The sound never becomes gimmicky though; everything fits…an intriguing world seen from a slightly different perspective.”  Tom Geddie, Buddy Magazine

“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.”

“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.”  New Mexico 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.”  Gajoob Magazine

“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

“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

“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.”  Cadance 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.  Movie Grooves

“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.”  DVD Empire

"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.” “Donald Rubinstein’s Works of Art” by Daniel Schweiger

“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.”  Media Unleashed