Tom Heasley
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Tom Heasley


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The best kept secret in music


"On the Sensations of Tone"

Tom Heasley: On The Sensations of Tone
Innova (2002)

Tom Heasley’s ambient tuba work is just plain lush. Besides tuba, composer/performer Heasley also experiments with digital processing and throat singing on this release. This work is improvised in the studio, without edits, which makes for an incredible attention-to-detail listen. Of the two pieces here “Prelude”, which was recorded and mixed by the ubiquitous Robert Rich, loses no subtleties in its open-air, beatless structure. It’s sense of space is unusual as it is of the essence of San Francisco fog sensitively rolling in over the hills. At 42 minutes “Thonts” is the centerpiece here. Chilling and atmospheric – who knew the tuba could do that? – this is an evocative piece of music to be reckoned with. Recorded in Philadelphia this reminds me of sounds you might hear in the wilderness of the lost lava pits of Iceland. Before venturing solo, Bay Area-based Heasley played with a range of musicians from polar genres including Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Pauline Oliveros, Thomas Buckner, Eugene Chadbourne, Fred Frith, Loren Mazzacane Connors and ex-Mother of Invention Don Preston. This versatility has served his sensibilities well. He has played in museums and in barns, in grand opera halls and in living rooms. On The Sensations of Tone is truly a one-of-a-kind, sensory-driven composition. Heasley’s follow-up to Where The Earth Meets The Sky (Hypnos) is full with a stark depth that could be called mind yoga. This is by far, the ambient release of the year (and it’s only June!).

TJ Norris
Just Out / Underground Studio
3141 SE Taylor Street
Portland, Oregon 97214 USA
Phone: 503-238-7007
- TJ Norris

"Where the Earth Meets the Sky"

News: Tom Heasley was featured on BBC Radio 3's 'Late Junction'
on 17th July 2002 (also did a live session in London for Radio 3's 'Mixing It' in 2004).

Tom Heasley creates beautiful organic ambient music
using only a tuba. Sounds impossible? Well, it has to
be heard to be believed! The tuba is processed through
multi-effects to achieve the desired sound. The textures
of sound have a unique quality, with (as you might
expect) the tuba sound most noticable at the start of
each note. The notes ring out over long distances and
morph into delicate atmospheric sounds.


"Everything has been given the ambient treatment, from Madonna to Bach, Tibetan monks to accordions. But the tuba? It’s not that far-fetched an idea. Years ago, Stuart Dempster took his trombone into a cathedral and let it ring out in long echoes. Heasley’s cathedral is digital, as he runs his horn through long delays, reverb and loops. No doubt helped out by engineer Robert Rich, a master of sonic sound shifting, Heasley sends his tuba deep and low, stacking up a brass choir that moves like a dreadnought in space. In fact, on “Ground Zero,” after the opening notes, it doesn’t sound like a tuba at all, but like a whale, calling out across an ocean, gathering its echoing brethren in some kind of
cosmic harmony. “Western Sky” has more of a conventional tuba sound, but again, playing in sustained notes, Heasley gets audio hallucinations going, not unlike LaMonte Young’s “Well-Tuned Piano.” If only John Philip Sousa were alive to hear it, marching
music might be different today. "

Review from Pulse Magazine
by John Diliberto

"Traveling on long dark rays of sound, Tom Heasley ventures to the place Where the Earth Meets the Sky. What makes this expressive journey even more unique is Tom's instrument of choice... Forget "oompah-pah"... these transmogrified tuba sounds spread into never-before-heard panoramas of sonic exploration! Delicious low drones (which rival any synth) seep into Ground Zero (17:02), then expand into layers containing brighter sweeps and warmly spiraling swells of brass. Imagine a wide terrain twisting beneath a cover of undulating streams, fading as evening gradually falls. Sinuous streams perform slow-motion acrobatics in the Western Sky (14:46), moving like cloud formations in vast billowing slurs. In the final moments, a few strands of throat singing slip through. In a darker region, Monterey Bay comes alive... from an uneasy near-silence, animalistic flutters emanate in growling moans and giant-mosquito drones to be
subdued by a preternaturally lengthy series of foghornesque blares. Beautiful resonance rises like a mist. A bit of throat singing gives additional texture to the rolling waves which occur Where the Earth Meets the Sky, a rather spooky expanse of organically
evolving currents which hovers in a mysterious shroud of sound. Tubular! Extra points to Tom Heasley for bringing something so ordinary-yet-unusual into the ambient arena. You'll find an 8.8 from me placed upon the otherworldly planes Where the Earth Meets the Sky."

Review from Ambientrance magazine

- Pulse! / Ambientrance

"On the Sensations of Tone"

Artist: Tom Heasley
Album: On the Sensations of Tone
Label: Innova
Released: 2002

june 2002 reviews

Tuba?? Ambient Tuba?? You Betcha... I find this album featuring a picture of a guy with a tuba covering his head in my mailbox. In the top right corner, it says "Tom Heasley, Ambient Tuba". Ambient Tuba? Seriously? You might imagine my skepticism at first...aren't tubas used exclusively in marching bands and German Oom-Pa-Pa groups? I thought this was the case, especially since I've lived in the Midwest all my life, where polkas reign supreme. Anyway, I drop this curiosity into my CD player, and I haven't been able to listen to much else ever since.

Tom Heasley, based in the California Bay Area, is truly an artist's artist. Performing for years with various creatives such as Robert Rich, Milcho Leviev and Henry Brant, and as well as being featured on Hearts of Space and Echoes, Tom is quickly becoming a worldwide name.

His first album, Where the Earth Meets the Sky came out in 2001, the release of which was followed by close to 30 solo concerts during a three month period. Now, with the release of On the Sensations of Tone, Tom has successfully carved out his own niche within the ambient music genre.

This album has two separate pieces to it. "Prelude", which clocks in at just over 14 minutes, introduces the listener to an atmospheric, flowing world where tuba, understated as it is, takes the stage. Gone were my expectations of something bellowing and obnoxious, to be replaced with a sudden respect for an instrument that takes a lot of unwarranted snickering.

“Thonis", at around 42 minutes, is an excursion into deep ambient recesses, where the sounds generated by Tom's electro-acoustic tuba must be heard to be appreciated. The next time someone asks me what "ambient" is, you can bet I will play this track as an example.

With Tom Heasley's On the Sensations of Tone, you will experience an absolutely sublime and evocative journey through the world of ambient. Put your preconceptions about the tuba aside, and check out one of the most promising albums (and artists!) of 2002.

For more information about Tom Heasley, visit:

Track Details: 1.Prelude - 14.06
2.Thonis - 41.58

© 1999 - 2002 The Instrumental Weekly - 1720 E Marquette St - Appleton, WI 54911
- Instrumental Weekly

"Where the Earth Meets the Sky"

April 29, 2006


I caught a snippet of 'Where the Earth Meets the Sky' by Tom Heasley a few weeks ago on Soma FM's Drone Zone and was intrigued enough to buy the CD. I have a very limited music vocabulary, so I won't try to describe it, except to say parts of it seemed to me to be vaguely reminiscent of parts of Pink Floyd's 'Echoes', a song I've listened to for over 30 years and have never gotten tired of.
Here's the funny part - Tom's playing the tuba on this album. Granted, it's mixed with throat singing, loops and digital processing, but tuba? I'm sorry, but when I think of tuba music, I think of John Phillip Sousa and marching bands, things that evoke giggles in me.
Well, I'll never think of the tuba that way again. This is serious (and seriously good) music and you'd never guess the brass section was anywhere around.

Posted by Mark at 02:54 PM | TrackBack (0)

- Mark Turnaukus Blog

"Selected Quotes"

What listeners are saying about the music…

“Gorgeous, very uplifting with deep perspective… the grain and personality of the tuba (and its player) add a feeling of slight fragility and an edge…” David Toop, composer/author/journalist/curator

“I love Tom’s music! If you don’t go to hear him whenya can [it’s] your loss!” david torn - splattercell

“Tom Heasley’s mesmerizing loop-based ambient tuba playing [conveys] an ethereal beauty…” Joseph Woodard, music critic - L.A. Times

“Tom’s [composition] lends itself to evoking deep meditative states of awareness.” Ramon Sender, composer

“…a rich and sonorous aural experience that flies in the face of all the dumb cliches about what tuba music is.” Richard Zvonar, Ph.D.

“…I have…listened to [your] CD three times! That may not mean much to you but for me that is a big deal – when I often barely listen one time through. …[your music] definitely has lots to offer.” Stuart Dempster, composer/trombonist - Deep Listening Band/professor emeritus - Washington State University

“I’ve listened to [your CD] three times now and liked it more each time. … ‘Monterey Bay’ is some of the best ‘ambient’ music I have ever heard. I will, of course, order a copy for our library and [recommend it to] my students.” John Turk, tuba soloist/professor - Youngstown State University

“I just finished listening to "Where the Earth Meets the Sky" out on my deck, watching the sun set over the mountains. Now I know that even a tuba can spill magic into the night air.” SK, Golden, CO

“The sounds totally consumes you, transporting the listener to some other reality.” Shawn Atkins, filmmaker - NYC

“…a mesmerizing wonder of deep echoed atmospherics.” David Beardsley, Downtown Music Gallery (NYC)

“The music…was so transporting! I listened over and over. You’re definitely onto a great thing here. No mistake about whose music this might be! [signed] …A Ravenous Fan!” Anne LeBaron, composer/harpist/author/professor - CALArts

“This CD transcends the curiousity factor of its… instrumentation and stands as a strong meditative statement, immersing the listener so deeply that one never thinks of an oompah band.” Jeff Towne, music critic - New Age Voice

“Rich and powerful…long delays and reverbs give the ear a chance to grasp the nuances of your overtone work and textural details.” Gerry Hemingway, drummer/composer

“It really was ravishingly beautiful and meditative.” Sherry Goodman, director education programs, - UC Berkeley Art Museum

“Anyone who enjoyed the "Deep Listening" releases will love this one…Clearly this guy has chops…[This] is one ambitious work, wonderfully produced by the artist…It just might be the most singular CD in the Hypnos catalog, and well worth investigating.” Gordon Danis - Eastchester, NY

“Once I got over the issue of “tuba?!” I quickly saw what Robert Rich saw in the recording – a deep, restrained, sonorous richness, and a very nice divergence from the usual “synths and samplers” sonic palette common to our genre. Put aside any preconceptions you may have about the tuba as an unlikely instrument for beautiful, restrained ambience.” Mike Griffin, founder - Hypnos

For Bookings and Information:
Tom Heasley
9663 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 125
Beverly Hills, CA 90210 USA
310.481.1366 (cell)
310.876.2994 (home)
310.876.2994 (fax)

- Various


Where the Earth Meets the Sky (2001, Hypnos)
On the Sensations of Tone (2002, Innova)
Desert Triptych (2005, Farfield)
New Release, TBA (2007)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Tom Heasley - Composer, Tuba, Didjeridu, Voice, Electronics, Loops, Throat Singing
The unique musical voice of Tom Heasley is heard internationally as composer, performer and recording artist. At live performances and in recordings, Heasley gathers the warp and woof of tuba, didjeridu, throat-singing, looping and electronics and weaves them into a musical tapestry of great originality and power. He creates “a rich and sonorous aural experience that flies in the face of all the dumb cliches about what tuba music is…” A true "father of invention", Heasley has turned his Achilles' heel - the tuba - into a force majeure.

With his first solo CD, WHERE THE EARTH MEETS THE SKY (Hypnos 2001), Tom Heasley launched the art of tuba-playing into the twenty first century. He continued to liberate the tuba – one of the world’s most under-valued instrument - with ON THE SENSATIONS OF TONE (Innova 2002.) His third solo offering, DESERT TRIPTYCH (Farfield Records, 2003), released by Southampton, England-based Farfield Records, is his first to feature the didjeridu, along with voice and electronics.

From Silicon Valley to Siberia, Tom Heasley’s music has been featured on radio programs throughout the world, such as National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Carl Stone’s Ears Wide Open, John Schaefer’s New Sounds (WNYC), Kalvos and Damian’s New Music Bazaar, John Diliberto's Echoes, and BBC Radio's Mixing It and Late Junction. His music speaks to a diverse audience, from students at Oberlin conservatory to inmates of San Quentin prison. His appearance at festivals and venues include CEAIT, Sonic Circuits, The Gathering, The Knitting Factory, CBGBs, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The winner of an Artist Fellowship in Musical Composition from the Arts Council of Silicon Valley, Heasley’s work has also been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, American Composers Forum, Meet The Composer, McKnight Foundation and ASCAP. In addition to his solo recordings, Tom has recorded for Tzadik, Leo, Hypnos, Innova, Music and Arts, New Albion, Old Gold and Farfield Records and has enjoyed collaborations with many artists of note, including Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith, Malcolm Mooney (of Can), Eugene Chadbourne, Deep Listening Band, Gunther Hampel, Jeanne Lee, Bobby Bradford, John Carter, Alvin Curran, Don Preston, Daniel Lentz, Vinny Golia, Joe Catalano, Pauline Oliveros, David Gamper, the Merce Cunningham Dance Co., Lois V Vierk, Frederic Rzewski, Glenn Spearman, Gerry Hemingway, Stuart Dempster, Anne LeBaron, Gerry Hemingway, Jonathan Harvey and most recently, Toss Panos.

Most recently, with the support of Meet The Composer, Heasley produced a concert series at Highways in Santa Monica, CA, where he premiered his latest work for tuba, voice and electronics, Dream of Zatoichi. He was also a featured musician - performing on tuba, didjeridu and voice, as well as creating real-time loops - for the workshop production of Anne LeBaron’s new opera WET, which premiered at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in Los Angeles, CA.

For bookings contact
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