Tingstad & Rumbel
Tingstad & Rumbel
New Age duo
Highly artistic and ecologically active, Tingstad & Rumbel offer a well-synchronized instrumental sound of steel-strung classical guitar intermingled with assorted woodwinds. This New Age collaboration emerged from a chance meeting in 1984 between the two musicians, who were previously unacquainted. The encounter led to a personal friendship and subsequent professional collaboration between them, which resulted ultimately in the pair’s release of a succession of albums and concert appearances throughout North America. By the end of the 1990s the duo had performed in concert at Carnegie Hall, and they added a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album to their laurels in 2002.
According to Eric Tingstad, his earliest musical bent was as a technician as much as a music-maker. Born in a Seattle suburb on Beethoven’s birthday in 1954, he maintains that he crafted his own guitar from a block of wood, stringing the instrument with fishing wire, when he was eight years old. At age nine he acquired a dilapidated, broken-necked model, which he salvaged and repaired with help from his father before securing a bona fide functioning model, purchased with funds that he earned and saved from a newspaper route. Enamored with this new instrument, the budding Seg-ovian protégé sang and played with fervor, winning first place in a talent contest at age 13.
In high school Tingstad played electric bass in the jazz band. While contributing his acoustic guitar skills to the school orchestra, he learned eventually to play the upright bass as well. His extracurricular interests also veered to music, and he joined local bands for the sheer enjoyment of performing. He played his first professional gig as a tenth grader, with a five-piece band that earned $50 for the gig.
As a prelude to his college career, Tingstad moved with his parents to Moscow, Idaho, while a junior in high school. There he took time from his secondary studies to audit music classes in composition and theory at the local university. After high school graduation he enrolled at Skaget Valley College, then transferred to Western Washington University. During that time, he studied classical guitar with third-generation Segovian masters. In addition to instrumental studies, jazz fusion demanded a large portion of his attention, and he continued to be influenced by the rock ‘n’ roll bands that ruled the radio waves in his youth. In the 1970s, in fact, he performed with rock bands throughout the greater Seattle area.
In 1988 his musical interest reverted to classical modes, and he undertook a solo career in coffeehouses, restaurants, and other intimate venues. Capitalizing on his gift for composition, he compiled eleven original songs into a full-length recorded release in 1982. Called On the Links, this New Age album appeared on his private label, Cheshire Records. After achieving modest sales with the release, he issued a follow-up album in 1984, called Urban Guitar. Unknown to Tingstad, a woodwind player named Nancy Rumbel, also with New Age musical interests, had by then relocated from the East Coast to Oregon. At that time the two musicians had not yet met.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Nancy Rumbel was the product of a cultured and musical household. Her mother, a pianist, oversaw piano lessons for Rumbel and her siblings throughout junior high and high school. Additionally Rumbel studied oboe and clarinet with teachers from the ranks of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra and joined her high school marching band as a glockenspiel player. After high school she studied ethnomusicology at Northwestern University, where she worked with Ray Sills of the Chicago Symphony.
By junior year, in her eagerness to explore and experiment, she had abandoned the protective environment of academia and struck out on her own as a musician. Having added English horn to her repertoire, she worked as a dance accompanist, then joined the experimental Paul Winter Consort and traveled with that ensemble. As Winter proved to be highly unorthodox and conceptual in his musical style, the time spent with the Consort served as an apt initiation for Rumbel, enabling her to develop the attitude and talents that would bring her to the forefront of New Age music in future collaborations with Eric Tingstad. With her musical horizon dramatically expanded after four and one-half years with Winter, she left the Consort and moved
Members include Nancy Rumbel (born in San Antonio, TX; married), woodwinds; and Eric Tingstad (born on December 16, 1954, in Seattle, WA; married), guitar.
Duo met in Eugene, OR; released debut album, The Gift, 1985; nine subsequent albums released 1987-2002; individual solo albums released 1982, 1984, 1991, 1995 (Tingstad); 1995 (Rumbel).
Awards: New Age Voice (NAV) radio, Best Instrumental Album of the Year for Pastorale, 1997; Grammy Award, Best New Age Album for Acoustic Garden, 2002.
Addresses: Record company—Narada Productions, 4650 N. Port Washington Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53212, phone: (414) 961-8350, fax: (414) 961-8351, e-mail: [email protected] Website—Tingstad & Rumbel Official Website: http://www.tingstadrumbel.com.
westward, where she settled into marriage and began to raise a family.
She was therefore comfortably retired by 1984, the year that she crossed paths with Eric Tingstad at an outdoor concert in Eugene, Oregon. The seeds of collaboration between the two musicians came to fruition the following year with the issue of their debut album, a holiday release called The Gift, on the Narada label. The recording sold briskly, with 10,000 units moved in ten weeks. Total sales of The Gift would eventually top 400,000. The couple’s spirited music easily attracted a following, and they put out more albums as Tingstad & Rumbel, including Woodlands and Homeland, in 1987 and 1990, respectively. Just as she brought music to ocean mammals and other unique audiences while on tour with the Winter Consort, Rumbel—as the woodwind half of Tingstad & Rumbel—was soon making appearances in such unusual venues as national parks.
As the Tingstad & Rumbel style set well, the duo became more daring and innovative, adding percussion and background enhancement to their sound, an experiment culminating in the expanded style that is heard on 1991’s In the Garden. Individually, each released a solo effort, with Tingstad’s Renewal released in 1992 and Rumbel’s Notes from the Tree of Life appearing in 1995. Tingstad followed with yet another solo release, A Sense of Place, in 1995. During that time the duo released two albums of experimental styles—Give and Take and Star of Wonder, these appeared in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
With the release of Pastorale in 1997, Tingstad & Rumbel reverted to the simple purity of their earlier music, and the album made its debut at number one on the New Age Voice (NAV) radio. Similarly, a double-disc follow-up in 1998, called American Acoustic, spent ten weeks on various Billboard charts and was cited by NAV as the Best Instrumental Album of the Year.
Tingstad & Rumbel maintained their association with Narada Productions, even as the label experienced a buyout by the larger Virgin Records in the late 1990s. After the release of Paradise in 2000 and A Dream and a Wish, they released their twelfth collaboration, Acoustic Garden, in August of 2002. On this recording the duo broke new ground literally and figuratively. In addition to spending weeks on NAV and Billboard charts early in 2003, the album won a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album. Furthermore, with wildflower seeds embedded into the limited-edition compact disc cover, this album proved to be a milestone not only for the recognition that it brought to Tingstad & Rumbel, but also because of the unique packaging, which was the first-ever album sleeve to be designed as a renewable resource.
In pursuit of evolutionary sounds in the early 2000s, Tingstad & Rumbel maintained the strong Spanish flavor of Tingstad’s steel-strung classical guitar and persisted in highlighting the Celtic essence of Rumbel’s various woodwinds and ocarinas. Whenever musical naming conventions are required, they bill themselves as contemporary folk artists, but they insist that they are throwbacks to an aesthetic movement associated with the turn of the twentieth century. On tour, their travels have taken them throughout much of North America, from Baja and the American Southwest to Alaska and across the continent to Maine.
Eric Tingstad and his wife, Carol, live near Seattle with their children; Carol handles booking for the duo. Nancy Rumbel lives nearby with her husband and children.
The Gift, Narada, 1985; reissued, Sona Gaia, 1989.
Woodlands, Narada, 1987.
Legends, Narada, 1988.
Homeland, Narada, 1990.
In the Garden, Narada, 1991.
Give and Take, Narada, 1993.
Star of Wonder, Narada, 1994.
Pastorale, Narada, 1997.
American Acoustic, Narada, 1998.
Paradise, Narada, 2000.
A Dream and a Wish: An Offering of, Enso, 2002.
Acoustic Garden, Narada, 2002.
Billboard, December 26, 1998.
“Tingstad & Rumbel,” All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 10, 2003).
Tingstad & Rumbel Official Website, http://www.tingstadrumbel.com (June 10, 2003).
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