Friday, February 6, 2015

Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research, Hat and Shoes

Is there a relation between where you live and the music you make? Always, I suppose, though often enough it is not easy to put in a short number of words. Gebhard Ullmann is an example of the complexity of that. He is a European who makes significant free improvisational jazz that has as much or more a relation to roots New York "New Thing" as it does to any "European School" of avant improvisation we may care to evoke.

This is beautifully clear in his Basement Research ensemble recording Hat and Shoes (betweenthelines 71238). The title reminds of Eric Dolphy's classic piece "Hat and Beard" and I am sure it is intentional, for the music here seems a modern extension of the later Dolphy ensemble ethos. Not in any obvious way, but there is a growth from the Dolphy trunk so to speak. Not just in Ullmann's excellent bass clarinet work--and tenor sax. But also in the ensemble's special collectivity, the compositions and how they jump start some really good group improvisations and solos.

He is very well served by the band he has assembled. The critically important Steve Swell joins the ensemble on trombone, as a key component of Ullmann's music over the years. Julian Arguelles makes a fine showing on baritone sax. And the rhythm team is excellent as well, with Pascal Niggenkemper on acoustic bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Some Europeans, then, some Americans, and a clear vision of the interpersonal freedom and compositional staging needed.

It is an album that excels extraordinarily well at pitting talented improvisers with vibrant material, like Dolphy's Out to Lunch only very much of today.

Everything and everyone comes together for a beautiful result, surely one of Ullmann's very best albums and some prime examples of the prowess of all the players. Don't miss this one!

No comments:

Post a Comment