Produced by Conference Call. Recorded live at Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT on September 26, 2008. Recorded by Nick Lloyd. Mixed by George Schuller. Mastered by Andrew Fellus, RedBird Studios, NYC on April 4, 2013. Band photo by Doumé & Jos. L. Knaepen (Schuller). Cover design by Malgorzata Lipinska.
Tracklist Album 1 – Set One: 1. As I Wait (Joe Fonda) [07:03] 2. Poetry in Motion (Michael Jefry Stevens) [09:05] 3. 29 Shoes (Gebhard Ullmann) [09:29] 4. The Path (Joe Fonda) [05:12] 5. Bald Eagle (Michael Jefry Stevens) [11:55]
Tracklist Album 2 – Set Two: 1. The Shining Star (Gebhard Ullmann) [09:53] 2. Quirky Waltz (Michael Jefry Stevens) [05:20] 3. A Map Would Help (George Schuller) [12:22] 4. Desert… Bleue… East (Gebhard Ullmann) [07:36] 5. Back To School (George Schuller) [12:00]
Performance Notes: Disc 1 and 2 represent the exact order of the sets that were played that night. Tracks 4 & 5 on Disc 1 were performed with no break. Tracks 1 thru 4 on Disc 2 were performed with no breaks.
The collective quartet Conference Call
performs music within the egalitarian principles of jazz as a democracy, confirming that a band can be both leaderless and led by different players without diminishing the quality and character of its music.
A working band since 1998, the lineup of reed player Gebhard Ullmann, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, and bassist Joe Fonda employed multiple drummers in its first three years, including Matt Wilson, Han Bennink, and Gerry Hemingway before inviting George Schuller to hold down the drum chair. His selection speaks to the chemistry of this band, and its true collective nature.
Seven: Live @ Firehouse 12 is their seventh release, fifth in this current lineup and it follows What About The…???? (Not Two, 2010) (also a live recording) and the studio release Poetry In motion (Clean Feed, 2008).
The amazing feature of this band might not be that they interact so well, but that they actually have time (make time) to play together. Each player leads multiple bands and is a member of various ensembles. Among others projects, Ullman leads his Clarinet Trio, the Ullmann/Swell 4, and Tá Lam Acht. Fonda can be heard in 18 different bands and Barry Altschul’s The 3dom Factor (TUM, 2013) made many a top ten list last year. Stevens juggles 15 different bands, with the longstanding Michael Jefry Stevens Trio a favorite. Likewise Schuller is the choice drummer for Michael Musillami and Jason Robinson.
Seven was taken from the September 26, 2008, performance and it is presented here unedited and uninterrupted, each set comprising one disc. What is unique here is the manner in which the music making is passed around; not the typical head-solo- head arrangements, but composed changes and neatly orchestrated improvisation. Stevens trinkling/tinkling piano opens “Poetry In Motion” before Ullman’s bass clarinet enters in unison and the band goes about unfurling intricate patterns that detonate into improvisation. The band, though, maintains the song’s structure bringing the audience back from the brink. The same is true for all the music here. Highlights include “29 Shoes” with its extended technique opening that coagulates into a burning run (check out Fonda’s nimble fingers), the Ornette Coleman-inspired “A Map Would Help,” a clever chamber jazz piece “Quirky Waltz,” and “Desert… Bleue… East…” a melancholy blues.” Each varied track is a mini-exercise in group interaction and the power a disciplined improvisation that complements the composed music. — Mark Corroto
Double-CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)