Gebhard Ullmann | Basement Research | Live in Münster | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2006 | MW 773-2 | CD

Gebhard Ullmann – tenoe & soprano saxes, bass clarinet | Tony Malaby – tenor sax | Drew Gress – bass | Phil Haynes – drums

Recorded live at Münster Kreativhaus October 3, 1999. Engineer: Manfred Brass. Tonmeister: Michael Peschko. Digital cut: Ilona Bohr. Produced by Markus Heuger (WDR) and Gebhard Ullmann for Not Two Records. Mastering and final cut by Jens Tröndle in 2004. Cover photo by Bartosz Winiarski. Inside photo by Jim Yanda. Design by Andrzej Wojnowski

Tracklist: 1. Blaues Lied [11:57] 2. Basement Research [02:19] 3. Kreuzberg Park East [11:00] 4. Farbiges Lied [05:46] 5. T.T. Walk [07:45] 6. New No Ness [14:02]

The four players get off to a sparring start

as they weave rings around each other in the quiet introspection on “Blaues Lied”, before they find the blues. The pace continues to be sombre: Ullmann takes the tune out on the tenor saxophone, laying the melody open and bringing in dramatic turns and twists. He forges new ideas on the go as he changes pitch and direction. When Malaby comes in, the atmosphere opens up and the two horns shoot some tensile lines, which evaporate as Malaby traverses new territory with a cogent solo on the melody. Ideas continue to germinate as the recording proceeds. Ullmann moves to the bass clarinet on “Kreuzberg Park East”. Shifts of time herald this tune, where Ullmann and Malaby engage in spirited exchanges that heat up as they go along. There is never a dull moment as the tension of the horns is leavened by the space created by bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes, flexing the rhythm with light accents. “New No Ness” is a happy romp with Ullmann on the soprano, unfurling light and airy spirals. Malaby comes out and swings before he goes into an open-ended improvisatory run and cues in Ullmann and Gress, who cast intrigue with their turn of pace and direction. It is here that the Ullmann flips the tune into calmer waters; he churns the mix with darting lines before the group gets back together and rollicks off into the night.–  Jerry D’Souza, All About Jazz)

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2 thoughts on “Gebhard Ullmann | Basement Research | Live in Münster | Not Two Records

  1. Basement Research is one of Gebhard Ullmann’s ongoing projects; its first edition produced an eponymous debut (Soul Note, 1995), where the multi-reedist was joined by Ellery Eskelin’s battling tenor saxophone and supported by bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes, resulting in music with much raw energy and passion. This same band also recorded Kreuzberg Park East (Soul Note, 1999).

    As part of his fifty-year birthday celebration, Ullmann has released this live recording from 1999, with Tony Malaby replacing Eskelin. Ullmann thrives on playing without a net, and being caught live only enhances the experience. I have always thought that deep inside, Ullmann was a blues man, but in the same way as Coleman Hawkins: neither come right out and play the blues per se, but it always lurks beneath the surface. Even on a record as esoteric as Die Blaue Nixe, this side of Ullmann emerges. Perhaps it is not coincidental that In Münster starts with “Blaues Lied (Blue Song),” a very deep but also deeply twisted blues, a wrenching version of which reappears in the middle of “Kreuzberg Park East.”

    Ullmann’s compositions make use of both structured freedom and composed anarchy. His bandmates must be on their toes at all times, since his music can be held together in many ways, from some germ cell of a few notes that provide the barest tissue on which to develop to a written-out line with rhythm.

    The band is very, very hot on this record. Malaby gives as much as he gets, Gress plays powerfully, and Haynes injects his percussive sounds at will. The music twists and turns, never standing still, as many waves grow, crest and crash, only to start again. This performance manifests the sound of surprise that is at the core of the best jazz. “Farbiges Lied” starts off as a sound painting with Ullmann and Malaby, until the theme is turned inside out into what could almost be a bebop head. Gress is driving underneath, and when the reeds drop out, he plays a monster duet with Haynes.

    If your attention somehow manages to drift for a second, the music might just pull the rug out. However, the audience sounds in total synch with the musicians, quite willing to go wherever this thrilling performance takes them.

  2. Basement Research’s third CD comes in the wake of Gebhard Ullmann’s 50th birthday. The band got started with Ellery Eskelin on tenor saxophone in 1993, before Tony Malaby replaced him in 1999—and thus Malaby appears on this live recording from that year.

    Ullmann is a man of many parts. He plays in several bands, all of them heavy hitters in the field of improvisation. What makes them potent is the way they essay improvisation into stimulating processes, constantly shifting and finding interesting tangents. This record proves that conclusively as the quartet takes Ullmann’s compositions and turns them into a memorable adventure.

    The four players get off to a sparring start as they weave rings around each other in the quiet introspection on “Blaues Lied, before they find the blues. The pace continues to be sombre: Ullmann takes the tune out on the tenor saxophone, laying the melody open and bringing in dramatic turns and twists. He forges new ideas on the go as he changes pitch and direction. When Malaby comes in, the atmosphere opens up and the two horns shoot some tensile lines, which evaporate as Malaby traverses new territory with a cogent solo on the melody.

    Ideas continue to germinate as the recording proceeds. Ullmann moves to the bass clarinet on “Kreuzberg Park East. Shifts of time herald this tune, where Ullmann and Malaby engage in spirited exchanges that heat up as they go along. There is never a dull moment as the tension of the horns is leavened by the space created by bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes, flexing the rhythm with light accents.

    “New No Ness is a happy romp with Ullmann on the soprano, unfurling light and airy spirals. Malaby comes out and swings before he goes into an open-ended improvisatory run and cues in Ullmann and Gress, who cast intrigue with their turn of pace and direction. It is here that the Ullmann flips the tune into calmer waters; he churns the mix with darting lines before the group gets back together and rollicks off into the night.

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