Reviews that mention Gebhard Ullmann

April 27, 2019

Gebhard Ullmann & Basement Research

Impromtus and Other Short Works
WhyPlayJazz WPJ 045



Umland 19/el NEGOCITO eNR 088

Proving once again his adaptability and the welcome he gets from European-based bands two of New York trombonist Steve Swell’s newest CDs highlight his contributions to ostensibly German-based combos. Both are invested with the same dynamic. One session situates him within the newest iteration of Berlin-based tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist Gebhard Ullmann’s Basement Research. With low-pitched exploration an apt metaphor for the affiliated sextet Plant, the other CD demonstrates the re-imagining of the sextet sounds from a band that started as a trio in 2004. MORE

December 22, 2018

Gebhard Ullmann & Alexey Kruglov

Moscow Berlin
Fancy Music Fancy 098


Spiritual Prayers

Leo Records CD LR 842

Two duets, these CDs feature four musicians from four different countries who have adopted contradictory approaches to express a range of textures through reed admixture. The self-evidently titled Moscow Berlin features 15 performances by Russian Alexey Kruglov, who plays alto saxophone, prepared alto saxophone, alto saxophone mouthpiece, bass clarinet and recorder and German Gebhard Ullmann using tenor saxophone, prepared tenor saxophone, tenor saxophone mouthpiece and electronics, recorded after the two had already concertized on a then-recent tour. Another cog in the seemingly nearly endless succession of discs featuring Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman, Spiritual Prayers matches him with American bass clarinetist Jason Stein, who he had never met before the date, for eight spontaneous creations. MORE

August 6, 2018

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ninety-Nine Years
Libra Records 211-047

Some people collect classic cars, others specific paintings, but Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii collects groups. Besides the number of duos, trios and quartets the peripatetic pianist is part of, she has organized – at last count – five different big bands, each relating to where in Europe, Asia or North America she happened to be residing at the time. At the same time Ninety-Nine Years, a new configuration of her Orchestra Berlin, demonstrates that her skill as orchestrator, pianist and composer are formidable for every item in her collection. She has help of course. Featured on this disc’s five tracks, are besides her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, of international, Berlin-based players Polish baritone saxophonist Paulina Owczarek, French drummer Peter Orins, Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano, and Germans Richard Koch (trumpet(; Matthias Müller (trombone); Matthias Schubert and Gebhard Ullmann (tenor saxophones); Jan Roder (bass) and Michael Griener (drums). MORE

May 27, 2018

Hannes Zerbe/Jazz Orchestra Berlin

JazzHausMusik JHS 248

Ensemble Nautilis

Regards De Breizh

Innacor INNA 11612

Confirming that more can often be done with less, a French little big band shapes the polyphonic contours available from a 10-piece ensemble to produce a euphonic sound depiction even more memorable as the descriptive arrangements propelled by a German band almost double its size. These Interpretations explore divergent itineraries however since the Breton ensemble’s dozen tracks are linked to program music, while the 17-piece Berlin-based band’s five extended tracks are designed to highlight confluence among improvised, notated and theatrical accompanying sounds. MORE

March 3, 2018

Das Kondensat

Das Kondensat
WhyPlayJazz RS 036


The Chicago Plan

Clean Feed CF 396 CD

Despite more than 30 years of recording and about twice that number of CD appearances with everyone from American pianist Michael Jefry Stevens to Swiss accordionist Hans Hassler, Berlin-based multi-reedist Gebhard Ullmann is still finding new musical avenues to explore. The Chicago Plan for instance, finds him on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet in an ad-hoc ensemble with frequent associate, New York trombonist Steve Swell, plus locals, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zerang, for a brand of energetic free improvising. The trio on Das Kondensat in contrasts finds him moving into digital technologies and electro-acoustic, heavily beat-oriented playing with the bass and analog effects of Oliver Potratz plus Eric Schaefer’s drums and modular synthesizer complemented by Ullmann’s work on tenor and soprano saxophones, looper and sampler. MORE

March 3, 2018


The Chicago Plan
Clean Feed CF 396 CD

Das Kondensat

Das Kondensat

WhyPlayJazz RS 036

Despite more than 30 years of recording and about twice that number of CD appearances with everyone from American pianist Michael Jefry Stevens to Swiss accordionist Hans Hassler, Berlin-based multi-reedist Gebhard Ullmann is still finding new musical avenues to explore. The Chicago Plan for instance, finds him on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet in an ad-hoc ensemble with frequent associate, New York trombonist Steve Swell, plus locals, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zerang, for a brand of energetic free improvising. The trio on Das Kondensat in contrasts finds him moving into digital technologies and electro-acoustic, heavily beat-oriented playing with the bass and analog effects of Oliver Potratz plus Eric Schaefer’s drums and modular synthesizer complemented by Ullmann’s work on tenor and soprano saxophones, looper and sampler. MORE

November 6, 2017

The Clarinet Trio plus Alexey Kruglov

Live in Moscow
Leo Records CD LR 781


Ghost Lights

Songlines 1621-2

Defibrillator & Peter Brötzmann

Conversations About Not Eating Meat

Border of Silence: BOS 001

Fiil Free

Everything is a Translation

Fiil Free Records FFR0916

Anne Mette Iversen

Ternion Quartet

Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records BJUR 062

Something In The Air: An Added Ingredient for Integrated Improvisation MORE

March 21, 2017

Gebhard Ullmann/Achim Kaufmann

Leo Records CD LR 727

Aki Takase/Daniele D'Agaro

Aki Takase/Daniele D'Agaro

Artesuono ART 150

Vivid, experimental and unpredictable these two piano-reed duets are reminiscent of a boxing match in which each of the fighters is equally matched. But unlike a routine pugilist contest, the idea isn’t for one protagonist to triumph over the other, but to instead transform the match into the equivalent of tag-team wresting, amalgamating dual skills into one to score. Although the matchup between Japanese pianist Aki Takase and Italian tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Daniele D'Agaro may appear more exotic than the dual improvisations of two Germans: tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist Gebhard Ullmann and pianist Achim Kaufmann, all have ties to the expanded free-form gestalt that has characterized Berlin-centred improv over the past few years. MORE

December 16, 2015

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ichigo Ichie
Libra Records 212 037

Circum Grand Orchestra


Circum-Disc CD 1401

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja


Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Possible Universe

NBR SA Jazz 014

Bertrand Denzler/Onceim


Confront ccs 37

Something In The Air: Big Bands Redux

By Ken Waxman

Although most people associate big bands with the Swing Era dances and later, jazzier, manifestations such as Nimmons’n’Nine and The Boss Brass, despite the dearth of venues and difficulties of keeping even a combo working steadily, musicians persist in utilizing large ensembles. Like muralists who prefer the magnitude of a large canvas, composers, arrangers and players appreciate the colours and breath available using numerous, well-balanced instruments. MORE

June 21, 2015

Basement Research

Hat And Shoes
Between The Lines BTLCHR 71238

Carlo Costa Quartet


Neither Nor Records n/n 001

Having paid his dues in experimental – and other – music(s) since the mid-1970s, New York-based trombonist Steve Swell has become an eclectic, respected commodity in both North America and Europe. While this means that Swell is as likely to be gigging with Peter Brötzmann as Rob Brown, it also pinpoints the dissolving differences between so-called American and so-called European free music MORE

January 21, 2015

Erdmann Ullmann Lillinger Fink

E & U Mann
Wismart W 102

Taking a busman’s holiday from astutely crafted experimental sounds, German reedists Daniel Erdmann and Gebhard Ullmann combine for a loose blowing session that recalls the glory days of Griff & Lock or Jug & Sonny. Unlike the two-tenor saxophone duels of Johnny Griffin & Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis or Gene “Jug” Ammons and Sonny Stitt however, the Teutonic band follows a less rigid, but equally exhilarating track.

Another difference is that unlike those earlier saxophone duos, Ullmann brings his bass clarinet along. Plus the compositions are all originals, rather than the Blues and rhythmic tropes favored by those earlier tough tenor duals. In short, E & U Mann is also a rethink of the older concept meaning the soloing takes into account post-Coltrane advances and there’s no chordal instrument in sight. Ample excitement and sufficient backing comes courtesy of Johannes Fink’s firmly echoing double bass technique and the clanking inventiveness of drummer Christian Lillinger. MORE

March 3, 2014

Double Trio de Clarinettes

Itinéraire Bis
Between the Lines BTLCHR 71231


Looking for the Next One.

Cuneiform RUNE 360/361

Robert Marcel Lepage

Le lait maternel.

Ambiances Magnétiques AM 212

Keefe Jackson's Likely So

A Round Goal

Delmark DE 5009

Something In The Air: Reed Blends.

By Ken Waxman.

Reed sections have been part of jazz’s performing vernacular since its earliest days. But only with the freedom that arose with modern improvised music in the 1960s were the woodwinds able to stand on their own. In the right hands, with the right ideas, a group consisting only of saxophones and/or clarinets can produce satisfying sounds that don’t need the intervention of a rhythm section or even brass for additional colors. All of the fine discs here demonstrate that. MORE

February 7, 2013

Gebhard Ullmann/Chris Dahlgren/Clayton Thomas

Bass X 3 Transatlantic
Leo Records CD LR 625


Suspicious Activity

Creative Sources CS 213 CD

By Ken Waxman

Experiments with ensembles featuring double basses-and-low-pitched instruments or just double basses aren’t exactly commonplace, but over the past couple of decades experimenters such as Joëlle Léandre, Barry Guy and William Parker have demonstrated that this unusual instrumentation can be both appropriate and stimulating. Here are other two sessions that add to that canon. MORE

February 15, 2012

Tá lam 11

Jazz Werkstatt JW 105

Joel Futterman

Remembering Dolphy

JDF Music JDF 7

Putting together a tribute album to any major improviser is pointless unless the appreciator brings something new to the honoree’s music. That’s the particular appeal of these sessions. Joel Futterman’s solo piano salute to multi-reedman Eric Dolphy forces you to hear some of the reedist’s best-known compositions with fresh ears. Similar creativity is exhibited by Tá lam’s leader, bass clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann, with his arrangements of nine of bassist Charles Mingus’ tunes. By reconfiguring the compositions for an ensemble Mingus never imagined – 10-reeds and one accordion, and pointedly not including a bass player – Ullman too gives these familiar pieces new sonic life. MORE

March 15, 2008

Gebhard Ullmann

New Basement Research
Soul Note 121491-2

More appropriately described as demonstrated results than research, this first-class presentation of low-end polyphony not only celebrates Berlin reedist Gebhard Ullmann’s 50th birthday, but also gives him a chance to reinterpret older compositions in new surroundings.

Regularly gigging in both Europe and North America, the tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist’s sidemen reflect his trans-Atlantic contacts. British soprano and baritone saxophonist Julian Argülles traded licks with Ullmann on a continental big band recording, while the other players are all New Yorkers. Trombonist Steve Swell co-leads a quartet with the Berliner, while bassist John Hebert and drummer Gerald Cleaver, functioning for the first time as the reedist’s rhythm team, aptly demonstrate why they’re among the busiest individuals in the city. MORE

October 3, 2007

Have Single Reed Will Travel

The Trans-Atlantic Career of German Reedman Gebhard Ullmann
CODA Issue 335

By Ken Waxman

Tall, broad-shouldered and with a bullet-shaped shaven head, if German multi-reedist Gebhard Ullmann was an actor, he could be typecast in the role of a militaristic army officer or super-efficient business manager. His lack of on-stage patter reinforces the image as well.

But while super-efficient in his music, the Berlin-based arranger, composer and band leader is no soul-less organization man. Instead Ullmann, whose favored axes are tenor saxophone, bass flute and bass clarinet, could be termed a polymorphic creator. His output ranges from languid chamber-style improv with his long-standing Clarinet Trio or with different piano-bass-woodwind configurations, to righteously swinging romps with his Basement Research group or as part of the co-op Conference Call combo. That’s not counting his few sideman jobs, his folkloric reeds-and-accordion Tá Lam band, gigs with local pick-up bands or his acclaimed CD project with the NDR big band. MORE

June 27, 2005


Ballads and other related objects
Leo CD LR 415

Third time lucky, BALLADS is a CD-long suite that shows how well the components of this German-based ensemble intermesh for maximum effect. The trio’s third CD, it intensifies the band’s connective language over the course of 13 tunes, all except for the four instant compositions, written by bass clarinetist Gebhard Ullmann.

Greater improvisational sophistication may be another reason this CD bests its predecessors. Joining Ullmann, and clarinetist Jürgen Kupke, who also plays with him in the multi-reeds-and-accordion group Ta Lam Zehn, is new member Michael Thieke. Thieke, whose background encompasses group improv with practitioners like German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Italian saxophonist Alessandro Bosetti, replaces a player whose background is in composed music. MORE

October 13, 2003


Variation on a Master Plan
Leo CD LR 371

Unlike Osama bin Laden or George Bush, it’s very feasible that the members of the Euro-American co-op Conference Call don’t have a real master plan -- and definitely not one for world domination.

However the band’s newest CD does pinpoint a plan variation, as veteran drummer Han Bennink has now taken over the drum chair. It seems to be not a minute too soon, either. For while the flailing Dutchman’s penchant for schtick and bombast can often pulverize more delicate sounds, Conference Call’s other three members are tough enough to face a Lowlands invasion. Plus the nearly perpetual percussion sounds he adds to the disc push the others out of a studied delicacy to which they sometimes seem to be heading. MORE

August 26, 2002


Translucent Tones
Leo CD LR 339

German woodwind missionary Gebhard Ullmann is using this CD to proselytize and promote the versatility of a three-clarinet ensemble.

A transatlantic traveler, who has as many playing associates in Brooklyn as he has in Berlin, Ullmann, has joined with clarinetist Jürgen Kupke and bass clarinetist Theo Nabicht to record a series of 17 miniatures ranging from solos and group improvisations to original compositions and adaptations of existing tunes. In the main, the campaign for a setting that’s frequently shunned by so-called serious composers, is quite successful. Although there are times you wish some of the tinier miniatures weren’t so concise. MORE

August 27, 2001


between the lines btl017/EFA 10187-2

German multi-reedman Gebhard Ullmann continues to straddle the thin line between -- to be simplistic -- the European and American sides of his musical personality. When based in New York, as he is part of year, and working with American sidefolk, his conception is harder and more rhythmic.

In Berlin, as on this session, he moves more towards harmonies and chamber-improv, especially in an open session like this one. Lacking any sort of dedicated percussion instrument, the selections are light and deliberate without, however, being downy or lugubrious. Much of the vigor, though, can be ascribed to bassist Carlos Bica, who rightfully gets feature billing. A native of Portugal who now lives in Berlin, he supplies the forceful base upon which Ullmann's tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet plus Jens Thomas' understated piano work. MORE

January 5, 2000


Soul Note 121371-2

North Americans only familiar with Gebhard Ullmann for his 10-piece Te Lam reeds and accordion project, which toured the festival circuit last summer, will probably be quite surprised by this disc. Unlike that larger group, which seemed as much "folkloric" or "classical" as jazz, this compact quartet is the German reedist's blowing band.

As a matter of fact there are times, particularly on a tune such as "Almost Twenty-Eight", where KREUZBERG PARK EAST almost sounds like a "tough tenor session" from the likes of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin or Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt. Or, at least, it sounds as much like a sax battle can sound in the post-mo 1990s. MORE