Prolific German, Berlin-based reeds player Gebhard Ullmann celebrates the 25th anniversary of his international quintet, Basement Research with a a concept album that captures the essence of his musical philosophy. «Impromptus and Other Short Works» combines old and new compositions that chronicles the many facets of Basement Research, blends the Afro-American school of modern jazz with European aesthetics and balances between elements of collective jazz improvisations and contemporary compositional methods.
Ullman can realize such ambitious vision with international, all-stars cast of imaginative musicians-improvisers, all are resourceful composers and leaders of their own ensembles. The current incarnation of Basement Research features long-term comrades – American trombonist Steve Swell and drummer Gerald Cleaver, British baritone sax player Julian Argüelles and the latest recruit to this sonic lab, French-German double bass player Pascal Niggenkemper. Ullmann himself plays on tenor sax and bass clarinet. The eight album of Basement Research was recorded at Low Swing Studios, Berlin, in april 2018.
«Impromptus and Other Short Works» begins where it all began – gospel music – and the opening piece «Gospel» establishes the spiritual vein of this music, not necessarily in its simplistic religious meaning, but as a mean to explore and investigate the musician self, push forward its boundaries and most profound expressions. Basement Research delves deep into this uplifting, emotional piece with its unique collective sound, as it does in all the album pieces. The following short pieces cover other sonic territories – quarter-tone improvisations, intense twelve-tones rows («Impromptu #5»), soulful blues («Kleine Figuren») and many inspired, fiery echoes of the forefathers of free jazz – Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp («Almost Twenty-Eight») and even Charles Lloyd. Ullmann leads this ensemble with natural authority and elegance.
Basement Research know how to sound cerebral but also sensual, sketch clever and complex musical games but with engaging, totally intuitive interplay, with unpredictable ironic detours. The potent sonic spells of sonic lab should be spread all over and not only in smoky underground spaces.
Gebhard Ullmann (ts, bcl), Steve Swell (tb), Julian Argüelles (bs), Pascal Niggenkemper (b), Gerald Cleaver (dr)
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