The Clarinet Trio is: Jurgen Kupke (clarinet), Gebhard Ullmann (bass clarinet) and Theo Nabicht (bass clarinet). Oct. 1, ‘98 was recorded live in an old chamber-music hall in Berlin and features 19 tracks in total which average between 2-4 minutes in length.
Charming, clamorous, playful and for the most part, thoroughly entertaining, this Clarinet Trio succeeds with fresh ideas, a multifaceted approach and impeccable execution. Gebhard Ullmann’s “Heaven No. 27” features an interesting blend of harmony, as the choruses are gleeful while the melody line sounds like some off-center Polka. Interludes of clever dialogue surface as the tone is at times chamberesque yet the improvisational attributes and overall structure is of a jazzy nature. The standard, “Tea For Two” is delightfully deconstructed, as Ulmann’s “Flutist with Hat and Shoe” is dirge-like and quite sullen. Here, The bass clarinets of Ullmann and Nabicht provide the soft undercurrents as this piece is harmonically rich and sustains interest.
Ullmann’s “Think Tank” is under 2 minutes in length and boasts a “big” sound through circular movements, witty phrasing and lush, sonorous yet intricate dialogue among the musicians. The group composition titled, “Walzer/Collective Four” could be the soundtrack for a silent movie or cartoon due to the playful and earthy nature of the combined attack and endearing choruses. Another group composition, “Scratch/Collective Two” features brief episodes of mischievous improvisation, dissonance and conflicting thematic statements. These fellows even tackle Nino Rota’s “Parlami di me” which serves as the albums closer. No doubt, Oct. 1, ‘98 was a special day and thankfully Leo Lab records has captured these 54 minutes of truly remarkable performances on record. This reviewer is eagerly anticipating a follow up (hint, hint).... * * * * ½