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Conference Call: Seven: Live @ Firehouse 12 (2014)

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Conference Call: Seven: Live @ Firehouse 12 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

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
Gebhard Ullmann
Gebhard Ullmann
b.1957
saxophone
, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens
Michael Jefry Stevens
Michael Jefry Stevens
b.1951
piano
, and bassist Joe Fonda
Joe Fonda
Joe Fonda
b.1954
bass
employed multiple drummers in its first three years, including Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
b.1964
drums
, Han Bennink
Han Bennink
Han Bennink
b.1942
drums
, and Gerry Hemingway
Gerry Hemingway
Gerry Hemingway
b.1955
percussion
before inviting George Schuller
George Schuller
George Schuller
b.1958
drums
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
Barry Altschul
Barry Altschul
b.1943
drums
'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
Jason Robinson
Jason Robinson

saxophone
.

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
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
-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.


Track Listing: CD 1: As I Wait; Poetry in Motion; 29 Shoes; The Path; Bald Eagle; CD 2: The Shining Star; Quirky Waltz; A Map Would Help; Desert… Bleue... East…; Back to School.

Personnel: Gebhard Ullmann: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Michael Jefry Stevens - piano; Joe Fonda: bass; George Schuller: drums, toy whistle, percussion.

Record Label: Not Two Records


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