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Gebhard Ullmann / Chris Dahlgren / Art Lande: Die Blaue Nixe

Dan McClenaghan By

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This sounds like music that hangs out in a dark corner of the room, gently beckoning the listener into a different dimension.

Multi-reedist Gebhard Ullmann, with over forty CD releases as a leader/co-leader to his name, records with a variety of different ensembles, large and small, but he seems to have a special affinity for the trio format. Ullmann's 2005 Bass x 3 set featured two basses behind some of his deep-toned reeds—bass clarinet and bass flute—with a feeling of introspection similar to what's on Die Blaue Nixe, a trio affair with pianist Art Lande and bassist Chris Dahlgren. This is improvised music of the most engaging sort: spare, ethereal sounds that seem as if they've existed forever, lurking in the shadows, waiting for Ullmann and company to give them voice.

The disc features fifteen short spontaneously composed pieces, with seven separate takes of the title cut—though a feeling of repetitiveness isn't a factor. Several spins of the set prior to checking out the tune titles give a suite-like impression. The trio recorded the set in an old Berlin music hall, and the atmosphere is one of ancient peace, full of shadowy mysteries. "Flutist With a Hat and Shoe" features Ullmann on tenor sax, looking inward at his soul; and "Winter Thoughts" finds the trio ruminating in a violet twilight of a cool solistice.

Die Blaue Nixe, along with the simutaneously released Live in Munster (Not Two, 2007), are part of a year-long launching of Ullmann's fiftieth birthday. I haven't heard the latter, but the former is an understated, beguiling beginning of the celebration: gorgeously haunting music, like the songs of serene, beatific ghosts.

Visit Gebhard Ullmann on the web.

Track Listing: Blaue Nixe (Teil 1); Blaue Nixe (Teil 2); Verschiedene Ann

Personnel: Gebhard Ullmann: bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone, ocarinas, toys; Art Lande: piano, toys; Chris Dahlgren: bass and preparations, toys.

Title: Die Blaue Nixe | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Between the Lines

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