How do you listen to well-recorded music? Is it in your car? Perhaps while you are washing the dishes, working, reading today's newspaper. Very few of us put a CD in the player, close our eyes and listen. That's exactly why popular music has that beat, the boom-boom-boom of our hectic lives. Like fast food, cell phones and freeways, we surround ourselves with music in step with the frenetic nature of our current condition.
Enter Die Blaue Nixe ("The Blue Mermaid"). The trio of Gebhard Ullmann, Chris Dahlgren and Art Lande pulls the emergency brake of the manic. Their Blue Mermaid crawls with the intention of a slavish meditation on improvisation.
That's not to say that Ullmann has always played this card. His prior recordings reflect an eclecticism rivaled by few musicians working today. From noisy groups to big band sessions and clarinet trios, he is at home in any environment from New York to his native Germany. Chris Dahlgren's bass has been heard accompanying Anthony Braxton, the Jazz Mandolin Project, and on several treasured recordings with Peter Epstein on the Japanese MA label. The trio is rounded out with pianist Art Lande, a former ECM artist who has worked with the likes of Ron Miles, Charlie Haden and Gary Burton.
These fifteen improvised pieces beg, no, demand your attention, as they all are paced at a snail's locomotion. This fascinating concept for improvisation allows for valuable space and makes for wonderful sound. Each musician is heard with full effect, whether he plays his instrument or the various toys available. Dahlgren's acoustic bass comes across with all the tactile feel of his wood and strings. Likewise, the beauty that is Ullmann's bass clarinet and the hesitant touch of Lande's piano also conveys an all-too-human feel.
It may be rare these days, but this recording requires you to adjust the pace of your day to accompany the music. Peace.
Blaue Nixe (Teil 1); Blaue Nixe (Teil 2); Verschiedene Ann
Gebhard Ullmann: bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone, ocarinas, toys; Art
Lande: piano, toys; Chris Dahlgren: bass and preparations, toys.
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