Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

272

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Imprint

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Longevity is tough to maintain, in a time when artists largely need to work with a variety of projects to make a living, but there are increasing (and encouraging) signs of the value placed on chemistry and the kind of collective voice that evolves naturally, over time. German pianist Julia Hülsmann has maintained the same trio lineup for 15 years, though her early releases on the ACT label were augmented with vocalists and, in the case of Good Morning Midnight (2005), a larger ensemble that included horns, bandoneon and electronics. So, when Hülsmann was recruited by ECM for her label debut, The End of a Summer (2008), it represented a distillation back to her core trio, for an all-acoustic set, favoring a freer-thinking and more delicate approach to music that, with the exception of a lovely cover of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," was written by either Hülsmann, bassist Marc Muellbauer or drummer Heinrich Köbberling. It was also clear that Manfred Eicher's involvement—a rare hands-on producer who's an integral partner in nearly every record he releases—had much to do with Hülsmann's trio making a significant collective leap.

Imprint represents a logical evolution for the trio, though there's one particularly significant change; both the writing and the playing is stronger, more outgoing than the largely introspective End Of A Summer. That's not to say the trio has lost its ability to communicate at levels so deep that even the approaching silence of a collective decay is empathically connected during gentler songs like Hülsmann's "A Light Left On," where the pianist and Muellbauer effortlessly share its thematic development. The pianist's "Juni" is another quiet composition of a darker-hued disposition, with Köbberling's brushes and Muellbauer's sparely chosen notes suggesting time, that ebbs and flows with Hülsmann's slowly unveiling melody. But even Imprint's more inward-looking material feels somehow stronger, more confident, as if the fundamental shift of End Of A Summer has led to a new place where the trio can more profoundly interact.

In another example of Eicher's overarching narrative through careful track sequencing, "Storm in a Teacup" concludes this trifecta of pieces that act as a calming transition between the more up-tempo "Grand Canyon"—built around a repetitive pulse from Hülsmann, and supported by Köbberling's paradoxically delicate but fiery polyrhythmic support—and the pianist's "(Go And Open) The Door," the album's longest track and an indication of greater compositional complexity, as shifting meters lead to a middle section that features Muellbauer's muscular tone and unfailing melodic disposition. There's even a hint of swing on Köbberling's "Zahlen bitte."

Like End Of A Summer, overt virtuosity has little place on Imprint, but the equilateral triangle that forms this trio, with each side gently pushing and pulling—never for dominance but, perhaps, for emphasis—is the unmistakable consequence of three players who, after being together for many years, have leapt to another plateau since joining ECM. With greater aplomb, and a more balanced blend of extroverted energy and the equal power of understatement, Imprint is a watershed recording for the egalitarian Hülsmann and her trio, and one of 2011's best piano trio recordings to date.

Track Listing: Rond Point; After The End Of It; A Light Left On; Juni; Storm In A Teacup; (Go And Open) The Door; Kauf dir einent bunten Luftballon; Ritual; Lulu's Paradise; Ulmenwall; Zahlen bitte; Who's Next.

Personnel: Julia Hülsmann: piano; Marc Muellbauer: double-bass; Heinrich Köbberling: drums.

Title: Imprint | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "Kami Fusen" CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana" CD/LP/Track Review Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)" CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "OUTgoing" CD/LP/Track Review OUTgoing
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 31, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!