All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

191

Conference Call: Live at the Outpost Performance Space

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
This November, 2003 Albuquerque date by Conference Call manages to produce (very satisfying) new variations on an old formula. The quartet, which sits comfortably somewhere between the hard outer edges of the mainstream and free improvisation, includes multiple reeds player Gebhard Ullmann and the leaders of the Fonda/Stevens Group. The drummer's chair has been subject to a non-lethal version of the Spinal Tap syndrome, occupied by a sequence of percussionists including Matt Wilson, George Schuller and Han Bennink; this time round, Gerry Hemingway takes the chair.

The new guy sounds great. A few minutes into the first track, "29 Shoes (what would one do with an odd number of shoes?), he produces the sound Jack DeJohnette was seeking but failed to achieve on the Miles Davis Cellar Door set: muscular and funky, but also open and polyrhythmic. His complicity with bassist Joe Fonda is delightful and structurally critical, given that each number is a progression of episodes demarcated by the rhythmic signature Fonda and Hemingway provide.

Ullmann is all energy and ideas: he plays soprano, alto (I think) and tenor saxophones, as well as bass clarinet, sounding a like a different musician on each, and all of his solos are long and dense. Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens can provide pianissimo accents but also raises the volume with Messiaen-like splendor in the magnificent opening minutes of "Liquid Cage.

The set is framed by two relatively loud, mostly up-tempo numbers; in between are three frequently quiet forays into the free. "Mala Dr'ole in particular may be the least accessible but also the most successful cut. Over its course, the band works out all the inexorable consequences of the fading out of the initial blast of the angular, Anthony Braxton-like theme. "As I Wait, the closer, opens mysteriously and gives way to a hard, soulful motif, and Hemingway again calls upon his exhilarating high-volume skills.

Why does this music sound so contemporary given that the musical innovations upon which it draws were established forty years ago? In part it's because of the context: stodgy mainstream jazz is busy working out even older musical innovations. But it's also fresh because Conference Call mixes these sonic elements—beautiful harmonies one minute, free squeaks the next—in an unapologetically ahistorical pastiche that few of the quartet's precursors would have allowed themselves. You get Pharaoh Sanders and Roscoe Mitchell playing together, Yvonne Loriod trading piano parts with Randy Weston.

In that sense, the group's truest progenitor might be Archie Shepp (whom, incidentally, Ullmann resembles when he plays tenor). Like him, Conference Call seems to want to straddle both the freest outer reaches and the center of the jazz tradition. It's a combination that works to great effect on Live at the Outpost.

Visit Gebhard Ullmann, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda and Gerry Hemingway on the web.


Track Listing: 29 Shoes; Liquid Cage; Circle Dance; Mala Dr'ole; As I Wait.

Personnel: Gebhard Ullmann: saxophones and bass clarinet; Michael Jefry Stevens: piano; Joe Fonda: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums, cymbals and bells.

Title: Live At The Outpost Performance Space | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: 482 Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Seven: Live @ Firehouse 12

Seven: Live @...

Not Two Records
2014

buy
 

Seven (Live @...

Not Two Records
2013

buy
What About...?

What About...?

Not Two Records
2010

buy
 

What About The...????

Not Two Records
2010

buy
Poetry In Motion

Poetry In Motion

Clean Feed Records
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Absolutely Live II" CD/LP/Track Review Absolutely Live II
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: January 4, 2018
Read "Live In Healdsburg" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Healdsburg
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2018
Read "Basic Economy" CD/LP/Track Review Basic Economy
by Paul Rauch
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "Guasábara Puerto Rico" CD/LP/Track Review Guasábara Puerto Rico
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 24, 2018
Read "Serenade for Horace" CD/LP/Track Review Serenade for Horace
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Cross Country" CD/LP/Track Review Cross Country
by Don Phipps
Published: July 31, 2018