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!

435

Ullmann / Swell Quartet: News? No News!

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
In these days of global jazz alliances, the partnership of downtown trombonist Steve Swell and German reedman Gebhard Ullmann won't raise too many eyebrows. More noteworthy is its endurance, spanning some six years since its auspicious inception with Desert Songs and Other Landscapes (CIMP, 2004). Swell is also a fixture in Ullmann's Basement Research band, another combo that shows similar staying power. News? No News!, a studio date on Berlin's Jazzwerkstatt imprint, constitutes a worthy successor to the CIMP, featuring an unchanged lineup completed by Hilliard Greene on bass and the illustrious Barry Altschul behind the drums. Democratic intent is signaled by division of writing duties with four pieces penned by each of the co-leaders along with two group improvisations rounding out a generous 69-minute program.

Both Swell and Ullmann are exciting soloists: the saxophonist's throaty tenor can barely contain his energy in the shrieks and cries adorning Swell's rumbustious shout-out, "More Hello," while his yelping bass clarinet at times recalls Eric Dolphy in its vocalized chuckle (adroitly echoed by Altschul), as on the fluent "GPS#2." A willing foil throughout, the trombonist's tender bluster and vivacious expressiveness both complement and challenge his partner.

One of the pleasures of this set is the interaction between the two horns, with an a cappella duet seeding the open debate of "Composite #1," while their clarion chorus places the cherry on top of the reedman's "Berlin." Greene's powers of propulsion and timbral variation are ably abetted by Altschul's crisp on-the-money drums in a pairing which is as tight as it is flexible. They plot the genial lope of Swell's "Planet Hopping On A Thursday Afternoon" and the urgent knotty rush of the closing "Airtight" with equal aplomb.

Such refined but not rote interplay remains one of the defining characteristics of this band and, when allied to their unpredictable charts, makes for a winning combination. Ullmann's "New York" evokes the opening of Charles Mingus' The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse!, 1963) in its braying theme over two-speed bass throb and driving drums, while the confident swagger of his "Berlin" transmutes by way of involved exploration into a more wistful conclusion, reflecting the range and ingenuity of the arrangements.

Even the improvisations have satisfying structure, as with "GPS #1" where a measured group discourse of breathy harmonics and whispered asides is sandwiched between Greene's wavering arco whale song and a tolling bass and drum duet finale, confirming an early contender for those year-end best-of lists.


Track Listing: More Hello; New York; Composite #1; Kleine Figuren #2; Planet Hopping On A Thursday Afternoon; GPS #1; News? No News!; GPS#2; Berlin; Airtight.

Personnel: Steve Swell: trombone; Gebhard Ullman: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Hilliard Greene: bass; Barry Altschul: drums.

Title: News? No News! | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Jazzwerkstatt Berlin-brandenburg E.v.


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Music in the Room CD/LP/Track Review Music in the Room
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Of Light and Shadows CD/LP/Track Review Of Light and Shadows
by Phillip Woolever
Published: December 9, 2017
Read Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven CD/LP/Track Review Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read The Chicago Blues Box 2 CD/LP/Track Review The Chicago Blues Box 2
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 9, 2017
Read I Speilvendthet CD/LP/Track Review I Speilvendthet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 9, 2017
Read Book Of Sound CD/LP/Track Review Book Of Sound
by Gareth Thompson
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Nerve Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Beyond the Moon" CD/LP/Track Review Beyond the Moon
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "Departure" CD/LP/Track Review Departure
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Green Man" CD/LP/Track Review Green Man
by Jim Olin
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Instrumental" CD/LP/Track Review Instrumental
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 10, 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!