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...

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

Ta Lam

Ta Lam

Gebhard Ullmann
The Big Band Project

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The Chicago Plan

The Chicago Plan

Clean Feed Records
2017

buy
 

Transatlantic

Leo Records
2012

buy
News? No News!

News? No News!

Jazzwerkstatt Berlin-brandenburg E.v.
2010

buy
 

What About The ...?

Not Two Records
2010

buy
Don't Touch My Music

Don't Touch My Music

Not Two Records
2009

buy
Don't Touch My Music Vol. 2

Don't Touch My Music...

Not Two Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "Humanities" CD/LP/Track Review Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Root Structure" CD/LP/Track Review Root Structure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "Saturday Night Dogs" CD/LP/Track Review Saturday Night Dogs
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "You / Me" CD/LP/Track Review You / Me
by John Eyles
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 - 1980" CD/LP/Track Review Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 - 1980
by John Kelman
Published: November 5, 2017