Saying that Oct. 1, '98
(99 Records, 1994) meets Trad Corrosion
(Nabel, 1997) would not be too far wrong. Nineteen miniatures are fit into fifty-four minutes like the latter album, but using only pure reed sounds like the former. Mixing pure improvisation, a truly wonderful version of "Tea for Two" and new and old compositions of bass clarinetist Gebhard Ullmann, this release has something for everyone.
Clarinetist Jürgen Kupke is part of the Moritat
Ta Lam Acht band, and bass clarinetist Theo Nabicht would ultimately end up in Ullmann's Ta Lam Zehn version of that band. Kupke's musical interests range from the contemporary to New Orleans, while Nabicht is a modernist who also writes music for theater. The meeting of these three minds on this particular day produced music which is balanced between the composed and the improvised.
The emotions and images vary widely, ranging from the direct to the abstract. There is a real sense of intense concentration, mixed with freedom and levity that binds the various tracks together and allows the listener to get to know both the music and the players. While there is much experimentation and many extra-musical sounds, there is also much melody and euphony to balance things out.
The three musicians are grouped differently in number and function for the various tracks. There are five group improvisations ("Mouthpieces," "Moments/Collective One," "Scratch/Collective Two," "Blues/Collective Three" and "Walzer/Collective Four") whose sound worlds relate, more or less to the titles ("Blues" deals with the color or emotion and not the musical style).
Kupke and Nabicht each contribute a solo piece that maintains interest for every second, as instrumental sounds intersect with melodic gestures. Ullmann also add a solo piece and the difference between it and Nabicht's is interesting.
The rest of the CD consists primarily up of Ullmann compositions old and new, played by the trio, with some overdubbing. "Gospel," first introduced on Trad Corrosion
, is the ideal vehicle for Kupke's clarinet as he wails. One can almost see him leaning back and playing to the ceiling. "Blaues Lied," from Suite Noire
(Nabel, 1992), slithers and slinks around the edges of blueness deliciously, while from Moritat
comes a radically revised "Think Tank," with its ominous theme.
That "Tea for Two" is the central track is as telling as its treatment. The trio stays in touch with the tune's identity while pulling and stretching it every which way, creating serious smiles all around. Oct. 1 '98
, while most definitely a thinking listener's record, will evoke many deep emotions and reward attentiveness immensely.