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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: Seven: Live @ Firehouse 12

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The collective quartet Conference Call performs music within the egalitarian principles of jazz as a democracy, confirming that a band can be both leaderless and led by different players without diminishing the quality and character of its music. A working band since 1998, the lineup of reed player Gebhard Ullmann, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, and bassist Joe Fonda employed multiple drummers in its first three years, including Matt Wilson, Han Bennink, and Gerry Hemingway before inviting George Schuller ...

INTERVIEW

Conference Call: Evolution of a Burning Bush

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Conference Call can be as balanced and beautiful as an intricate organism, and just as soon rage with holy fire. The quartet--consisting of saxophonist Gebhard Ullman, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer George Schuller and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens--perpetually weaves in all three dimensions, as well as in time--its own, and music history's. Together since the late '90s, the group is going strong, burning away but losing no energy, relating jazz past and political past to hard and fast ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: What About...?

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It has been said that live music offers the composer the opportunity to add the final ingredient in the decoction of their creation: the audience. In the case of Conference Call's 2007 concert in Krakow, Poland, documented on the double-disc What About...?, there's the dramatic addition of completely spontaneous, improvisations by one or more of the fiercely creative quartet. It's also why the mercury rises fast and furious from the get-go; the musicians taking ownership of their evolving sound, as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: What About...?

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One of the finest improvising units working today, Conference Call is a complete band, capable of touching all the jazz bases, be they individual or group improvisation, or the performance of composed music. The quintet's sixth release, What About...? is a two-disc session from the band's 10th anniversary tour, and was recorded live at Alchemia in Krakow, Poland. Conference Call's lineup has remained stable for the past three releases--since drummer George Schuller took a drum chair once held ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: Poetry In Motion

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The creation of a work of art is an act of the mind that controls and shapes the medium's components in order to project the artist's sense of life and elicit a reaction from the consumer. In its highest forms, jazz might sound instinctive, but the reality is that years of practice have pushed the physical into the background and honed the mind to work exceedingly fast. A player entering "the zone" has not stopped thinking, but has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: Poetry in Motion

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Poetry in Motion is the fifth album from the collective, Conference Call, and their first studio recording since their debut, Final Answer (Soul Note, 2002). The longstanding quartet, together since 1998, features German multi-reedist Gebhard Ullmann, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda and recent drummer George Schuller (former drummers include Han Bennink and Matt Wilson).

Throughout the last decade, Conference Call has straddled the tenuous line between free jazz and post bop, drawing on the distinctive writing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: Live at the Outpost Performance Space

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: Spirals: The Berlin Concert

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Hey, come on over and listen in to a Conference Call. There have been two well worth listening to in the past. As before, there is a new drummer in tow, George Schuller coming in place of Matt Wilson, who in turn had replaced Han Bennink. Sure, Wilson and Bennink have individualistic styles, but don’t turn a deaf ear: Schuller’s approach stokes the rhythm and the guys up front continue to be in fine fettle.

The initial ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Conference Call: Final Answer

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Synergy is critical to the success of any band, yet Conference Call has developed the art of interaction into a fine science. Gebhard Ullmann, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, and Matt Wilson have been playing together for a number of years, which helps explain why their music congeals unerringly into a solidified whole. Everybody is a star soloist with this band, yet their combined output molds itself into a complete package braided together by group empathy.

All four musicians are ...


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