353

Conference Call: Poetry In Motion

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Conference Call: Poetry In Motion

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 dissolved the boundary between mind and body.



Poetry In Motion, by the collective group Conference Call, deserves to be considered as one of the year's best for the simple reason that its balance of thought and emotion, structure and freedom, clarity and abandon, is exquisitely and transparently laid out. Regardless of who composed any particular tune, providing a distinctive voice, the group acts as an organic unit, with the total sound becoming more than the sum of its parts.



In the notes, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens relates how he met reedman Gebhard Ullmann ten years earlier, with the two deciding to form a group. Stevens brought in his long-time musical partner, bassist Joe Fonda  of the Fonda/Stevens Group. The drum chair has changed over the years, but seems to have settled down with George Schuller, who appeared on Spirals. The Berlin Concert (482 Music, 2004).



Stevens goes on to say how this studio recording bookends three live albums with the group's first album, and how being one of four strong—and very different—composes and players creates "an extremely and exciting musical experience both on the bandstand and in the studio."

Of the album's seven tracks, each member contributes two, except for one by Schuller. The overall mood is one of dark mystery and beauty mixed with a bit of danger (and humor) supported by a pent-up, controlled power which can explode at any time. While each of the tunes has a different kind of architecture, the structure surrounding the freedom, along with its development, is very audible.
 
The music is so strong from the first pedal point notes and bass squeals of Ullmann's "The Shining Star," that the stage is set for high drama, creating its own reality. The excitement reaches a fever pitch with the central, and longest track by Fonda, ”Next Step," which begins with a driving rhythmic pattern on the drums that is picked up by Fonda. Ullmann enters on bass clarinet to play the eerie theme and the band is off. Toward the end, Fonda takes a vicious solo on which he can be heard grunting and vocalizing his lines—a truly inspiring track.
 
As he states in the notes, Stevens has every reason to be proud of Poetry In Motion. It is a triumph from any angle.
 


 


Track Listing: The Shining Star; Poetry in Motion; The Path; Next Step; Back To School; Quirky Waltz; Desert... Bleue... East.

Personnel: Gebhard Ullmann: soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet; Michael Jefry Stevens: piano; Joe Fonda: double bass; George Schuller: drums, percussion and hammer whistle.

Title: Poetry In Motion | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "What's Wrong" CD/LP/Track Review What's Wrong
by John Sharpe
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A." CD/LP/Track Review The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A.
by Paul Naser
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Araminta" CD/LP/Track Review Araminta
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "The Broader Picture" CD/LP/Track Review The Broader Picture
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 8, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.