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German pianist Ulrich Gumpert incorporates the vitality of youth into this dazzling progressive jazz set, featuring young artists from the Berlin jazz scene. This quartet abides by a fire and brimstone credo, built upon snap, crackle and lots of pop. Yet one of the equalizers of the band's thrusting impetus pertains to its ability to generate airy and sparse bop movements, often acting like a counterbalancing agent of sorts.
They launch the proceedings with a cosmic blast during the free-bop opener, "Conference at Baby's. Elsewhere the quartet toggles between a tightly-wound modus operandi and an open-ended improvisational forum. In certain regions of sound and scope they communicate an ominous gait. Then on the peppery "Vom alten Lager, they intersperse free-form exchanges with a Thelonious Monk-type melody.
The title track is loaded with high-heat, largely due to Gumpert and Wolff's brusque unison choruses, as Jan Roder's lyrically-charged bass solo segues the group into a turbo-mode jazz waltz. But the high-flung excitement factor mellows out some during the dirge-like ballad "Von Hier und Anderswo.
Gumpert and associates perform within a rather misty plane that toggles between precisely arranged, swiftly executed movements and wide-open musical vistas that present more than a few surprises. With thrills a minute, tally this one up as one of the more adventurous prog-jazz releases for 2007.
Track Listing: Conference at Baby's; Vom alten Lager; Blue Circus; Quartette; Conference at Luten's; Von Hier und Anderswo; Conference at Conny's; Circulus Vitiosus.
Personnel: Ulrich Gumpert: piano, composition; Ben Abarbanel-Wolff: tenor saxophone; Jan Roder: bass; Michael Griener: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.