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Gebhard Ullmann: The Big Band Project

Rex  Butters By

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Brooklyn/Berlin resident Gebhard Ullmann takes time off from his seven working ensembles to run six of his compositions through the venerable NDR Big Band. With heavyweights like Satoko Fujii, Andy Emler, Chris Dahlgren, and Guenter Lenz handling the arranging chores, the band roils and boils, simmers and sighs.

The Fujii-arranged "Think Tank" churns in orchestral slabs between soft flute interludes. The orchestra diffuses and Ullmann wails through on soprano. Dahlgren arranges "Tá Lam" as a driving ensemble piece. A pause provides duet space for Ullmann (on bass clarinet) to engage Julian Argüelles (on baritone) in playful conversation. Vladyslav Sendecki provides a lyrical piano interlude, before the band regains momentum to end it. Breezy sophistication permeates the ballad "Fourteen Days/Café Toronto." Claus Stötter puts in some quality flugelhorn time ahead of Ullmann's tenor explorations, and they end nicely in duet.

"D. Nee No" evolves a rigid Spanish rhythm from a free opening. Stephan Diez indulges in some face-melting guitar, preceded by Ullmann's tenor firestorm. Ullmann goes solo on bass clarinet for "Kreuzberg Park East/High Lam Earth," joined by another Diez scorcher and a spiky arrangement. Stefan Lottermann sneaks a sly muted trombone solo through, before Emler's arrangement creates the right back drop for a quick chat by Peter Bolte on alto and Stötter on trumpet. "Blaues Lied" lurches through a bluesy Dahlgren arrangement that cracks and hatches Ullmann's bass clarinet gymnastics. While the groove stays hot, Ingolf Burkhardt burns his trumpet until the tempo returns to the opening beat and Lutz Büchner keeps the fire high on alto.

Ullmann's Big Band Project proves the existence of dynamite European large ensembles, as well as providing a memorable introduction to the prolific reedman's musical universe.


Track Listing: Think Tank; T

Personnel: Gebhard Ullmann: bass clarinet, tenor, soprano saxophone; Ingolf Burkhardt, Claus St

Title: The Big Band Project | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Soul Note


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