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Julia Hulsmann Trio: The End of a Summer

Dan McClenaghan By

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ECM Records stalwarts like Bobo Stenson, Tord Gustavsen and Keith Jarrett have, over the years, helped to define the German label's high quality artistry in the piano arena. And then there are the new players who offer up gorgeously compelling debuts that point in the direction of the future. In 2007 it was Anat Fort, with her exquisite A Long Story. In 2008 the label shines its debut spotlight on the Julia Hulsmann Trio with The End of a Summer.

Hulsmann says, "my music is all about melody." The pianist has spent a good deal of time backing singers such as Rebekka Bakken, Anna Lauvergnac, Roger Cicero and Daniel Mattar, so it's no surprise that her own compositions—songs without words—often have a strong lyrical lean.

The pianist leads a trio here, and she's crafted a sound of fragile beauty. Like a spider's web, the pieces shimmer with spacious trio interplay, weaving melodies that sound as pure and simple as unfamiliar nursery rhymes. Hulsmann also employs a bit of a techno tint at times, with repeated riffs in front of tight rhythmic grooves.

The disc opens with the title tune, an inward, melancholy piece that brings to mind Bobo Stenson. "Last One Out" features Marc Muellbauer's prowling bass and Heinrich Kobberling's hissing cymbal ride behind Hulsmann's scattered raindrop melody. "Quint" has an uplifting, Vince Guaraldi vibe, and "Not the End of the World" possesses a sadness underlain by a feeling of optimism and hope.

The search for melody is always a search for beauty and truth, and the Julia Hulsmann Trio has found both on The End of a Summer. A marvelous ECM debut.

Track Listing: The End Of A Summer; Konbwa; Kiss From A Rose; Last One Out; Quint; Senza; Not The End Of The World; Sepia; Geld; Where In The World.

Personnel: Julia Hulsmann: piano; Marc Muellbauer: double-bass; Heinrich Kobberling: drums.

Title: The End of a Summer | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records

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