Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

1,106

Ursel Schlicht: Piano Colors - Inside and Out

By

Sign in to view read count
I like interesting forms. My current pieces have narrative structures, so as to keep the listener curious at any moment.
It's impossible to ignore - Ursel Schlicht has a taste for interesting collaborations. She works with musicians from diverse genres and cultures; her musical partners come from Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, East and West Africa, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and of course colleagues from her native Germany and New York where she spends most of her time at the moment.



Rooted primarily in improvised music and jazz, she explores experimental forms of music, composition, improvised scores for silent film, and perpetually strives to incorporate these elements into her own musical voice.



She likes the intimacy and directness of the duo, as well as the power and colors of larger ensembles. Her most active current projects include her Ex Tempore ensemble, an intercultural and mixed-gender group, duos with bassist Reuben Radding, flutist-composer Robert Dick, guitarists Bruce Arnold and Hans Tammen, and actress Ute Kaiser, a trio with Ken Filiano and Lou Grassi, a new sextet with Ned Rothenberg, Robert Dick, Tomas Ulrich, Ken Filiano, and Klaus Kugel; she is part of the Laura Andel Orchestra, and - last not least - there are her projects with Australia saxophonist Adam Simmons.



When I first met Schlicht in 2003, she was in Sydney for a concert at SIMA, coming from the Melbourne Women's International Jazz Festival. Her appearance at the festival was the result of an earlier meeting of musical minds with Adam Simmons: "I met Adam at the Music Omi International Artist Residency in upstate New York in 2001 where we spent two weeks collaborating together with fourteen other composers and musicians from different countries. Adam and I had this instant musical affinity and wanted to find ways to collaborate further." Simmons later travelled to New York where they began performing together. "He took my records and submitted them to the festival. They invited me, and Adam was instrumental in putting a tour together for us. We had a great time. I am very grateful for all he did."



As part of the ongoing journey to find her own musical voice, Schlicht realised at some point that she was shifting out of the jazz and improvised world and searching for something that was more her music. She says the Music Omi residency inspired her tremendously because everyone there had strong conceptual ideas. "I have given more and more thought as to how to integrate the languages of free improvisation and jazz composition, colors inside the piano, new music, the ethnic languages I am learning from some of my colleagues, and try to find a sound that allows for a very open, creative interpretation by the musicians, not necessarily based on things like chord changes or a standard cyclic form, but not open either. I like interesting forms. My current pieces have narrative structures, so as to keep the listener curious at any moment. I reach for a similar level of complexity both in the structured and in the open material. To some extent this is inspired by the discussions we had at Omi because we were listening to and discussing our music in a way I never had before at that level. Some of us have been meeting for listening sessions ever since. People liked my improvisation vocabulary and suggested that I write music that sounded like that."



She adds: "The Music Omi residency was a turning point in many ways. I had just come out of this rather dark phase where I was dealing with visa issues, constantly traveling back and forth between New York and Kassel. Exhausting. Now I am an 'Alien of Extraordinary Abilities', allowed to work in both countries. I have taught courses at Rutgers University, Columbia University, and Ramapo College since then—something I was not allowed to do before. To apply to Music Omi at that time - and then to be accepted—was actually intimidating. I found out later that many others felt like that, too. Those two weeks were artistically very strengthening and had lots of positive repercussions, for many of us."



A good example is her travel to Australia. "This tour really helped to develop my music. To have this exposure, to be the featured guest at the Melbourne Women's International Jazz Festival was really exciting. I didn't want to present pieces that I had written a couple of years ago. I was really pushing myself to find something new to present. And it is such a pleasure to be invited and to have musicians here who are willing to learn my music and to share that creativity with me. It's really fantastic."

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ranky Tanky: African Rhythms Preserved Profiles Ranky Tanky: African Rhythms Preserved
by Martin McFie
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Zara McFarlane: Embodying the Spirit of Jamaica Profiles Zara McFarlane: Embodying the Spirit of Jamaica
by David Burke
Published: January 13, 2018
Read Fabian Almazan: Environmental Action Figure Profiles Fabian Almazan: Environmental Action Figure
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 9, 2018
Read Gilly’s Remembered Profiles Gilly’s Remembered
by Michael J. Williams
Published: November 30, 2017
Read Jon Hendricks: Vocal Ease Profiles Jon Hendricks: Vocal Ease
by Greg Thomas
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Mike Osborne: Force Of Nature - Part 2-2" Profiles Mike Osborne: Force Of Nature - Part 2-2
by Barry Witherden
Published: November 3, 2017
Read "Malcolm Griffiths: A Man For All Seasons" Profiles Malcolm Griffiths: A Man For All Seasons
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Soweto Kinch: A Singular Jazz Odyssey" Profiles Soweto Kinch: A Singular Jazz Odyssey
by David Burke
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Billy Krechmer: A Philadelphia Story" Profiles Billy Krechmer: A Philadelphia Story
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: March 15, 2017