GEBHARD ULLMANN `s "CONFERENCE CALL"
SONNTAG 12. April 21uhr30
eintritt 13 euro
jugendliche unter 25 jahren 10 euro
gebhard ullmann - saxophone, klarinetten
joe fonda - double bass
michael jefry - stevens piano
george schuller - drums
"conference call" eine gut eingespielte "working band" der extraklasse
reist mit einer brandneuen cd, erschienen auf dem portugiesischen avantgarde label "clean feed records", am ostersonntag in der jazzgalerie an und wird das 10-jährige band jubiläum feiern.
The quartet was formed in 1998 and features original music from each member of the group utlizing the distinctive improvisational and textural talents of each of the 4 members: Gebhard Ullmann's extensive woodwind pallette (bass clarinet, bass flute, tenor and soprano sax); the textural and timbral virtuosity of drummer George Schuller; the organic and highly creative piano/bass interplay between Joe Fonda and Michael Jefry Stevens. All these ingredients create a highly creative and unique variety of musical flavors
If it's possible to have a super-group in a musical form as marginalized as contemporary, creative, left-field jazz, then Conference Call is a pretty good contender. Bassist Joe Fonda has been playing with pianist Michael Jefry Stevens in the Fonda/Stevens Group for 20 years, as well as finding time to back Anthony Braxton; German reedsman Gebhard Ullmann is familiar face on the Leo label; and the band has operated something of a revolving drum-stool policy, bringing in big-hitters such as Matt Wilson, Han Bennink, and, more recently, George Schuller-though due to a scheduling conflict, the tour from which this Albuquerque, New Mexico performance is drawn features Gerry Hemingway behind the kit. >From the get-go it's clear Hemmingway's keen to make an impression in his temporary role, storming into the opening number "29 Shoes" with a blistering, high-energy drum solo. In fact, this lengthy tune serves as something of a wake-up slap in the face, with all four musicians tearing it up in fine style: a hectic, disjointed head; dizzying, hard-swinging themes; frantic bass runs; Wayne Shorter-esque soprano acrobatics; prancing, chamber-jazz motifs; and playful drums that seem to be constantly trying to wrong-foot the breakneck vibe, only to fall back into line just when consistency's needed. As showcases of virtuosity and audacity go, it's a mightily impressive and enjoyable one-and one that marks this band out as a genuinely intelligent, restless, and searching unit that clearly deserves a wider audience.
The Conference Call quartet features German saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann, Bassist Joe Fonda and Drummer George Schuller from New York City, and Michael Jefry Stevens currently residing in Memphis, TN. The quartet has released 5 CDs - one each on Black Saint Records, Leo Records, and two on 482 Music. Their latest CD was JUST RELEASED on Clean Feed Records!!!
Saxophonist, bass clarinetist and composer Gebhard Ullmann has recorded more than 30 CDs as a leader/co-leader for labels such as Soul Note, Leo Records, Between the Lines, 482 Music, Songlines Recordings and Intuition Records. He has received several awards for his work including the Julius Hemphill Composition Award ('99), and the nomination "best jazz CD of the year" by the German Schallplattenkritik for his CD "Tá Lam" in 1996. He has toured extensively with his music and performed on most of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals. Musicians he has performed or recorded with include Paul Bley, Ellery Eskelin, Willem Breuker, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Barry Altschul, Keith Tippett,Glen Moore,TrilokGurtu, EnricoRava, Michael Moore, Art Lande and Hamid Drake.
Pianist/Composer Michael Jefry Stevens performs extensively in Europe and North America. He was the 'Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow for 2000-2001 " at the MacDowell Artist Colony, received 2nd prize in the prestigious Monaco International Jazz Composition Contest and was a composer fellow at Centrum Arts in Port Townsend, WA in the summer of 2006. He has released over 50 cds which feature his original music including most recently "Trio" on Nottwo Records and "Live at the Outpost" on 482 Music. Artists he has performed and/or recorded with include Dave Douglas, Mark Feldman, Han Bennink, Charles Moffett, Cecil Bridgewater, Valery Ponomarev,, Gerry Hemingway, Miles Griffith, Leo Smith, Thomas Chapin, Gebhard Ullmann, Herb Robertson,, Matt Wilson, Dominic Duval and Dave Liebman.
Bassist/composer Joe Fonda has developed an extensive international reputation over the last several years recording and touring with the world-reknowned Anthony Braxton including performances at some of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Istanbul International Jazz Festival. He is also featured bassist on numerous recordings with Mr. Braxton including the famed Charlie Parker Project Recordings as well as the piano quartet recordings with Braxton on piano. Mr. Fonda has performed with such notable musicians as Ken McIntyre, Charlie Persip, Lou Donaldson, Perry Robinson, Kenny Barron, Leo Smith, Curtis Fuller, Chico Hamilton and others.
George Schuller has released numerous albums as a leader including Round'bout Now featuring Ingrid Jensen and Donny McCaslin and JigSaw with Mark Feldman and Tony Malaby. Schuller appears on Joe Lovano's Rush Hour (Blue Note) and has also recorded and/or produced CD's with Orange Then Blue, Ran Blake, Tom Varner, Luciana Souza,Mike Musillami Trio, Ballin' The Jack, Mili Bermejo, Miles Donahue and Gunther Schuller. Since graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1982, he has performed with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lee Konitz, Jaki Byard, Dave Douglas, George Adams, Fred Hersch,and Tim Berne.
Jazz Times Review
Chris Kelsey, May 01 2004
Conference Call is a cooperative consisting of the multireedist Ullmann, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller. Ullmann's tenor work on the opener, Schuller's tune "Comeuppance," shows how there's more to free jazz than manic intensity; getting from note to note in a coherent manner can be just as important. Joe Fonda is one of the more clean-toned bassists around; his improvised introduction and subsequent solo on Ullmann's "Dreierlei" is attractively direct. His doubling of the melody with Ullmann on soprano sax is also very nicely done. Stevens plays with a rolling, tuneful momentum. Even his fleetest passages sing. Schuller is a graceful, swinging drummer, always tasteful and capable of driving a band without overwhelming it. Conference Call as a whole swings with a gleeful impetuosity that's hard if not impossible to dislike. Kinda sounds like what the late '60s Miles Davis band might have become had they stayed the course.
CONFERENCE CALL "Poetry in Motion" Clean Feed Records
If the axis of this band - now commemorating its 10th year - is defined by two of its most complicit collaborators, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and bassist Joe Fonda, co-founders of the Fonda/Stevens Group, then the involvement of woodwind player Gebhard Ullmann and drummer George Schuller reinforces the universal idea of group interdependence. However, there's still enough room for each to add their own unique concepts to an ever-evolving and most rewarding project. And what a project it is, in some ways tied to the late Sixties sound of the BYG free jazz records, while in other ways teetering on the edge of the vast unknown personified, for instance, by the recent developments of the Wayne Shorter Quartet. With original compositions offered by all four members and special attention paid to timbre and harmonic integration, there's a certain bold affirmation about the music in "Poetry in Motion" revealing a relaxed sense of purpose and musical fortitude. All four are active in both mainstream and avant-fields and all have notable CVs: Stevens's toe-dipping classical constructions, Fonda's open inventiveness (of course, stemming from his Anthony Braxton tutelage), Ullmann's extended reed skills and Schuller's knit-work craftsmanship - all combining to create music that swings outwardly, while at the same time, allows the listener to follow its inner abstractions. The liner notes of the CD speak of the joy, mystery and wonder felt by the performers during the recording sessions (their first studio recording in eight years), and we can surely recognize that essence. It's a measure of true artistic accomplishment when music so demanding can touch an emotional thread, proving that even a street full of concrete and glass can turn green and lush. Poetry in motion, indeed.
All About Jazz by Tom Collins (August 2008)