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News? No News!

Artist: Gebhard Ullmann / Steve Swell
Gebhard Ullmann / Steve Swell - News? No News CD
Label: Jazzwerkstatt
Regular Price: $16.95
On Sale For: $8.48 
Year: 2010
Format: CD


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Multi-reedman Gebhard Ullmann and trombonist Steve Swell bestow some good news with the quartet’s second release. And the musical headline translates into an energized storyline. The respective band members have been at the forefront of progressive-jazz and improvisation-based idioms for many years, and their synergy is resplendently conveyed here. With unconventional rhythmic etudes and boisterous horns parts, the musicians generate gobs of hustle and bustle. Essentially, they skirt an opaque line between structure and improvisation.

Ullmann’s tenor sax and bass clarinet phrasings contain a humanistic element, and the same can be said of Swell, especially when the duo mixes it up with blazing and highly-emotive exchanges. Consequently, drummer Barry Altschul and bassist Hilliard Greene lay out a buoyant stream of brisk pulses, spanning free-jazz, free-bop and asymmetrical detours.

On “Composite #1,” Ullmann’s whirling bass clarinet solo rides atop a fractured pace, although the quartet tempers the proceedings via flourishing sub-plots during various regions of the program. They generate a cornucopia of abstracts, where the unit touches upon the blues, and combine the tried and true with deviations concocted upon numerous search and destroy missions.

The band transmits a playful gait on “GPS #2,” highlighted by Ullmann’s wily bass clarinet notes. Moreover, Altschul serves as the instigator while peppering and prodding the soloists. Ultimately, The Ullmann/Swell 4 renders a series of expand and contract mechanisms, topped off with brute force and thematic reconstruction efforts. It’s a sonic assault fortified with a sense of purpose and direction, complemented by the quartet’s signature sound. These attributes among others yield the winning edge. – Glenn Astarita
Steve Swell: trombone; Gebhard Ullmann: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Hilliard Greene: bass; Barry Altschul: drums
More Hello; New York 5:50; Composite #1; Kleine Figuren #2; Planet Hopping On A Thursday Afternoon; GPS #1; News? No News!; GPS#2; Berlin 9:35; Airtight
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