02/25/10

Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research Don't Touch My Music Vols. 1 & 2

Don’t Touch My Music comprises two individually packaged discs, so even as each has the same title and virtually the same cover, one assumes they are separate releases. Disc one covers the first set of a 2007 concert in Krakow, Poland, by Ullmann’s Basement Research band (Ullmann on bass clarinet and tenor sax, Julian Argüelles on soprano and bari saxes, Steve Swell on trombone, John Hébert on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums). Disc two covers the second set.

Ullmann flies much lower beneath the critical radar than his talents merit. A fiery, rambunctious soloist and ecumenical composer with an experimental, free-jazz bent, his music is always well conceived and passionately delivered. That much is certainly true of both these discs. Ullmann compositions like “Dreierlei,” “Kleine Figuren” (Nos. 1, 2 and 3) and the title track incorporate intricate, tightly harmonized melodies, odd-time ostinati, clever juxtapositions of rhythm and sound, and plenty of room for blowing. The improvised elements seldom stand apart, but are rather an intrinsic part of the overall form of each tune. The horn players are top-notch, and the rhythm section burns. Overall, the music has the loose-as-it-can-be/as-tight-as-it-needs-to-be vibe that defines so much great jazz.

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