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Gebhard Ullmann: The Big Band Project

Multireedist Gebhard Ullmann is a terrific improviser, adept on tenor and soprano saxes, bass flute and bass clarinet. He’s also relentless, headed in several directions at once.

The Big Band Project presents Ullmann’s original compositions arranged by Satoko Fujii, Chris Dahlgren, Gunter Lenz and Andy Emler, and performed by the North German Radio Big Band. Experimental big-band music is often a huge mass of disorganized thrashing about. A couple minutes into track one, Fujii’s arrangement of “Think Tank,” I was afraid that might be a problem here. Not to worry: Fujii’s chart is an anomaly. For the most part the band strikes the right balance between order and chaos. The group is impressively tight when the occasion demands, and it’s exciting throughout. As the primary soloist, Ullmann excels. He’s a font of energy and originality.

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