Gebhard Ullman - New Basement Research (Soul Note, 2008)
With a title like that you wonder if the musicians are a latter day Dr. Frankenstein, cooking up something up something in an underground lair. Tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Ullman along with Julian Arguelles on soprano and baritone saxophones, Steve Swell on trombone, John Hebert on double bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums certainly generate enough energy to raise the dead, and it makes for an exciting, raw and raucous disc. The album opens with "Dreierlei" which has a fun and exciting multi-horn fanfare before bass and drums join the cacophonous excitement. "Gospel" has a spacious solo reed working an Albert Ayler-ish folk theme with a slow tempo as bass and drums and the remainder of the horns arrive making lush and full music which has echoes of a New Orleans funeral march. "Seven 9-8" has a solo reed opening before the rest of the band kicks in hard with a righteous honking feast and sweeping trombone solo. "D. Nee No" has some shrieking improvisation and some smaller, more intricate interplay as well, including a well done saxophone and trombone duet section. "Desert… Bleue… East" builds slowly around Swell's trombone before the rest of the band joins in. The feature here if for the wonderful soprano saxophone playing of Arguelles who begins by soloing against riffing horns and builds to a storming conclusion. "Almost Twenty Eight" ends the album in a fun and funky way with heavy drums and a raucous and strong tenor solo from Ullman. I really liked this album a lot, the music was very exciting and compelling and it sounded like the musicians were having a blast playing.
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Sharon Gal, Steve Noble and Alex Ward
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