Tá LamSGL 1520-2
This release compiles and remasters selections from Tá Lam’s two German only CDs, Tá Lam and Moritat, on 99 Records: the first performed entirely by Ullmannm overdubbing himself up to 16 times on a panoply of woodwinds, and Swiss accordionist Hans Hassler; the second by his band Tá Lam Acht, including Hassler plus six highly accomplished reed players brought together from East and West Berlin’s jazz/improv/new music scenes. Ullmann’s original compositions feature tonally rich ensembles that balance jazz and contemporary classical forms with elements of folk and world musics, particularly those experienced during his tours and travels in Africa, southeast Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. Echoes of tango, pygmy chants, township jive, gagaku and other traditions may be discerned, but it’s all woven together into new cloth — so that, for example, the hocketing in certain tunes could have been inspired by pygmy music, Oceanic panpipes, and/or medieval organa. Ullmann’s unusual arrangement of Weill’s “Mack the Knife” completes the program. The Tá Lam project began in 1990; highly structured yet spontaneous in feeling, the music remains as fresh and yet enigmatic as Claudia Ullmann’s cover painting or the name itself. “Ullmann’s records are fascinating essays on various aspects of tradition and the avant-garde and how they intertwine.” (Penguin Guide to Jazz, 3rd edition)
Born in 1957, Gebhard Ullmann divides his time between Berlin and New York. He has recorded more than 20 CDs since 1984 as leader or co-leader (with Die Elefanten and long-time collaborator guitarist Andreas Willers among others), and has received several awards and prizes. Moritat was nominated best jazz record of 1994 by the German Schallplattenkritik and acclaimed as “a real masterpiece” in the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, His other working bands are his quartet Basement Research (with Ellery Eskelin, Drew Gress and Phil Haynes, CD on Soul Note), his trio Trad Corrosion (with Haynes and guitarist Andreas Willers, CD on Nabel), and a new clarinet/bass clarinet trio with Kupke and Nabicht. Also new is a performance suite for accordion and string trio. Ullmann is a member of Günter Lenz’ Springtime and the Hannes Zerbe Blechband, and collaborates with actor Otto Sander on literary readings with music. He has performed and/or recorded with Paul Bley (who has called him “one of the finest improvising artists in the world”), Enrico Rava, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Bobby Previte, Michael Riessler, Andy Emler, Laurent Cugny, Bob Moses, Bob Stewart, Tiger Okoshi, Aki Takase, Glen Moore, Trilok Gurtu, Lauren Newton, Ernst Ludwig Petrowsky, Steve Argüelles, Jörg Huke, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Willem Breuker, Michael Moore, Keith Tippett, Rita Marcotulli, Percussions de Guinée, and the European Radio Jazzorchestra.
Accordionist/clarinetist/pianist/guitarist Hans Hassler was born in Switzerland in 1945. He studied accordion with Mogens Ellegaard in Copenhagen, performed/recorded with Mathias Rüegg’s Vienna Art Orchestra and Swiss Art Orchestra and in the avant-jazz group Habarigani, performed as soloist with the Zürcher Kammerorchester, and was a member of the Marco/Käppeli Selection. He has played Italian folk songs (with La Lupa), dixieland, operatic and symphonic repertoire, and dance and theatre music as well as composing a clarinet concerto and music for accordion among other pieces. He currently performs/records in the Ivano Torre Quintetto and plays Swiss folk music to African percussion with Beat Föllmi.
***1/2 “A lovely sound – mellifluous, broadly harmonized and carefully deployed over the typically wide range of influences that make contemporary Euro-jazz seem so refreshing these days.” — Mark Miller, The Globe and Mail
***1/2 “The most interesting piece is the reworking of ‘Mack the Knife,’…The leader composed the remaining tunes, which stress densely layered sounds, interspersed with plenty of fine improvisations. Hassler is particularly effective on accordion…The combination of ‘world’ elements and very serious composing strikes a chord, and Ullman has talent to spare, both as a composer and as a soloist.” — Steven A Loewy, Allmusic.com
“…ties together elements of African, Asian, and European traditions in a seamless personal musical compositional style that is as creative, finely-crafted, and compelling as anything I’ve heard recently…It will undoubtedly make my list of ’98’s most rewarding listens.” — Chris Kelsey, Cadence
“His scores weave a wonderful dance for the ears…The groups’s music is lushly orchestrated and engagingly melodic while being challengingly complex and entertainingly unpredictable.” — Alexander Varty, The Georgia Straight
“Musical ideas from his world travel inspire him to create sound-scapes for his passionate writing. This is mood music; sometimes happy, often sombre and occasionally pastoral but never less than stimulating. New Age meets the Avant Garde without too many abstract voicings.” — David Lands, Jazz Journal International