Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Conference Call Quartet at Alchemia (28.11)

Gebhard Ullmann
Conference Call Quartet, an American-German cooperation, is a band that likes to play in Krakow. Their concert from 2007 yielded a double cd ("What About..?" on Not Two records) that received a general acclaim. And deservingly so, I might add.
The music they play is filled with subtle lyricism, tricky boppish lines, infectious grooves, free jazz energy. They can equally play a heavy post-hard-boppish number, or a lushfull ballad that becomes a transcendental musical meditation. Or a spirited blues (which they do as an encore). 

Joe Fonda
Every musician shines through the evening and there's more than a handfull of highlights. Gebhard Ullmann's huge tone tone on tenor is energizing (there's one trio section where he's just killing the groove), his saxophone flights and angular lines impressive, his bass clarinet bluesy, with surprising overtones. He's chit-chatting (as they follow each other's melodic lines) with Michael Jefry Stevens light and entertaining. The underspoken and subtle solo piano introduction to "What About" is truly beautfiull. Joe Fonda's deep, woody tone is always a pleasure and his sense of groove and bluesy foundation is unmistakenable and compelling. And George Schuller is a perfect compannion, brilliantly executing each of tricky rhythm changes, completely in sync within the rhythm section with Joe, kicking the groove or adding the shades and depth to the music (including a wonderfull bare hand drumming commentary to one of Fonda's improvisations). 

Michael Jefry Stevens
What's more important though Conference Call works as a band, meandering together through the tricky music in a way it's made seem easy. And they clearly enjoy playing together, accompanying the music with wide smiles on stage.
Conference Call Quartet embraces complexity of the avant-guarde, elegance of the mainstream, hard bop energy, some lyrical romanticism and spontaneity of improvised interplay. Rooted deep in the mainstream jazz they reach far beyond it. It's a quartet of fabulous musicians and brilliant composers. And it's a pleasure to see and listen to them every time.
The concert in Alchemia was the opening evening of the european tour - my recommendation is you check the schedule and go see them live (next stop - Budapest).
George Schuller

The band was presented with a couple of tracks on the last radio playlist.
Photos by Krzysztof Penarski (from the 2007 concert).

Conference Call Quartet:
Gebhard Ullmann - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Michael Jeffry Stevens - piano
Joe Fonda - bass
George Schuller - drums

Alchemia. Krakow. 28.11.2011


  1. Thanks for the intelligent review! Next time please introduce yourself!!!

  2. I was the bald guy with a copy of "What about" :)


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