In jazz, it is not unusual that a new creative approach begins with the band’s instrumentation. Through iconic pianist Paul Bley’s recommendation, the German saxophonist, bass clarinetist and flutist Gebhard Ullmann began his collaboration with Soul Note, the prestigious Italian jazz label that had won the Down Beat “best record label” category six times in the 1980’s. His first record for Soul Note was in New York in 1993. For this recording, Ullmann did away with a chordal instrument and instead formed a quartet consisting of himself along with a tenor saxophonist, bassist and drummer, three American musicians who just happened to be playing on the cutting edge of the new music. Ullmann's transatlantic collaboration proved to be influential in setting up his pioneering musical style, and grew into one of his most important projects. He continued to refine the group sound, making sure that the power of the music was not diluted by the intrusion of competitive horns attempting to out-play one another. His compositional concepts have a Mingus-like quality, as he intertwines divergent voices and conceptually oriented musical commentaries into thoughtful solos all rapped into the band context. Ullmann has continued to refine and develop his concept; now we have the unusual constellation with three wind instruments that tend to play at the bottom range of the register: Tenor saxophone/bass clarinet, trombone and baritone saxophone.


Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research »Impromptus and Other Short Works«

Impromptus and Other Short Works
Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research

2019 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ045)
CD + MP3 Album Download

Track listing

  1. Gospel  3:43
  2. Twelve Tones - Impromptu #5  5:07
  3. Impromptu #1  5:16
  4. 29 Shoes  4:45
  5. Kleine Figuren  3:12
  6. Lines - Impromptu #2  4:43
  7. Shifting Tonalities - Impromptu #3  6:09
  8. Air  2:31
  9. Sticks - Impromptu #4  3:17
  10. For Jim - Impromptu #6  4:35
  11. Almost Twenty-Eight  4:05


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[...] there is no doubt, from the moment the music begins, that this is an enjoyable and exciting recording. [...] Each song on the album is short, [...] but each packs a punch and covers a huge range of stylistics, supported by superb musicianship. Another fine recording from Ullmann's Basement Research project and something that will easily find a spot in your collection.

Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blog

[...] a superb cast that sings, slides and swerves in navigating Ullmann’s sinewy writing, which is filled with nuance and surprising twists. [...] There is great fun and there are many exciting moments; considering the variety of the pieces and their considerable complexity, the results are both exhausting and exhilarating.

The New York City Jazz Record

Egal, welchen Abstraktionsgrad das Quintett in den jeweiligen Stücken erlangt, die geschlossene Ensembleleistung und die starken kompositorischen Vorlagen machen diese Verhandlung zwischen Tradition und Moderne zu einem außerordentlichen Vergnügen.

Jazz thing, Fred Fronner

Dass sie nun nach diversen Besetzungsänderungen mit dem partiell retrospektiven Album „Impromptus And Other Short Works“ endet, wird jeder bedauern, der kraftvoll-dynamische, zwischen europäischer und amerikanischer Tradition oszillierende Improvisa­tionskunst zu schätzen weiß.

Sven Thielmann, Fono Forum

[...] the melody propelled by Ullmann’s often altissimo-range brass clarinet suggests what could have happened if Eric Dolphy had sat in with Frank Zappa. Elsewhere close-knit vamps from the harmonized horns provide backdrops upon which each of the musicians can excel.

Ken Waxman, Jazz Word

„25 Jahre Basement Research“ das ist schon eine Ansage. In unserer heutigen Zeit so ein internationales Ensemble zusammen zu halten, das verdient viel Respekt! Nun markiert diese CD auch das Ende. Gebhard Ullmann wird mit neuen Projekten weitermachen. So ist das Ende aber auch gleichzeitig der Höhepunkt. [...] Titel für Titel ändert sich die Richtung, wechselt die Szenerie. Gekennzeichnet durch die große Bandbreite der Kompositionen.

Henry Karl, radiohoerer

Das sind großartige kreative Momente, die mitunter sogar an ganz alten Jazz aus New Orleans erinnern oder in Augenblicken an Free Jazz sowohl der amerikanischen als auch der oft mehr avantgardistisch ausgeprägten europäischen Schule. [...] mit dem Ergebnis eines der in letzter Zeit wohl interessantesten Veröffentlichungen des Jazz., Wolfgang Giese

Whatever you’d call Mingus, you could call Ullmann as well. To me his pieces for this group take their cue from Blues & Roots and Oh Yeah! — the bands with three or four low or low-ish horns, no trumpet or other high-pitched instrument on top, the spontaneity of their interpretation and the occasional burst of collective polyphony ensured by Mingus’s method of teaching them the pieces by ear. I doubt that’s how Ullmann does it, but whatever his method he achieves a similar level of warmth, flexibility and sheer humanity. [...] If you don’t know Ullmann’s music, this album is a very welcoming place to start.

Richard Williams,

Ova kolekcija novih kompozicija i novih čitanja nekih od starijih Ulmanovih ostvarenja, osvetljava različite aspekte njegovog rada tokom pomenutog perioda, povezujući savremene džez i klasične kompozicione metodologije u intrigantno fokusiranu estetsku celinu. Eho tradicionalnih džez idioma autora poput Ajlera, Šepa i Lojda, odjekuju isprepletanim, koherentnim improvizacijama i neprekidnim interpretativnim zaokretima koji plene kako snagom, tako i senzualnom lepotom.

Milenko Micanovic, Radio Beograd 3

Drive, passion, expression, vitality and original point of view are joined together to one place.

Avant Scena

The musicians Ullmann's assembled do a remarkable job making his material sound fresh and supporting one another.

textura, Ron Schepper

Six extemporary pieces get to showcase the musicians’ limber technique and spontaneous creativity. [...] This is a successful, enjoyable effort from a band that, knowing exactly where they want to go, has the intuition plus technical means to create winning music every step of the way.


This was a well done and exciting album, the group's eighth over the course of twenty five years with little sign of fatigue. Inspired by the likes of Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, and Charles Lloyd the band uses their accomplishments as a challenge to explore the unknown and carve out their own path.

Tim Eiland, Music and More

Great music that consistently delves into the heart of the matter and, without skipping a beat, moves on to the next creative moment.

GPoint-Audio, Greg Drygala

Gebhard Ullmann, Weltbürger und Träger des Jazzpreises der Stadt Berlin 2017, zelebriert seine Impromptus in einer fokussierten Ästhetik, bei der jedes der kurzen Stücke anderswo ansetzt, um sich in einem kollektiven Bandsound zu entfalten. Gospel, Anklänge an Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp oder Charles Lloyd, Widmungen, verschränkte Improvisationen und immer neue Wendungen. Musik ist das, die immer wieder auf den Punkt kommt, um von dort abzuspringen.

Jazz-Fun, Jacek Brun

Kort sagt – originale skitser og fanfarer danner springbræt for en solid portion individuel og kollektiv improvisation. Og den karske lydmur ejer såvel besnærende bittersødme som ægte berlinsk ekspressionisme og dekadence.

Kjeld Frandsen

Galvanisés par la solide rythmique, les trois souffleurs, à l'image de la tradition free, ne jouent pas à l'unisson mais de manière collatérale, ouvrant de larges espaces à l'improvisation.

jazz'halo, Claude Loxhay

Dass der Jazz einmal in der Kirche und am Tanzboden zu Hause war, wird von der seit 25 Jahren bestehenden Band des deutschen Rohrblattlers Gebhard Ullmann wieder in Erinnerung gerufen. Die reibungs- und dissonanzfrohen Improvisationen lassen den fünf Musikern Freiheit zu allerlei Allotria, die aber nicht haltlos anarchisch umgesetzt wird, sondern auch circensische Funkiness à la Archie Shepp oder feierliche aylereske Inbrunst zulässt.

Klaus Nüchtern,

Impromptus and Other Short Works is een sterke plaat van een stel jazzmusici waar de ervaring en klasse vanaf druipt. Het kwintet brengt muziek zonder enig effectbejag. Het gaat niet om het etaleren van techniek of buitenissigheden, maar om muzikaliteit in dienst van het geheel.

Gert Derkx, Opduvel

Basement Research know how to sound cerebral but also sensual, sketch clever and complex musical games but with engaging, totally intuitive interplay, with unpredictable ironic detours. The potent sonic spells of sonic lab should be spread all over and not only in smoky underground spaces.

Eyal Hareveni, salt peanuts*