Impromptus and Other Short Works by Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research

2019 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ045), CD + MP3 Album Download

Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research »Impromptus and Other Short Works«

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


Gebhard Ullmann (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Steve Swell (trombone), Julian Argüelles (baritone saxophone), Pascal Niggenkemper (double bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)

Production credits

All compositions by Gebhard Ullmann. Produced by Gebhard Ullmann for WhyPlayJazz. Recorded April 23, 2018 by Guy Sternberg at Low Swing Studios, Berlin. Mixed and Mastered by Martin Ruch at Control Room, Berlin. Photos by Oliver Potratz. Design and artwork by Travassos. Funded with the kind support of the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Berlin.

Basement Research's eighth album celebrates the band's 25th anniversary. Gebhard Ullmann, Global citizen and winner of the City of Berlin’s 2017 Jazz Prize, celebrates his improvisations through a focused aesthetic in which each of the short pieces begins at a particular point and evolves into a collective band sound. Great music that consistently delves into the heart of the matter and, without skipping a beat, moves on to the next creative moment.

Eleven old and new Ullmann compositions are brought together in a concept album, a balancing act between Europe and America that blends modern jazz and contemporary compositional methods. Traditional idioms are roughed up by quarter-tone improvisations and twelve-tone rows; a gospel emerges, and then, echoes of Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, and Charles Lloyd, as the music takes a bow to these jazz greats. Interwoven improvisations and continual twists and turns constantly amaze. Pieces from the band's history are re-arranged and given new interpretations in this six-part impromptu suite. With Ullmann's current line-up of trombonist Steve Swell, baritone saxophonist Julian Argüelles, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Gerald Cleaver it’s all a matter of intuitive conciseness, a rich range of musical colors and the sensual pleasure of complex play. This clever diversion revolves around continuous unexpected movement and corroborates the seemingly limitless power of this brilliant band.


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

„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

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,

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

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,