jazz & blues music blog with news, reviews, concerts & more, with a Canadian focus

April 22, 2008

New York, Berlin Jazz Masters at Yardbird

Written by
cindy mcleod

live jazz, Edmonton

Friday, April 25
Yardbird Suite, Edmonton

Free Jazz Ensemble Never Sounds the Same Twice

Ullmann/Swell 4 was formed in 2004 by Gebhard Ullmann (saxophone, clarinet) a prominent figure on the Berlin avant-garde jazz scene, and Steve Swell (trombone), a well-established New York player, along with Hill Greene (bass) and Barry Altschul (drums).

The emotional and intense quartet is known to audiences throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada, first hitting the radar with the release of their debut CD, ‘Desert Songs and Other Landscapes’ (2004).


Saxophonist, bass clarinetist, flutist and composer Gebhard Ullmann has been described as taking an interrogatory approach to improvisation. He has recorded more than 30 CDs as a leader or co-leader and is considered one of the leading personalities in today’s Berlin and on the international scene. He’s received several awards and was named in the Rising Star category of the 2005 Downbeat Critics Poll. Ullmann has recorded/performed with Paul Bley, Han Bennink, Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith, Lee Konitz, Michael Rabinovitz and many others.


New York trombonist Steve Swell, who has drawn comparison to Roswell Rudd, has recorded/toured with such diverse jazz personalities as mainstream artists Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, to ‘outside’ artists such as Anthony Braxton and Jemeel Moondoc. Swell has 20 recordings as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artist on more than seventy other releases. He came to international attention while touring Europe with alto saxophonist Tim Berne and with Joey Baron. Even though he is strongly identified with the “downtown scene”, Swell has been developing his style in the more so-called “traditional avant-garde” arena. He is also a sideman in William Parker’s “Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra”

Hilliard ‘Hill’ Greene is an extraordinary musician and composer. For the past fifteen years, he has served as bassist and musical director for the great Jimmy Scott and the Jazz Expressions. Notably, he has also played and recorded with Dave Douglas, Charles Gayle, Oliver Lake, Jack Walrath, and Kenny Barron. A rare bassist who not only exemplifies the art of swing through his masterful walking bass lines, Hill Greene also brings something entirely new and fresh to the instrument.

Barry Altschul is a magnificent drummer who gained fame in the late 60’s with pianist Paul Bley. He has beautiful traditional chops When he recorded with Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Dave Holland during the Circle era, Barry had a high-pitched Gretsch kit with add-on drums and percussion instruments which he integrated seamlessly in a whirlwind of sound. No one sounded quite like him at the time, and his nuclear energy served him well when he teamed up with Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton throughout the seventies.

For more info visit www.yardbirdsuite.com

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