Julia Hülsmann Quartet with Theo Bleckmann: A Clear Midnight – Kurt Weill In America
Julia Hülsmann is a jazz pianist who has appeared on a number of ECM releases, her latest titled A Clear Midnight. This time she has teamed with vocalist Theo Bleckmann. Rounding out the quartet are Tom Arthurs (trumpet, flugelhorn), Marc Muellbauer (double bass) and Heinrich Köbberling (drums).
The project's beginnings can be traced back to 2013 and the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Germany. A Clear Midnight is a beautifully romantic jazz record covering a wide range of tunes from Weill's vast repertoire and the results are stunning.
Throughout the album Hülsmann's deft touch on the piano is highlighted and rightfully so as she is an incredible talent. Her delicate lines weave through these compositions with the utmost of ease, occasionally becoming more forceful as in the Weill classic "Alabama Song" where the calm soundscape is allowed to build to a crescendo. Muellbauer's bass, in particular, is all over the place, showcasing his full rich tones.
In the album opening classic "Mack the Knife" gentle trumpet and sparse piano create a beautiful melody where every note has meaning.
"September Song" has a slightly darker tone with Bleckmann's romantic vocals really hitting the mark. At times his voice is underscored with flugelhorn and the piano lines become a little more jaunty as they weave in and out of Köbberling's subtle yet complex drum work.
On the title track all the musicians show a deft finesse until the playing becomes more pronounced with excellent drum work and fine solo trumpet before ending with a hint of chaos.
"Little Tin God" starts mellow with soft trumpet, vocals and wonderful piano. Towards the end of the song the musicians break into a full out improvisational onslaught.
The mood lightens with the romantic "Speak Low" highlighted with languid trumpet lines and excellent lead vocals.
For piano led jazz it does not get much better than A Clear Midnight. Hülsmann is a wonderful player, able to weave her magic amongst some old classics.
1. Mack the Knife
2. Alabama Song
3. Your Technique
4. September Song
5. This Is New
6. River Chanty
7. A Clear Midnight
8. A Noiseless Patient Spider
9. Beat! Beat! Drums!
10. Little Tin God
11. Speak Low
12. Great Big Sky
Added: March 11th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
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