The Deutscher winning Not Far From Here line-up is again captured recording as recently as March in a French studio and represents pianist Julia Hülsmann's favoured means of expression.
A pristine, humane release that adds flesh to skeletal themes and new fire to the embers of the night all four are in engrossing form with tenor saxophonist Uli Kempendorff, bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köbberling rippling ever outwards in expansive circles on pieces that include the Chopin inspired bossa nova 'Valdemossa' and a cover of Prince's 'Sometimes it Snows in April' a song that was also covered very differently on a recently reviewed Tarbaby recording.
World class, state of the art jazz-inflected pianism through a post impressionist chamber-jazz filter the album is released later in August. And it is up there with the best Hülsmann we know which is the collaboration featuring the avant singer Theo Bleckmann A Clear Midnight: Kurt Weill and America that was released in 2015.
What's good here is that the cerebral (and this make no mistake is cerebral music-making) is not vain or overly clinical. How this is achieved is difficult to say. Perhaps Kempendorff say on 'Post Post Post' has something to do with it, a softness in the tone and yet a lot of development in both the lines of the melody and an advanced harmonic sense in the way Hülsmann comps certainly evident.
Marc Muellbauer, above left, Heinrich Köbberling, Uli Kempendorff, Julia Hülsmann
Photo: Peter Hundert/ECM
'Jetzt noch nicht' ('Not now' in English) and its variation are the pieces to really study if you want to take these to the classroom as some in the future may well do. It is Cool School Jimmy Giuffre-like at heart and that is a sound that goes back to proto-ECM (eg Thesis which predates the foundation of ECM but was reissued much later by the great label as if to dream how the label would have been if it had been founded in 1961 and not 1969 and able to time travel). Hülsmann is Carla Bley-like at times, say the way this incredible pianist follows the sax line on 'Polychrome' in delivering the knack of leading while not leading, underpinning and still at the same time informing the saxophone line. 'Made of Wood' is a tune of many colours and again the Giuffre-like aspect to the flavouring is piquant. A wonderful record full of interest that rewards frequent replay. It is new in our year best-of. See the full 10.