Poetry In Motion
Gebhard Ullmann soprano & tenor saxophones, bass clarinet / Michael Jefry Stevens piano / Joe Fonda double bass / George Schuller drums, percussion & hammer whistler
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If the axis of this band — now commemorating its 10th year — is defined by two of its most complicit collaborators, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and bassist Joe Fonda, co-founders of the Fonda/Stevens Group, then the involvement of woodwind player Gebhard Ullmann and drummer George Schuller reinforces the universal idea of group interdependence. However, there’s still enough room for each to add their own unique concepts to an ever-evolving and most rewarding project. And what a project it is, in some ways tied to the late Sixties sound of the BYG free jazz records, while in other ways teetering on the edge of the vast unknown personified, for instance, by the recent developments of the Wayne Shorter Quartet. With original compositions offered by all four members and special attention paid to timbre and harmonic integration, there’s a certain bold affirmation about the music in “Poetry in Motion” revealing a relaxed sense of purpose and musical fortitude. All four are active in both mainstream and avant-fields and all have notable CVs: Stevens’s toe-dipping classical constructions, Fonda’s open inventiveness (of course, stemming from his Anthony Braxton tutelage), Ullmann’s extended reed skills and Schuller’s knit-work craftsmanship — all combining to create music that swings outwardly, while at the same time, allows the listener to follow its inner abstractions. The liner notes of the CD speak of the joy, mystery and wonder felt by the performers during the recording sessions (their first studio recording in eight years), and we can surely recognize that essence. It’s a measure of true artistic accomplishment when music so demanding can touch an emotional thread, proving that even a street full of concrete and glass can turn green and lush. Poetry in motion, indeed.