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Conference Call
Cadence review
Jerome Wilson
[Spirals] is by a quartet that has stayed together long enough to put out several CDs and quietly make a reputation for itself, Conference Call. This is four excellent musicians—Gebhard Ullmann, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda and George Schuller—coming together to do emotional and rhapsodic music that builds on the ecstatic jazz tradition of the Sixties. The first couple of pieces from this live concert have them mostly limbering up and doing slow screams in the post-”Ascension” manner, Fonda’s bass so thick and guttural it sounds possessed. Then Stevens’ composition, “Little Pete’s Diner” comes along, a delirious, overthe- top tango with Ullmann slurping all over his saxophone and Stevens playing whacked out cabaret piano. It’s almost like one of Willem Breuker’s parody bits but with less slapstick and far more intensity. Then there’s a short bit of political theater led by Fonda. (This was recorded right before the start of the Iraq war.) Next the group turns quiet and delicate for “Translucent Tones,” Stevens’ twinkling piano leading the way before the concert closes out with a long, intricate drum solo and more frenetic rolling and tumbling on “No Hazmats.” I’m not sure how long these four have been playing together, but they definitely have learned each other’s moves and know how to blend their individual voices into a cohesive sound. Conference Call is making some amazing music under everybody’s radar.
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