May 27, 2024

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Interview with Gebhard Ullmann: Music was and is my spirit: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Gebhard Ullmann: – I grew up in Bonn the old capital of Germany and visited concerts in Bonn and Cologne. Composers and bands like Can and Stockhausen pop into my mind. A lot of contemporary composers and bands of the so-called prog rock and German avant-rockscene of the 70s.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the saxophon?

GU: – I first learned flute and then when I played in my first band realized that I should learn another wind instrument and picked up the tenor saxophone.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the saxophon?

GU: – Saxophone is a close choice if you already play the concert flute. I had many teachers over the years, went to many workshops and master classes worldwide. Some names to mention were Herb Geller and David Liebman. But there were many others when I studied at the University of Music in Hamburg.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

GU: – A lot of practicing of overtones and long notes – even  more than that copying other players and thinking about what I am looking for in music and how  I can achieve those aesthetics with my instruments.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

GU: – Every day long notes, certain technical exercises, listening to music that I find interesting and checking out certain musical ideas. Sometimes I write them out and play them in all keys. Over the years I came up with a list of about 200 ideas, patterns, musical approaches etc that I go back to from time to time.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

GU: – Currently I work a lot with microtonality. I play quarter tone scales on all my instruments and practice harmonies in quarter  tones.

Картинки по запросу Gebhard Ullmann Moscow - Berlin

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album: <Moscow – Berlin>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album?

GU: – My actual albums are ‘Das Kondensat’ a new electro/acoustic trio and ‘Live in Moscow’ the 5th release of my Clarinet Trio. ‘Moscow-Berlin’ will officially be released in the West in early 2019. It was Alexey Kruglov’s and my first recording. Improvising, compositions, different instruments. I also used electronics and sampling. We recorded the CD within a couple of hours. However we developed the music during a tour along cities at the banks the river Wolga in Russia.

Картинки по запросу Gebhard Ullmann Das Kondensat

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

GU: – If a promoter thinks about a certain kind of music you need to be on top of the list or at least among the top 5. Don’t copy what has been done before or what a lot of others do, find your own distinctive voice.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

GU: – It is possible to live on your own music. But if you are in music for business you need to re-think. Me, I am in it for the music.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

GU: – Don’t play those standards over and over again. Find your own music and be honest and genuine with it.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

GU: – Music was and is my spirit. Coltrane was right.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

GU: – The more recent political  and environmental developments are a real desaster. I am not sure if human beings will be around this world for another 1000 years if we continue. Maybe this is the way it needs to be. But there is always hope.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

GU: – I am working on a new microtonal quartet- ‘mikroPULS’, will be touring and record with the great quartet ‘The Chicago Plan’ with Steve Swell, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang. The working band Conference Call is working on a new release, my quintet ‘Basement Research’ will tour for its 25th anniversary and record new music. I’ll be working on my new Solo music.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

GU: – To me there is good and bad music – the same is true for improvisation.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

GU: – Lately I’ve been listening to string quartets – Bartok and Shostakovich – and the chamber music of Johannes Brahms.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Gebhard Ullmann

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