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This second duo release on Intakt by German jazz pianist Ulrich Gumpert with his compatriot, drummer Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer, shows their compendious range of reference: Tin Pan Alley classics (Indian Love Call, La Paloma), blues (Fritze Blues), original compositions (Gamme, Lovesong for KA, Prussian Elegy), arrangements of German folk songs (Es fiel ein Reif) and free jazz. The album was recorded at the MPS Studio in the Black Forest, where Gumpert plays the historic Bösendorfer Imperial that featured in famous recordings by Oscar Peterson and Hampton Hawes.

The original composition Gamme opens the disc portentously, and develops into a sonorous free jazz exploration. Two For Funk, by the pianist, immediately takes proceedings to a more populist level, followed by the lyrical Lovesong for KA.

As much a signature as their free jazz, and more unusual, is Gumpert’s arrangement of the German folk song Es fiel ein Reif. Very Teutonic, full of mystery and menace, and climaxing in a free episode, this is not conventional jazz material, but is made totally convincing here.

Thinking in terms of the old LP format, the two halves are each closed by a Tin Pan Alley song – at almost exactly the same tempo and in the same key. Indian Love Call and La Paloma are performed at a stately, respectful tempo – the latter, one of the most popular of the Tin Pan Alley songs – is interpreted with the slightly ironic effect of two beats rest before each verse. A consistently rewarding album.

ANDY HAMILTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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