Minimal Kidds

No Age

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Although this is technically a group effort, it has the stamp of the precocious Gebhard Ullmann, who wrote and arranged all the pieces and is featured extensively on reeds and flutes. At the heart of the recording is the trio of Ullmann; Andreas Willers on guitars; and Nikolaus Schäuble on percussion, supplemented by others including Glen Moore on bass and Trilok Gurtu on percussion, and samples from a children's choir. Recorded early in Ullmann's career, the talented composer, improviser, and organizer focused his efforts on so-called world music, and the album is less radical and adventurous than his later works. He has a penchant for catchy melodies, and it is not surprising that, according to Ullmann, the attractively arranged "Escalate in 15/8," based on a lick from Charlie Parker, became a jazz disco hit in Germany. Ullmann arranges the piece boldly, as his tenor sax wails the striking melody over a forceful rhythm section. There is an ambient quality to many of the tracks, but it is the writing that makes it all something special. The album might be viewed as an attempt to commercialize a concept: the pace tends to be more restrained and the group sound less intense than the trio's later productions, yet the essential nature of the improvisations remains intact. The professional quality of the production, coupled with a focus on simple melodies and an attention to detail that belie the complexity of the arrangements, make this a highly accessible and enjoyable listening experience. The closing "Jou Be Lée," with the eerie samplings from children's voices, impresses with its creativity. Through the years, Gebhard Ullmann was to produce some remarkable works, and while this album pales in comparison with some of his later achievements, it is nonetheless an important document that offers more than a glimpse at his fertile talent.

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