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Reviews: Umlaut


Birgit Ulher: trumpet
Ulrich Phillipp, double bass
Roger Turner, drums, percussion

NurNichtNur





coda, may/ june 2003

umlaut gives us a continuous series of mostly miniatures, a series of dramatic vignettes in the form of sound sculptures --textural, pointillist portraits--each containing a certain delicacy among its brusque phrasing. a tad secret with a Zen sensibility, relying on a listener's certain mood.i believe it was Gerry Mulligan who said of Monk's music--" it's the silences as much as the notes", and in this music, so far removed from american history, it is often the silences that guide its course.

Bill Smith


Rubberneck

The most startling thing about Umlaut is the way in which silence is exploited to frame sounds. It is silence which makes the juxtaposition of extremes in sonority so apparent - the explosions more violent, the soft textures more vivid. An almost random sequencing of events impedes the music's flow, though it hardly seems to matter as the effect is somehow rhythmical, like a collective bout of noh drumming. The presence of Roger Turner's percussion guarantees interest for me, and the pin-sharp recording quality serves him well. Birgit Ulher's trumpet and Ulrich Phillipp's bass round out the trio. PUT's volatility makes some of their more explosive moments sit uncomfortably with the radical New Silence improvisors' aesthetic. Ulher's trumpet style is not unlike Axel Dörner's squeezing columns of air through the valves, eschewing almost entirely the instrument's conventional range. Phillipp has a rich sonorous presence, and his extensive use of the bow often recalls near namesake Barre Phillips. Further welcome evidence of newly emerging strains in European improvised music.

Fred Grand


Jump Magazine Budapest

The trio formed by Ulrich Phillipp (double bass), Birgit Ulher (trumpet) and Roger Turner (drums, percussion). PUT takes a diacritical mark "ä" umlaut used in particular in German spelling for the title of their album that contains sixteen shorter acoustic improvisations, each marked by one of the special characters that we find in our computer's character set and use with a particular combination of keystrokes (e.g. ëüöîí). These are non-traditional titles for non-traditional musical pieces: these traces of writing try to transform the phonic aspect (in the deconstruct-ionist sense) of the spontaneous, concentrated improvisational musical language into writing. This is an "Exergum", a true hieroglyph, tradition re-written in a Derredean sense is embodied in PUT's ahistorical music, that is, in their improvisations. The most essential "state" of improvisation is metamusic, when language becomes a body of phonograms, the ancient way of "writing (culture)". This lends a particular beauty to Umlaut. The three musicians have created their dense compositions of moments with an excellent sense of proportions. Each tenth of a second echoes with the silence music is made of, the silence that is the source of inspiration. The instrumental aspect of PUT's deconstructionist functioning is also very carefully planned: the drums - double-bass - trumpet set-up covers a wide spectrum of the traditional musical expression. In their music that appears to be an organic whole it is a particular pleasure to discern the blinks of tuttis, duos and trios. This album is a milestone among the innovative and influential documents of improvised music.

Zsolt Sörés


Cadence Magazine

The music of PUT as presented on UMLAUT [...] is lean, stark, and demanding. The group name is an anagram of the first letter of the musicians' last name - trumpeter BIRGIT ULHER, bassist ULRICH PHILLIPP, and drummer/percussionist ROGER TURNER. Although they use space and silence with interrupted flow as a course of action, they make equal use of thunderous outbursts of group spontaneity on the 16 improvised passages named for vowels that are portrayed with special characters (ø/ë/?/ï/ü/õ/î/ä/ê/å/ú/í 60:56). Ulher uses short blasts of sound and scurrying runs often followed by fluttered dabs of dark color or bright light. She coaxes multiple ranges of tonality from her trumpet, consistently breaking the action with disjointed speech in the style of Bill Dixon, Phillipp skillfully uses his bow and fingers to match the staccato sound patterns that swirl up and about, slinking into serene channels or erupting with massive explosiveness. Turner similarly operates within a dual setting by providing either color and shading or quick blasts of thunder using a wide range of percussive implements. They blend all these blunt sounds into a well-conceived olio where the individual pieces fit together seamlessly, and a cohesive musical scenario results. It is improvised music in the European tradition, which can be very palatable to the adventurous ear.
(p. 24, 01.2001)


My Way 50

Improvisierte Musik mit erhöhtem Abstraktionsgrad servieren Birgit Ulher (Trompete), Ulrich Phillipp (Bass) und Roger Turner (Schlag-instrumente). 'Umlaut' enthält 16 kurze Improvisationen, die aber nicht im Kontrast zueinander stehen, sondern ein angenehm homogenes, 61-minütiges Gesamtbild schaffen.
Frau Ulher und die Herren Phillipp und Turner versuchen, jede Annäherung an bestehende Musiken zu vermeiden und arbeiten stattdessen sehr erfolgreich mit kurzen, geräuschorientierten Statements. Es entsteht dabei eine sympathische Unterhaltung kurz angebundener Instrumente, bei der so gut wie nie Verknäuelungen zugelassen werden. Das verhilft 'Umlaut' zu einer angenehm frischen Luftigkeit, ja Leichtigkeit, und gleichzeitig gewinnen die vielen bewußt gesetzten Pausen an spannungs-steigerndem Einfluß.
Wunderschön!


François Couture

PUT is the free improv trio of Birgit Ulher (trumpet), Ulrich Phillipp (double bass)and Roger Turner (drums, percussion). Englishman Turner is the most known musician of the trio and therefore the ear is first drawn to his playing, as good as ever: busy ramblings on anything close to him (hitting a drum head is only one of many available possibilities) with a sense of the drama when he suddenly stops or drops a bomb on the drum set only to become even quieter afterwards. Then the listener's attention shifts to German trumpeter Ulher, whose technique and propensity to punctuated interventions recall Axel Dörner. A perfect match for Turner, she shows the same kind of fascination with silence - enhancing it by breaking it, playing very softly or not playing at all (track 5 is exemplary by the rarity of musical events happening). Bassist Ulrich Phillipp rounds up the trio, playing with great synergy, mimicking at times Turner's drumming style. Most tracks are short numbers that require every bit of attention in order to be perceived before they're gone.
Demanding and rewarding.


Sztuka Fabryka

This CD brings you improvisation music Pur Sang, far more than is common in modern jazz. Birgit Ulher (trumpet), Ulrich Phillipp (double bass) and Roger Turner (drumset & percussion) bring you music that is completely built on playing with the sounds, that their instruments can create and this in relationship with the other instruments. They do not play notes, nor they play with the typical colour textures their instruments can create. The power of the compositions on this CD is not the constant flood of sounds but the brilliant use of silence between the colour textures of the instuments. This CD brings you 16 compositions of the most wonderful improvisation music in about 60 minutes. We recommend this CD to all who are interested in contemporary music and jazz-improvisation. This CD is from a series of improvisers, more information about this series and this CD can be found at NURNICHTNUR.


JAZZWEEKLY

The most startling thing about Umlaut is the way in which silence is exploited to frame sounds. It is silence which makes the juxtaposition of extremes in sonority so apparent - the explosions more violent, the soft textures more vivid. An almost random sequencing of events impedes the music's flow, though it hardly seems to matter as the effect is somehow rhythmical, like a collective bout of noh drumming. The presence of Roger Turner's percussion guarantees interest for me, and the pin-sharp recording quality serves him well. Birgit Ulher's trumpet and Ulrich Phillipp's bass round out the trio. PUT's volatility makes some of their more explosive moments sit uncomfortably with the radical New Silence improvisors' aesthetic. Ulher's trumpet style is not unlike Axel Dörner's squeezing columns of air through the valves, eschewing almost entirely the instrument's conventional range. Phillipp has a rich sonorous presence, and his extensive use of the bow often recalls near namesake Barre Phillips. Further welcome evidence of newly emerging strains in European improvised music.

Ken Waxman , www.jazzweekly.com, Toronto


Orynx - Improv and Sounds

Faisant suite à l'exceptionnel trio PUT de Birgit Uhler avec Roger Turner et le contrebassiste Ulrich Phillipp (Umlaut Nurnichtnur), sperrgut est une rencontre vive du tandem Damon Smith et Martin Blume avec LA trompettiste de la scène improvisée européenne. Cet enregistrement d'un concert de 2004 nous laisse entendre le moindre détail du jeu des improvisateurs. Birgit Uhler favorise les morceaux courts et concentrés, comme dans ce Umlaut et son duo avec la chanteuse Ute Wassermann (Kuntstoff -- Creative Sources). Curieusement, chaque morceau est titré par des mesures de volume comme s'il s'agissait de mesures de cadres pour chaque tableau sonique. Côté pochette comme toujours avec notre trompettiste de Hambourg, nous avons droit à un élégant gribouillage sur polaroïd. Je recommande ce cédé car il est sans doute son album le plus accessible et un des meilleurs qu'elle ait produit. Martin Blume est excellent dans l'art du dialogue et sa frappe caractéristique est particulièrement variée. Elle est immédiatement reconnaissable par sa qualité boisée et son jeu très fin sur les cymbales et accessoires métalliques. Damon Smith est un contrebassiste sensible et inspiré qui laisse vibrer l'instrument de manière particulièrement adéquate pour un tel trio. Les deux hommes laissent le champ sonore complètement ouvert aux introspections de la trompettiste et aux infinies nuances de son jeu. J'avais déjà chroniqué très positivement les albums de BU pour Creative Sources. Parmi eux, Scatter est un remarquable et audacieux solo de trompette. Sperrgut est donc un disque excellent (super gut !), mais rien là ne nous prépare à la claque magistrale reçue à l'écoute de Umlaut par le trio PUT, mentionné plus haut. (Umlaut / 2000 - Nurnichtnur 1000425). On sait qu'une partie des improvisateurs allumés engagés actuellement dans un renouvellement de l'improvisation libre par des voies plus minimalistes tient ce « style » de musique improvisée pour dépassé ou daté, comme pouvait nous sembler le devenir le « free jazz » à l'époque nous nous essayions à devenir « non-idiomatiques » (!). On pourrait mettre beaucoup au défi de jouer avec autant de précision. C'est absolument renversant. On a là le meilleur de Roger Turner et Ulrich Philipp montre qu'il est un contrebassiste beaucoup trop sous-estimé. Son feeling à l'archet est absolument unique. Il vaut parfois mieux faire un retour en arrière de quelques années pour découvrir un joyau passé inaperçu que de se précipiter sur les nouveautés recensées par le site de Peter Stubley. Une musique collective avec absence d'ego et une invention surprenante. J'adore car il y a une qualité unique dans cette musique que vous ne trouverez que dans ce disque. Jimmy Giuffre enregistra en juin 55, un album génial : « Tangents in Jazz ». Ici, on a affaire à « Tangents in Free Improvisation ». A découvrir absolument.

Jean-Michel van Schouwburg, orynx-improvandsounds.blogspot.be




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