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Downtown Music Gallery review
Downtown Music Gallery
Bruce Gallanter

CONFERENCE CALL [GEBHARD ULLMANN/MICHAEL JEFRY STEVENS/JOE FONDA/GERRY HEMINGWAY] - Live At The Outpost Performance Space (482 Music 1045) Conference Call is Gebhard Ullman on soprano & tenor saxes & bass clarinet, Michael J. Stevens on piano, Joe Fonda on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums. This is the fourth Conference Call disc and each one has had a different drummer. Previous drummers include Han Bennink, Matt Wilson and George Schuller and each one brings something different to the sound of this feisty quartet. This disc is live from the Outpost in Albuquerque, New Mexico in November of 2003. Gebhard's "29 Shoes" opens and features Gerry erupting around the repeating groove. Joe Fonda sings along with has propulsive bass as Gebhard takes a strong soprano solo while Mr. Stevens fans the flames with his spirited piano. It is hard to tell that this is the first recording with Hemingway on drums, since he plays so marvelously, the pulse moving tightly in waves speeding up and slowing down organically. "Liquid Cage" begins with Mr. Stevens' spacious and haunting piano, then some contemplative bass clarinet from Gebhard and one of those magical, exquisite bass solos from Mr. Fonda as Gerry adds some eerie percussion sounds, until the quartet slowly ascend together like ghosts in a graveyard. Stevens' "Circle Dance" is a lovely ballad with sublime tenor, a delicate rhythm team bubbling underneath. "Mala Dr'ole" is an odd, quirky piece keeps starting and stopping, fluttering duos that move together freely, connecting is they move. Joe Fonda's "As I Wait", brings things to close with slow moving, dreamscapes that simmer and sizzle and build to an enchanting, hypnotic groove. Conference Call does it again, brings us together with them for a great ride. - BLG

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