Julia Hülsmann Quartet: In Full View (ECM 2306)

In Full View

Julia Hülsmann Quartet
In Full View

Julia Hülsmann piano
Tom Arthurs trumpet, flugelhorn
Marc Muellbauer double bass
Heinrich Köbberling drums
Recorded June 2012 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

The harbor becomes the sea
And lighting the house keeps its collision free
Understand the lay of the land
And don’t let it hurt you or it will be the first to
–Feist

After the successes of The End Of A Summer and Imprint, pianist Julia Hülsmann joins bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köbberling for another round, only now with new collaborator Tom Arthurs on trumpet. Arthurs is a musician whose Kenny Wheeler-like feel for color and collaborations with other ECM artists makes him an inevitable fit for the label. Thus reborn, the Julia Hülsmann Quartet leaps into action with swing and vigor.

Hülsmann 2

Much of said vigor comes by way of Muellbauer, whose pen begets the album’s hippest and most atmospheric numbers in kind. In the former vein we have “Quicksilver” and “Dedication,” in which Hülsmann takes the listener on journeys of discovery. In the latter vein, “Gleim” is a noteworthy gem. Between the composer’s soothing intro and Hülsmann’s floating clusters stretches an avenue of muted trumpet, along which Arthurs walks as if humming to himself. Köbberling’s sole offering is “Forever Old,” in which the drummer skims the surface of many oceans while Muellbauer surveys the coast in Arthurs’s footsteps toward a tessellated lighthouse. “Richtung Osten,” by Köbberling’s wife Fumi Udo, throws a narrower spotlight on Muellbauer, who traces peaks and valleys over the band’s rubato mappings.

Hülsmann 1

Hülsmann contributes four tunes, including the bop-leaning title track and the syllogistic highlight, “Spiel.” In each one can hear her fanning approach to improvisation, as also in the photorealistic “Snow, melting.” For more than effect, she throws in two surprises. First is “The Water,” by Canadian singer-songwriter Feist, arranged here for the trio and crafted with subtle assurance. Second is the muted “Nana,” a lullaby from Manuel de Falla’s “Siete Canciones Populares Españolas” cycle.

From beginning to end, In Full View holds true to its vision without error. Fans of the trio are sure to feel right at home among the new company, for Arthurs provides many pleasures along the way, and even an intimate tune of his own: “Forgotten Poetry.” Which is precisely what this album is not. You will want to remember every word.

(To hear samples of In Full View, watch the video above or click here.)

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