German pianist Julia Hülsmann and her trio cover Radiohead and a tune heard in Kyrgyzstan from a 12-year old violinist, adapted for the new eleven-track album from the ECM veteran.
These three German musicians have travelled far and wide in recent years, specifically to the USA, Canada, China and Central Asia. On their travels, they picked up a haunting tune called Biz Joluktuk which they heard performed by a 12-year-old violinist in Kyrgyzstan, a piece which was was later re-harmonized by Julia Hülsmann, the Bonn-born (1968) pianist and composer and trio leader. Uncertain of mood, like all of the best jazz tunes, it is yet a rich, sun-dappled adaptation.
Hülsmann is a visionary who can see (jazz) room to manoeuvre in disparate sources, and not just in a stray Kirghiz tune, for after Biz Joluktuk comes the trio’s take on Radiohead’s All I Need. The opener, From Afar, is the one that will, doh, first catch the listener's attention, being sultry and languorous and leafy. It has gorgeous interplay between Hülsmann's mellifluous piano lines and those stout woody notes ground out by double bassist Marc Muellbauer. Meanwhile, drummer Heinrich Köbberling’s shimmering cymbal work is well forward in the mix.
The second track, is intriguingly entitled Thatpujai. No, nothing Kirghiz here, it’s an anagram of the name of the late jazz pianist Jutta Hipp and, by way of tribute, the tune comprises phrases from her Hipp’s work. Offen, a Muellbauer composition, is a particularly unbuttoned, laid-back exercise, while JJ and Der Mond are pacy tunes, taut and muscular in the engine room, but also fluid and ready to take themselves anywhere too. A fine record, the sixth in fact from Hülsmann for the ECM label.