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Julia Hülsmann, essential piano

With "Not Far From Here" released on ECM, the German pianist's introspective playing is beautifully complemented by the Berlin saxophonist Uli Kempendorff.

By Marc Zisman | Video of the Day | December 3, 2019

Each time she releases a new album, we find ourselves asking the same question: why aren’t there more musicians like Julia Hülsmann? Of course, the jazz world is saturated with tons of great pianists, though the German pianist (who already has ten albums to her name) possesses a truly unique touch.

With Not Far From Here, her chamber jazz fuses beautifully with the ECM sound, her record label since 2008. The album is wonderfully energetic and eclectic, largely thanks to the presence of the Berlin-born saxophonist Uli Kempendorff.

Playing in quartet with her faithful rhythm section (composed of drummer Heinrich Köbberling and her double bassist and husband Marc Muellbauer), Hülsmann finds in Kempendorff a partner who stimulates both her compositions and performances.

The quartet’s improvisations go from a cool sixties-style jazz to a more avant-garde style and outright playful sequences. United like never before, the group reveal a vast yet cohesive colour palette over the course of Not Far From Here.

The beautiful oddity of this record is a surprise cover of This Is Not America which David Bowie recorded in 1985 with the Pat Metheny Group for the soundtrack of John Schlesinger's film The Falcon and the Snowman.


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