Julia Hülsmann Quartet w/Theo Bleckmann - A Clear Midnight  Kurt Weill and America - ECM 2418


Although A Clear Midnight is the first shared project of Hülsmann and Bleckmann the principals have been exchanging notes for a long time. “I met Theo in 1993, when he was giving a workshop at the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin,” Hülsmann recalls, “and ever since then, we’ve stayed in touch. When the Kurt Weil Festival proposed a joint project I jumped at it. I’d waited all these years for such an opportunity.”

A Clear Midnight is Julia Hülsmann’s fifth ECM appearance. It follows the trio albums The End of A Summer (recorded 2008) and Imprint (2010), the quartet album In Full View and the collaborative album Fasil with guitarist Marc Sinan (2008). She has a long history of working with words (including those of E.E. Cummings and Emily Dickinson) and unlocking the music they contain, with singers including Rebekka Bakken and Roger Cicero. Her activities are broad. In 2014 she was the Moers Festival’s Improviser In Residence.

Theo Bleckmann is multi-disciplinary in outlook and experiences. A Clear Midnight is the vocalist’s first ECM appearance in a jazz context, although he has recorded for the label as a member of the Meredith Monk Ensemble on “mercy” (2002) and “impermanence” (2007). Since 1989 he has been a resident of New York, where his early champions included the great jazz singer Sheila Jordan. Bleckmann has sung everything from Charles Ives to Kate Bush songs to Shakespearean sonnets and collaborated with improvisers across the idioms. He will be an Artist In Residence at New York’s The Stone in June, performing in diverse configurations, including the Hülsmann Band.

Tom Arthurs “is ingenious in the way he can make a line seem at once rhapsodically free and focused”, as Ivan Hewett wrote in the UK’s Daily Telegraph. As an improviser he has played with John Surman, Jack DeJohnette, Evan Parker, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Prévost and many others.

Recent affiliations range from work with pianist Marc Schmolling to guest appearances with folk group the Unthanks.

Marc Muellbauer was previously a member of the new music ensemble United Berlin, playing Ligeti, Berg, Schoenberg and Webern and giving premieres of new compositions. His own band Kaleidoscope has explored the nexus of modern jazz and contemporary composition. He also plays old and new music with the trio Wood and Steel with Dobro player Christian Kögel and Roland Neffe on vibes and marimba.

Heinrich Köbberling plays with Aki Takase’s Quintet and Ernie Watts’s Quartet Europe when not on the road with Hülsmann or teaching drums in Leipzig.