|Grosse Abfahrt||Birgit Ulher|
German trumpet improviser, Birgit Ulher, performs solo and group improvisations with Grosse Abfahrt — a San Francisco freely-improvising music continuum/community whose name means “great departure”. From out this departure of de-parts comes a salute to epic failure, a disaster in full-dress uniform, gold epaulets dangling off the corpse of Western culture.
Birgit Ulher, trumpet
John Shiurba, guitar
Gino Robair, percussion/electronics
Tim Perkis, electronics
Kanoko Nishi, koto/piano
Bill Hsu, video
Jacob Felix Heule, percussion
Tom Djll, trumpet/electronics
Kyle Bruckmann, oboe/english horn
Birgit Ulher’s appearance is made possible by The Goethe Institut.
Born 1961 in Nuremberg, BIRGIT ULHER studied the visual arts, which still have an important influence on her music. Since moving to Hamburg in 1982 she has been involved in free improvisation and experimental music. Since then she has “established a distinguished grammar of sounds beyond the open trumpet” (jazzdimensions.de). She works mainly on extending the sounding possiblities of the trumpet by using splitting sounds, multiphonics and granular sounds and has developed her own extended techniques and preparations for producing these sounds. Besides this material research she is especially interested in the relation between sound and silence. She performs solo, with dancers, working ensembles, and one-time collaborations with musicians from around the world.
She has been organising the festival of improvised music Real Time Music Meetingfor over ten years.
Music performances in Europe, USA, South America, Russia and the Middle East, together with UNSK (Birgit Ulher / Martin Küchen / Lise-Lott Norelius / Raymond Strid), the Trio PUT (with Ulrich Phillipp and Roger Turner), Nordzucker (with Lars Scherzberg and Michael Maierhof), Heiner Metzger, Martin Klapper, Tim Hodgkinson, Dorothea Schürch, Rhodri Davies, Robyn Schulkowsky, John Edwards, Michael Zerang, Damon Smith, Lou Mallozzi, Gino Robair, Ute Wassermann, Albert Márkos, Sven Ake Johansson, Gene Coleman, Ernesto Rodrigues, Heddy Boubaker, Tim Perkis, Bryan Eubanks, Tanaka, Ariel Shibolet, Christoph Schiller and Sean Meehan, Forbes Graham, Leonel Kaplan, Gregory Büttner, Lucio Capece, Eric Leonardson and Bill Hsu.
Lecture/Workshops at Haifa University, SAIC – School of The Art Institut of Chicago and Hochschule für Musik Basel.
GROSSE ABFAHRT is a project Tom Djll started to explore a number of problems in freely improvised music. The first and most obvious of these is the problem of ensemble size, which Djll wanted to tackle head-on: GA ensembles are always of eight to ten players. This range seems to settle in a locale where there is a strong opportunity for individual sound-agents to emerge and make a statement against the ensemble backdrop, and also for the entire ensemble to cohere into long-form structures that transcend the productions of conventional improvised-music sociality (another problem addressed). How these ensembles are collected takes up another problem: that of the conflict between fluency and comfort among improvising compadres. Fluency between players’ languages and approaches is desirable, of course; however, it can lead to complacency.
Grosse Abfahrt is made up of a core group of five-six players which, ideally, does not vary: Myself, Tim Perkis, Matt Ingalls, John Shiurba, Kyle Bruckmann and Gino Robair. These people are all very familiar with each other’s strengths, preferences, and foibles. To this core I add “outsiders;” musicians who have not played with the core. Often, these outsiders come from far away, and are playing as duos or trios already, so they arrive with some comfort and fluency in their own musical relationship. How these two dynamics come together to create music, with practically no introduction (much less, rehearsal), is our practice.
This will be the core group’s second meeting with Birgit Ulher, who is based in Hamburg, Germany; it’s our first with locals Bill Hsu, Kanoko Nishi-Smith, and Jacob Felix Heule.