1. unexpected vision
Live at Location One, Dec 2, 2004
"No matter how frenzied the proceedings become they always stay connected to each other’s lines”
“Einstein’s Dreams, a release which revels in extended techniques and free improvisation”
“The music is exceedingly rich, with plenty of space for silence and reflection”
“'Einstein's Dreams' must be pretty incredible ones to experience and hence, this seems like a most appropriate title for some of these complex dreamscapes”
Einstein’s Dreams / Photosphere (Florence Wetzel, allaboutjazz, 5/2006)
Ursel Schlicht is a unique talent, a pianist whose gifts shine broadly over many fields. Her sound encompasses and explores jazz, improvised and new music and she has composed for dance theater and improvised for silent films. All this, plus her PhD, her years as a music teacher and her strong interest in intercultural exchange, make Schlicht a formidable musician, an intriguing combination of the adventurous and the cerebral.
Intersections + Einstein's Dreams (Pine Ear + Konnex)
Einstein’s Dreams is an open dialogue [of bassist Reuben Radding] with pianist Ursel Schlicht. The concern is not for motivic development so much as the creation of a slowly unfolding aural landscape rendered with a palette of music color and texture. Each piece passes through various stages. Schlicht and Radding listen closely to each other and are finely tuned to the implications of each other’s gestures.
Radding opens “Unexpected Vision” with some skittering arco bass that Schlicht matches with scraping inside the piano. They play with these shimmering textures until the pianist initiates a splayed rising figure in the treble register. Radding sets aside his bow and plucks fat resonant notes to support this line. “Time Passes More Slowly for People in Motion” begins with a series of jabbing exchanges, sometimes no more than a note or two. That conversational sense continues throughout as the piece crescendos to a roar before settling back for a long denouement.
“Texture of Time” swirls with scrapes, moans, and tremolos that could be the creation of a savvy synthesizer player. Midway through, Schlicht sustains a tremulous pattern while Radding saws majestically underneath. She flits into open air when he drops out. When the bassist returns, he delivers a rare episode of pure melody with the piano playing delicately on the fringes. Schlicht’s “Modulation of Light” figures flutter on the edge of bop over Radding’s broad bow strokes. These seem to inspire her to move further out, as she hammers out chords, leaving spaces for Radding to shine through. They show here that no matter how frenzied the proceedings become they always stay connected to each other’s lines. This allows them to go from frantic counterpoint to bring the session to a soft landing.
Both sessions offer fine showcases for Radding’s instrumental and compositional prowess, which, once discovered, is not likely to be forgotten.
Ursel Schlicht/Reuben Radding - Einstein’s Dreams Konnex CD 5165
Radding joins pianist Ursel Schlicht on Einstein’s Dreams, a release which revels in extended techniques and free improvisation. “Unexpected Vision” is filled with washes of percussive inside-the-piano playing, bass glissandi, string scratching, and a ghostly bowed ostinato from Radding. The proceedings are almost five minutes underway before Schlicht begins to play conventionally, presenting a haunting repeated note passage, followed by an ominous bass register melody and incisive, bitingly dissonant harmonies. The piece manages the challenging feat of making a deft transition from music based primarily on effects to a compelling use of pitch and rhythm in an avant jazz context. ‘Time Passes More Slowly” opens with crashing dissonant verticals and dive bomb bass swoops before settling into a flowing duet, then a beautiful plucked solo from Radding. Schlicht adds lush upper register chords to the mix while Radding alternates bowed trills and walking pizzicati. Gradually, the music heads back towards vigorous interplay in a dazzling finale, with Schlicht employing the entire compass of the piano in quick-moving, disjunct gestures and Radding creating a swirling, sepulchral, arco maelstrom. On “Modulation of Light”, a bass solo pits sweeping diatonic arpeggios against a chromatic, melancholy melody. As the piece progresses, Radding moves into the uppermost register of the bass, while Schlicht’s playing becomes ever more insistent, punctuated by thick chords at the bottom of the piano. A fleet-footed coda serves as a denouement, bringing the recording to a mysterious, pianissimo close. Radding has a fertile and wide-ranging imagination. His work with Moran and Noriega and with Schlicht present very different, but equally engaging, portraits of multifaceted and abundantly diverting music-making.
URSEL SCHLICHT/REUBEN RADDING - Einstein's Dreams
This fine duo was recorded live at Location One's Roulette series in December of 2004. It is a wholly improvised duo featuring Ursel Schlicht on piano and Reuben Radding on double bass. After many years with no discs to her name, the crafty Ms. Schlicht, leaves us with not one but three exciting duo discs at the same time. Reuben Radding is one downtown's best, busiest and most in-demand bassists. He has appeared on a half dozen discs in the past couple of years with folks like Wally Shoup, Daniel Carter, Jeff Arnal & Nate Wooley, Oscar Noriega & Matt Moran, Carrie Schull and Brian Allen. Mostly with duos, trios and a quartet. The duo takes their time to explore their instruments and sound fields. Like ghosts floating in open spaces. Superbly recorded and wonderfully balanced, mysterious bowed bass and the bewitching sounds of things rubbed on the inside piano strings. Time stands still as Reuben bangs on his strings with the bow, as well as plucking selectively and letting the occasional harmonics ring. Ursel is a fine match, nimbly running fragmented lines around and with Reuben's suspenseful sounds. The duo takes their time, organically evolving and building their sound/blend richly together. They create drama, set the scenery and slowly let their story unfold. Sometimes things get a darker and a bit more dense, yet they move in waves together and arrive at the same place, before they fade into silence. 'Einstein's Dreams' must be pretty incredible ones to experience and hence, this seems like a most appropriate title for some of these complex dreamscapes.
Ursel Schlicht and Reuben Radding - Einstein’s Dreams (Konnex KCD 5165)
Common enough in the mainstream jazz world, the grand piano-double bass duo becomes more problematic once tonality and melodies are left behind. That’s why Einstein’s Dreams is notable, as pianist Ursel Schlicht and bassist Reuben Radding use extended techniques and timbres to expand their interface.
With a doctorate from the University of Hamburg, German-born, New York-based Schlicht is much more than an accomplished academic. When not explores the duo format with Radding and flautist Robert Dick, she’s a member of large aggregations like the Laura Andel Orchestra and Butch Morris’ conduction ensembles. Concentrating his association with the pianist as part of the Andel Orchestra into this intimate idea exchange, fellow New Yorker Radding brings his experience in one-on-one improvising with local multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter and Seattle alto saxophonist Wally Shoup to this CD.
With no official front-line instrument, the two combine and separate frequently to insert comprehensive pulsations with the four long improvisations here. As apt to emphasize thick overtones à la Rachmaninoff (Sergey) as straight ahead syncopation à la Silver (Horace) or Garland (Red), Schlicht relies on both inside piano and the keys for variety. A percussive walker when needed – often with a resolute tambourine-like beat – Radding utilizes the stretching and ricocheting power of spiccato and sul ponticello bow movements to augment his side of the bargain.
Centrepiece of the recital is the almost 16 minute “Time Passes More Slowly for People in Motion”, which encapsulates most of two’s aims and accomplishments. Beginning with scene-setting ringing stops from Radding, harshly and powerfully Schlicht stretches her vibrations with internal string vibrating and low-frequency harmonies. As the bassist’s carefully modulated bowing turns to booming slap bass lines, the pianist introduces altered dynamics with heavy handed touches that work their way around the keyboard. With offbeat dissonance she sweeps from pitter-pattering in the higher registers of the instrument to burrowing into its lowest regions, gaining squeaking sul tasto and sul ponticello responses from the bassist. Almost operating independently, one of her hands expands the secondary nodes of each phrase after she first emphasizes its primary position. Climatically, Radding brings things to a halt with thick, powerful thumps.
Slithering from flashy octave jumps and arpeggio pulsations to a crescendo of tremolo chords or stopped ands stroked wound internal string scuffing, throughout Schlicht is by turns lyrical or down-to-earth. Concerned overall with stripping away the superfluous, she emphasizes deeper cooperation. The distended flexibility of Radding’s sometimes woody, always inventive arco and pizzicato timbres posits a response that is more often bumpy than straight-ahead, but in due course defines a tandem alliance.
The somewhat enigmatically titled Einstein’s Dreams may imply that in improvised music, timbre experimentation and vocabulary expansion done properly leads to satisfying teamwork rather than fission.