Ursel Schlicht ist stilistisch vielseitig unterwegs von Jazz bis neue Musik, freier Improvisation und interkulturellen Begegnungen, aktuell auch mit geflüchteten Musikern. Sie lebte lange in New York, spielte mit zahlreichen Musiker:innen v.a. der Downtown-Szene, es entstanden wichtige CDs. Sie initiierte 2012 SonicExchange in einer 100-tägigen Aktion mit einem weiten interdisziplinäres Spektrum, Klängen aus Folklore bis Avantgarde, Improvisation und Komposition und führt dies als Projektreihe seitdem fort.
Sie promovierte über die Lebens- und Arbeitsbedingungen von Jazzinstrumentalistinnen. Ihre Forschungen sind als Buch It's Gotta Be Music First: Zur Bedeutung, Rezeption Arbeitssituation von Jazzinstrumentalistinnen im Coda-Verlag (Karben, 2000) erschienen. Sie lehrte an der Columbia University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rutgers University, und der Universität Kassel. 2013 zog sie von Brooklyn nach Deutschland.
Pianist Ursel Schlicht plays improvised music, jazz, new music, and is a scholar and educator.
Fostering intercultural collaboration has been an important focus of her work. She currently works with refugees from several areas in the Middle East. Her project SonicExchange during documenta13 in Kassel (2012) featured over 50 artists from nine countries and is documented on the DVD SonicExchange. SonicExchange has continued as a concert series ever since.
CDs featuring her as leader or co-leader are on Nemu, Cadence, CIMP, Hybrid, Konnex, Muse-Eek and Leo Records and Nemu Records. She is part of Hans Tammen's
Third Eye Orchestra, Sarah Weaver's SLM Orchestra, and various smaller groups with Anna Jonsdottir, Ute Völker, Andrew Drury, Stephanie Griffin, Catherine Sikora, Lou Grassi, Ken Filiano,
Andrea Wolper, Christian Ramond, Klaus Kugel, Detlef Landeck, Georg Wolf, et al.
Performances include: Festival Cervantino (Mexico), Juneau Jazz & Classics (Alaska), Guelph Jazz Festival (Canada), Festival for Creative Music in Seattle (US), International Music Meeting in Monterrey (Mexico), Melbourne Women's International Jazz Festival (Australia), Merkin Hall Interpretations Series (New York), Roulette (New York), et al.
Ursel Schlicht holds a doctorate in musicology from the University of Hamburg, Germany, and has published a book about the working conditions of women jazz musicians, including Marian McPartland, Carline Ray, Joanne Brackeen, Connie Crothers, Geri Allen, Jane Ira Bloom, and Myra Melford (Coda Verlag, Germany).
She lived in Brooklyn for many years as a freelance musician and educator; she designed and taught seminars on Music & Gender and on Improvisation at Ramapo College of New Jersey, has taught Music Appeciation at Rutgers University and Masterpieces of Western Music at Columbia University in New York until 2013. She currently lives in Germany and teaches Improvisation at the University of Kassel.
Her compositions interweave notated and improvised material. Also, she interprets silent film classics Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Faust, and The Adventures of Prince Achmed with an avant-improv approach. As an artist-in-residence at Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center in New York, she created a score for F.W. Murnau's silent classic film Faust. She is currently working on a solo CD.
"Schlicht knows how to make substantive statements that favor clarity over density"
"A European talent who has the skill and finesse to number her among the best of the free improvisers on either side of the Atlantic."
“Robert Dick and Ursel Schlicht on Thursday night carried on the idea that if musical art is going somewhere, the means of conveyance is as important as the destination.”
- New York Times
“Pianist Ursel Schlicht and flutist Robert Dick, […] played a lyrical duet where the improvisation reached the clarity and consistency of a composition.”
“Ursel Schlicht provided effective multi-note patterns that seesawed the group from wailing intensity to the exploration of a gentler, though no less intense, side in a set of music which was truly a complete excursion of musical textures.”
- All About Jazz
"A couple of pieces used composed lines in unpredictable phrase groupings - one in fact called Fragments - that recalled some compositions of George Russell or Albert Mangelsdorff."
- SIMA, Sydney
"When playing in a fast swing, or at least implied swing, Schlicht produced running parallel lines that reminded me obliquely of Lennie Tristano. Cecil Taylor-like dissonance was certainly employed, but there was no sensationalism."
- SIMA, Sydney
With an angry edge. The quartet of pianist Ursel Schlicht presented an outstanding avant garde concert. “A band with a really unique sound, also because of the colors that Ursel Schlicht extracts from the piano dissonant dots, clusters, web-like expanding cascades, or fragile-metallic sounds from the inside of the instrument."
- Hessisch-Niedersaechsische Allgemeine
"Schlicht's piano work can range from deft pointillism to actual bodily harm, yet her occasional right-hand octaves and Skriabinesque harmonies reveal a strong grounding in classical technique."
"Pianist Ursel Schlicht, trombonist Steve Swell, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi proved to be most creative virtuosos. Especially Schlicht stood out with artful piano sounds, reminiscent of numerous contemporary composers.”
- Wuppertaler Zeitung
"A dialogue, so intense, present, that it creates an own dimension, transcending space and time.”
- Hessisch-Niedersaechsische Allgemeine