:: A Clear Midnight
Kurt Weill and America
Julia Hülsmann Quartet
w/Theo Bleckmann

Theo Bleckmann, vocals
Julia Hülsmann, piano
Tom Arthurs, trumpet, flugelhorn
Marc Muellbauer, double bass
Heinrich Köbberling, drums

ECM 2418 [1 CD]

Wall Street Journal—"It’s an extremely original and thoroughly far-out recasting of some of Weill’s best-loved songs, from both the Berlin and the Broadway periods, such as “September Song,” “Speak Low,” and Weill’s biggest posthumous hit, “Mack the Knife.” Many of your favorite songs are here, none of them sounding like you’ve ever heard them before, with the melodies not so much distorted as elongated and given a whole new perspective. This is a songbook album that takes nothing for granted.”


Pianist Julia Hülsmann and singer Theo Bleckmann, in a first—and long-awaited —collaborative recording, celebrate the “unsung Weill” alongside the master’s best-loved works including “Mack The Knife”, “Speak Low” and “September Song”, adding also Julia’s settings of Walt Whitman, with whom Kurt Weill felt an affinity. The project came together at the instigation of the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau in 2013 and since then has gained new life on the road and been fine-tuned in this studio recording made in Oslo in June 2014 with Manfred Eicher as producer. It marks a musical advance for the Hülsmann group at a number of levels, and these recastings of Weill open up new imaginative possibilities for the players. English trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Arthurs, who made his debut with Hülsmann on In Full View is fully integrated on A Clear Midnight. Often his trumpet doubles or underpins Bleckmann’s singing, giving a new colour to the vocals. As for Theo Bleckmann, this is the sensitive vocalist’s first ECM appearance as a jazz singer, although he has recorded twice for the label as a member of the Meredith Monk ensemble on “Mercy” and “Impermanence”.

1. Mack The Knife 4:28
2. Alabama Song 4:02
3. Your Technique 4:48
4. September Song 6:46
5. This Is New 5:27
6. River Chanty 4:44
7. A Clear Midnight 5:45
8. A Noisless Patient Spider 7:00
9. Beat! Beat! Drums! 4:15
10. Little Tin God 6:34
11. Speak Low 8:46
12. Great Big Sky 4:46

Total duration: 68:06