When Julia Hülsmann was little, there was a memorable concert on the television. A man was sitting alone at the piano singing wonderful things with a uniquely appalling voice. Julia Hülsmann found it particularly appealing.. And she was especially delighted that, by coincidence, her parents had bought this very man’s sheet music. This encouraged her to sit down at the piano at home and practise for the first time her classical studies. They were of course the songs of Randy Newman. It was the beginning of a long love affair.
Julia Hülsmann has herself in the mean time become a well-known pianist. In 2003 she made the recording "Scattering Poems" (ACT 9405-2) with her own trio and Norwegian singer Rebekka Bakken. The release was a special success with public and critics alike. Hülsmann’s compositions set to the poetry of American avant garde poet E.E. Cummings led to the justified recognition of two of the greatest talents from the European jazz scene. With Come Closer, her distinctive homage to Randy Newman, the pianist and arranger, resident in Berlin, shows that she is capable of following up on this debut. It takes a particular feel and understanding for great songs, to make these 30 year old classics viable in the present improvised jazz scene.
You must also naturally know the right people. The bassist Marcus Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köberling are her long-standing congenial accomplices, little criminals, whose powerful sounds and percussiveness leads to simple oblique things. Chamber jazz but getting down and dirty and with a biting heartfelt mockery is the approach. And thus Randy Newman dances New Orleans gumbo style, or is heard through the more expansive sound of a Fender Rhodes to echo the space jazz of Herbie Hancock.
Hülsmann has found a new partner in crime. Anna Lauvergnac, for many years now the singer with the Vienna Art Orchestra, plays every part to perfection. She is the demonic temptress ("You can leave your hat on"), the blues singer ("Let’s burn down the cornfield"), the madly callous daughter ("Mama told me not to come") as well as being the co-writer of the title track of this CD with Hülsmann. "Come Closer"? Certainly you couldn’t come any closer to Randy Newman than this.