JAZZ IN GERMANY

"Play your own sound", "play your own thing"

Matis Schiefels

Jazz is the licence for otherness. Jazz is the licence to be different. „Play your own sound“, „play your own thing“ – that’s the message, that american jazzz musicians spread all over the world – a message which was well reveived all over Europe.

Intensity in this kind of music is achieved to the degree that an improvising jazz musicians is devoloping a „signature sound“. This intensifying of music by making sounds personal has a special meaning in jazz. The sound is essential. It is a carrieer of an emphatical message. (Or as Don Cherry said: „No Sound, no Mesagae“). The vibrato of Sidney Bechet, the rich modulated, raspy tone of Ben Webster, the dry piano touch of Thelonious Monk, a feedback sound from the electric guitar of Jimi Hendrix „says“ as much as the theme of a Beethoven-symphony.

But what’s the sound of german jazz? How does the face of current German jazz look like? Definitions are difficult: There’s nothing like a general „national“ German jazz sound. If you want to prove an assumption about German jazz with the example of a German band, you will immediatly find another German band which disproves this assumptio.

The German jazz scene is rich, and it is as fresh as diverse, full of opposites and contradictions. Nevertheless there are some characteristic features, that makes German jazz personal and individual. I just want to give you a first example. Trumpet player Mathias Schriefl. He has an unique biography. As a kid be began a very successful carreer as a trumpet player in the „Volksmusik“ and „Heimatmusik“-scene. He comes from the Allgäu, lives in Colgone. He is a declared expert of multiphonics. A kind of playing in several voices firstly introduced by trombonist Albert Mangesldorff to the German jazz scene of the sixties and seventies.

Schriefels combines jazz with punk and chamber-music-influences. He is a power player with a very clear tone, but sometimes he deliberatly gives the trumpet an almost eletronic attitute. Consistensly he is speaking of „phaser“- and „flanger“-effects and „filtered“-sounds he produces on the trumpet. But he phrases these sounds with his voice and vocal chords alone. Without electronic box, without electricty. He explains this penchant for using his mouth, his tongue and his lips in a many varied ways with following allusion: „Maybe this is due to the fact, that I had too less nursing and breastfeeding.“

Keyword „signature sound“. Being authentic – in our times means: play yourself, play your own thing, establish an individual sound. For the first German jazz musicians – from the 1920s until the 1950s - being authentic meant quite something different. Being authentic implied trying to sound as good as the American masters of jazz, it implied to master a vocabulary as technically brillant as the greats of african-american music. Once you could „speak“ in that language as good as the masters, you were the one who played „authentic jazz“. That was the perception of early German jazz musicians.

Copying was therefore not a mischieveaus thing, it was a necessary and inescapable step in learning the language meant to get as close to the core of the jazz idiom as possible. In July 1948 an important step was made. The Duke Ellington trumpeter Rex Stewart recorded with German musicians for the East-German Amiga-Label in Berlin. The title: „Air Lift Stomp“ related to the allied skylift during the Berlin-blockade. The record slided through censorship, since the eastern administration couldn’t read english. Later the record was retitled in „Amiga Stomp“.

Stewart and his Berlin jazz guys gave concerts in the Foyer of the Delphi-Palast nearby Zoologischer Garten. The grand hall was bombed out and not usuable. On the invitation you could read following sentence: „Due to power cut-off each guest is asked to bring a candle with him.“

Jazz was not well acceppted by all listeners in Germany. Some considered jazz in post-war-Germany as an inferior music. The popular TV-figure Werner Höfer (who led a famous weekly political panel discussion in Germanies TV later) – wrote 1948 in the newspaper „Die Zeit“, that „you have to be a little bit neurotic“ to like the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In the daily newspapers jazz was often defined as the contrapunct to the intellect. When jazz promoter Horst Lippmann tried to book noble German concert halls for a tour of American jazz greats in the early 1950s, the venues declined, with the consideration, this music would be „Urwaldmusik“, „music of the jungle“. They nevertheless hadn’t a problem in booking a German-„Schlager“-Star and pop-figure like Bully Buhlan at the same venues. An analog situation in the German Democratic Republik: In 1953, the Lord Mayor of the city of Potsdam wanted to stop a dance-ball with the Hochschultanzorchester, since the band played in one set three boogie-woogies one after another.

Mathias Schriefls

ДBut the younger generation embraced the music wiht enthusiasm. In jazz young german listeners found a perfect vehicle for their dreams and wishes. It was a music against political restauration, and a statement against the „Unterhalungsmusik“, especially against the „Schlager“ and „Heimatmusik“. Jazz music brought a new relationship to the feeling of the body. The rhythms of this music allowed something that was suppressed in the obdurate education of the parent’s generation. It had an erotic touch, it allowed the approach of the sexes, it allowed to act out one’s feelings. The staging of the self.

Jazz in postwar-jazz was the „sound of freedom“, symbol of individuality, a sign of optimism and of an unreserved commitment to the ideas of modernity. Above all improvisation was felt as embodiment for the „democratic dialogue“. The perfect sound for a newbuilt federal state searching for freedom, justice and fraternalism. Coming out of this generation is 75 year old tenor saxophonist Heinz Sauer, one of the most original voices of the Frankfurt jazz scene, established himself as an fiery player in the Albert Mangelsdorff Quintett and in the Jazzensemble of the Hessischer Rundfunk. He shaped an original tenor language out of the influences of Archie Shepp and John Coltrane. For him, jazz was by any means a music of protest by a younger generation against the older generation, which was mired in the time of national socialism.

Together with the younger piano player Michael Wollny Sauer creates a unique dialoge between different generations. This duo-unit doesn’t go for the great long solo, instead they are concentrating on musical miniatures, on sounding vignettes, it’s not about rhetorics and extended lines, it’s a search for depth in shortness. These brief statements are neverless charged with tremondous energy. Their motto: „Not the epic novel is the way, the way is the poem“.

In the fifties Germany was – regarding radio-big-bands – the land of milk and honey. Germanies radio big-bands developed to the backbone of germanies post-war jazz. This was due to the fact, that the country was divided into several different zones of occupation after World War II. Later the federal structure of the Bundesrepublik helped to establish many broadcasting stations. Almost each of them founded jazz or dance orchestra. In doing so nowhere else in Western Europe were so many Big-Bands established as in postwar-Germany in East and West.

Heinz Sauer

Today fewer big-bands exists. But striking is, how often unbiased and fresh these orchestras work stylistically. WDR-Big-Band (which won two grammies), NDR-Big-Band (an ensemlbe of highly indiviual players, more an ensemble of soloists than a conventional big band), the SWR-Big-Band (more conservative, concentrating on the more established forms of mainstream-jazz) and, last but not least, the HR-Bigband.

I want to give you an example of the highly original outlet of such a radio-big-Band. The HR-Big-Band worked togehter with DJ Illivibe (son of free jazz pianist Schlippenbach and member of rock group „Seed“) and with the elektronic-jazz-Trio Nu-Box (bass player Alois Kott and drummer Peter Eisold). The american bass trombonist Ed Partyka wrote the arrangements.

This is a very special meeting of an electronic band and the forced sound of a conventional-Big-Band. It’s not a fashion thing. The Big-Band doesn’t decorate ist mainstream-sounds with the devices from club-music. On the other hand hte electronic band doesn’t lust for the benedictions of high jazz art. Instead a real supporting connection between hard electronic grooves and the blowing canonades of a big-band is emerging. Sound machines and blowing riffs are organized in such a way that a real blend is achieved. No world takes away something from the other. Instead both bundle and concentrate their forces.

These ensembles not only serve as constant in the development of mainstream jazz and contemporary big-Band-sounds. They also develop new visions in orchestral jazz. The radio-Big-band still are an important backbone of the Germanies jazz scene.

Albert Mangelsdorff once said, that the strong impact that cool jazz made on him and on the German jazz generation in the 1950s had one reason. The point was the strong involvement of these musicians in the classical culture. Cool jazz had a classical touch, not so much in playing canons and fugues like the modern jazz quartet did. But much more it had a classical aesthic. Playing mellow and flowing, the strong accent on melody, and whispering rhythms. Strong contrapunctal playing, the enhancement of long flowing lines. This was joined by an elegant, refinded harmonic, and a restraint attitude conjured with the name „cool“.

To simplify: When German jazz musicans borrowed from American Cool Jazz, they borrowed only from themselves. And there is a social-aesthetic aspects Cool Jazz was a very good medium to get the smell of sweat and brothel out of jazz. The fight of jazz musicians for acceptance in Germanies post-war-culture was supported by the delicate, intellectual sounds of Cool Jazz.

These leads to another aspect. Cool jazz, Mangelsdorff critized, lacked somehow rhythmical freedom. Rhythmical strong expression. There was an easy reason for that: the drummers of German post-war-jazz were not masteres of the polyrhythmic art of african-american bebop-playing. In contrast they could go along with great cool-jazz--solist, by just tinkering and whistpering a discreet rhythm. Drummers didn’t disturb much in this light, soft music. The weak rhythm aspect was the factor, that forced Mangelsdorff to change style, he moved towards the expressive style of hard-bop and later to free jazz.

Cool Jazz had an aura of primness and snobism. Cool Jazz was anything but a stream of fashion turning out to be a public succeess. Instead cool jazz was the music of a minority, a sounds that really wanted to be listened to and was not appropriate for easy consumption.



Alexander von Schlippenbach

Many postwar jazz musicians prefered playing in the clubs of the american GIs. These clubs were segregated. Very popular among German jazz musicians were the black US-Clubs, because there was more freedom allowed in the playing. Frankfurt was the undisputed capital of german jazz in the sixties and seventies. Albert Mangelsdorff, Heinz Sauer and the Jazzensemble of the Hessischer Rundfunk were the leading protagonist of a blooming jazz scene in „Mainhatten“. In the 80s Frankfurt lost this standing as Germanies main jazz center. There are several factors for this devolepment. But the maybe most important reason for loosing the title „Germanies capital jazz city“ has to do with the fact, that Frankfurt didn’t establish an ongoing jazz university. This was in fact managed by citties like Cologne and Berlin – questioning the status of Frankurft as Germanies most important metropole of improvised music. Ironically the first „jazz class“ ever (world-wide) was founded in Frankfurt.

The „Dr. Hoch’sche Konservatorium“, where in 1927 a „jazzclass“ was formed. This chapter came to an abrupt end when the Nazis closed this school of popular music. As in the USA and in other european countries the 80s delivered a terrific upswing of jazz schools in Germany. Today there are at least 16 music conservatories with jazz studies in Germany.Jazz academics have their problems and limitations. But jazz academics doesn’t have to stand for crustification.

The jazz schools of Berlin and Cologne encourage their students to find an own voice, they are not so fixed on the canon of the technically fixed bebop-language. This is a lucky surrounding, since the Jazzstudiengänge are places where young improvising musicians can network, where they can exchange ideas and master their instrument in a competitive but supportive setting. The classes have replaced the jam session. One can lament this fact, but curious young players can learn often for the first time about jazz in the classrooms of jazz universities (since in regular German schools, music, and especially jazz and populary musics, are often neclegted).

An example of a highly creative musicians coming out of music schools is trombone player Nils Wogram.He phrases his instrument with an agility and effortlessness, which emnicpates the trombone from old role models. Secondly, he is swinging so furiously, that the old preconception that european jazz could only be limited in terms of rhythm is creatively unhinged. He phrases brillantly in a multistilistic manner,incorporating elements from Gyorgy Ligeti though via Ornette Coleman till Drum N’ Bass. Music not as a rag cut, but rahter as the idea of compacting and aggregation. In recent years he is experimenting with quarter-tones and the combination of jazz instrument with classical string instruments. Wogram studied for two years in New York at New School of Music and with Steve Turre, he studied classical trombone at the Musikhochschule Braunschweig.

Michael_Wollny

German free jazz – with „classical“ spontaneous improvisers like Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald and Alexander Schlippenbach – made a strong impression on the us-american scene for free improvised music. John Zorn, Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake were inspired by these improvisers.

There is a very active and vivid free music scene in Germany. Although this scene is hardly perceived by the media, it has a small, but very dedicated following. The international networking of this group of musicians is especially good, since it uses – because of the lack of interest of the print media and most broadcasting stations in Germany – the Internet as a tool to make contacts and exchange ideas with like-minded improvisers. Younger players as Axel Dörner or Frank Gratkowski or Carl „Ludwig“ Hübsch have a very good standing in international free music circles.

Axel Dörner explores alternative sounds on the trumpet by using different kinds of embochure, breathing and lip techniques and expanding them by filling up the sound with unusual textures and sounds. He fills up the coninuum of trumpet sounds so unconventionelly, that it sometimes appears as a kind of new electronic music. But Dörner has not to pay an electritiy bill for his playing – all sounds you hear were made unplugged (by using circular breathing techniques.

Besides that, Axel Dörner is a well-versed jazz player rooted in the Free-Bop-style and the Monk-aesthetic, playing in the Band of Alexander von Schlippenbach and the group „Die Enttäuschung“ (that means – translated – dissappointement).

The boom of vocal jazz didn’t keep out of Germanys way. There was no big vocal tradition in German jazz until the beginning of the nineties, but still after that the field of jazz singing began to blossom. Interestingly, the singing in German became more interesting for younger vocalist.

Berlin based vocal artist Michael Schiefel for instance choose deliberatly this kind of language, to find an own voice beyond the tradition of Frank Sinatra, Bobby McFerrin and Al Jareau. He pokes fun with the language: „Evertime I am singing German, I feel comical. Then I feel myself so teutonic. It is so hard and presice. Then I think immediately of „Hans“ and „Luise“. That appears immediately so important. This is wrong, and that is right. Then I feel myself so null, Thereby however I was so brave.“ He takes this hindering aspects as a challenge and has mastered an artful singing with electronic devices to an choir-like impression. And Roger Cicero, son of pianist Eugen Cicero, who studied jazz in the Nerthelands at Hilversum, sings as well in German, filling the big halls with his swinging pop-jazz.

Tom Gäbel concentrates very succesfully on a nostalgic Sinatra-diven Big-Band-singing.

Like many jazz vocalists Tuomis roots are more in the rock and pop tradition than in the bebop-continuum of the genre. Her father is Finn, her mother German, she grew up and lives in Germany. She was inspired by Sting, Tori Amos and Radiohead to sing. At the same time she studied at the Jazzstudiengang in Berlin.

She doesn’t identify with the soul-influenced, fluffy and cute singing of the scandinavian vocalist. In contrast she likes elegy and melancholy, inclines sometimes sinister and sad atmospheres. It’s a kind of improvised vocal music dismantlibg the boundaries between the classical, the jazzy folk and the rock. It are jazz oriented, poppy art songs. A drummerless chamber-jazz with flavours of romantic art songs, folk verses and subliminal rock grooves.

The German music tradition has more melancholy to offer than the Finnlandian, she says. „The Finnlandian I now are very frolicsome folks“.

Nils Wogram

Tuomi. This a trio, not at singer with a band. Carsten Daerr, Piano and Carlos Bica both compose for the band. The cynical 1990s brought a new development. Now the style was that nothing is a single style anymore. Take for instance Johnny La Marama, a Berlin based band with drummer Eric Schaeffer, guitarist Kalle Kalima and bassist Chris Dahlgren. This tro is feeded by the shared interest in the rock tradition and playing stylistically in mamy varied ways. Johny La Marama is an artificial character invented by the three musicans during boring car-drives to the next gig. „What is Johnny doing?“ is the question. And then it goes: „Oh, Johnny, that’s the Mafia guy living in New York, who always shoots himself in his own foot“. And then these crazy stories unfold: „Did you hear about Johnny? Yersterday Johnny sold crack to the kids at the playground, and his mother cheated him afterwards.“ The music of the Trio unfolds around such imaginary stories: Johnny as an astronaut meeting aliens, Johnny sitting with the Finns in an earth sauna and so on.

Johnny LaMarama plays with gloomy, angry sounds of elektronic landscape, it’s very sinister, multi-stilistic and energetic.

The German jazz scene has a tradition, that was seperated nationally for more than 40 years. From the end of World War II until the fall of the wall in 1990 we have to speak of two German jazz scenes, that had some similarities, but were otherwise completely different, socially, politically and aesthetically.

Wolfgang Muthspiel Trio

For instance the Free jazz in Eastern Germany was much more eclectic and stylistically variable than ist counterpart in West Germany, in Easstern Germany it had a stronger tendendy to integrate tonal passages and composed forms.

The hurdle run to the free playing proeeded in Eastern Germany much more difficult than for it’s Western counterpart. But it resultated in a relatively bold association of many different musical materials and methods. The free jazz-Scene in East Germany lived far less from an aesthetic of excluding. Thus the free jazz in the DDR showed far less „puristic“ elements than the free playing of their collegues in the West.

Jazz in the German Democratic Republic was seen from the political side as something which can be received in two different ways. On one hand it was the music of the class enemy, a degenerated music of the capitalist system, a „poison“ of the USA, infiltrating the mind of the socialist working class. On the other hand it was the music of an oppressed class, a „sound of protest“ and revolution. The cultural policy of the DDR oscillated between these two poles, never finding a fixed position.

That leads to an interesting question. The question of the roots of German jazz. Whereas italian and French improvisers show sometimes strong and vivid references to their folk traditions and their own regional musical history, German jazz musicians have diffuculties in doing that. They have a much more broken relationship to their folk roots. This is due to the disreputable occupation of the „Volkslieder“-tradition through the Nazis. Secondly, they don’t want to sound nationalistic.

Once the german bass player Dieter Ilg proposed his jazz project to the head of the Berlin JazzFest, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff. Ilg had adapted and arranged several German Volkslieder in a contemporary jazz trio setting with british drummer Steve Arguelles and Austrian guitar player Wolfgang Muthspiel. Mangelsdorff dismissed the project: „I know you are a fantastic bassist, and the playing is very good. But you can’t mix German Folk Songs with jazz after the Nazi period.“, Mangelsdorff said.

If Folk references nevertheless appear in German jazz, they do so often as broken elements, and then in an ironical or parodistic manner, like in Ulrich Gumperts workshop band 1989

Since the beginning of the nineties Berlin has become Germanies capital jazz city. The question is: Does something like a „Berlin sound“ exist? Is there a speciality of the jazz scene in Germanys capital city? Again, one must say, the Berlin jazz scene is so multifaceted and diverse, that it can’t be subsided under one aesthetic cateogry. Where plurality and variety reign, there can be no single prevelant aesthetic.

Gunter

Nevertheless you can spot tendencies and preponderances. The Berlin jazz scene has it’s own kind of modern touch, and it has an own sound. If you look at bands as „Der Rote Bereich“; Olaf Thon, Erdmann 2000, „Hyperactive Kid“ or „Kalle Kalima“. They tend to an energetic playing, in fast anguglar unisono themes, integrating free playing techniques, they tend to an absence of cantilena-like full melodic shapes. They have a special ironic and sometimes sarcastic humoristic wit. These Berlin jazz musicians have a predilection for unusual instrumentations, a lust for friction and a discomfort with the cliches of the bebop-tradition. Sometimes a somewhat ironcical, or even sarcastic humor comes along with these facets.

Once a very good sax player from Amsterdam went to Berlin, to exchange ideas in the jam sessions of the German capitol. She was especially fond of the sytles of the classical modern jazz tradition. To her own disappointment she couldn’t find a rhythm section that really mastered the bebop-style very well. All musicians seemed to be interested in other, more modern forms of playing, she complained. This must not be a disadventage. As the example of „Hyperactive Kid“ shows.

Rudi Mahall came from Nürnberg to Berlin, and he is an exponent of what I called the „Berlin Sound“, co-founder of the trio „Der Rote Bereich“, member of the bands of Aki Takase and „Die Enttäuschung“. He can himself express himself so completly on the bass clarinet, that he doesn’t have to blow another reed instrument, Rudi Mahall is one of the the few jazz musicians, who plays the bass clarinet not as a doubling instrument, but exclusively.

His harsh, gruff and humouros tone places the instrument out of the classical tradition of playing that instrument. In fact one of the biggest heroes of Mahall was baritone saxophone player Pepper Adams, whose aggressive hard-bop-style served as amodel for developing a highly individual bass clarinet style, playing a lot with angular rhythms, so called „odd“ sounds and vocalized tones.

The oneness of the Band „Der Rote Bereich“ is uniquce. Thsi Trio has an ability to play spontaneously with profound side blows on the style-pluralism of the nineties.

Important for all these Berlin groups is the work of Thelonious Monk and the free jazz aesthetic (especially early Ornette Coleman) in a stylistically multifaceted, open-minded jazz. If you ask: What happened with the jazz-scene of East Germany? What happened with the jazz of the German Democratic Republic? The answer is: it beared fruit in the Berlin Sound. It helped to stamp the Berlin Sound. The DDR-jazz had a special recklessness in dealing with stylistic material and a tendency to ironic allusions, qualities that live on in the younger Berlin jazz scene.

Plus, jazz in East Germany was not so very well rooted in the bebop tradition (it was hard to get the records). That contributed to the emergence of an independent jazz scene extraordinarily. With the „Wende“ the muscians in East Germany lost immediately not only their musical infrastructure over night, but also a huge part of the audience. For many fans they were the „Ersatz“ for stars like Miles Davis, Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett. Some musicians needed time to recover from the fall from the pedestal and learning the new rules of the market. On the other side: Now nobody needed an official paper (called „Pappe“, paperboard) to make music on a public stage.

Florian Weber

On one hand the old masters of the east-german free jazz like Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, Conny Bauer and Günter „Baby“ Sommer continued to play. On the other hand many new eastern player enriched and enriches the ongoing Berlin jazz szene. The Berlin jazz scene funtions like a magnet. More and more young players moved to Berlin since the beginnig of the 90s. Berlin may be the most important city in Germanys jazz. But besides that there are many regional centers like Cologne, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich and Stuttgart, due to the the federal system of the German republic.

The forte of the Berlin jazz scene is the fact, that the club scene of the City, the jazz academies and numerous musicians offer many possibilities for exchange and a niche for individuality.

One of the most interesting phenomenons of the ongoing jazz scene is the resurrenge of an very old and exquisite format: the comeback of the piano-trio. This internationally seen trend, has some strong points in German jazz playing. Musicians like Carsten Daerr Trio, Michael Wollny/Eva Kruse/Eric Schaefer „Trio Em“, the Florian Weber Trio „Minsarah“ or Florian Ross helped to expand the aesthetic of the piano trio.

Like Gwilym Simcock in London, like Yaron Herman in Amsterdam, like Jeff Neve in Bruxelles, these piano trios hark back to classical influences in their music. This phenomenon has it’s roots in a jazzeducation at european conservatories that is fundamental different to jazz education in the USA.

In sharp contrast to most american jazz universities and conservatories, where jazz and the classical departments are two strongly seperated worlds, in euopean music academies students are encouraged to study in both musical sectors. This leads to the situation, that more and more younger german jazz musicans rely on both elements in forming an indivial improvisational approach. An approach that represents an alternative to the dominating formalistic and technical-driven beobop-vocabulary.

You can perceive the rise of European jazz (the rise of a decided European jazz aesthetic) by hearing these trios. They reflect their own heritage and their stylistic highly individual and diverse likings. The tie to the classical tradition is always strong. It’s not a Third Stream kind of thing like in the 1950s. Not jazz on one hand, and classical music on the other hand, going somehow together. It’s a highly individual and competent melding of classical influences in a genuine jazz language.

Michael Wollny is one third of the collectively led piano-trio „em“. This group plays tunes, with a lot of different parts, not the standard-form, and even not the song-form. The challenge is, how can improvisers connect these multi-parted compositions, so that it makes a logical and reasonable musical meaning. Sometimes Trio Em sounds like – it’s composed music. But it’s improvised, it’s the result of a music that relies on spontaneity and the ability to listen to one and another and exchange ideas in a dialogue. Bringing Morton Feldman, Igor Strawinsky, Gyorgy Ligeti together in a moody, gloomy somehow „romantic“ jazz world. This is not easy to listen, but it it worth of it.

Michael Wollny develops his musical stories slowly, drummer Eric Schaefer called him „the last big romanticist“, who dedicates himself with love and devotion to the world of film and poetry. His musical thinking comes from the world of cinema, he develops his tunes to streethc out wide excitement curves, a thinking that comes from jazz.

Карстен Даерр

As Trio „em“ the Berlin based Carsten Daerr trio doesn’t sudside anymore under the regulative of a singular style. It plays with a leaning towards friction and the inharmonious.

Carsten Daerr is a thoroughbred-jazzer coming from classical music. He grew up in Berlin, played piano since the age of six. He has a classical background, and wanted to become a composer. As a kid he took deliberately poems from the Romantic period – he didn’t unterstand them, but he took them, and composed melodies in the style of Franz Schubert. By playing these tunes, he began to improvise over them. He heard Sting and played in Reggae bands. After discosvering Kenny Kirkland, he was inspired to improvise and study jazz.

One of the most interesting things about the new German jazz piano trio scene is the integration of improvisation and composition. What was seen formerly as antagonistic poles in the continuum of music – the written part of it, and the improvised part of it – merge more and more into another. In the Wollny trio „em“ or Carsten Daerr trio the improvised and composed parts are interlocked to such an extent, that it is sometimes difficult to say, which part was invented spontaneously and which part was notated before the playing.

Take for example the CD „Insomaniac Wonderland“ of Carsten Daerr. It contains tunes Daerr composed during a tour for the Goethe-Institute in Asia. He decided to compose a new tune in each asian megacity they went. These tunes were not meant as „programm music“, they reflected the typical atmosphere of the asian cites in a film-like way, like a soundtrack. The tune „Singapur“ forinstance is based on the interval of a fifth. Daerr felt the city of Singapur as a very clean urban enviroment, the fifth is a very clean, somehow sterile interval. At the same time he was fascinated by the quickness, the hustle and the smoothess of daily life in Singapur. He composed a canon, which melody he mirroed. He didn’t do this deliberatly. Afterwards he reckonized the images of the skyline of Singapur: the glass, the mirroing images, the reflecting light a.s.o.

Germanys jazz scene is extremely diverse and rich. German jazz musican are contributing and participating in building up an unique European jazz aesthetic. You can abstract it in four points:
- they interlace elements from completety different musical fields, incorporaating elements from the classical world in a genuine jazz conception.
- they dismantle the dividing wall between styles, genres and categories. This leads to a bold interaction with elements supposed to be „outside“ of the world of jazz: pop, world music etc.
- they can play virtuosic and solo-oriented, but they can also question the concept of soloing
- hey search for more integration of composition and improvisation, two musical concepts which are not anymore seen as antagonist concepts, but es two sides of the same medal. Since they know: each composing act has more or less a moment of improvisation in it, and each act of improvisation has more or less a moment of composing in it.
All these musician don’t dismiss the jazz tradition. They know: who doesn’t care about the legacy of Charlie Parker and who thinks, that jazz can be developed only out of the tradition of „Leipziger city fife“, ends – like the Trabant, an eastern automobile - in the section of curiosite.