Music

Young German Jazz

The current German jazz scene is livelier and more multi-faceted than ever before. Four of the most interesting musicians in the scene are the trombonist Nils Wogram, the percussionist Jochen Rückert, the pianist Florian Ross, and the guitarist Frank Möbus.

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Author: Katja Duregger
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Except for Möbus, who studied from the mid- to the end of the 1980's in Boston, the other three profited from what has become excellent jazz instruction in German musical conservatories. This improved level of training has considerably increased the number of quality jazz musicians active in the country today.

Jazz instruction in particular in German music conservatories has made a lot of progress in recent years. Not long ago, the experimental E-guitarist Frank Möbus was named as the head of the jazz department at the Weimar Music Conservatory, where he strongly promotes the develop-ment of individual artistic talents. Nils Wogram endeavors with his music to reach a balance between intellect and emotion. His roots reach from Arnold Schönberg to Miles Davis. The complexity of his compositions is not intended to lead to intellectual abstractions, but rather to have humor and rhythm. In his music, Florian Ross relies on traditional jazz for his inspiration, adding a lot of humor in the process. A song, according to Ross, has to be good, pleasant to the ears, and not need to be analyzed in detail before it is understood. These musicians in no way conform to the clichés so often associated with German jazz in the past.

In the last 15 years, a number of German music conservatories have developed first class jazz training programs. At the forefront of these schools is the Cologne Conservatory of Music. In addition to Nils Wogram, Jochen Rückert, and Florian Ross, other important contemporary jazz musicians who have studied in Cologne include the bassist André Nendza, and the vibraphonist Christopher Dell.

Until recently, the main focus of the education was on learning to play solid jazz standards. However, things are now changing. Curricula have been reconceived, offering more artistic and experimental seminars. Other institutions, such as the FRANZ LISZT Conservatory of Music in Weimar, are increasingly encouraging individual development, no longer concentrating entirely on the learning of general skills.

A weak point in the German jazz scene up to now has been the weak connections and communication between the jazz scenes in the various cities. There is the Berlin scene, the Cologne scene, the Munich scene, and so forth, but they all have had little or nothing to do with one another. The result is that musicians are known locally, yet find it very difficult to get national attention. In order to help alleviate this problem and to promote international exchange, the first annual trade fair, "jazzahead", will be held in Bremen in 2006. It will bring together all of the important representatives of the jazz scene, including record labels, clubs, sponsoring institutions, and musicians.
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2006
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