The music scene in Berlin is particularly fertile, and I am fortunate to play with a great number of fantastic players here, far too many to mention. In addition I have a few projects on the go in Canada, so I am kept happily busy, often wishing I had more time for each of them. Here are some of the highlights.
a duo with violin (and mandolin) originality virtuoso Ulli Barthel, a fixture of Berlin for the last 20 years. This group should really be seen to be experienced, humour is always lurking under the surface, and the cliché expect the unexpected fully applies. From free jazz to Bavarian folk songs to entirely fresh interpretations of Beethoven, we are two wild and crazy guys….
hear: mp3 sample
groupe du jour
this also hearkens back to Pomp, where for years we played a set of dance music after the show, and sort of dressed 70s style (really sort of). We have a fun repertoire and had a gas playing it, this band is the Quacktones plus trumpeter Martin Auer, and either Andrea Zanaboni or Kristina Tuomi singing, and now Bob Don as well. We actually performed for close to one million people at the unveiling of the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, October 2002, quite exciting. We also perform classical music with a violinist, and traditional jazz, making us a pretty useful and entertaining group for galas, shows, etc. Recently we played at the Ritz Carlton in Bahrain, a grand success really, we played everything from Hello Dolly to a set of Elvis songs- what could be more entertaining?
a saxophone, bass and drums trio, modeled loosely after Sonny Rollins meets Stevie Wonder, which has never been done in this setting- that we have heard in any case. James Scannell on fat sounding tenor, and the ever solid and grooving drummer Marcin Lonak. We have a cd’s worth of material recorded, too soul-cheese-rock for jazz purists and too jazzy for RnB rockers, but the music is fun as hell to play and that is the point.
hear: mp3 sample
Created out of the desire to provide intuitive, meditative, inspired music, without using any technologically derived sources; the music breathes, lives and loves in real time. It works equally well for background music, massage, or for active listeners seeking inspiration.
a collaboration with Canadian Sitarist (also Oud and fretless guitarist) Edward Powell. We met briefly in Canada before he left on yet another trip to India, wishing we could develop our strong musical connection, and I then moved to Germany. Funny thing is, he ended up in Prague and we formed a band straight away with tablist/drummer Emil Heyrovsky and produced a CD in Prague, “Fresh”.
hear: mp3 sample
a singer songwriter from Saskatchewan with whom I hooked up with in January 2003 in Victoria, as a result of a recommendation from the producer Joby Baker, to record her debut album. She is a truly awesome talent, and we have managed to squeeze in a few small tours which only served to further our interest in continuing this project together. As a bassist she allows so much creative freedom, since she is an excellent jazz singer with perfect pitch, and has an extraordinary sense of rhythm to boot, that I feel this is a perfect combination of melodic focus and musical challenge. So far we have been working mostly in a trio setting with sensitive drummer extraordinaire Kelby McNair.
for more on Anne visit her website: anneschaefer.com
a band I originally co-founded in my kitchen with Marc Atkinson and featured myself on violin, and Marc on accordion - we wanted to play down home folk music, and get away from the instruments we were supposedly taking so seriously. It was enormous fun, and consequently (despite my fiddling) we sounded good and people loved it. I moved to Hamburg, they kept going, and basically tried to keep that original, positive energy, as well as terrific playing and singing. Soon they were one of the hottest Canadian folk bands, tearing up the festivals, putting out excellent, Juno nominated cds, and touring like mad all over the place. Eventually the long time bassist Glen manders wanted out, to pursue his career as a Gynacologist ( I think), and they asked me to jump in.
for more on the bills visit their website : thebills.ca
scott white quartet
The Scott White Quartet blends the sounds of composed imagination with an ensemble sound steeped in free-flowing improvised music. Seemlessly blending influences of free-jazz, rock, world music and classical the scott White Quartet is a a tour-de-force of conceptual creative ensemble playing at its best. Created from the inspiring chemistry of bassist Scott White, saxophionist Roy Styffe, trumpet player Alfons Fear and drummer Kelby MacNayr. The electrifying group energy unfolds from a shared language with the added fire of creating new lexicon from the rich ashes of the old. Scott draws four unique and powerful musical voices together under his own leadership to explore and fully realize compositions, forms and structures of his own compositions.