A spirited free-thinker and committed non-conformist, saxophonist-composer Shawn Maxwell is clearly courting another kind of muse. “Jackie McLean and Cannonball Adderley are two of my heroes, and I guess you probably wouldn’t even think of it listening to me play. But I’ve transcribed them and been influenced hugely by them. I love Cannonball. But I’m not gonna be Cannonball.”


Be Satisfied and Happy with Yourself
When Wes Montgomery travelled to Hamburg from London in April of 1965 he was most probably accompanied by the saxophonist Ronnie Scott – in whose already prestigious club the guitarist had performed a few days earlier, together with the pianist Stan Tracey, bassist Rick Laird and drummer Ronnie Stephenson. Quite likely the last one of the musicians just mentioned was also on the flight to Hamburg – in those days Stephenson was almost the drummer-of-choice of the NDR Bigband (which was still called “Studioband” back then). Maybe even all four gentlemen were on the plane together. Ronnie Ross, another saxophonist joined in straight from England with almost all the arrangements written for a very special concert: on April 30 the 39th NDR-Jazzworkshop took place at NDR’s Hamburg broadcasting hall.


The Story Of A Great Band

With Discipline and Precision
About ten metres below the stage of the large broadcasting hall, or “Großer Sendesaal“, in the catacombs of the Cologne broadcasting centre a treasure of jazz music was hidden for decades, which I am delighted to be able to present to you now on three CDs.

In April 1957 the new jazz orchestra of Kurt Edelhagen started to practise in the above mentioned wood-panelled broadcasting hall. Since then this stage was rehearsal room, recording studio and venue for the orchestra to meet with renowned European and American improvisers. The results of these studio and concert recordings were then stored as analogue documents – hidden deep down – in the archives of the West German Broadcasting Corporation (WDR). More than three thousand individual tracks and concert recordings offer a fascinating glimpse on the history of the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra. With increasing fame and the numerous tours the name of the ensemble was changed to: The Kurt Edelhagen All Star Band.



Play just one note and I know who you are. It is often the unique own sound of an instrumentalist that gives him or her away – not only in blindfold tests, where recordings by unnamed musicians are played and the audience, often musicians themselves, have to figure out the names of the artist and the composer. In the case of Ack van Rooyen this is an easy game, even for an amateur jazz-loving audience. His sound is so distinctive that a few seconds are sufficient to identify the artist without any doubt.
It is a warm sound with a touch of melancholy – aspects that also characterise the human being Ack van Rooyen. “Maybe it is all related. As a musician you have a particular sound, just the way you have a particular voice as a human. Performing music it quite similar to singing: You have got a distinctive voice or you haven’t. You can improve it, but you cannot really change it.“
The fluegelhorn is the ideal instrument for Ack. That’s what Jerry always used to say about is younger brother. While the sound of other trumpeters and fluegelhornists tends to deteriorate with age, he is still going strong even at the age of ninety. Nothing proves this in a more impressive way than his new album, 90.



Bob Mintzer has the knack. Whether he picked it up during his brief stint in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, his two year tenure with the Buddy Rich Big Band or his stretch with Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth Big Band, the tenor sax great nurtured his instincts for orchestration and contrapuntal motion through the ‘70s and early ‘80s. His first endeavor as a leader of his own large ensemble came in 1983 when he debuted his big band at the Brecker Brothers’ popular New York City nightclub, Seventh Avenue South. Mintzer would later hone his big band arranging chops during a very fertile period with the DMP label that produced 11 acclaimed large ensemble recordings, beginning with 1985’s Incredible Journey and culminating with 2003’s Gently. By the time he took the reigns as chief conductor of the WDR Big Band Cologne in 2016, you could say that his knack for big band writing and arranging was deeply ingrained in his DNA.

Dave Liebman - Richie Beirach

Five Improvised Soundscapes 2016-2020

Jazz, it is often said, is a community, a family of relationships, built on the strength of common experience. As the solidity of those relationships increase over time, the music matures and reflects that sense of mutuality—a palpable feeling of respect, dedication, and shared freedom resulting in performances of lasting freshness: conversations between like-minded souls. Yet jazz—especially in the modern era—is equally known for creative associations that do not last long, as the push for individual development rarely works in equal force or along parallel lines.


WDR BIG BAND COLOGNE conducted by Magnus Lindgren

Dutch Singing Sensation Fay Claassen Joins Belgian Singer-Composer-Lyricist David Linx and the WDR Big Band Cologne on And Still We Sing

The greatest diva of the Netherlands, Fay Claassen, joins forces with gifted Belgian singer-composer-lyricist and longtime Parisian David Linx on And Still We Sing, a magnificent collaboration with the WDR Big Band, conducted by Magnus Lindgren. The title of this reunion of Claassen and Linx (they sang together on 2005’s One Heart, Three Voices) is a paraphrase of one of Maya Angelou’s most famous poems: “…And Still I Rise.” Claassen brings her crystal clear delivery and adventurous scatting chops to the program, blending beautifully and organically with Linx, a singular talent who has gained notoriety throughout Europe while still flying under the radar on the United States jazz scene. Produced by WDR tenor saxophonist (and Claassen’s husband) Paul Heller, And Still We Sing features stellar big band arrangements by Heller, Lindgren, Bob Mintzer and Michael Abene.



It all started by chance: Sometime in 2017 one of those innumerable promo-CDs ended up on my desk. Renowned jazz label, on the cover a young woman with a trumpet. Andrea Motis? Never heard that name before! My first verdict was: another marketing scam. Was the idea to use a young and attractive musician to help an ailing industry giant attract a new audience? This strategy is well known from the classical music industry, but it did not always deliver the hoped-for results. Despite these reservations I listened in and was most pleasantly surprised. I experienced a self confident musician with a pronounced latin feeling, expressive voice and imaginative trumpet playing. An apparent talent for songwriting was also part of the mix. Andrea has paired four of her own compositions with pieces by such luminaries as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Cole Porter and Horace Silver. 

Peter Materna

w/ Lisa Wulff and Silvan Strauß

The Kiss

For Peter Materna, the early morning is the best time to compose. It is when his thinking is at its clearest, when feelings are at their most genuine and reliable, before the pressures and stresses of daily life have set in. It is a time of day when the saxophonist from Bonn is often to be found in his small composing room, poring over manuscript paper, sketching out elements of new music which at some later stage will either be recorded in a studio or performed live.

There was one daybreak in particular when he was going through his normal process of fine-tuning a piece, changing a phrase in the melody here, shifting the rhythm a little there, dropping another note into a chord...when, suddenly, the door opened. Materna's wife came into the room and gave her husband a good morning kiss. The intimacy of that moment, the naturalness and tenderness of the gesture touched Materna deeply. In that instant, he not only knew what the piece he was working on was going to be called, but also realised he had the title of the full album for which it would serve as the opening track: "The Kiss".


God Is A Drummer


Throughout his illustrious career, master drummer and world music pioneer Trilok Gurtu has stood at the confluence of where Indian classical music, Western jazz and funk, African music and Brazilian music meet. It’s been part of his modus operandi for five decades — making music that defies easy categorization.

On God Is Drummer, his 20th recording as a leader, the uncommonly open-minded musician pays tribute to some fallen colleagues and role models who have guided and inspired him along the way.


Chunks and Chairknobs

It’s only natural that pianist Jim Beard and guitarist Jon Herington would strike the kind of special accord heard throughout this intimate duo encounter. They’ve shared countless hours in the studio over the years playing on each other’s albums, beginning with Beard’s 1990 debut Song of the Sun and continuing through to Herington’s 2016 album Adult Entertainment. They’ve worked together as sidemen on recordings by bassist Victor Bailey, saxophonists Bill Evans and Bob Berg, drummer Dennis Chambers and brothers Michael and Randy Brecker. And they’ve shared the bandstand on tour with Steely Dan for the past several years...



conducted by Bob Mintzer

Live at the Philharmonie, Cologne

A charter member of the three-time Grammy Award winnig, internationally acclaimed group Snarky Puppy, voted Jazz Group of the Year in the 2017 DownBeat Readers Poll, keyboardist Bill Laurance has also been operating outside the confines of that wildly popular genre-bending jazz and funk collective.



Husband & Wife Team of Randy Brecker and Ada Rovatti Join Forces on New CD
Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond Scheduled for Fall release on JAZZLINE

There’s a saying that ‘the family that plays together, stays together.’ That old adage is put into effect on Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond, which not only features the husband and wife team of Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and fusion pioneer Randy Brecker and saxophonist-composer Ada Rovatti but also includes their 10-year-old daughter Stella in a vocal cameo appearance on one track



feat. Etienne Mbappe, Wolfgang Haffner & WDR Big Band Cologne, arranged and conducted by Michael Abene

The Cologne Stadtgarten venue was crammed that mid-February eve in 2011. A very special concert was scheduled for the night – and the audience did arrive in crowds at the Stadtgarten in Cologne to be part of this rare opportunity. The American saxophonist Bill Evans was in town to perform with the WDR Big Band. The crowd’s anticipation of a sublime live-concert made the air crackle with excitement. The temperature was rising quickly and the vibe was getting better and better.



This release celebrates the 50th year anniversary of Lieb and I meeting, playing and recording our music together. It has been an amazing run and happily is still ongoing, stronger than ever. This Eternal Voices recording is very special even for us. We chose to use short but very powerful masterpieces of classical music from Bach to Schoenberg as a format for our improvisations.



On The Way To The Sky

Sag mir, wie du heißt, und ich sag dir, wie und was du spielst.

Namen von Musikern können wie ein ästhetisches Programm sein. Ad hoc ordnen wir ihnen Klänge oder Stile zu. Dass wir beim Namen Bob Brookmeyer nicht gleich an avancierte, „neutönerische“ Musik denken, ist – obwohl er uns einiges davon hinterlassen hat - so verwunderlich nicht. 



At the end of August 2015 the WDR Big Band ignited an impressive acoustic fireworks of African timbres and rhythms at the Cologne Philharmonic. The guests were Mokhtar Samba, drums, his son Reda Samba, percussion, Rhani Krija, percussion, Henry Dorina, electric bass, Woz Kaly, vocals and Jean-Philippe Rykiel, keyboard. The pieces were arranged by Michael Mossmann, who also in charge of this major project. The music is presented by Mokhtar Samba: it is about vibrant rhythms and hypnotising melodies.


Exhibition Continues

A longtime rhythmic right hand man for bass great Marcus Miller, as well as a reliable sideman to the likes of Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Angelique Kidjo and Al Jarreau, drummer Poogie Bell showcases another side of his musicality on Exhibition Continues. An eclectic outing that features the Pittsburgh native stretching into some ambitious territory that goes well beyond strict pocket playing.




Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, George Mraz, Adam Nussbaum, John Scofield

This recording, done in 1989 in New York City at Clinton Studios demonstrates some of the  essence of what was happening at that time in the New York jazz community.

Mike and Randy Brecker, Scofield, Adam and George Mraz were my close friends. We did not necessarily meet or speak every day but there was a constant connection. When we did see each other it was very intense and usually centered around a pending performance or a recording...



Brecker is still one of the best trumpet players in the world. “You must never stop to devote yourself to your musical instrument of choice. Also, I would not know what to do without my trumpet. Of course, there are moments when I am tempted to throw it out of the window, however, if the instrument sounds the way you intended, it is a great joy!” You can tell: Randy rocks. They all rock. Rocks rocks!


Thinking Out Loud

The high art of modern composition, in jazz and beyond

As good as new

When did it actually begin? And with whom? With which compositions? Suddenly they no longer had much (or anything at all) to do with the classical principles of songs composed, say, in the times of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Developed primarily for films or Broadway shows, the melodies and harmonies of their verses and choruses were immediately recognizable, and with a little practice could be sung even by amateurs.



Undoubtedly, PBUG, the UK’s hottest Funk sensation, are at the forefront of the New Wave of Funk & Soul. Since its formation in 2008 the band has been taking the UK Funk scene by storm, building a loyal fan base, again and again sweeping reviewers off their feet in a blitz of energy, showmanship and ferocious musical talent.



For centuries, the world's best musicians have built bridges between cultures. They cross borders, blur lines between our similarities and differences, and bring us closer together with their artistic courage. They play. We listen. As we sway to exotic rhythms, we unite. Musical bridges create harmony through shared understanding.



Chuck Loeb, Mitchel Forman, Wolfgang Haffner

w/ WDR Big Band Cologne, arr. and cond. Bby Michael Abene 

Once upon a time there was a Canadian supermarket chain called LOEB, which was eventually acquired by METRO group. However, it was not this real-life friendly take-over which inspired a guitarist called LOEB to name a band-project METRO…