The Power of Soul: Max Merseny live at Fischer’s Ammersee

power of soul, max merseny

Two and half hours of high-energy live playing outdoors at one of the finest beergardens around the vicinity, Fischer’s Ammersee, delivered to your ear drums by Max Merseny appearing with a 3-piece-band/trio also featuring Matthias Bublath on organ and Oscar Maria Graf on drums. The weather conditions were perfect for a relaxed Saturday afternoon with snacks, drinks, comfty lounge chairs and pillows, all this set against the breathtaking backdrop of the scenic view overlooking Ammersee from it’s northmost point Stegen.

It was great to see Max introduce the audience to his music and mc his way through their repertoire of original material with some interpretations of groove hits like e.g. “Can’t Hide Love” by Earth, Wind & Fire. “Performing as a trio is the supreme discipline”, says Max when mentioning to him during intermission that the trio sounds like a full band – thanks to Matthias Bublath’s efficient left hand work by which he replaced a bass player in the most authentic form possible in this setting and not shying away from hauling a real Leslie cabinet on stage in order to get a full sounding sonic experience. Oscar Maria Graf played a compact drum kit and kept a fierce, meticulous beat while grooving along with Max’s material, now spanning three albums of groove Jazz dipped with tinges of Hip Hop and Rap, usually delivered by Roger Rekless on the decks.

By the second set the audience spanning all ages couldn’t help but rock and bounce and swing and clap to the irresistible mélange of genres, while Max gave it his all with every single tune, never appearing to repeat a single melody pattern or line, always surprising with fresh scales and rhythms. It was pleasing to see his efforts being met with raw enthusiasm around the end of the second set (German audiences typically take a bit longer to open up to the artist… 🙂 ). To sum it up, it migh be safe to say that Max firmly put himself on the map with music loving beergarden patrons and is likely to be remembered by those who were lucky enough to attend a great outdoors concert. Here’s to many more such tour dates, leading up to his hosting of Munich Jazz Summer Week at Jazzclub Unterfahrt in September 2014, where Max will present his body of work including his latest album “Everlasting“. Don’t miss it!

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Max Merseny feat. Torsten Goods: A Musical K.O. – Right in the Face!

max merseny, torsten goods

My goodness, in my country boy’s innocent naiveté so thick you can cut it with a knife, I never saw this coming! How could I have even known for a split second that a bunch of young and young at heart Jazz crossover renegades would rob me – and with ease! – of my barely presevered inch of artistic self confidence only three songs into the concert, roll it into an imaginary doobie and suck it up their lungs backstage (only figuratively speaking, of course)? How was I supposed to see any of this coming in my post-post-post-puberty-like nervous anticipation? But let’s back up for a sec and create some context: What exactly had just happened?

Alright, we’re in the year 2012, stardate 09-06-12-09-00-pm-+2-GMT, at coordinates, which stand for internationally known and acclaimed Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Munich. On one of the cooler nights of the approaching fall season, a rather heterogenous demographic with mixed cultural preferences has gathered in the deep basement of Kulturzentrums Einstein, following a Facebook event invitation issued by Max Merseny and his posse of musical collaborators. Strictly speaking, each of these collaborators are musical heavyweights in their own right, who look back on a considerable number of renowned projects they have worked on or are currently a part of. For one, we have Christoph Holzhauser on drums, who currently works the drumsticks with Moop Mama, calls the beat with Matthias Bublaths Groove Connection, drums with Jazz in the City and is a highly sought after session and studio drummer. Claus Fischer, who travelled to Munich’s “Jazz Summer Week” from his current city Cologne, provided the deep notes on the bass and has largely come to national fame for his work with TV studio band of Stefan Raab’s “TV Total” show. He has also worked with Anastacia, Kylie Minogue, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie and many more international artists and is also an internationally working music producer and studio musician. Guitar wiz Ferdinand Kirner, who has also worked with nationally and internationally known acts.  whom we have in particular seen working with Max Herre (German HipHop-/Soul-/R&B producer and artist), Roberto Di Gioia, Samy Deluxe etc., completed the rhythm section and lived up to his reputation as a most versatile as well as musically experienced sideman, but who was also given the opportunity to showcase his skills as a sophisticated soloist with this formation. Matthias Bublath, who next to numerous of his own projects is also in high demand as studio musician and arranger, worked the Hammond B3 organ, piano and keyboards. While having lived in New York for seven years, he managed to establish himself in the Jazz scene there and thus caught the attention of Funk legend Mike Clark and Tower of Power-sax player Lenny Picket. Other than head of the band Max Merseny, who won the audience over from the first few bars both with charming emceeing and energetic solos, DJ, rapper, freestylin’ MC Roger Rekless worked the decks and found his way into listeners’ hearts right away with his impromptu rhyhmes – all of this set against the backdrop of an apparently sold out venue. And although Max Merseny seemed to mumble something about “warming up”, they hit it right off with the audience from the moment they got on stage – and in ya face!

As if it hadn’t been enough to process this richly filled musical package of energy, passion and groove, these guys put yet another log in the fire upon the second set: Guitar player and singer extraordinaire Torsten Goods, who had travelled from Berlin and whose list of references is equally well-stacked with internationally acclaimed artists, sort of channeled the musical essence of a young George Benson, a Biréli Lagrène, Norman Brown and more top-of-the-line guitar artists and fused them into a blend of his own. Although each of the well-merited musical “alpha males” on stage claimed their presence, Torsten managed to win stage and audience over for himself from the first notes he played. Musical ingenuity and pure energy bubbled from his solos by which he warmed himself up, playing along to a song from Max’s debut album “Thank Y’all”, and having arrived at maximum operation temperature no later than with “Weekend in L.A.“. This blast of talent and musicianship had me almost lose my composure! Was it possible you could top this? Sure thing! And they did by delivering a cover version of Toto’s classic “99”, chock full of groove and delicate rhythmics, which gave Torsten an opportunity to show off not only his skills as an instrumentalist, but his vocal wizardry, too, where his musicianship manifests again in a fashion that marries self confidence to a surprising measure of experience and technical finesse considering his young age. And needless to add that the glances from the female part of the audience in the direction of the stage confirmed his stage presence as reaching out to even the most remote seats in an apparently sold out “Unterfahrt”.

All of this goes to show that present guests witnessed an exceptional musical event and not only so by e.g. one of Max’s first mentors Axel Kühn, who payed homage to his musical protegée with a touching announcement and stressing his words through virtuoso musical onstage contributions to “The 4th”, another song of Max’s album. Their mutual respect climaxed in a musical “four by four battle of the saxes” later into the song. Even Jazz celebrities like e.g. Pete York of “superdrumming” as well as music journalist Oliver Hochkeppel, who writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung and JazzZeitung, wouldn’t have missed to check out Max Merseny’s band of musical aces.

If you got a chance, don’t miss out on the closing night of Summer Jazz Week at Unterfahrt, Munich. You’ll surely be rewarded with a concert, which is in a class of its own. To place a reservation go directly to Unterfahrt’s web site or show up on a wing and prayer. For more information on the artists, follow the links above or via this list below:

Images of photographer Lena Semmelroggen with her unique way of portraying live music events will follow. Lena’s references include an exhibition of her work at Jazzclub Unterfahrt as well as feature reports in Sueddeutsche Zeitung and SZ Magazin.

And now for the fabulous images from Lena Semmelroggen’s lense:

©wesbound, September 2012, all rights reserved

Max Merseny feat. Torsten Goods: Musikalische Breitseite – voll auf die Zwölf!

Max Merseny, Torsten GoodsMeine Herrschaften, damit hatte ich in meiner meterdicken Unschuld-vom-Lande-Naivität nicht gerechnet! Dass mir eine handvoll junger und junggebliebener Jazz-crossover-Renegades den mühsam genährten Rest an künstlerischem Selbstvertrauen nach spätestens drei Nummern im Konzert in die imaginäre Tüte rollen und – metaphorisch gesprochen – backstage durch die Lungenflügel ziehen, hatte ich in meiner post-post-post-pubertären Vorfreude doch nicht ahnen können! Aber eins nach dem anderen: Was war hier passiert? OK, wir schreiben das Jahr 2012, Sternzeit 06-09-12-21-00-+2-GMT, Koordinaten im international bekannten und geschätzten Jazzclub Unterfahrt in München. An einem der schon etwas kühler gewordenen Abende des heraufziehenden Herbstes hat sich ein demographisch und nach kulturellen Präferenzen reichlich heterogenes Publikum im Kellergeschoß des Kulturzentrums Einstein eingefunden, um auf die u.a. per Facebook publizierte Einladung Max Mersenys und seiner “posse” talentierter Mitstreiter zu reagieren. Genau genommen sind die Mitstreiter selbst allesamt echte musikalische Schwergewichte, die auf eine stattliche Zahl namhafter Projekte zurückblicken und/oder daran beteiligt sind. Da hätten wir zum einen Christoph Holzhauser an den Drums, der derzeit u.a. bei Moop Mama die Drumsticks schwingt, in Matthias Bublaths Groove Connection den Beat angibt, bei Jazz in the City drummt und auch sonst als Session- und Studiodrummer bestens gefragt ist. Die tiefen Töne lieferte während der “Summer Jazz Week” der aus Köln angereiste Bassist Claus Fischer, den man u.a. aus der TV-Total-Band bei Stefan Raab kennt, der aber auch schon mit Anastacia, Kylie Minogue, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie und vielen anderen internationalen Künstlern zusammengearbeitet hat, sowie als Musikproduzent und Studiomusiker international tätig ist. Die Rhythmusgruppe komplettierte der ebenfalls bereits mit national und international bekannten Acts arbeitende Gitarrist Ferdinand Kirner, den man zusammen mit Max Herre, Roberto Di Gioia, Samy Deluxe als überaus vielseitigen und erfahrenen sideman erleben durfte, der aber in dieser Formation auch zeigen konnte, welche solistischen Qualitäten in ihm stecken. An der Hammond B3, Piano und Keyboards sass der den Münchner Jazz-Connaisseuren bestens bekannte und vertraute Matthias Bublath, der neben seinen eigenen Projekten ebenfalls als Studiomusiker und Arrangeur gefragt ist und sich während seines siebenjährigen Aufenthalts in New York auch dort einen Namen zu machen wusste, so dass Funklegende Mike Clark und der Tower of Power Saxofonist Lenny Picket auf ihn aufmerksam wurden. Neben Bandleader Max Merseny, der mit seinen charmanten Ansagen und energiegeladenen Soli das Publikum gewissermassen vom ersten Takt an für sich gewinnen konnte, hatte DJ, Rapper, MC und Freestyler Roger Rekless an den Decks und mit seinen Impromptu-Rhymes sofort einen Stein im Brett beim Publikum in der voll besetzten Unterfahrt. Und obwohl Max Merseny irgendetwas von “warm spielen” erzählte, ging das vom ersten Moment an ab – und zwar voll auf die Zwölf! Als wäre diese fette musikalische Packung an Energie, Leidenschaft und Groove nicht schon heftig genug zu verdauen gewesen, legten die Jungs ab dem zweiten Set nochmal kräftig nach: Dem aus Berlin angereisten und ebenfalls mit internationalen Meriten reich ausgestatteten Supertalent Torsten Goods an der Gitarre und Gesang, der gewissermassen die Essenz eines George Benson, Biréli Lagrènes, Norman Browns und anderer hochkarätiger Gitarrenkünstler der Musikgeschichte in sich vereint, gelang es auf Anhieb und trotz der anwesenden und bereits hochverdienten musikalischen “Alphatiere”, Bühne und Publikum vom ersten Ton an für sich einzunehmen. Mit vor Einfallsreichtum und Spielfreude strotzenden Soli spielte er sich zu dem Song “Thank Y’all” von Max Mersenys Debütalbum warm, um dann spätestens bei “Weekend in L.A.” zu absoluter Top-Form aufgelaufen zu sein, die dem Autor dieses Beitrags beinahe die Gesichtszüge entgleiten liessen… Kann man das noch toppen? Man kann, und zwar mit einer vor Groove und Feinrhythmik geladenen Coverversion des Toto-Klassikers “99”, bei der Torsten zeigen konnte, dass er nicht nur ein Instrumentalist von Weltklasseformat ist, sondern ein ebenso begnadeter Sänger, dessen Musikalität sich auch hier in einer Weise manifestiert, die Selbstvertrauen gepaart mit einem für seine Jugend überraschenden Maß an Erfahrung und technischer Finesse offenbart. Und natürlich verrieten auch die Blicke der Damen, dass Torstens Bühnenpräsenz sich bis auf den letzten Platz der offenbar ausverkauften Unterfahrt mitteilte. Dass die Anwesenden hier Zeugen einer Ausnahmeveranstaltung wurden, zeigte sich nicht zuletzt in der Ehrerbietung eines von Max’ ersten Mentoren, Axel Kühn, der seiner Freude über den Erfolg seines musikalischen Schützlings in einer persönlichen Ansage aufrichtigen Ausdruck und seinen Worten mit virtuosen Beiträgen zu einem weiteren Song von Max Album The 4th dann in Form eines “four by four battle of saxes” nochmal musikalischen Nachdruck verlieh. Und auch Jazz-Prominenz wie z.B. der von Superdrumming bekannte Schlagzeuger Pete York sowie Kulturjournalist Oliver Hochkeppel, der für seine Beiträge u.a. in der Süddeutschen Zeitung und JazzZeitung  bekannt ist, liessen es sich nicht nehmen, Max Mersenys Superband einmal eingehender “abzuchecken”. Wer noch Gelegenheit hat, darf sich den heutigen Ausklang der Summer Jazz Week in der Unterfahrt keinesfalls entgehen lassen und wird zweifellos mit einem Konzert der absoluten Extraklasse belohnt werden. Reservierungen am besten direkt mit der Unterfahrt hier klarmachenoder auf gut Glück reinschauen. Weitere Informationen zu den einzelnen Musikern hinter den Links im Text sowie hier noch einmal gesammelt:

Es folgen noch Bilder von Lena Semmelroggen, die sich mit ihrer unverwechselbaren Art der Livemusik-Fotografie schon eine Fotoausstellung in der Unterfahrt sowie Berichte in der Süddeutschen Zeitung und dem SZ-Magazin sichern konnte.

Und  hier nun die fantastischen Bilder aus Lena Semmelroggens Objektiv:

©wesbound, September 2012, alle Rechte vorbehalten

Sax Prodigy Max Merseny at “Unterfahrt” Munich

This is my little teaser blog on Max Merseny, whom I’m going to see perform live at renowned Jazz club “Unterfahrt” in Munich, Germany, this Thursday night in a series of concerts entitled “Summerweek”. I’m hoping for Lena Semmelroggen to be available, too in order to capture the vibe with her extraordinary eye for those unique little moments on stage and backstage that bring humanity, humour and lightheartedness to a genre that is often portrayed in rather stern ways. As a special treat, another Jazz shooting star will join Max on Wednesday through Saturday: Torsten Goods, a guitar prodigy of equal musical caliber.

Though still young of age, Max already looks back on a career that packs names, schools and projects, which would have lasted others almost an entire life time by now. Growing up in a musical family with his father being a singer and guitar player in many popular orchestras in his day, Max had the opportunity to take piano lessons and attend music schools from very early on. But it wasn’t until 1999 when Max would discover the saxophone for himself while being a student at Pestalozzi Grammar School of Music. While attending lectures there, he studied with renowned masters like e.g. Ingo Erlhoff, Axel Kühn, Peter Kral and Leszek Zadlo. After having graduated from Middle School in 2004, Max was accepted into Munich Academy of Drama and Music – at only 16 years of age. He studied with musicals greats such as Thomas Zoller, Tony Lakatos and Paulo Cardoso in the following years. After having graduated and obtained his musical Diploma in 2008, he became a student of Georg Huebner’s master class while at the same time taking frequent educational trips to New York, where he was being tutored by Jazz veterans ranging from no lesser a man than Bob Franceschini to Gregoire Maret, Steve Slagle and Barry Harris. However, New York wasn’t of high appeal to Max for its rich Jazz tradition only, but also for being the cradle of a newly emerging, revolutionary music culture called HipHop. Next to Soul and R&B, HipHop is Max’s second passion, which he developed and studied from the bottom up. So it might not come as too big a surprise that Max had an opportunity to work and share the stage with a number of nationally as well as internationally acclaimed HipHop acts like e.g. Umi, Roger Rekless, 4zu1, Raggasnoda Click, Main Concept, Boshi San and others. As an ambassador of Soul, Max toured mostly nationally with the “Delicious Groove Gourmets” or the “Capones”. But the list of renowned Jazz stars Max has worked with doesn’t fall behind too far: Patrick Scales, Michael Riessler, Till Brönner, Robby Ameen, Pierre Charial, Leslie Mandoki Soulmates and Manuel Orza to name only a few.

Appearing on enja Records, Max Merseny released his debut album “Thank Y’all” in September 2011, which sports guest appearances by his musician friends Tony Lakatos, Patrick Scales, Roger Rekless and many more. Favourably inclined listeners had been looking forward to a unique blend of Jazz, Soul and HipHop. But while his debut album has been here for barely a year, Max has already set out to new frontiers. He currently resides in New York to work on new material. Jam sessions with such exceptional artists like Ron Grant, Alex Han, Ron Long, Ezra Brown and many more have already yielded inspired and inspiring musical encounters that will have his audiences on their toes as to what Max Merseny’s future releases hold.

For more info and music, find Max at his own website and on Facebook.

Translated from the German by wesbound, September 2012