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 http://goo.gl/maps/mjMgG, 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