Week two brought a colourful mix of styles. New faces, old faces, and one face, in particular, that was quite famous in Germany. All-aboard the Jazztube…
It might seem at first consideration that the bands playing at Bonn Main Station have an advantage over the others where voting is concerned. More passers-by = more potential votes? All those tired commuters arriving home after a weeks work in Cologne. In actual fact, the majority of visitors will be oblivious to the knowledge that Jazztube is even present. Even those arriving on the underground station will only hear the faint sounds of Jazz if they step off the train and head for the Thomas-Mann-Strasse exit (which few do). Here this evening those who do go this way are in for a treat. The Stephan Geiger Quintett are playing three sets of classic contemporary jazz. A familiar face here is that of Jens Böckamp on Saxophone.
I’ve changed my order of visits this week so that I can finish at Uni-Markt and head to Stadtgarten afterwards. As a result it seems oddly quiet at Museumsmeile when I arrive. Usually, being the last to start means that a lot of listeners have migrated here from the other venues, so getting here so early means that when Django Vibes begin their set for the evening there is only a smattering of listeners sitting comfortably on the two benches or standing behind the benches when the band begin. Following last week’s concert by the Marion and Sobo Band at Stadtgarten I was expecting, from the Django name, a set filled with Gypsy Swing. Instead, the set I caught was a much more traditional jazz one, with excellent saxophone from Max Schulze-Hennings coloured by Matthias Strucken’s vibraphone – and another familiar face, this time on bass, Stefan Rey. Tasteful guitar fills from Martin Henger completed a sound that I left with a heavy heart – but a high sense of expectation as I headed up to Uni-Markt in search of a legend.
Klaus der Geiger. I expected an elderly man in a worn frock-coat and a hat filling with coins. I was wrong! What I should have done beforehand is check out the website of ‘KderG’. To be accurate, Klaus is 76 years young. He started out as a jobbing violinist for symphony orchestras in Germany, before moving, for two years that clearly changed his life, to America. Those two years in the late 1960’s coincided with Vietnam protests from the prevalent hippy community that the, then ‘Klaus von Wrochen’, became a brief part of. He married, and returned to Germany a new man – ‘Klaus der Geiger’ was born and ‘Asphalt Paganini’ became his epithet. Since then Klaus has been a part of pretty well every protest demo that the Left has introduced – standing shoulder to shoulder onstage by the side of many a local musician, such as Wolfgang Niedecken, and even abroad such as a tour in support of Japanese homeless in 1998.
This afternoon Klaus is joined by 29-year-old jazz guitarist Marius Peters and the two sound like they’ve been playing together since before Peters was even born!
Can there be a better example of the importance of Street Music than the man playing here this evening? Earlier in the week Daniel Bongart’s petition for a revision of the Street Music charges in Bonn led to a review by Bonn Council. Street Music has a long and respected tradition – ask Klaus der Geiger. I know that Folk Club’s John Harrison was there to give Klaus a listen. Perhaps Klaus will one day grace the Club with his presence? Given the Man’s musical history it could well be the first ever Full Concert by Bonn Folk Club – and even then we would only hear a fraction of the history behind the man and his music. For more, German speakers should check out THIS DOCUMENTARY.
So, two weeks into Jazztube and already a wealth of choices for that ‘Best Band’ vote!