I booked an advanced reservation and arrived a few minutes before the performance, opting to sit one row back from the stage. The audience was mostly couples and small groups of friends. An interesting British Middle Eastern couple sat near my table. Like me, they were really into the music. Three polite jazz-musician-looking guys sat at a table in front of me. It was fun when one turned out to be a well-known saxophonist Amadeus Chiodi – whom Niko Leopold studied with in Amsterdam.
Niko Leopold Jazz Quartett
The Niko Leopold Jazz Quartett began touring together in 2011 and celebrated their 7th anniversary this year. They plan to release a new CD soon. The talented musicians perform throughout Europe:
- Niko Leopold – Piano, Cello, Composition
- Judith Ferstl – Contra-Bass, Composition
- Chris Kronreif – Saxophones and Bass-Clarinet
- Jakob Sigl – Drums, Audio Recording
Their focus is “developing a wide-ranging repertoire based on traditional Jazz,” but their compositions “don’t ignore the innovative aspect”! Last night they played amazing original compositions written by Niko Leopold and Judith Ferstl!
Austrian-American multi-instrumentalist Nikolaus Leopold is considered “one of the most versatile musicians of his generation”. Born in Vienna, Nikolaus became interested in music at an early age. He studied classical cello and attended the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, University of Arts Graz, and Conservatory of Performing Arts Amsterdam.
As a soloist Nicholas has performed at major international festivals and won many awards throughout Europe, the US, and Asia. Last night he played piano, not cello.
Leopold is an impressive musician and a class act! The central idea in his compositions is “combining the thoroughly composed structure of classical music with the improvisational nature of jazz”. This allows him to develop his own “lyrical, spontaneous, expressive” style.
“Modern jazz, pop, and classical music influence Leopold’s compositions and arrangements.”
I haven’t seen many female jazz bass players perform, and Judith Ferstl is impressive. She almost dances with her bass, clearly enjoying every second of the music! Multi-talented Ferstl is “heard in many different formations – composition, improvisation, tricky rhythms, wide areas, energetic passages, and intimate soundscapes”.
“Russian composers, the folklore traditions of Spain, Eastern Europe, and the Balkan regions are a major influence on Nikolaus’ writing style.”
Chris Kronreif is an accomplished saxophonist with enthusiasm and unique personal style. He played saxophone last night but also plays clarinet and flute. Kronreif studied with noted Austrian saxophonist Robert Friedl in Salzburg and at the Anton Bruckner Private University Linz.
Kronreif has played with well-known musicians at festivals and jazz scenes throughout Europe, New York City, and Canada and has won many awards. He teaches workshops “with a focus on harmony, improvisation, ear training, and rhythm”. He thoroughly captivated the audience throughout the evening and plays with skill and passion.
Multi-talented Jakob Sigl was born in Salzburg and graduated from Musisches Gymnasium (Music High School). He later studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna where he obtained a “Tonmeister” degree “specializing in music recording, recording management, and sound reinforcement”.
Sigl is a “freelance sound engineer for music of all styles”. He’s also sings in choirs like the Vienna Singing Academy and the Vienna Jazz Choir.
The four musicians were superb. They complimented each other, none overpowering the others. The compositions were mesmerizing to me and everyone seemed to enjoy them equally well. Several of the pieces began on a classical note played by Leopold – a brilliant pianist – leading into a pure jazz composition that seemed flawless and optimized each musician’s talent.
From their first tour in 2011, quartet members became known as “distinguished personalities who communicate excellently and inspire each other”.
Surprise Guest Performers
Near the end of their performance Leopold invited two guest artists to play with them. A Berlin friend of Judith Ferstl (forgot her name) was fantastic and played a magnificent upbeat saxophone duet with Chris Kronreif which the audience loved!
A superb artist, Amadeus Chiodi played the soprano saxophone with such perfection he seemed to cast a spell on the audience! He attended the Conservatory of Amsterdam and the Jazz Institute Berlin and plays soprano, tenor and alto saxophone, flute, and piano.
Chiodi is “active in Berlin’s swing scene with his band Berlin Gipsy-Swing 4tet Chat Noir“. He also performs with Elektra’s Soul Experience – a pop and soul party band that performs throughout Europe”.
I love good jazz, and as a solo woman traveler jazz clubs are a comfortable venue for me. B-Flat is a first-class club not to be missed when visiting Berlin. Much to my delight on the way back to Kreuzberg a roving jazz trio played briefly on the midnight U-Bahn train. They were excellent and hammed it up adding to their wonderful music, making weary travelers laugh… I gladly tipped them :).