A-Trane Berlin Christmas Jazz Special

Peter Wyoming Bender – PicClick.de

Not surprisingly, my latest jazz experience at Berlin’s A-Trane was great. It was an unusual group of six seasoned musicians performing with young, handsome Italian singer and pianist – Davide Cerreta. Cerreta appeared with the group in a special tribute to the music of Pete Wyoming Bender, a beloved fellow musician.

I sat at a table with a fun and friendly German family – two brothers, their daughters, and a son-in law. None of them lived in Berlin but they united here for a Christmas holiday visit. The club was at full capacity.

Davide Cerreta Jazz Singer and Pianist

Pete Wyoming Bender and Little Shop of Jazz

Drummer Ernst Bier created a group called the Little Shop of Jazz dedicated to the music of singer and composer Pete Wyoming Bender.

Bender is part American Indian born in France. He grew up in the US but later moved abroad and spent much of his life performing in London and Berlin. Bender played several instruments but was primarily a singer and composer whose peers saw him as a visionary. He died from a heart condition.

Erik Unsworth – erikunsworth.com

In 2002 Little Shop of Jazz – Ernst Bier, Mack Goldsbury, Reggie Moore, and Kevin Burrell – released a CD, “Cry Me a River,” featuring Bender’s compositions. American bassist Erik Unsworth and Italian singer Davide Cerreta joined the band at A-Trane to reinterpret the CD and other works by Bender:

  • Davide Cerreta – Vocalist
  • Mack Goldsbury – Saxophone
  • Reggie Moore – Piano
  • Eric Unsworth – Bass
  • Kevin Burrell – Percussion
  • Ernst Bier – Drums

Davide Cerreta

Davide Cerreta is known in Italy for his performances at the Umbria Jazz Festival and Umbria Jazz Winter. The popular jazz singer and pianist plays at different clubs and festivals in Berlin and throughout Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. He recently moved to Germany and is now part of the Berlin jazz scene.

Cerreta was born in Rome and became involved with music at an early age. His idols include B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Frank Sinatra whose “smooth, warm, and impassioned voice left a mark on his heart forever”. His style is like Sinatra’s.

Davide Cerreta Jazz Singer, Composer, and Pianist

Cerreta graduated with honors from Italy’s Conservatory of Music “Domenico Cimarosa” of Avellino. He “concluded his time at the conservatory with a tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, known as the “greatest jazz album of all time”. Cerreta toured South America as a pianist and vocalist for a luxury cruise line – SilverSea – and returned to Rome to participate in the “Berklee Clinics at Umbria Jazz”.

Miles Davis Kind of Blue

He created the Berklee Umbria Jazz Award Group of six other musicians and performed at the Umbria Jazz Winter 2017. In Rome he’s the resident pianist and artistic director with “The Room Studios Gallery in Rome, “organizing live concerts with some of the best musicians of the Roman Jazz Scene”.

Mack Goldsbury

Mark Goldsbury has a long and distinguished career as a composer and professional musician. He’s performed with many famous musicians. His quartet includes bassist Erik Unsworth and two Berlin musicians Rolf Zielke on piano and Ernst Bier on drums. The group began performing together in 1992.

Mack Goldsbury – Glos Pamorza

Goldsbury played with musicians like Red Garland and toured with the Temptations, Cher, Frank Sinatra, and the Supremes. He’s performed with Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Pharoah Sanders, and others. Goldsbury moved to Berlin in 1992.

Reggie Moore

Reggie Moore

Reggie Moore is a Berlin-based “pianist-composer-arranger-clinician”. He grew up in NYC as the son of a musician and arranger. Moore toured Japan, the United States, and Europe, recorded two albums, and worked with such renowned jazz greats as Anita O’Day, Johnny Hartman, Betty Carter, Kenny Burrell, and more. Since 1985, Reggie Moore lives in Berlin with his wife, jazz vocalist-composer Cornelia Moore, and their daughter Jessica.

His unique art, which he calls “Communicable Music” and his dedicated teaching at the “Jazz Institute of Berlin”  has been a positive influence on the German jazz scene for the last 20 years.

Erik Unsworth

Erik Unsworth is head of the jazz department at the University of Texas El Paso and has been a member of the music faculty there since 2003. He serves as Professor of String Bass, Electric Bass, Jazz, and Commercial Music studies. Unsworth is a native of Northern New York State and a graduate of Indiana University.

Erik Unsworth – erikunsworth.com

Since moving to El Paso, he performs locally with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, El Paso Pro Musica, the Juarez Symphony Orchestra, and the Roswell Jazz Festival. He supports a range of world-renowned guest artists.

Kevin Burrell

Kevin Burrell

Born in Newark New Jersey, Burrell “discovered his passion for drums and percussion at the age of ten when he began his formal training”. Kevin joined the Mack Goldsbury Jazz Explosion and is a “creative and empathetic percussionist, who contributes colorful textures to the music he plays”.

Ernst Bier Drummer

Ernst Bier

Ernst Bier is a German drummer with “heart and soul”. He chatted with the audience and I enjoyed talking with him briefly about Pete Wyoming Bender. Ernst lives for jazz.

He studied from 1976 to 1978 at the Swiss Jazz School Bern and performed and lived in New York City and Florida. During his distinguished career Bier has toured Europe and the US, appeared on TV and radio, and produced many recordings and productions. The list of musicians he has worked with “reads like a who’s who of jazz”.

After his return to Germany Bier first lived in Köln and later Berlin, where he leads a continually running series of jazz workshops. He can be heard on a host of recent internationally-released recordings.

Bye Bye Berlin

Tomorrow I’m leaving Berlin having exhausted my 90 day Schengen visa limit. I’ll so miss the quality and unequaled jazz performances at A-Trane and other clubs here and hope to return….

Berlin TV Tower

Berlin TV Tower – Wombats Hostels

I waited months to visit Berlin’s TV Tower because it sounded like a tourist trap. Finally decided it was worth a visit for the view alone. Indeed it is a tourist trap, but glad I experienced the bird’s-eye perspective of Berlin from the top! The view is amazing even on a cloudy day with snow flurries. Wish I’d done it earlier in sunny weather – a great way to get a fix on the lay of the land.

Berliner Dom from TV Tower

The TV Tower (Fernsehturm in German) is Berlin’s most recognizable landmark. It’s in Alexanderplatz, a public square in Mitte District, and visible from almost any angle in the city. After four years of construction, the Tower opened in 1969. It celebrates a 50th anniversary next year!

Berlin TV Tower – Wikimedia Commons


When the sun shines on the TV Tower’s round dome, a cross shape reflects on it. West Berliners call this the “Pope’s revenge”.


Sunshine on Berlin’s TV Tower – Photocase

Walter Ulbricht German Communist Leader with Khrushchev

Professor Hermann Henselmann – erratanaturae.com

TV Tower History and Significance

East Germany’s socialist leader – Walter Ulbricht – hired architects from a state-owned engineering company “to create a Sputnik satellite-like building showing off the technological advancement and power of East Berliners”. Hermann Henselmann and fellow German Democratic Republic (GDR) architects Fritz Dieter, Günter Franke, and Werner Neumann designed the tower.

River Spree from TV Tower

The Berlin TV Tower is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. Other members include Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, Sydney Tower, Collserola in Barcelona, and the Eiffel Tower. In 1997, the addition of an extra antenna made the TV Tower the highest building in Germany. The tower has rotating Sphere Restaurant and Panorama Bar. In 30 minutes it rotates 360 degrees!

Berlin TV Tower – Bianca Baker


“After reunification, the TV Tower had new significance. No longer a symbol of East Germany, it was an integral element of Berlin’s new cityscape symbolizing the city – both nationally and internationally.”


Owned by Deutsche Telekom the Berlin TV Tower antenna broadcasts over 60 TV and radio programs. The 986 step staircase to the tower isn’t used. A high-speed elevator transports visitors to the observation deck in an unbelievable 38 seconds.

Berlin TV Tower – Michael Bednarek

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Cantatas I-III at Berlin Cathedral

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Berliner Dom – weihnachteninberlin.de

I’ve been enjoying Berlin’s holiday celebrations and last night it was Bach’s Christmas Cantatas performed at Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island. The Cathedral Choir performed led by cantor Tobias Brommann.

Berliner Dom

Senior musicians from the Baroque Orchestra must have played another gig last night as there were noticeable mistakes in the music and rolled eyes all around… This was a first, as every other musical performance I’ve attended in Berlin was perfection.

Berliner Dom Sauer Organ – wikipedia.org

The Cathedral Choir and soloists were excellent:


Berlin Cathedral History

The Cathedral was once the court church of the Hohenzollern, who lived in the city palace on the other side of River Spree. The inside of the basilica cathedral has a Sauer organ, the largest of the ‘late Romantic period‘. The beautiful octagonal sermon space has a marble altar and unique mosaics and statues.

Tobias Brommann Kantor Berlin Cathedral – BZ Berlin

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) suffered severe damage during the Second World War. Restoration by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) began in 1975 and completed in 1993 – four years after the Berlin Wall fell. The outside needs work and ongoing maintenance and restoration continue.

Berlin Cathedral – TV Tower in Background

Dommuseum has interesting drawings depicting the Cathedral’s history. The climb to the dome follows a “lavishly decorated Imperial staircase” and ends with an incredible panoramic view of Berlin. It was another beautiful evening and memory.

Musicians, Singers, and Conductor – Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Cantatas I-III

Berlin Cathedral Dome.

Berlin Philharmonic – Antonín Dvořák, Hugo Wolf, Franz Schubert

Iván Fischer Conductor – Budapest Festival Orchestra

Thursday night was likely my last Berlin Philharmonic performance – at least for a while. The sold-out performance was in Philharmonie Hall where the symphony performed music by Antonín Dvořák, Hugo Wolf, and Franz Schubert.

Berlin Philharmonie Hall – primephonic.com

Dvořák and Schubert have long been favorite composers. I remember trying to conquer a Schubert piece as a young piano student – for me, a daunting experience. Unfamiliar with Wolf, the evening was a lesson in German opera! Goethe’s expression below describes my feelings…

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Poet – Weimar-Lese

Iván Fischer Conductor

Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer led the Philharmonic. Fischer studied piano, violin, and cello in Budapest and continued his education in Vienna. His international career took off in 1976 when he won a conducting competition in London.

In 1983 Fischer co-founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Today he’s the orchestra’s music director. Fischer is a regular guest conductor at major European opera houses. He was Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic 2012 – 2018 and is now the orchestra’s Honorary Conductor.

Iván Fischer Conductor – Hungarian Free Press

Fischer is also a composer. His works are performed in the US and Europe. He founded the Hungarian Mahler Society and received Hungary’s Golden Medal Award and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum for promoting international culture.

Antonín Dvořák Composer

Antonín Dvořák Legends for Orchestra

The concert began with Antonín Dvořák symphonies – Legends for Orchestra. Berlin is  where the Czech composer was first recognized internationally. In 1878, Johannes Brahms recommended publishing his Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances for piano. A few years later he produced Legends for Orchestra.

Christian Gerhaher Baritone – Digital Concert Hall

Hugo Wolf Goethe and Mörike Compositions

Several Hugo Wolf operatic compositions followed Dvořák’s symphonies. Baritone Christian Gerhaher’s singing captivated the audience. Wolf, known for his “profound poetic insight and imagination,” created them from the poems and ballads of German writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Eduard Friedrich Mörike. Portraying their unique “poet personalities” was key to Wolf in “opening musical and poetic horizons” in his compositions.

Hugo Wolf Composer – Austria.info


German poet Eduard Friedrich Mörike is known for taking “special pleasure in rendering hair-raising and fantastic verses”.


Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances – Shazam

Wish I’d had a translation, as titles of the lyrics were interesting – Goethe’s ballads – Der Rattenfänger (The Pied Piper) and Mörike’s Fire Rider. Mörike’s lyric poetry covers a “variety of forms and moods”. The audience was thoroughly absorbed. It was a very German experience!

Eduard Moerike Poet – Augsburger Allgemeini

Christian Gerhaher Baritone

German baritone Christian Gerhaher appears in Germany and abroad as a recitalist and soloist with symphony orchestras in major cities worldwide. He also appears in opera productions, holds the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, is an honorary professor at the Academy of Music Munich, and teaches international masterclasses. The audience adored his performance of Wolf’s compositions.

Christian Gerhaher Baritone – InstantEncore

Gerhaher attended the Opera School of the Academy of Music in Munich and is an honorary professor at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre. He and his wife live  in Munich with their three children.

Franz Schubert Composer – BR-Klassik

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C Major

The symphony ended with Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C Major. Schubert composed the symphony in 1825-26, but it was never performed. Robert Schumann discovered the symphony in 1839 and German composer Felix Mendelssohn produced the work that year in Leipzig. It’s a wonderful, dramatic symphony featuring woodwinds and French horns – skip to the end of the video below to hear the rousing finale!

Old Master Paintings at Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Abraham Storck

Old Master Paintings from the 13th to 18th century have been displayed at Gemäldegalerie since 2000. It’s the most beautiful collection I’ve seen!

Francesco Ubertini gen. II Bacchiacca

Cornelis de Vos

The Gemäldegalerie is part of Berlin’s Kulturforum (Culture Forum), a modern center for art and culture in Potsdamer Straße. It includes museums, concert halls, and libraries.

Berlin Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz – c visitberlin.com Photo Wolfgang Scholvien


The Kulturforum is West Berlin’s “most important building ensemble of the post-war period “.


Antoine Pesne

18th Century Painting

Pieter Bruegel

Luigi Crespi


“Masterpieces from all periods of art history, including paintings by van Eyck, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer are on display at the Gemäldegalerie.”


Sandro Botticelli

Lucas van Vlackenborch

The Kulturforum offers 1.2 miles of breathtaking art displays in an exhibition area of over 75,00 sq. ft. There are 72 halls and cabinets leading through “individual art landscapes and epochs”.

Jacomo di Antonio Nigreti, gen. Palma il Vecchio

Jacomo di Antonio Nigreti, gen. Palma il Vecchio

The Gemäldegalerie collection focuses on German and Italian painting from the 13th to the 16th century and Dutch painting from the 15th to the 16th century. This blog post includes some of the photos taken – captions are the best I could manage – all were in German. Before touring this exhibition, I didn’t know the works of many of these incredible masters.

Giotto di Bondone

Peter Paul Reubens

Meister der Mansi Magdalena

German, Dutch, French, Flemish Masterpieces

The magnificent collection includes old German paintings of the late Gothic and Renaissance periods. Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century include “portraits, genre paintings, interiors, landscapes, and still lifes” – all equally impressive and awe-inspiring.

Lucas van Leyden

Jan Steen


A collection of 16 Rembrandt paintings in the center of the Gemäldegalerie is “one of the largest and highest quality in the world”.


Nicola di Maestro Antonio d’Ancona

Osias Beert Flemish Painter

There are six rooms of Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English 18th century paintings. Over 1000 masterpieces are on display in the main gallery. Visitors can use catalogs of the collection and a digital gallery with computer workstations in German, English, and French. I used an English audio guide, but with so many paintings – it was overwhelming. I need to return and take another tour.

Rembrandt – The Mennonite Preacher Anslo and his Wife

Jean Restout

Gillis Mostaert

Heinz Kuckei Collection in the Gemäldegalerie

Currently the Gemäldegalerie presents ten loans from the Heinz Kuckei Collections. The small ensemble of quality Dutch paintings of the 17th century includes works by Jan Steen, Jan Davisz de Heem, and the Rembrandt workshop.

Jan Davidsz. de Heem

Giuseppe Cesari

Giovanni Paolo Panini Painter and Architect

Son Jacopo and Giovanni Bellini Paintings

The Gemäldegalerie is focusing on a group of paintings by Italian Father and Son Jacopo and Giovanni Bellini. “In Renaissance Italy art was often a family business, and no family of painters was more successful than the Bellinis.”

Jean Restout

Jacopo di Antonio Nigretti, gen. Palma il Vecchio

Tiziano Vecellio, gen. Tizian


Some of the Bellini paintings on display are restorations of pieces stored since the Second World War. During restoration, several of the works have “undergone various changes”. In some cases, they’re “fragments of a larger altarpiece or interior decoration, partially damaged and reduced on the surface”.

Cima da Conegliano

Restoration addressed light, climate, and other influences occurring over time and changed the colorful and plastic appearance of the paintings. None of them “maintained a state as it was when leaving the artist’s workshop” hundreds of years ago.

Andrea Previtali

Govert Flinck

Karajan Academy Mendelssohn and Bach Concert – Berlin Philharmonic

Students Karajan Academy

I enjoyed more incredible music last night during a Karajan Academy concert at Berliner Philharmoniker. Exceptional students attend the Academy to learn from distinguished members of the Philharmonic.

It was cold with fat snowflakes falling all around, so I stopped for a hot drink at the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market which was full of merrymakers. The performance hall was packed with several concerts appearing in the Philharmonie Building. The Chamber Music Hall was cozy and comfortable.

Carolin Widmann Violinist – carolinwidmann.com

Karajan Academy

Popular conductor Herbert von Karajan founded the Karajan Academy 40 years ago. It’s funded by private donors. Berliner Philharmoniker concertmasters and symphony leaders teach young musicians about life as professional orchestral members. Karajan graduates perform in symphonies worldwide, and almost a third of Berlin Philharmonic musicians are former Academy students.


Each season, students participate in five public concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie. The concerts are about “getting to know highly talented young musicians”.


The training program is both a postgraduate course and an internship. Students learn to “listen carefully to their colleagues, become aware of what the other musicians are doing, exercise critical self-reflection, and constantly strive to be better”. The Berliner Philharmoniker makes those concepts its own.

Chamber Music

“Chamber music occupies a prominent place at the Academy and promotes the whole instrumental culture.” Students learn the “specific repertoire of their respective instrument” and focus on early and contemporary music.

Herbert von Karajan – Shazam


The Karajan Academy’s moto is “learn from the pros”.


Johann Sebastian Bach – classicalfm.ca

Mendelssohn and Bach

Last night students were led by internationally renowned violinist Carolin Widmann (Mendelssohn) and Elina Albach (Bach) who substituted for Raphael Alpermann on harpsichord. Alpermann, a conductor and harpsichordist, teaches at the Berlin University of Music and is artistic director of the youth baroque orchestra “Bachs Erben” – Bach’s Heirs.

Raphael Alpermann – Bachs Erben

The solos were outstanding! Other than Widmann and Albach a fantastic flute soloist performed during Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, but I don’t know her name. I was at a disadvantage since the programs was in German only.

Peter Riegelbauer – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra


According to Peter Riegelbauer, Philharmonic double-bass player and head of the Karajan Academy, young instrumentalists get a sense of what it means to be a “complete musician”.


Felix Mendelssohn – James Warren Childe 1839

Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos

Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra in D minor is “framed by works written by Mendelssohn’s most venerated composer – Johann Sebastian Bach”. The concerto is relatively unknown and rarely performed. Mendelssohn composed it at the age of 13! Last night it featured violinist Carolin Widmann whose performance was indescribably beautiful. Bach’s Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life Cantata and Brandenburg Concert No. 5 in D major were brilliantly performed and well received. The Philharmonic Choir joined the musicians and members and sang several spectacular solos.

Berliner Philharmonie Chamber Music Hall – HSchindler

Concerts at Berliner Philharmoniker have been a special highlight during my time in Berlin!

EB Davis and the Super Band at A-Trane Berlin

EB Davis Superband – Moz

EB Davis and the Super Band performed at A-Trane last night, and I attended the early show. Although I prefer modern jazz, a good blues band is always fun, and Berlin audiences clearly love this group! Before the performance, I didn’t know much about them except that some members were from the US. I’ve been traveling for about 3 months now, and honestly it was nice to hear an American accent.

They’re a friendly, fun group of musicians who connect well with their audience. Davis “captivates with his expressive voice”. Some members of the band have performed together for over 20 years. They play Davis’ compositions as well as those from the “world heritage of blues”. Last night I loved their performance of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind”!

Willie Pollock – ebdavis.com

Six musicians – three Americans from Arkansas, Florida, and Texas, two Berliners, and a Mozambican – performed with the band. They’re excited about their new CD – “EB Davis and The Superband: Live at the A-Trane”:

EB Davis Superband at A-Trane

EB Davis

A member of the Blues Hall of Fame, Davis is “one of Arkansas’ great soul-blues singers and the official Blues Ambassador of Arkansas”. During the past 40 years, Davis has “performed over 7,000 concerts, toured 60 countries, and cataloged 29+ recordings”! He and his wife Nina – a vocalist and the band’s pianist – live in Berlin.

Davis’ Double Life During the Cold War

A short film “How Berlin got the Blues (2015)” documents a fascinating story. During the Cold War, Davis was in the US military stationed in West Berlin. For ten years he led a “secret life as part of a clandestine unit” and was a blues singer at night!


Thanks to his work in a top-secret US military unit, he was able to perform in East Germany and even in front of Soviet soldiers – this is still unique today.


Nina T. Davis – Zingst

Nina T. Davis

Nominated for the German Blues Award multiple times, Berliner Nina T. Davis is well-known in the Blues community.

EB Davis – AcousticMusic

“Like many musicians of her generation, old records of the Blues masters served as a source of inspiration.” Nina traveled to Chicago, Mississippi, and Arkansas and played with well-known blues artists.

EB and Nina Davis – Michael Limnios Blues Network

Her musical career began in the mid-90s as a pianist and organist with the “Tom Blacksmith Band”. Later, she formed a band – The Alleycats – with American singer Kat Baloun. Since 2001, Nina works with her husband – EB Davis – as pianist and singer with the EB Davis Superband.

Carlos Delelane  Drummer , Guitar, Vocals – YouTube


Davis is credited with “spreading the Blues to the people of West and East Berlin and bridging the gap between the Cold War and a love of Blues”.


Tom Blacksmith

Tom Blacksmith

Born and raised in Berlin Tom is a trained blacksmith who swapped his hammer and anvil for a guitar and blues harp. He studied the blues in Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans and plays a mix of blues, funk, soul, and rock’n’roll. He created the “Tom Blacksmith Band“.

Jay Bailey Guitarist

During the mellow evening, I chatted with people at my table, including Berlin transplants from Italy and other European countries. The performance was sold out and seating tight. The band’s Stage Manager squeezed in at our table near the band. I spoke briefly with Willie Pollock – a fantastic sax player and vocalist – thanking him for the great blues!

Album EB Davis and The Superband – Errny Blues&otherstyles