Berlin Jazz Clubs and Émile Parisien Quartet

Mike Russell’s Funky Soul Kitchen at Quasimodo – http://www.mikerussell.de

With so much happening in Berlin deciding where to go and what to do gets complicated. Berlin’s jazz clubs are a perfect nighttime venue for me. The atmosphere is comfortable and friendly – the music fantastic! Most clubs are small and fill up fast, so the challenge is booking a space before performances sell out.

Gauthier Toux Trio Live at b-flat – Peter C Theis

Booking Jazz Performances

There are a few helpful local websites – Jazzity and Guide to the Jazzy Side of Berlin – but they don’t book your ticket for you… Jazz clubs don’t always take credit cards or have apps that allow you to book performances and download tickets on your phone.

Quasimodo – MyCityHighlight

If you can’t book in advance, the only choice is to show up and hope for the best. If you make a reservation but don’t arrive on time to pay – they sell your space.

Jazz Club A-Trane – Kauperts

Most evenings those with and without reservations line up outside popular jazz clubs. Box offices open 30 – 60 minutes before the performance begins.

I’ve visited these Berlin jazz clubs and describe them below:

  • A-Trane International Jazz Club
  • b-flat Acoustic Music + Jazz Club
  • Quasimodo
  • Junction Live Music Club

Prince at Quasimodo – Photographer Unknown

A-Trane International Jazz Club

A-Trane in Charlottenburg was founded in 1992. Performances begin at 9 pm and on Saturdays there’s a jam session “Jazz after Midnight”. Occasionally they have an earlier performance. The small club holds a max of 100 guests. It’s a popular JazzFest venue and my favorite club in Berlin!

Some artists who’ve appeared at A-Trane include Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, and others. The owner is “Turkish-born ex-graphic artist and basketball player” Sedal Sardan. In 2013 Sedal won the German ECHO music award for jazz promotion. He and his staff help with tickets.

b-flat Berlin Mitte

The club is named after John Coltrane (nicknamed “Trane”), “reminiscent of the unequaled Duke Ellington standard – Take the A Train :o)”!

I saw the Émile Parisien Quartet at A-Trane – a phenomenal performance which I’ll describe later in this post.

A-Trane Owner Sedal Sardan – YouTube

b-flat Acoustic Music + Jazz Club

Popular b-flat is in Mitte District. Two musician brothers – Jannis Zoto and Thanassis Zoto – and actor, producer, writer André Hennecke founded the club in 1995.

Jannis Zotos b-flat – David Beecroft

Architect Claudius Pratsch designed the club’s acoustics. B-flat is known for “diverse and lively” performances. Many well-known artists appear at the club, including Randy Brecker, Joe Sample, Harry Connick Jr., and Brad Mehldau.

Quasimodo

Quasimodo in Charlottenburg is one of the “oldest live music clubs on the Berlin cultural landscape”. In 1975 Genoese Giorgio Carioti took over the existing club, renamed it Quasimodo, and made it one of the most important live jazz clubs in Berlin.

Quasimodo – c Quasimodo GmbH

International stars like Branford Marsalis, Prince, and Chaka Khan have appeared at Quasimodo. The club is beneath the Delphi Film Palace and the Quasimodo Restaurant. It’s known as a “musical place of worship for quality jazz, blues, rock, Latin, soul, and funk”.

Giorgio Carioti Quasimodo – Foto Emilio Esbardo

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At Quasimodo, “fans from all over the world meet like old friends in a cozy ambiance somewhere between tradition and modernity, united by the music.”

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A-Trane – c visitBerlin.de Foto Pierre Adenis

Junction Live Music Club

Junction is in the heart of Kreuzberg a few blocks from my apartment. After German reunification in 1989, Junction “held its position in Berlin’s nightlife” when other neighborhoods became more popular music venues.

Junction is “divided into two parts” – café and bar (above) and live music club (below). Every night the basement remains “the place for live music” in Berlin.

Jazz Jam Junction Live Music Club – Brixton Buzz

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“Jazz, pop, blues, Brasil, rap, and funk – anything goes at the Junction.”

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Emile Parisien Quartet – c ACT Sylvaim Gripoix

Émile Parisien Quartet at A-Trane

Last night I saw the Émile Parisien Quartet perform at A-Trane. It was incredible!!! The performance at 9 pm was fully booked, but they had an earlier session, and I was able to get a reservation. What’s even better, I was invited to take a closer seat only a few feet from the musicians! Watching them perform was as exciting as listening to their music.

French saxophonist and composer Émile Parisien is a phenomenon who “lives every moment of his music and makes it dance”.  His talented quartet includes:

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“The Parisien Quartet plays music that maybe only French people can. It’s intellectual and nefarious, provocative and witty, anarchic and disciplined.”

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Julien Touery © Emmanuelle Vial 2013

Parisien attended Marciac Jazz College and the Conservatory of Toulouse where he studied both classical and contemporary music. He moved to Paris in 2000 and founded his own quartet.

Julien Loutelier – http://www.julienloutelier.com

Parisien performs at festivals like Jazz in Marciac and has played with well-known musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Johnny Griffin, and Bobby Hutcherson. Classical and contemporary composers Hector Berlioz, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Wagner, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter inspire his compositions.

Known as a “jazz visionary” Parisien’s many distinctions and awards include:

Ivan Gélugne Bass – http://www.jazzimbild.at

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“The reference points on Parisien’s personal musical map are wide. They range from France’s popular folk traditions to the compositional rigour of contemporary classical music and abstract free jazz.”

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Emile Parisien Quartet – c ACT Sylvaim Gripoix

The group captured the audience completely and held their attention every minute. A-Trane is a relaxed environment and the animated movements and humor of the musicians were a treat. They played outstanding original compositions written by Parisien and other members of the quartet. It’s clear they’re professionals who love their music deeply and perform from the heart.

Emile Parisien Quartet – c ACT Sylvaim Gripoix

The group just released a new CD – Double Screening – and were signing copies at the club. I’ll return for more A-Trane performances, but none like the Émile Parisien Quartet!

Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic

Andreas Martin Hofmeir – Pilippe Gerlach

With countless variety and live performances every day of the week, Berlin is a great city for music lovers. Last night I attended – Jazz Meets Classic – a special performance at Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall.

Benjamin Schmid – Lienbacher

Andreas Martin Hofmeir & Band
The performance marks the fifth season of Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic. It included three duets by Andreas Martin Hofmeir & Band – beautifully illustrating how “classical and jazz stimulate each other”.

Stage – Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic

Hofmeir, a German tuba virtuoso, is the lead. Incidentally, on stage he performs barefooted. Hofmeir’s band includes renowned Austrian violinist Benjamin Schmid, two Viennese musicians – Matthias Bartolomey cello and Klemens Bittmann violin and mandola, and two Norwegians – Bugge Wesseltoft piano and Henning Kraggerud violin.

Matthias Bartolomey and Klemens Bittmann – http://www.bartolomeybittman.at

All the multi-talented musicians have impressive careers. Hofmeir has held positions with many European philharmonics and received prestigious awards. He’s also a composer, author, cabaret artist, and professor of tuba at the University Mozarteum Salzburg.

Bugge Wesseltoft and Henning Kraggerud Jazz At Berlin Philharmonic 2018

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“The formula that makes the Philharmonic jazz concerts so successful is that each is ‘an edition of one,’ a special, unique event.”
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Years ago, as a high school marching band member, tuba and brass instruments were a fascination. Hofmeir organizes brass bands, and when it comes to Tuba, he’s in a league of his own. He’s the best tuba player I’ve ever heard, producing an unbelievable range of flawless sound! His stage presence and commentary are endearing and humorous. Verbal descriptions and the printed program were in German, but the audience’s reaction spoke for itself.

Described as “progressive strings” Bartolomey and Bittmann create a young, contemporary sound adding a “unique dynamic, rocking power” to the band. I loved the original compositions they played with such passion.

Pianist Bugge Wesseltoft was a favorite. Wesseltoft, known as a “pioneer in the fusion of classical jazz with electronic music,” played with Henning Kraggerud, one of Scandinavia’s most distinguished string players. Their sound is brilliant!

Each duet included several sets, and as you were thinking nothing could top what you just heard, the next performance was equally fantastic! Benjamin Schmid and Henning Kraggerud are master violinists. Their beautiful music steals your heart away.

After their duets, all six musicians performed together completely blowing the audience away. They’re an unbelievable group of dedicated professionals. I enjoyed every minute of the concert!

Matthias Bartolomey – Andrea Peller

Jazz History in Germany

During fascism jazz and classical music were “strictly separated.” The Nazi regime banned jazz radio broadcasts.

Bugge Wesseltoft Pianist

The Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic series began in 2012. A great success, the popular performances continue to sell out. The concerts bring “jazz out of Berlin’s clubs and place it in classical halls to make more people aware of the astonishing skill levels in jazz and of its uniqueness and diversity”.

Foyer Berlin Philharmonic – Arch Daily

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“After 1970, government ministries gave up their antagonism towards jazz, explaining that it had become part of East German culture and politics.”

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Berlin Philharmonic Designed by Hans Scharoun 1963

I’m looking forward to more performances at Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall and started making a list of live jazz clubs to visit including B-FlatQuasimodo, A-Trane, and Yorckschlösschen.

Andreas Martin Hofmeir – News 38