Challenge Records Int. Logo
"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make." - Truman Capote

Christof Lauer

“I believe that Christof has become, quite candidly and without sounding pathetic, the best saxophonist in Europe today. Every time I hear him I am totally fascinated. He has in the mean time reached a level of skill that is almost spooky.” Volker Kriegel, 2002 Christof Lauer was born on 25th May, 1953 in the German town of Melsungen/Hessen. He started piano lessons at the age of six and, later, learnt the cello. He studied cello at Dr Hoch’s Conservatory in Frankfurt. In 1971 he changed to tenor saxophone and within a year had begun jazz and saxophone studies at the Music High School in Graz in Austria under Professor Dieter Glawischnig. He undertook his first tours with his own quartet and was also a member, during his student years, of bands in Vienna and Munich.
Within  a  year  of  his  return  to  Frankfurt  in  1978 he  was  a  member  of  the  legendary  jazz ensemble of the radio station, Hessischer Rundfunk, under the direction of Albert Mangelsdorff and joined the group “Voices” with Heinz Sauer, Ralf Hübner, Bob Degen and Thomas Heidepriem. At the age of 26 he was already regarded as one of the most important jazz musicians in Germany. In the  following  years  he  was  almost  permanently  on  the  road,  taught  jazz  classes  at  Dr  Hoch’s Conservatory and received in 1986 the jazz prize of Südwestfunk, the South West German radio. 1990 saw the release of the first album in his own name: Christof Lauer (with Joachim Kühn, Palle Danielsson and Peter Erskine). This was followed in the next years by two more albums as leader: Bluebells, 1992, with Wolfgang Puschnig, Bob Stewart and Thomas Alkier and Evidence, 1996, with Anthony Cox und Daniel Humair. His debut recording Christof Lauer was immediately awarded with the prestigious German record critics’ annual prize. Lauer was invited to be a soloist in the NDR Big Band in 1993, which was in the process of making a transition from traditional to modern avant-garde big band. In 1994 he became a member of the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble and in 1996 a permanent member of Albert Mangelsdorff’s quintet.
His fruitful collaboration with the ACT label began in 1999 with Fragile Network (ACT 9266-2). His fourth album as leader (with Michel Godard, Mark Ducret, Anthony Cox and Gene Jackson) underlines Lauer’s quality as a unique rich composer and arranger as well as an excellent soloist. It brought him once again the annual prize of the German critics. “Lauer has for long been his own man  and  as  “Fragile  Network”  once  again  shows,  one  of  the  best  European saxophonists.”(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) In that year he was invited by the well-known Turkish ney player Kudsi Erguner to take part in a world music project which brought together classical music of the Ottoman Empire with western improvisation  and  jazz  rhythms.  The  CD  Ottomania (ACT  9006-2)  strikingly  documented  this special musical encounter. Another important encounter also took place in the same year 1999. Christof Lauer made the acquaintance  of  the  outstanding  pianist  Jens  Thomas  and  this  soon  evolved  into  an  intense musical  collaboration  and friendship.  Their  collaboration  was first  demonstrated by  the first  duo album Shadows In The Rain (ACT 9297-2), which reinterpreted the music of pop star Sting in a most original manner. On four of the tracks they were accompanied by the Cikada String Qurtet, for  whom  none  other  than  Colin  Towns  wrote  the  arrangements.  The  album  won  the  quarterly German jazz critics’ prize and the annual prize of French magazine “Jazzman” (CHOC de l’année).
Following this Lauer and Thomas had the chance to take part in a number of prestigious tours in Europe and Asia and played, inter alia, at the Paris Jazz Festival.After  the  success  of  their  debut as  duo, the two  musicians  set  up a  second  chamber  music project together, this time based on original compositions. Pure Joy (ACT 9415-2) released in April 2003.  “Simple,  compact  compositions  such  as  rarely  exist  in  jazz”  is  how  Lauer  described  the rationale  for  a  tight  interactive  performance  free  of  the  stylised  jazz  conventions.  “Stunning, melodies almost too good to be true, performed by two musicians who are amongst the best and most  high  profile  currently  to  be  heard  on  the  European  jazz  scene,”  wrote  German  magazine Jazzpodium and Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung swooned: “Christof Lauer and Jens Thomas have hijacked for the jazz universe a beauty and wildness which are without boundaries. One can only imagine what surprises these amazing musicians have in store for the future.” With Heaven (ACT 9420-2) Christof Lauer has delivered just such as surprise for the end of 2003: church music, which was in fact for Lauer, the son of a pastor, the first form of music of any type that he experienced as a child. He has had the desire to record sacred music in a church, and not  before  time.  His  friendship  with  Norwegian  Geir  Lysne  has  at  last  led  to  the  long-planned project: together with Norwegian Brass the recordings for Heaven were made in the Vålerengen Kirk in Oslo, a choice of unexpected reworkings of classic Christmas songs and religious music, for which Geir Lysne is responsible as arranger and musical director and including two very special guests from Norway, Sondre Brantland and Rebekka Bakken.
Lauer found a new outlet in the collaboration with pianist Eric Watson. The American pianist, currently living in Paris, and Lauer had known each other for a long time. In April 2003 they were on tour together in France playing a quartet repertoire that Watson had especially composed for Lauer as a guest star with his own regular trio - comprising bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Ed Thigpen: These pieces, recorded in Summer 2003, were titled Road Movies (ACT 9429-2) and were released in September 2004.
One thing is for sure: Very few musicians can offer as much intensity as Christof Lauer, as the recordings with his new trio aptly demonstrate on Blues in Mind (ACT 9446-2), which will be released in January 2007. The flexibility of the fascinatingly matched partners and the scope of the compositions  enable  Lauer  to express  all aspects  of  his art.  German Lauer,  Frenchman  Michel Godard (tuba & serpent) and British drummer & pianist Gary Husband all contribute compositions to this CD of exclusively original material – pieces that open up a great variety of worlds. Each track offers new colours and tonal hues, held together by the authority of the three players.
In the past 30 years Christof Lauer has appeared in all manner of various formations with an incredible  continuity  – on  all  continents  of  the  earth  and  international  festival  from  Montreux  to Istanbul  and  from  Havana  to  Beijing,  both  with  his  own  bands  or  as  sideman.  The  variety  and creative  energy  of  Lauer’s  encounters  and  projects  time  and  again  reflects  his  deepest  held conviction: “Jazz is communicationú”

Featured on

Europeana (vinyl)
Joachim Kühn
Jazzpaña live
Gerardo Núñez / Ulf Wakenius
Petite Fleur
Christof Lauer
Joachim Kühn Birthday Edition
Joachim Kühn / Europeana
Road Movies
Watson, Eric & Christof Lauer