Michael Wollny Trio

Weltentraum live

Format: CD
Label: ACT music
UPC: 0614427957924
Catnr: ACT 95792
Release date: 31 October 2014
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1 CD
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ACT music
Catalogue number
ACT 95792
Release date
31 October 2014

About the album

“Michael Wollny overwhelms the audience in the Muffathalle. [...] The amazing thing about it is that he did so with pure jazz. [...] It is quite possible that this Jazznights tour may mark the birth of a new star. And it wouldn't be the wrong guy by any means, but someone who is building his own new house using the bricks of music history – less in the tradition of jazz or classical musicians; more in the style of creative geniuses like Mozart, Ellington, Lennon." (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Oliver Hochkeppel)
"Wollny is a highly sensitive, deep thinking, light-handed improvising musician whose ideas – that so suddenly burst forth from his mind – can be tough to get one's chops around. Where does he get them from? [...] Wollny is a genius, and a likeable one at that." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dr. Wolfgang Sandner)

These are just two examples of the remarkable response to Michael Wollny’s "Jazznights" tour 2014, which kicked off in Dusseldorf on 21 March, visited twelve cities and ended triumphantly in Frankfurt on March 31. For Wollny, his trio album "Weltentraum" and it’s tour have been the highlight of his unparalleled career to date.

It all began in 2004, when someone gave me a home-burned CD at the "Jazz Baltica" in Salzau. I didn't get to listen to it for a while, but when I did, it immediately got my discovery synapses sparking. Unfortunately, by then I couldn't decipher the mysterious writing on the CD anymore: [em]. Although ACT was already endowed with an abundance of keyboard stars, with Esbjörn Svensson, Joachim Kühn, Richie Beirach and the likes, the music on the CD just wouldn't leave my head. It took a few months, but then I finally managed to make contact with the people who played it, and the 26 year-old Michael Wollny and his comrades-in-arms Eva Kruse and Eric Schaefer became ACT artists. In 2005, the CD "call it [em]" came out, launching the "Young German Jazz" series. Immediately the reviews for the trio, with its wealth of sound fantasies and unerring sense for dynamics and rhythm, were excellent. But there is a long row to how to get from having critics like you to gaining the favour of the listening audience, and without extensive concert activities not even the best CD production sells well. So, faced by a lack of interest from professional promoters, we organised the first [em] tour ourselves.

Michael Wollny's collaboration with saxophonist Heinz Sauer was to prove to be of exceptional importance for the next phase of his development. They had got to know each other in 2001 at the HR Jazzensemble, and I was tantalised by the idea of recording the youngster and the old maestro together - 46 years separate them.

In the studio, the magic we had hoped for materialised instantly, the never-fading allure of the music lies in its mystery. Michael Wollny made the quotable remark about Heinz Sauer: "The less one seek eternity, the more it appears."

The album "Melancholia" and the work together with the grand master of the sax was to play a key role in the life of the young pianist. Very soon Michael Wollny proved to be a godsend, not only for ACT but for German jazz as a whole. His electrifying vitality, intellectual curiosity, technical brilliance and total, unequivocal devotion showed itself in varying constellations. When the musically complex and highly ambitious idea of "Wunderkammer" arose (with the classical harpsichordist Tamar Halperin), we didn't talk it to death, we just did it. What drove me was the conviction that I had discovered the most important German jazz musician in Michael Wollny since Albert Mangelsdorff. And in particular after the tragic death of Esbjörn Svensson in 2008, it was Michael Wollny who gave me the strength and passion to carry on my mission with the ACT label.
Ten years have passed now since our first meeting.

Michael Wollny received pretty much every music award that our country can bestow on creative artists. In addition to his twelve albums (including the [em] albums and the four with Heinz Sauer) he has participated in eight further ACT productions to date. He has become a creative pillar of the ACT family, and has grown personally very dear to my heart.

And the recent album "Weltentraum" not only garnered more acknowledgement from the national and international critics (including a cover story in „Jazzwise“ (UK) and four stars in the legendary US magazine "Downbeat"), it was also the commercial breakthrough. No other jazz album by a German pianist had ever made it into the Top 50 of the pop charts before. The German Jazz Award was accomplished in just two months. Karsten Jahnke's fantastic "Jazznights" tour did the rest. In front of a massive audience the trio once again took its music to new heights, and after its unfathomable concert in Munich I spontaneously decided to make a live recording in the special atmosphere of the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie. It proved to be a good idea, because in this concert, too, the mop- top on the piano, together with his congenial partners Tim Lefebvre on bass and Eric Schaefer on drums, got the house jumping. "Weltentraum - Live" is the living proof.


"The consummate piano maestro: One can justifiably name Wollny alongside phenomena like Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Stefano Bollani and Paul Bley. He has everything you can demand of a perfect jazz pianist: masterly technique, exuberant imagination, discipline and a talent for creative chaos, sensitivity and aestheticism." FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG
"The only German jazzer with international star appeal." SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG
"The biggest (jazz) musician personality that Germany has produced since Albert Mangelsdorff." HAMBURGER ABENDBLATT
"This is what the future of German jazz sounds like." DAS ERSTE, TTT
"The most exciting contemporary German jazz pianist." DIE WELT

Michael Wollny, born in 1978 in Schweinfurt, internationally successful jazz pianist, music inventor, unconventional thinker, popular figure. Nobody plays piano like him. His trademark: the unpredictable, the quest for the never-before-heard, the courage to devote himself to the moment, to make the unforeseen sound self-evident. His desire to keep reinventing himself, both in terms of sound and composition; that is what makes him a "consummate piano maestro" (FAZ). Ever since his ACT debut in 2005 "call it [em]", Michael Wollny has been causing a furore in the widest range of projects:

With his contribution to the ACT series Piano Works, Michael Wollny proves that he is one of the most noteworthy pianists in the world: For his solo debut he withdrew to the Island of Gotland for a month in the summer of 2006 and listened to a lot of Schubert, Steve Reich, Björk and Joachim Kühn. Then he performed alone on the grand piano at the JazzBaltica for the first time, alongside colleagues like Brad Mehldau, Marcin Wasilewski and Kenny Barron – and at the end of February 2007 he brought out Hexentanz. The critics all agreed in rare unison: "Wollny is the great hope of intelligent piano jazz from Germany." (WELT) For this work Wollny was also awarded the Disque d'emoi 2007 by the French Jazz Magazine.

The "grand master of the saxophone" (DIE ZEIT) Heinz Sauer discovered Michael Wollny for the first time at the hr Jazz Ensemble. The two performed for the first time as a duet in Darmstadt's Literaturhaus, more or less by chance. Without time to discuss the performance in advance, they had to revert to free improvisation. The evening was a rousing success and had consequences. "One of the great saxophone individualists and the greatest German piano talent develop fascinating dialogues full of unsentimental warmth, with often surprising punch lines. You want to keep listening to them forever," wrote the Munich newspaper TZ, when in early 2005 their first joint album came out: Melancholia. DIE ZEIT discovered fundamental qualities in the genuine expressiveness of this generation-crossing duo, and exalted: "Jazz comes back to life here". The WELT am Sonntag paper counted it among "the best that German jazz has to offer". "Give up the control and see what happens" is how Wollny describes the credo of playing together with Sauer, the credo that provides the foundation for their improvisations created out of ease and serenity, just as much as for the explorations of their own compositions that they present to each other - or the paths they take through classics by Thelonious Monk and Billie Holiday. And in doing so they extended their radius at breakneck speed: On Certain Beauty the base camps of their expeditions bear names like Gershwin, Gil Evans, Björk and Prince. The album caused quite a stir, also outside of Germany. In France, the renowned magazine Jazzman called it the jazz CD of 2006, awarding it the CHOC. The highly concentrated dialogues don't waste any words; the melancholy attitude comes from profound experience of life. If (Blue) Then (Blue) is the name of the follow-up album, which showcases Heinz Sauer in two duets: alternating between the pianists Michael Wollny and Joachim Kühn. "Quite simply a master stroke!" is how the magazine Stereoplay described it. The duo's fourth album Don't Explain came out on Sauer's 80th birthday – recorded live in Darmstadt. It is a musical tight-rope act without a net, that the French Jazz Magazine crowned its Album of the Year. The German jazz critics acknowledged the recording with the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik award.
In September 2008, Wollny joined forces in a duet concert with Joachim Kühn at the ACT festival "Jazz and Friendship" at Elmau Castle. The result of this intense, pinnacle piano moment is captured on the CD Piano Works IX: Joachim Kühn und Michael Wollny live at Schloss Elmau, which came out in March 2009.
Michael Wollny's Wunderkammer in a duet with harpsichordist Tamar Halperin was the launching pad into a new era of Michael Wollny's career in late 2009. On it, together with harpsichordist Tamar Halperin, Wollny seeks out the never-before-heard and embarks on a magical sound trip. The pianist, who repeatedly manages to surprise his listeners and himself with his music, was subsequently raised to the peak of European jazz, being awarded the coveted ECHO Jazz for the best German pianist. The newspaper die Welt spoke of "Germany's most exciting jazz pianist," the Frankfurter Rundschau attested Wollny a "big step forward in a totally new direction", and since then the Hamburger Abendblatt has seen in him the "biggest (jazz) music personality that Germany has produced since Albert Mangelsdorff".

Ever since the beginning of his career, the centre of Michael Wollny's creation has been his trio [em], with Eva Kruse on the bass and drummer Eric Schaefer. The success story of this magical triangle began with call it [em] in 2005, within the framework of the ACT Young German Jazz series. The trio's secret: the unique combination of outstanding technique and individual skills, inexhaustible creativity and instinctive interaction. "Wollny, Kruse and Schaefer save German jazz" said the Süddeutsche Zeitung back then, and die Zeit even spoke of the "world's most exciting piano trio". With the follow-up albums [em] II and [em] 3 the trio advanced to the embodiment of young German jazz. The accolades from various magazines (including the "Choc" from the French Jazzman) were followed by awards like Ronnie Scott's Jazz Award and the BMW Welt Jazz Award. With [em] live at JazzBaltica hitting the shelves in autumn 2010, the unconventional trio irrevocably played itself to the global peak of piano trios with, as the FAZ newspaper put it, its "irrepressibly vital interactive music". England's leading critic Stuart Nicholson called the album "...arguably the finest jazz album of the last quarter of a century". And the German music association Bundesverband Musikindustrie honoured the masterpiece with the ECHO Jazz for the best national ensemble performance of the year.

Wasted & Wanted came out in early 2012 and was the last trio album by Michael Wollny's [em] to date. Just how unrivalled this dream team currently is in the German jazz scene is proven by its winning the ECHO Jazz award for the best national ensemble performance of the year again. Powerful, modern, emotional, intelligent, masterly, full of energy and open in every direction – Wasted & Wanted is a conclusive answer to the question of the future of German jazz.

Wunderkammer XXL with the hr-Bigband: To this day, Wunderkammer has never let go of its hold on Michael Wollny. On 27 October 2012, the Deutsches Jazzfestival Frankfurt gave him the opportunity to live out a dream on a giant scale together with the hr-Bigband. Arranger Jörg-Achim Keller took over the big band orchestration. The concert in the hr broadcasting hall was to become a triumphant event: "Wunderkammer XXL" sounded "impressively different in the subtly differentiated orchestra arrangement" and resulted in "a fascinating interplay between gentle keyboard magic and inspired ensembles" (Frankfurter Rundschau). The FAZ wrote of "an irrepressible joy of playing and an intelligent creative power," that the "ingenious sound tinkerer Michael Wollny" fashioned together with the hr-Bigband under Jim McNeely. The concert provoked veritable storms of enthusiasm among the audience: 20-minute standing ovations were something entirely new to the oldest German jazz festival, in existence since 1953.

On 11 December 2012, Michael Wollny took the stage together with Iiro Rantala and Leszek Możdżer in the sold-out Kammermusiksaal concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic. The three pianists impressively proved that classic and jazz are anything but contradictory. The recording of this acclaimed concert came out at the end of March 2013 as Live at Berlin Philharmonic I. On it, Wollny can be heard solo, in duets with the other two pianists, and in the finale even in a trio with both of them.
The fact that Wollny is now also a popular sideman who knows just how to lend music magical moments and whip audiences into raptures without playing himself into the foreground can be heard on The Moon, The Stars And You by Nils Landgren and Thrill Box by the young French accordion star Vincent Peirani. "Listening to how Landgren's trombone and Michael Wollny's piano […] caress the melodies, you can't help but be spellbound by the charm of this music," wrote der Stern about the first of the two albums. And die Welt called Thrill Box the "tentative quest for contrapuntal beauty and exceptionally lyrical music with which the Frenchman touches the heart and steals your breath away, accompanied by pianist Michael Wollny and bassist Michel Benita."


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