Luise Volkmann


Luise Volkmann   alto saxophone

Athina Kontou  bass

Dominik Mahnig  drums


The music {releases} a dance-like way of thinking, addresses physicality and the flow of thoughts at the same moment. A debut that is challenging and most exciting in its best sense.

Harry Schmidt, Jazzthetik, about “RGB” by Autochrom

Été Large

Luise Volkmann   compositions, altosax

Casey Moir  voice

Laurin Oppermann  voice

Vincent  Bababoutilabo  flute

Gabriel Boyault  tenorsax

Jedrzej Lagodzinski  baritonesax

Erik Kimestad Pedersen  trumpet

Janning Trumann  trombone

Johanna Stein  cello

Athina Kontou  bass

Yannick Lestra  piano

Paul Jarret  guitar

Max Santner  drums

How can three complementary elements be reconciled in such a way as to form a new symbiotic whole? A process dating back to the days of early colour photography provides an idea of how to do that. The „autochrome“ technique, going back to the Lumière brothers in the early 20th century, is based on the fact that by dithering the three colours red, blue and green all other colours can be derived and, thus, complex colour photographs can be produced. Autochrom is also the name of saxophonist Luise Isabel Volkmann’s trio together with bassist Athina Kontou and drummer Dominik Mahnig. The three of them are well-travelled. Luise Isabel Volkmann is originally from Bielefeld, she lived in Berlin for a short while and in Paris for a long while to continue via Kopenhagen and Leipzig, finally ending up in Cologne. Athina Kontou has Greek roots, grew up in Frankfurt am Main and Athens and now lives in Leipzig. Dominik Mahnig is originally from Switzerland and has unpacked his drumsticks in Cologne. Three paths of life dithered together to form a common narrative in Autochrom.

Autochrom’s music is best described as a complementary symbiosis. So what could be more obvious than to name their common debut album „RGB“?

Volkmann has a lot to tell. As a musician with a zest for life she has a weak spot for anecdotes, no matter whether they stem from films, books, comics or her personal perception of everyday life. She picks up on things that are on her mind, be it personal or general matters.
Her musical stories always have a background. When she starts playing music with her two band mates, you quickly forget what instruments you are hearing. All three of them bring something to the table, they intuitively assume responsibility without however trying to upstage the others. The impulse in their playing continuously shifts between the protagonists. The story, though, is at the focus at all time and the three musical basic colours serve to depict it in the best way possible. “As a composer, I’m more interested in the orchestra than the soloists.” says Volkmann. “Based on my human and ideological orientation, I believe in collectivity and community. Society is focusing far too much on the individual. In jazz, too, it’s always about the band leaders. For me, it is much more important that there are bands, as in rock music, that work as an orchestra. During rehearsals we have worked hard on everyone assuming their responsibility.

On their journey to achieve this collectivity, the trio has done a lot of sound exploration. It was not about differentiation but about fusing the different sound sources. Music as an integrational process as is the case for the colour pigments in an autochrome photography.
But this fusion process goes even deeper and here is where another philosophical aspect comes into play. In jazz, most musical personalities make a fundamental choice for either an abstract way of playing or one that emulates life. With Autochrom, what prevails is an intellectual everyday routine which is something you encounter very seldom with such self-evidence. The songs are perfectly suitable for everyday listening without renouncing on abstract moments.
In addition to that, there is a playful seriousness or a serious playfulness, whichever you prefer because two opposite directions of movement result from it, nevertheless ending in the same point. All three musicians take their music very seriously and this is exactly why they enjoy it so much. In this way, the pieces sound very spontaneous and compact in spite of all the different ideas and motives that are very finely intertwined.

Enough said. No instruction leaflet is required for Autochrom’s music, it tells its own story. Open your ears and jump right in at the deep end – you’ll know everything that can be said about this music.


Été Large

Thank God, the days when small formations inevitably had to be combos and big ensembles in jazz necessarily were big bands are long gone. Just like the days when jazz musicians had to chose between playing free or traditional jazz. Nowadays, the range of combinations and creative levels in jazz is much broader. The CD “Eudaimonia” by Luise Volkmann, released on nwog records 2017, describes this blissful playground of unlimited expressive possibilities in a very entertaining way.

The term eudaimonia dates back to ancient Greece and roughly describes a balanced state of mind derived from a virtuous conduct of life. “Eudaimonia” is a collection of portraits of people who have found solutions for their own life and have thus inspired Luise Volkmann. At the end of an all but straightforward process stands music that is not commonplace but which captures the daily life in an unpretentious way.  Or – to say it with the words of the saxophonist – “human music”. Her compositions are of great complexity and even greater variety of forms but still, their narrative structure is easy to understand, varied and entertaining.

This unusual and exciting debut album was voted one of the best albums of 2017 by the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT.


Unbridled power and passion, playful fervour, a boundless joy of fantasizing, indomitable cohesive forces and absolute fearlessness – in November 2020 the second album by Luise Volkmann’s band Été Large was released on nwog records.

She had the idea in mind for a long time as a continuation of the portrait concept of the previous record. This time she took inspiration and energy from her connection with her parents, especially her father, and created a tribute to the 68 generation.

The attitude of the so-called ’68 generation and the rock music of the 1970s are an important starting point for Luise Volkmann, but precisely not the modelling clay from which her own songs are created. Her fascination ranges from the protest music of the Woodstock era to the destructive elementary power of punk. Whoever wants to place her songs between Frank Zappa, punk and Carla Bley is certainly not wrong, although this does not necessarily correspond to the intentions of the Cologne-based artist. She still finds this special mixture of youthful recklessness, spontaneous activism and the existential pressure behind each statement touching today, but at the same time she is aware that she is not a child of that era. She finds her own formulas to reach that seemingly buried intensity in the here and now, with which music could change the world back then.

Although all members of her band are proven cracks on their instruments, each and every one of them knows how to put their vanities aside to serve the group as a whole. It’s all about the bundled fervor of the entire formation. 

On “When The Birds Upraise The Choir”, Luise Volkmann breaks with all expectations. Certainly, historical or current references to other large formations can be made, but strictly speaking, this album is without precedent. Not only does it define its own genre beyond the triangle of free jazz, progressive rock and avant-garde chamber music, but it also puts the artist’s responsibility towards society back at the centre. 

We adults have largely lost this feeling of ruthless productivity of the creative moment, but when you listen to Luise Volkmann’s new album, this effect is there from the very start. There is a huge pool of dirty water, and the bandleader jumps right into it with her entire pack, so that it splashes in all directions. 

A strong statement, fascinatingly detailed and refreshingly modern.

Sven Thielmann, Hifi & Records

The musical polystyle reflects a retrospective longing for something whole, for a productive, stimulating chaos and contains a vehement energy that has captured every moment of this music.

Frankfurter Rundschau 01/21

You can hear this freedom on the album. “When the birds upraise their choir” (…) is the sound of a time in upheaval and awakening.

Frankfurter Rundschau 01/21

What Volkmann (…) has recorded with the help of her twelve-person formation Été Large, adds up to one of the most poetic even most exciting debut albums in a long time.


Right from the start it is clear that in this trio the obvious ideas are never overused, but are always surprisingly and very confidently turned in new and different ways.


In exploratory jazz a trinity of courage, the joy of discovery and a talent for storytelling. Exciting.

Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung

Full of emotions and rhythmic sophistication.

Hifi & Records

When listening, you feel taken on a walk through wonderful worlds.