Nils Wogram

NILS WOGRAM   trombone

Root 70

with

HAYDEN CHRISHOLM   alto saxophone

MATT PENMAN   bass

JOCHEN RÜCKERT   drums

Nils Wogram & Bojan Z

with

BOJAN Z   piano

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Nostalgia

with

ARNO KRIJGER  hammond, pedals

DEJAN TERZIC  drums

Septet

with

CLAUDIO PUNTIN  clarinet

TILMAN EHRHORN  tenor sax

STEPHAN MEINBERG  trumpet

STEFFEN SCHORN  bass clarinet

FRANK SPEER  alto sax

JOHN SCHRÖDER  drums

Nostalgia Trio

Nils Wogram`s reputation as the pioneer of contemporary jazz “made in Germany” has been boosted a lot by the fact that he, of all people, masters Albert Mangelsdorff`s instrument, the trombone with a virtuosity and recklessness few others possess. His trio Nostalgia takes the opposite approach going back to the swinging and grooving jazz of the 50s and 60s of the past century, a time when jazz was still at home at Blue Note or on 52nd Street, and managing masterfully the tightrope walk between nostalgic sound and curiosity about finding their own form of sound.Wogram manages to convey an authentic attitude to life in the shortest possible way- no instruction leaflet or highlighted map is necessary.  He simply starts walking and takes the audience with him. Nostalgia conveys a thundering force of life to the listener.

Much of this is helped by the selection of his fellow musicians. Organist Arno Krijger plays the bass lines with his feet. Thus, the left hand can concentrate on the chords and the right hand provides melodies and improvisations. This unusual set up enables Wogram to build the pieces in an unconventional way. „ Also Arno is not a pianist who also plays the organ, but he exclusively plays the organ. His self-conception lends the organ tonal nuances that are a real asset for me”. Regarding drummer Dejan Terzic, Wogram not only appreciates his instinct for beat, groove and fieriness, but above all his sensitivity for dynamics and form.

To touch or to impress – that is the question the fifth album of the trio, “Things We Like To Hear” (release October 2019) poses. Wogram, Terzić and Krijger make it easy for the listener. They start their album in a light, relaxed manner with a defining dub-melody and carry this lightness through the following eight songs, where they leave out everything superfluous and focus on the essentials. Wogram has often shown that he knows how to implement complex ideas, but now he is breaking new ground. Instead of abstraction, the three musicians rely on simpler structures (without becoming trivial) as well as on undisguised emotions that need no explanation. Despite all the new features, the album still bears the unmistakable signature of Nostalgia. On his previous albums Wogram wondered where we come from, now with “Things We Like To Hear” he explores what we need to preserve from the past. “The timeless components of jazz for me are spontaneity and improvisation. And the simpler the structures are, the more spontaneous it is to improvise. “He himself is neither as a musician nor as a private person a nostalgic, and that applies also to his fellow musicians. All three live in the here and now and want to participate in further developing jazz music. Wogram does not need a headline for that. He refrains from all reflexes and defies expectations. He neither wants to provoke nor does he want to preserve, but he wants to share with listeners, what he and his fellow players crave for in music. Some of the tunes on “Things We Like To Hear” simply capture moods, others call for moving or humming, others may remind you of a good old film noir. His goal is to bring mind and body together. “Things We Like To Hear” is the next step in this direction.

Nils Wogram is a musician who keeps his ears open and who manages to capture the world like it is in his music. With Nostalgia he went back to a starting point, not because he wanted to start from scratch, but because everything that needed to be said has been said and therefore no repetition is necessary.

Nils Wogram (born 1972 in Braunschweig/Germany) started playing the trombone at the age of 15 and studied classical and jazz music. Already at the age of 16 he was a member of the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra, founded his own bands and was a laureate at German “Young Musical Talents” competition. From 1992 to 1994 he studied in New York and completed his education in 1999 at Cologne conservatory. Since then Nils Wogram has released over 30 albums. In 2010 he founded his own label nwog-records and it’s there he publishes his records now. Nils Wogram’s bands exclusively perform original compositions. Other ensembles like to commission him for compositions. He has toured the world and won amongst others the following competitions: Julius Hemphil Competition, Frank Rosolino Competition, BMW Jazz Award, Jazz Echo, Albert Mangelsdorff Award 2013. 

Born in 1972 in Terneuzen/Netherlands Arno Krijger not only masters the huge world of jazz thanks to his typical Hammond organ style and his versatility but he also ventures into the worlds of funk, pop and alternative music. Due to his distinctive style (especially when using the pedals) Krijger is a popular sideman on numerous albums of almost all musical styles. He was influenced by Larry Young and Larry Goldings. Krijger has toured extensively and has collaborated in the studio with artists like Billy Hart, Stefan Lievestro, Hans van Oosterhout, Pascal Vermeer,Toine Thys and James Scofield.

Dejan Terzic, born in 1970 in Banja Luka/BIH, moved to Nuremberg with his family when he was three years old and started studying the piano at the age of six. He switched to drums when he was twelve. In 1990 he started studying at the Nuremberg conservatory and later he relocated to Würzburg conservatory to study with Bill Elgart. He enhanced his studies in New York City with Bill Stewart and Duduka da Fonseca and at Vermont Jazz Center with Jimmy Cobb and Attila Zoller. Ever since he is a sought-after sideman (amongst others with Dusko Goykovich and the quintett, Enrico Rava, Johannes Enders) and very successfully has set up his own projects (amongst others Undergound, Melanoia). Since 2008 he teaches drums at the Bern conservatory as lecturer. In 2014 he was awarded the Echo Jazz as best national drummer.

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Root 70

Nils Wogram’s nearly 20-year-old working band “Root 70” brings together four top musicians,  with Nils Wogram on the trombone, Hayden Chisholm on the alto saxophone, Matt Penman on bass and Jochen Rueckert on drums, who already at a young age (they were all born between 72 – 76) stood for a new voice on their respective instruments and who since then have come to successfully lead their own bands. Originally from New Zealand and Germany, the four now live in different parts of the world (Zurich, New York, Cologne, Belgrade) and regularly come together taking jazz as a starting point to expand their horizon while incorporating influences from folk music and current musical trends. Through eight albums Root 70 reinvented themselves again and again without losing the essence of their interaction. Thus, over the years the band has developed a distinctive band sound and musical language that conveys rhythmic fireworks, vibrancy and variety that is rarely heard anywhere else.

Root 70 celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020. On this occasion, two tours are planned, which reflect a “Best Of” and give an outlook on the years to come.

Wolf Kampmann on the current album “Luxury habits”:

Wogram takes his time on “Luxury habits” (nwog records, 2017). A lot of time. Of course, time is a tremendously precious commodity, and yet the four musicians simply take this time, both to enjoy the sequence of prolonged moments available to them and to let the listener participate in this enjoyment. If you don’t have time, you lose the ability to reflect, says Wogram, and then you don’t have anything more to say, for the short or long term. In other words, seriousness is a synonym for a way of dealing with time very consciously. It is the antithesis of trying to measure something in, say, performance units. Indeed, it is about no less than dissolving time into individual and variable formal units of life in all its facets. 

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Wogram, Chisholm, Penman and Rueckert combine the gift of questioning themselves. Individually and as a band, which, in this case, amounts to a close circle of friends. “The album has emerged from a band dynamic,” says Wogram. “We talked intensively about the concepts of the past few years and agreed that we wanted to take a little more risk. We needed a new challenge.” 

The collective risk of precise blurring is a rare commodity in an epoch so fond of the post-factual. Root 70 lean far out the window. We have enough answers. Root 70 are four individualists who merge into an inseparable identity and once again ask the right questions in their music.

Hayden Chisholm was born in 1975 in New Plymouth/New Zealand. He studied music in Switzerland, Greece, India, Jugoslavia, Japan and finally in Cologne amongst others with Frank Gratowski. Since 1995 the multi talented musician (he masters the saxophone, the clarinet, Didgeridoo, bag pipes and overtone singing) has toured in India, Europe, Africa and Latin America together with John Taylor. His debut album Circe (1996) was nominated for the award of the German music critics. Since 2002 Chisholm collaborates with performance artist Rebecca Horn, he composed the music for her installation. In 2013 he was awarded the SWR jazz award for “outstanding sound aesthetics”. In 2015 he was “improviser in residence” at the Moers Jazz Festival.

New Zealander Matt Penman was born in 1974 and had lessons in classical piano with his mother. At the age of 14 he started playing the contra bass. The 1994 album Urbanism on which he collaborated as co-leader was nominated New Zealand jazz album of the year. He then studied for a year at Berklee College of Music in Boston with Herb Pomeroy on a scholarship before moving to New York City in 1995. Penman now is one of the most sought-after bass players and has worked amongst others with Kenny Werner, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder. He appeard as sideman on more the 85 albums. In 2002 he released his first own album Unqiet with Jeff Ballard, Chris Cheek, Aaron Goldberg and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Pirouet Records in 2015 released his album Amateur Dentist he recorded as a trio together with Ted Poor and Joris Roelofs.

Jochen Rückert (born 1975 in Cologne) started playing the drums at the age of six. His imaginative style helped connecting him with top musician like Kenny Werner, Chris Potter, Alan Preskin, Dave Liebman, John Abercrombie, Marc Copland and Joachim Kühn. Since 1995 he lives in New York City. As member of the Dreiklang trio he won the Blue Note Jazzsearch award and the European Jazz competition in 1996. The sought-after sideman has contributed to over 120 albums. He is a permanent member of the Marc Copland Trio and regularly plays with Kurt Rosenwinkel Band. Since 2011 Rückert successfully leads his own quartet (2 albums with Pirouet Records) and since 2005 he programs, mixes and produces electronic music under his alias “Wolff Parkinson White”.

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Duo with Bojan Z.

Two men, one word! Some stories simply write themselves. They are inevitable and must be written for the simple reason that they would otherwise remain unwritten. And that is unacceptable. There is one such story about the duo of Serbian pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic, living in France, or Bojan Z. for short, and of the German trombonist Nils Wogram, living in Switzerland. Europe in a square format, yes, but there is much more to it than that. 

When the two musicians stood on the stage together for the first time in 2012, at the Jazzdor Strasbourg- Berlin festival, their performance seemed so staggeringly self-evident. There, two musicians intuitively found a common narrative level, not because they needed to make any sort of effort, but because this playground was simply there. While it might be a platitude that they searched and found each other, that’s exactly what happened. If ever two musicians actually played the moment, without plan, ambition and other frippery, but rather to simply tell the audience and each other what they had to say at that moment, as unpretentiously as possible, then these two did just that.

The interplay of the two still works like a collection of stories, all of which condense at a higher level to form a novel. Wogram as well as Zulfikarpasic tend to productions that – each in his own way – are always very complete. Along with the holistic general impression their interplay makes, they add a component of casual openness in which listeners can enter with all their imagination. Wogram and Zulfikarpasic have appropriated a sharpness of detail that not only makes the pulse emanating from piano and trombone pale into insignificance, but in its lustful logic cancel principles such as improvisation and composition.

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Ultimately, everything is composed, only – to stay with Wogram’s comparison to soccer – the paths both must walk for each composition are very different. At times, the volley is composed from the playing, at others there are rehearsed set pieces that have been carefully prepared by the two musicians and composers. In the end, as they invent, they do not need to ask for directions. Wogram speaks of special moments that could not have been accomplished ad hoc. Together, they look over a panorama whose horizon goes far beyond the musical. That is why they succeed so well – as player personalities they recede behind their pieces and simply tell stories. 

“Even in conventional performing situations he always finds magic” – that is how Wogram describes the approach of his duo partner. “Probably it is simply in his personality.” And Zulfikarpasic gives this observation back, almost literally, to Wogram. Only in one point do the two differ from the pianist’s point of view. “Nils was incredibly well prepared. I, however, delivered everything at the last minute. In this respect he is German, and I am Balkan. Well, it is good that there are also differences. But they cannot be heard on Housewarming.

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Septet

Nils Wogram is a master of small formats – duos, trios and quartets are his domains. But eleven years ago he proved that he has quite a bit to say in the sextet and octet on the CD Odd and Awkward. Back then, the multi-reed player Steffen Schorn was along for the ride. He is on board again on Wogram’s newest CD, Complete Soul, this time in a septet. In addition, clarinetist Claudio Puntin, trumpeter Matthias Schriefl, the saxophonists Frank Speer and Tilman Ehrhorn as well as drummer John Schröder have also made this rendezvous.

Wogram’s approach on Complete Soul stands out in strong contrast to that of bands such as Roots 70 or Nostalgia. Normally, he writes the parts for his co-players, into their instruments; in other words, he sets their strengths to music, tailor-made. This time, however, he had a complex overall sound in his head, assembled like an organ made up of many horns, and then searched for the people who could fill out this sound with their personalities. As a tonal ideal, Nils Wogram had the sound of Miles Davis‘ classic Birth of the Cool in mind. Not to simply imitate it stylistically, but rather to transfer a common, shrouded brass sound, borne by top soloists. 

 

That the participants in this production apparently hold themselves back is all the more astounding given the fact of who they are: the protagonists who definitively characterize – by how they perform and play – the image of German jazz today; musicians one recognizes, one perceives as themselves in any context. This circumstance is also something Complete Soul and Birth of the Cool have in common. Wogram has formed a perfect chamber ensemble with these leading figures of contemporary jazz. 

 

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But Complete Soul is not a trombone record with enriched brass accompaniment. The leader steps so far back in the background that one occasionally forgets who plays trombone at all; he is, first and foremost, composer and organizer of sound. This distinguishes this septet from his other projects. Wogram is more interested in mutual respect among the participants. He is searching for a relaxed matter-of-course that leaves behind the permanently hierarchical and mercantile competition that has horribly overloaded jazz. Here, it is a matter of perceiving the music as a whole. 

We can call Complete Soul a great album, without a false sense of shame. It is a massive step in the creative work of one of today’s most versatile and productive German jazz musicians and joins company with a tradition that has once before opened its gates wide to European jazz. Above all, it is a wonderfully beautiful, light and yet deep piece of music, which demands to be heard and heard again.

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(…)bound up with tradition and modernity as well as complex, catchy and playful … and all along there’s Wogram himself, whose trombone remains in the service of the band sound in spite of his soloistic brilliance. … compelling, clear music, which is organically integrated in itself.

George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly, 03/2017 

 

(…) leads his genre out of the retro trap. Drawing from the well of tradition, connected with the curiosity for discovery like an intrepid seafarer – this is what characterizes Nil Wogram’s work. … Wogram thinks … in long arcs. This doesn’t only apply to his soli, breathtaking in the truest sense of the word, but also and above all to the musical, interpersonal relationships in which he moves.

Die Welt, 2013

Nils Wogram is the dominant musician in this trio. In no time at at all he manages to become the favourite musician in the room, especially to those who grew up with Albert Mangelsdorff and thus appreciate a well-rounded, confident jazz trombonist steeped in tradition with an original profile as ancomposer as well. Wogram’s intoxicating, melodic and persevering way of phrasing, the elegant arches he constructs and structures with succinct rhythm, the immense technical difficulties he nonchalantly faces in the solo parts, his subtly nuanced, mostly soft and lyrical sound and the narrative characteristics of his play all contribute to this appreciation.  This has little to do with nostalgia. This music is far too refined and far too present.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 11/2017