NEW CD OUT: „TO MY BELOVED ONES“
Zurich Jazz Orchestra & Steffen Schorn
release concert: march 17, 2022
release date: march 18, 2022
„What a killer album“ (Andrew Read, Jazz in Europe)
«To My Beloved Ones»
“To My Beloved Ones” concludes the CD trilogy with Steffen Schorn. The joint journey began seven years ago with “Eye of the Wind”, composed on Schorn’s train journey to Zurich for his first concert as musical director of the ZJO. Steffen Schorn once again pulls out all the stops that make his sound language and sound sculptures so unique. He skillfully operates between chamber music sounds and rich big band tradition. The music is dense, powerful and yet completely transparent. The CD begins with “Tango,” written one morning in a youth hostel in Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil. Not really a tango, but somehow it is, this tone poem oscillates between a miniature chamber music concerto for C-melody saxophone and a fast samba. With oriental flair and a feature for guitarist Theo Kapilidis, “Die Tochter des Tyrannen” continues – dedicated to a beauty in Crete. And as always with Schorn, you can hear the love of low notes and the fascination of the large ensemble sound and the groovy humor as well as the brilliant tuttis in this program. And in the last piece, “To My Beloved Ones,” a lyrical theme with a mystically luminous rapturous hue unfolds from the exact same C-melody saxophone upbeat as in “Eye of the Wind,” floating through the harmonies with orchestral blended sounds. “To My Beloved Ones” is, in a way, the parting gift of a wonderful collaboration.
Formed in 1995 the Zurich Jazz Orchestra has rightly earned its place among Europe’s top professional Big Bands. Around the turn of the millennium, the band took its first big steps in development when Stefan Schlegel took over the musical direction in June 2000, and Bettina Uhlmann the management and administrative direction. It was also in this period that the ZJO cemented its collaboration with the iconic Zurich venue, Moods Jazz Club providing the band with platform for regular concert programming. During the ensuing period the band produced three albums (“Beyond Swiss Tradition” (2005), “New Plans” (2008) and the 2012 release “Song”) and began building the bands international profile.
During his six-year tenure as musical director of the band, Steffen further oversaw the continuation of the bands artistic development. During his six seasons as musical director, Schorn delivered over 100 different compositions and arrangements. Each concert had a completely new programme and Steffen admits keeping up this pace had been adventurous and at the same time extremely demanding. The positive side of this was that it forced a sense of “alertness of the moment” within the band. In 2017 the band entered the studio to record their fourth album and the first release in a trilogy under the direction of Steffen Schorn titled “Three Pictures” (2018) with the second in the series “Dedications” following in early 2021. Both albums not only received critical acclaim but also demonstrated the virtuosity encapsulated with the Zurich Jazz Orchestra.
Toward the end of 2019 Steffen retired from his role as musical director of the Zurich Jazz Orchestra to continue in the position of composer-in-residence. Speaking of this Steffen stated: “I love working with this band and when I first took on the position it came at just the right time. I still had a lot of items left on my musical bucket list and I knew this band had what it takes to achieve this.” With a full-time teaching position as head of jazz department at the Nuremberg University of Music and many other musical commitments throughout the world it became more and more difficult for Steffen to manage his schedule. “I was constantly travelling, in fact, at one point I was travelling more than 1000 kilometres a week. I wanted to concentrate more on my writing and arranging so taking the position as composer-in-residence made sense to me.” He went on to say: “My new role as composer-in-residence now gives me the opportunity to take a step back and dive deeper into the inner world of emotions, memories, feelings and write brand new compositions as well as taking older pieces out of the treasure trove and create fresh custom-made orchestrations for the ZJO.
The album includes five original compositions, all composed and arranged by Steffen Schorn, and from a musical perspective continues from where “Dedications” left off. Speaking of diving into the treasure trove of older pieces, this album opens with a track titled “Tango” that dates to the early repertoire from the Duo Steffen had with Swiss clarinettist Claudio Puntin, originally written in 1992 on the Duos first trip to South America. While not a true tango in the literal sense, this piece is more of a metaphor and declaration of love for the South American continent, its people, culture, and natural beauty. Tango features what can be described as a miniature concerto for C-melody saxophone in its intro and references several Latin styles featuring impressive solo work from René Mosele on bass trumpet and Raphael Kalt on trumpet.
Inspired by the unapproachable beauty of the island of Crete, the following track titled “Die Tochter des Tyrannen” (The tyrant’s daughter) is a feature for guitarist Theo Kapillidis. This piece opens with a dark and mysterious intro and builds throughout before the final theme explodes in a brilliantly orchestrated big band tutti. “For Me Is Just Now Anytime” truly fits with the theme of the album’s title and is dedicated to Steffen’s wife, cellist Ulrike Zavelberg. Steffen explained “For Me Is Just Now Anytime” was on my answering machine one day after our first meeting at a student concert with jazz band and string orchestra along with the words “… see you sometime …” It was like a bolt out of the blue, Ulli had entered my life. After 30 years together with its ups and downs, I thought it was high time that this piece finally appears on CD in a new big band version with the Zurich Jazz Orchestra.
Käpt’n Blaubär is inspired by the book “The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Blue Bear” by Walter Moers that was first published in Germany in 1999. This piece celebrates the unbroken art of living while mastering the most extreme challenges encountered on Käpt’n Blaubär’s adventurous journey to the legendary city of Atlantis. This track features the two alto saxophones of Reto Anneler and Lukas Heuss as well as Steffen Schorn’s baritone saxophone. In short it is declaration of love for the manifestations of the soul, the omnipresence of imagination and of universal possibilities.
The final tack on this album is not only the title track for this release but also the closing statement from the trilogy. The trilogy began with the opening piece on the album “Three Pictures” titled “Eye of the Wind”. The piece was finalised by by Schorn during the journey to his 1st concert with the Zurich Jazz Orchestra. “To my beloved ones” was premiered at the last concert the band performed with Steffen in the role as musical director and conductor and with special guest Dave Liebman. Steffen recalls “It was exactly 17:59 and 59 seconds when the sheet music for this piece was sent to the Moods jazz club office to have the parts printed, the band and Dave were already sitting ready for the 18:00 sound check. As always, the orchestra made the music sound brilliant in no time at all. In essence we can see this piece as one of the two bookends to the trilogy.
Steffen concluded that “in short, this final piece, and indeed the album as a whole, is an ode to all the people who are dear to me – my family, my many friends near and far, and of course the Zurich Jazz Orchestra, my beloved Zurich-family”.
This recording and indeed the other two releases in the trilogy highlights not only the great musicianship housed within the Zurich Jazz Orchestra but also shines a spotlight on one of Europe’s leading Big Bands at the top of their game.
Photos: Pablo Faccinetto Text: Andrew Read
Steffen Schorn Selection of CD´s
Soloist & Sideman:
44 piano pieces by 44 composers
2 hours and 39 minutes of new piano music „for Beethoven“
from Vol. 2-10 of the Sheet Music Edition
Special Guest: Roger Hanschel
RONDO, Mai 2021:
„Steffen Schorn zählt zu den besten Komponisten und Arrangeuren der aktuellen Jazzszene…Mit einem enormen Gespür für Stimmungen arrangiert Schorn hier und in einigen anderen Stücken mehrstimmige Passagen und schlägt damit die Brücke vom Jazz zur Kammermusik. Großartig.“
Peter Sonderegger, Zürich:
„sensibel, melodiös, komplex, ausdrucksstark, innovativ, inspirierend, gefühlvoll, anspruchsvoll, mit- und hinreissend“
„Das 1995 gegründete Zurich Jazz Orchestra zählt zur europäischen Spitzenklasse und weist mit seinem fünften Album mögliche Wege in die Zukunft dieses Klangkörpers. Steffen Schorn … hat der All-Star-Band eine Reihe von Stücken vorgelegt, die überraschen und zugleich beglücken … „Dedications“ zeigt das Zurich Jazz Orchestra am Puls der Zeit.“
Michael van Gee, Jazz´n´More:
„… gelingt mit ”Dedications” erneut die Verbindung zwischen höchst anspruchsvollen Kompositionen und Arrangements und dennoch für den Hörer jederzeit zugänglichen und nachvollziehbaren Klänge
… farbenreiche, sehr differenzierte und ausgeklügelte Stücke, die die Qualitäten des ZJO und ihrer grossartigen Solisten unterstreichen.“
Aargauer Zeitung: „Best of April: Die Alben des Monats“
„Schorn liebt es, die klanglichen Möglichkeiten einer Grossformation auszureizen, vor allem in den tiefen Registern. Insofern hat er noch einen Zacken zugelegt.“
NZZ am Sonntag:
„Vielfarbig leuchtet und schimmert der satte Orchesterklang, raffinierte, ausnotierte Tutti-Passagen wechseln ab mit kollektiven Improvisationen und mitreissenden Solos.“
JAZZPODIUM, Juni 2021:
„Mit dem Zurich Jazz Orchestra beweist Schorn, dass er auch große Formationen äußerst unkonventionell klingen lassen kann … moderne orchestrale Bigband-Musik voller Ideen, Klangfarben und komplexer Verschachtelungen, die alles andere als verkopft und akademisch klingt.“
„Wer nach knapp vierzig Minuten den Trip durch dieses aufregende Album abgeschlossen hat, der ist erfüllt von lange nachwirkenden Klangeindrücken“
„Mit dem Zurich Jazz Orchestra fand Schorn den idealen Klangkörper, um seine eigene Komponiersprache zum Ausdruck zu bringen… – harmonische und rhythmische Vertracktheiten, Arrangements von höchster Intensität und Kompositionen voller Brüche“
„ »Dedications« ist die konsequente Fortentwicklung hin zu noch mehr kompositorischer Tiefe, tonsetzerischer Raffinesse und spieltechnischem Anspruch.“
„lichtschnelle Unisono-Passagen, herausfordernde Melodiesprünge, abrupte Wendungen, verschachtelte Tonketten, die in irrsinnigem Tempo miteinander verwoben werden.“
„Diese Freiheit im Kontext des Notierten ist ein Moment, das der Musik von Schorn ihre Leichtigkeit verschafft. Die enorm komplexen Abläufe offenbaren sich erst beim genauen Zuhören.“
„Klangforschung und das Experiment stehen bei Schorn im Mittelpunkt, nicht die Komposition am Reißbrett.“
„Schorn fächert den Orchestersound mit diesem unkonventionellen Instrumentarium weit auf und benutzt das tiefe Blech, um den Kompositionen rhythmische Konturen und metrischen Schliff zu verpassen.“
JAZZHETIK, Juli/August 2021:
„ein Feuerwerk an Kompositionskunst, Spielfreude und – Dedications.“
„Die Klänge und Phrasen, die Steffen Schorn formt, werden im Zusammenspiel mit dem ZJO quicklebendig und machen sich auf den Weg, die Herzen der Menschen zu erobern. “
„Etwas steckt drin, das man immer wieder durchlebt, was einen nicht loslässt.“
„Die Musik entfaltet sich so, dass man reingezogen wird, dass man Entwicklungen nachvollziehen kann. Dass man mitgenommen wird in die Erfahrungsvielfalt.“
„das Tor zum Schlaraffenland“
NEW CD OUT: DEDICATIONS
Zurich Jazz Orchestra & Steffen Schorn
release concert: april 15, 2021
release date: april 16, 2021
Michael van Gee, Jazz´n´More
„farbenreiche, sehr differenzierte und ausgeklügelte Stücke, die die Qualitäten des ZJO und ihrer grossartigen Solisten unterstreichen.“
01 The Mad Code 01:56
02 Monsieur Pf. 07:01
03 So eine … 04:50
04 Martha 07:47
05 Til Charlotte 02:29
06 Walzer Part I 06:16
07 Walzer Part II 04:07
08 Walzer Part III 03:29
All tracks composed & arranged by Steffen Schorn except «Til Charlotte», composed by Lars Andreas Haug, arranged by Steffen Schorn.
Steffen Schorn cond/comp, Murat Cevik fl, Reto Anneler fl/cl/sax, Lukas Heuss sax/cl, Thomas Lüthi sax/cl, Tobias Pfister sax/cl, Nils Fischer sax/cl, Patrick Ottiger tp/flh, Wolfgang Häuptli tp/flh, Bernhard Schoch tp/flh, Raphael Kalt tp/flh, Adrian Weber tb, René Mosele tb, Silvio Cadotsch tb, Don Randolph tb, Gregor Müller p/keyb, Theo Kapilidis g, Patrick Sommer b, Pius Baschnagel dr/perc
The European jazz scene boasts a number of world class professional Big Bands, all with their own rich history and tradition. The Zurich Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1995, undoubtedly belongs to this exclusive club.
The big band recorded its fifth studio album in the winter of 2020/21, the second under the direction of Steffen Schorn, who was musical director for six years before changing to his current role as congenial composer in residence.
Fortunately. The album “Dedications” is a worthy successor to “Three Pictures”, released in 2018. Schorn’s compositions and thus the sound of the orchestra have, if at all possible, become even richer, more colorful, more differentiated, but at the same time more powerful. The album is proof of the fact that the sound spectrum and the possibilities of a top-class big band are almost unlimited. And if there were limits, they could be shifted with ease by someone like Steffen Schorn. “I loved working with this band, and when I took up the position of orchestra leader, it came at just the right time. I still had a lot of to-dos on my musical bucket list, and I knew this band had what it took to reach all my aims”.
“Dedications” is proof that Steffen Schorn has been able to tick off a thing or two on his bucket list. The music on the album is sophisticated yet accessible, staking out the essential themes of modern big band music and all its options at once. From the opener “The Mad Code”, originally written for solo piano and now completely re-orchestrated for the ZJO, to the pan-diatonic “Monsieur Pf.”, a tongue-in-cheek reference to a German police officer, to “Walzer”, the three-part closing tune that works with different harmonic layers, the Zurich Jazz Orchestra fits perfectly and flawlessly into its role as mediator of everything human – and superhuman, at times.
It oscillates with ease between a wall of sound and intimate chamber music, between force and finesse. You don’t ever get tired of listening to such a band.
Hermeto Pascoal | Marcio Bahia | Roger Hanschel
The Norwegian Wind Ensemble | Steffen Schorn
Hermeto Pascoal | Marcio Bahia | Roger Hanschel
The Norwegian Wind Ensemble conducted by Steffen Schorn
Hermeto Pascoal – prepared piano, water glass, melodica, bass flute, voice
Marcio Bahia – drums, percussion
Roger Hanschel – sopranino sax, soprano sax, F-mezzosoprano sax, alto sax
Steffen Schorn – C-melody sax, baritone sax, bass sax, Eb-tubax, Bb-tubax, alto flute, bass flute, bass clarinet, contraalto clarinet, harmophon
„…The wide range of this present production is – like the previous, much-praised production “Tiefenträume” (Dreams from the depths) – is unparalleled for variety and expressive power.“ latinjazznet.com
„… it is the genius of Steffen Schorn – and the members of the Norwegian Wind Ensemble – to bring all of this multitudinous harmonic palimpsest to life in a manner that constantly reminds us of Mr Pascoal’s unique lyrical gifts … quite magical and eminently enjoyable…“ jazzbluesnews.com
„Hermeto’s Universe“ (Paschen Records) is of a similarly provocative quality, referring to the Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal…The bass saxophonist Steffen Schorn has achieved an outstanding homage to the maestro’s 85th birthday by arranging these complex structures for the Norwegian Wind Ensemble and achieving a maximum degree of aesthetic appeal thanks to the smooth drive of the percussion maestro Marcio Bahia
Michael Kube, NMZ December 2020
„In seinen Neuarrangements von Pascoal-Stücken hebt ihn der deutsche Saxophonist Steffen Schorn endgültig in den Pantheon…. Es hängt mit der komplexen Instrumentierung zusammen, dass einem solche Gedanken aufsuchen.“
„verschachtelte und doch transparente, stets abwechslungsreiche Großensemblemusik, die laufend und mit Feingespür zu überraschen weiß … Indeed: This is ein Universum, sich selbst genug.“
Levi Sorglos, JAZZPODIUM September 2020
„The Norwegian Wind Ensemble was founded in 1734, so the competition can only be amazed. The 24 musicians switch between styles and genres with ease, here they celebrated the music of the Brazilian Hermeto Pascoal with Steffen Schorn.“
Günther Huesmann, „Jazz across the border“
„Maximum degree of aesthetic sound attractiveness … Steffen Schorn has succeeded in creating an outstanding homage to the Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal.“
Hans-Dieter Grünefeld, SONIC July / August 2020
„… a harmoniously complex music like“ Ilza Nova „with the force of a samba school and a rousing timing. Here you can hear the craziest changes in tempo and harmony. Among other things, Schorn plays the Tubax, a special saxophone in the sub-double bass range, and he makes it snore, grunt and rattle that it blows your ears off. … In the interpretation of this ensemble, compositions like „Mente Clara“ with their strict beauty blossom into heartbreaking beauty. „
Ralf Stiftl, Westphalian Gazette
„The order of the jungle: This is how „Hermeto’s Universe“ sounds…the musical and therefore spiritual life universe of Hermeto Pascoal is multifaceted, ambiguous, multi-layered: rhythms overlap, pulsate in opposite directions, accelerate or slow down a constant flow of sounds that seem to be incessantly simple, exist, and Hermeto’s message is clear: don’t talk so much, but listen, dive in, feel, let yourself in for it. …Yes, this music speaks to us in tongues, if you like, and Steffen Schorn is on the right track with his adaptation, which may actually lead us to the holy grail of Brazilian music as it occurs in the Hermeto Pascoals universe.“
Roland Biswurm, BR2 (Radio Bavaria)