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Nils Wogram :: Jazz for me is a music of surprises
by Anastasiya Kostyukovich, Vilnuis Jazz Fest, 1998

Nils Wogram is doubtless one of the most remarkable newcomers in the German and European jazzscene. With his three CD releases "New York Conversations" (Mons Records), "Round Trip" and "Speed Life" (ENJA-Records) the Cologne-based composer and trombonist introduces a kind of music that has as much compositional as improvised elements. Different styles such as mainstream, free music and new music are being connected in a very natural way. Enthusiastic reviews celebrate his unique trombone-playing and composing.

Born in Braunschweig, Germany in 1972, Nils Wogram started a classical training at the age of 12. Between 1989 and 1992 he repeatedly was awarded at the German federal competition "Jugend musiziert" and won several other prizes for contemporary classical music and jazz. In 1989 he became a member of the German Federal Jazz Orchestra, led by the internationally known trombonist and big band arranger Peter Herbolzheimer. A grant from the "New School" brought Nils to New York where he stayed from 1992 to 1994 and studied with such greats like Reggie Workman, Slide Hampton, Conrad Herwig, Kenny Werner, Buster Williams, Maria Schneider and Jiggs Wigham. His 1994 debut album "New York Conversations" was released by Mons Records.
After returning from New York, Nils has become one of the most sought-after trombone players in Germany. With his own quartet as well as a soloist with bands as Jazzkantine, Frank Band, Underkarl, De 8 Baan, Gunter Hampels Next Generation he has appeared at international festivals as Jazz Baltica, Varna Summer Festival, Moers New Jazz Festival, ENJA 25th aniversary (New York) and played concerts in the USA, France, Switzerland, Austria, Bulgaria, Netherlands, and of course Germany. He also took part in several TV and radio productions in Germany. In 1995 he was nominated for the SWF Jazz Award and received a grant from the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen for the production of his CD "Round Trip" (ENJA). 1998 his third CD "Speed Life" (ENJA) was released and he won the jazzprize Nürnberg as well as the SWR radiojazzprize and the prize of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

The cold concert hall in cold autumnal Vilnius and warm rhythm in Wogram music have foretell my first question:
Nils, say, please, does the ambient temperature have an influence on "the temperature" of your improvisation?

I hope on this concert it hasn't influenced in any way! And quite the contrary, our music warms the people. It's a truth, that when it's cold to play completely: fingers move slowly, pins move slowly, lips are freeze... But on the scene was a little bit warmer, than in hall: all these illumination lamps, dynamics. They heat scenic atmosphere a little bit...

Is the mood of the same composition change when you play it on the scene of tropical country or in such cold hall?

May be, but so slightly. Most likely it depends on the music, on that, how we play it, on that energy, which we receive from the audience. It is more important for the musician, than temperature of air. Do you know we play in clubs more often: there are direct and close contact with audience. But here, in the concert hall, the audience is remote: to see and to feel it is more difficult. There is a concert atmosphere. We finish to play a tune, everyone clap, we begin to play further... Hotly or coldly was it is possible to feel already at the end of concert, when suddenly applause not let you from the scene off.

There was so, in Vilnius?

Yes, a little bit. I don't know, has liked our music here. There were some moments, specially per the first day: an us applaud, and then... May be, there was a little bit more coldly than usually.

One your composition from an album "Round Trip " is called simply wonderful: " Fratzen, I Like The Smell Of Garbage ". Is it really such smell can inspire you on music writing?

I wrote this composition during my with my friend campaign in theatre. We looked then any strange performance. The actor on a course of performance got up to completely not clear things. And he wasted this phrase: " Fratzen, I Like The Smell Of Garbage !" When I have written this tune and have listened to it, I have decided these words approach for its title very much, they transmit its mood. Therefore I has called it so..
Mostly on music writing I'm inspired by absolutely other matters. First of all, my environment, my impressions and experience, inspires me. I like to write music during the trips on performances, in tours, for example, here, in Lithuania. I see, what here are people, I look at city, at other country. I watch absolutely diverse customs, and by it I'm inspirit. Well, and by music, of course. I try to listen to repertoire of other groups, classic composers as Strawynsky, Stockgausen and jazz pieces by Miles Davis and John Coltrane...

From their music you derive mood or technique?

At that, and other. I try to learn to them something. In many respects it depends concretely on the composer. Sometimes there is a music, which one is very much structured, is well made technically. I attempt to learn this, to take this engineering and to link it with my feelings. As a result, I study not only engineering of composition, but also the tune, the art of its creation as a whole. Sometimes I hear a tune and I speak myself: " It's good! This is new mood! " Also I create something other, but on the basis of this observed mood. And now it sounds not at the original. All musicians are the persons. And each causes musician to sound how he hears it.

When you are on the scene, do you remember the concrete situation by which you were inspired on writing of this composition? Or to each time your music bears in your imagination new images?

My principle is to have any own "firm" cliché in own music. I like to connect miscellaneous styles and genres. For example: traditional jazz with classic music by Strawinsky. And also folk, electronic music... Everything, that is connected with my impressions. About some musicians we may to say "he plays a jazz " or " he plays classic music ". I connect all this in my music. I like this combination of the different resisted styles with free improvisation.

And you aren't aside of mode on a jazz – folk…

Yes, the folk music is one members of my music. It is impossible to say I take any national melodies and I write the composition on its basis. No, I don't. I take from folk music much more. For example, Bulgarian folk music, from which one I take frame, rhythm, for example 9/11, 9/8, and on this basis I write the music, which one is difficult to call folk. The concept of this melody is completely other. Thus, for example, was written my composition "Chopska" from an album "Round Trip", in which one the folklore elements are well visible.

How much CD you have already? And what of them you consider as most successful?

I have put out three CD under mine name and many records as sideman of other groups. These three disks are very miscellaneous and each of them I lake in own way. We have given only two -- three concerts with compositions from these two disks. The third album, " Speed Life ", was composed for a long time. We have given many concerts up before its record in studio: about 50 performances. I have composed this music for this quartet, for the musicians, which one I know very much for a long time. I have made an album, knowing these people, their capability, knowing they like it, thinking about them. So, the music from the album " Speed Life " was makes especially for these musicians. Anybody other can play it how they.

How long do you play in this quartet? How you have met?

Since 1996. It's a truth, as a rule we play with other pianist – Simon Nabatov (he was born in Russia, but now he lives in Cologne or in New York). On the Vilnius festival we have acted without Nabatov: he have the concert tour with Arthur Blythe quartet in this time. Instead of him I have asked to play the talented young pianist from Germany Achim Kaufmann. We all have met in Cologne three years ago: me, Nabatov, ours bass player Nicolas Thys and drummer Jochen Rueckert (by the way, he is come from Cologne)...

How do you think, to what induces audience listening of your music? In what mood escape the people your concerts?

Once we had concert in small city on border of Switzerland with France. Before our arrival in city have hung out the poster, in which one our music was characterised as expressive and... sunny! I try, that it was just so! I would like that my music wasn't outworn and that the people speak so: " Hey, let's go listen his music. Probably, he plays else"... I remember always, that I must surprise audience. For me personally jazz was and remains always the music of surprises.

Do you plays in clubs or on concert scenes more often? Where you feel yourselves more comfortable?

We play both in jazz clubs, and on festival scenes, and in concert halls. At that, and other is pleasant for me. The club atmosphere is very sweet. Specially is pleasant that the listeners in club are close to the musicians. Though with a condition, that they conduct themselves quietly. Sometimes it happens, that the people don't listen to you absolute. They drink, talk, and rustle...
But it happens so: they speak, but quiet. Or they keep silent and dream about something themselves. As a matter of fact I like clubs about on 200 person, where is the quiet atmosphere and where I feel the relation of the listeners with my music. But I like to play and on the festivals, when I play in the face of two thousand audience. It is striking to.

Do you take a part in design of yours disk covers? Has your personal passion an influence on a final version of its design?

I try to do that. For me it's very important to participate in design. But it's possible not always. Because the recording company has a stylist, with which one is signed the contract. And it is more simply for them and more cheaply.
For example, the design of my second disc, "Round Trip", it was my idea. Certainly, I didn't make all this - near to me the specialist worked. For a cover to the third disc, " Speed Life ", I even had to be overcome. It was exclusively my idea -- to select this photo. The companies liked other idea: they wanted to take something from the reserves. I should be objected. Know, sometimes it is necessary to argue and to go on the conflicting to the sound recording company.

The designers from "ENJA" were against this unknown corrugated fruit on the cover?

I like this cover very much! It isn't important what is a fruit. Major is the idea. In my opinion, this photo transmits the idea of all albums very brightly: "Speed Life" like fast life. And this half-rotten, half- withered substance is very significant result of this excessive speed of life...

Is it possible in today Germany to listen something of post soviet jazz music? Can you remember any names?

I played on the festival in Varna with the class saxophonist. He was born in Russia and has leaved it, when have only 14 years. What is his name?

In Varna? May be it was Anatoly Vapyrov?

Yes! Vapyrov! He is really "crazy cat"! Is he Russian, isn't he? I like else Vladymyr Tarasov. He is Russian too, though lives here, in Lithuania. From the Lithuanians jazzmen I heard Petras Vyshyauskas. And, and... Please, call me the names and I'll speak, whether I know them...


Yes! I haven't met with him, but this name I heard. He is well known in Germany. I don't recollect now someone else. Even German jazz men I listen more often somewhere on festivals, than in the Germany...

published 30.06.2005© 2005 jazz news :: home page

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