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Home > Main > Jazzchor Freiburg – A Glimpse of Heaven Every Now and Then

Jazzchor Freiburg – A Glimpse of Heaven Every Now and Then

Bertrand Gröger (Jazzchor Freiburg founder and conductor) interviewed by Florian Städtler

VB: In 1996, the Jazz Choir Freiburg released (perhaps) the first-ever CD of Choral Jazz Music. What comes spontaneously to mind when thinking of this “pioneering”?

BG: That’s a good question. And the idea that it could have been the first jazz choral record ever, never dawned on me. Thanks for the hint! Yes, at that point in time there were no role models, except for a few vocal groups, but actually no choirs. In any case, we wanted to create our own concept, arrangements, ideas, coloration: to find our own language. That was exciting.  And we were well received by the press and the public.

VB: The CD was followed by countless tours, an increasing number of 1st places in international choral competitions, appearances at major social and political events, collaboration with various soloists and finally, even with the god-father of vocal music: Bobby McFerrin.  Well over 20 years of Vocal-Music History but only the third CD?

BG: Indeed, it was a long wait. There are two reasons. Firstly, the most important thing for us was to perform live, and as often as possible. I would personally say, a concert has something almost holy. Each concert is unique. We always aim to unite: composition, choir, audience, venue and many other factors. So we dedicated much time to Concerts. The second reason: to squeeze the Jazz Choir sound onto a disc, is technically not very easy. Therefore, I was always a bit hesitant. But now we had the right sound team together and I think it was worth the wait.



Fr, 26. Oktober 2012 Halle, Konzerthalle Ulrichskirche, 19:30 Uhr
Sa, 27. Oktober 2012 Berlin, Radialsystem, 20 Uhr
So, 28. Oktober 2012 Bremen, Sendesaal, 18 Uhr
Mo, 29. Oktober 2012 Hamburg, Komödie Winterhuder Fährhaus, 19:30 Uhr
Di, 30. Oktober 2012 Kassel, Konzertsaal der Universität, 20 Uhr
Mi, 31. Oktober 2012 Bad Nauheim, Konzertsaal der Trinkkuranlage, 19:30 Uhr
Do, 1. November 2012 Lahr, Chrysanthema, 14 Uhr
Fr, 2. November 2012 Lörrach, Burghof, 20 Uhr
Sa, 3. November 2012 Landau, Universum Kinocenter, 19:30 Uhr
So, 4. November 2012 München, Spectaculum Mundi, 18 Uhr



VB: The current CD is titled “A Cappella”. Yet, from the outset, it has been one of the trademarks and strengths of the Jazz Choir that instrumental accompaniment / rhythm section, soloists and choir worked together.

BG: And that will certainly always remain. But we have had so much encouragement with regard to our A Cappella songs, which make up about one-third of our repertoire. They just had to be recorded!  And we have the good fortune of having the great a cappella recording professional: Jens Johansen (DK) as a producer with his sound engineer Henrik Aaboe.

VB: What actually distinguishes the Jazz Choir from one of the many a cappella groups in smaller formation?

BG: Perhaps it is comparable to a string quartet and an orchestra, or jazz trio and big band.  The fact that many more people play/sing with each other requires that everyone listen with greater intent which creates a wonderful harmony in the larger group. And such a group can, with practice, develop tremendous strength and energy in performance.

VB: Since the 1990s a lot has been done in the field of pop and jazz choirs. There are now a considerable number of choirs singing jazz, pop, rock, etc. What distinguishes the Jazz Choir from the “competition”?

BG: The program. I always strived never to imitate. Why should we sing songs that others have already done with greatness? I want to use our energy: to learn through collaboration with other artists, to discover and experiment with new sounds, to take risks, as was the case working with different orchestras, with Bobby McFerrin and Torun Eriksen.  And so, we seek diversity while keeping true to our name: Jazz Choir, but at the same time, adding world music to “Serious Music”.

VB: The CD is now released. Anyone who knows Bertrand Gröger, knows that the choir always new songs and projects up its sleeve. What may we look forward to in the next few years?

BG: Ideas are many. We will see which of them develop. But, we can’t give away our secrets?

VB: If you had to choose five vocal-music CDs for the deserted island, which ones would they be and why?

BG: I hardly ever hear any other music because I’m constantly involved/surrounded by the music that I’m doing, and when, then usually from completely different genres. But I’d rather take five people to the island, with whom I can make music with. And then the island wouldn’t so deserted/lonely.

VB: Final question: In 2040, when summing up 50 years of Jazz Choir History, in one sentence. What would you like to be able to say?

BG: I think that by that time I’ll be somewhere else, completely. But I would enjoy saying that: “From time to time, we were allowed to knock on/approach the heavenly gate of divine music!”

VB: Thank you and continued success! 

Freiburg (Germany) based Jazzchor Freiburg was founded in 1990 by Bertrand Gröger. Since then, it has been one of the most active and successful contemporary, rhythmic vocal ensembles in Europe.

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