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Home > Main > Acappellazone Album Pick 1/2015: Jazzchor Freiburg “Schwing”

Acappellazone Album Pick 1/2015: Jazzchor Freiburg “Schwing”

by Charlotte Kersting

The Jazzchor Freiburg has given concerts in Germany, Japan and Russia, and other countries. It has won choir contests and has been on stage together with Bobby McFerrin, the Swingle Singers or the Bamberg Philharmonics. The year 2014 started in Guanzhou, China, with a spectacular New Year’s concert.

In-between, the choir gave a unique improvisational concert with Roger Treece and performed a world premiere of a piece by Morten Kjaer. And this fall a tour through Germany and the release of their new album, “Schwing!“ brought an exciting and highly successful year to a close.

Since 1990, the Jazzchor Freiburg stands for class, quality and innovation. It will soon turn 25 – a quarter of a century old. Or young, as the case may be. If it were a person, it would be just on the verge of adulthood, still trying itself out. But as a choir it has been experimenting ever since the beginning while at the same time maintaining the confidence of an established performer. It is many people. And one person, holding them all together.

bertrand_groeger_polkowski_04-dfa2a821Bertrand Gröger is the founder and conductor of the choir and may justly be called its brain, heart and soul.

Bertrand, having begun the year under a rain of glamour, glitter and applause in China, doesn’t that make a tour through Germany rather boring in comparison?

Absolutely not! To me and the singers every concert is a challenge which does not depend on where it is or if there are 300 or 3000 people in the audience! Sure, every country has a different mentality and every venue has different acoustic circumstances. A concert is never a repetition of the last one. That is the exciting thing about it. I would say in a musicians’ life a concert is the top of the mountain.

A concert can be exciting for very different reasons and might also entail the possibility of not succeeding. Suppose a concert did not go well, what do you tell your singers?

Each concert has different qualities and creates different feelings. If the rare thing happens that from an objective point of view a concert didn’t run well, I try to find out what the reasons were. These might be manifold: the sound system, not enough sleep, difficult parts of the score which we didn’t manage. There are always things to improve. If it concerns the singers, I tell them clearly and in a friendly way. Regarding music as a whole the view should be focussed forward most of the time. As we say in Germany: after the match is before the match…

8 days, 8 concerts. How do you manage to get your amateur singers into shape?

Many of the singers are not amateurs, but that doesn’t make a big difference. I believe that the strength of the voice relates very much to psychological strength. So if a group is in a good mood, it helps a lot. And the groups’ mood is my responsibility both on and off stage. Besides, it is important that the preparations in musical and vocal terms have been going well before the tour.

You also experienced your very own adventure this year. How do you hold a choir together when you are hiking through the tundra, 5000 kilometres away?

This was a personal gift from me to me and from the choir letting me go on this trip to have a break shortly before our 25th anniversary! The choir is well organised, mainly by the chorus manager Nina Ruckhaber. And we have fantastic guest conductors like Roger Treece or Tamino Franz who sings with the choir.

How do you notice that the Jazzchor Freiburg makes good music, apart from awards and exuberant reviews?

When all the musical and technical tools like tones, timing, blending and dynamics are at the right place we can start making music. When we are in a flow on a concert and I feel like starting to fly I know like everybody else that good music happens right now.

The new CD of the Jazzchor Freiburg is available from January. What does the release mean for you? Pride, relief, stress? Another step on a long way or the crowning achievement of a temporary goal?

It is everything you mentioned! This album took us more than two years. And it was an exciting development from the first recordings to the final product. Everybody who is part of this album brought a lot of enthusiasm to it. The singers, the band musicians, my friend Klaus Frech and the Temple Studio. In the end I hope we can say that the result is real music –  that would be the biggest compliment. Let’s see what the people out there will say!

Cover-Schwing-grOn the cover, we can see a white swing, a reminder of the album’s title, „Schwing!“. How and why did you come up with this neologism?

Isn’t a swing the best explanation for swing music? I remembered Bob Stoloff once saying: “I love this german word Schwing”. Which has more or less the same meaning as “swing” in English. But at the same time the German “Schwing” is also an English word with a sexual connotation. I think love, sex and music are not too far away from each other.

 

In which ways does the „Schwing!” album differ from the previous album „A Cappella“?

It is very different. Here we are accompanied by piano, bass and drums. These are actually our roots: to sing with a band and to combine instrumental with vocal aspects.  And we are quite swingy on the new album. The previous one rather focusses on a cappella jazz and World Music.

How did you arrive at the choice of soloist for „Schwing!“? And who is Bettina Ntimpirangeza?

Oh, I am so happy that many of our friends with whom we worked during our short Jazzchor Freiburg history joined us on this album! Kirby Shaw as a brilliant scatter and the choral mastermind of the last decades, Roger Treece, one of Bobby McFerrins important composers and the Schwing-Bob-Stoloff. Cecile Verny whom we gave concerts with ages ago and Oliver Gies, one of the leading German arrangers. And many others. All of them gave their personal final touch to the Songs! Bettina with the difficult family name was a student of mine at the Popakademie in Mannheim. I remembered her voice colour and thought that it would perfectly fit the song.

Where does the road lead to, music-wise?

For sure we will go on schwinging, together with the new album. And at the same time we will keep our eyes and ears wide open. The future may bring some new songs to us. For example from Pat Metheny and the E.S.T. There are also some ideas about orchestral cooperations…

What do you wish the Jazzchor Freiburg for the new year?

To keep going from strength to strength.  And to remain open for new paths and new music. And let’s enjoy 25 years of this choir!

Questions by Charlotte Kersting

www.jazzchorfreiburg.de

www.facebook.com/jazzchorfreiburg

Get the album at https://shop.acappellazone.com/cd/schwing/a-1628/

 

Track list „Schwing!

1 Saturday Night Fish Fry (4:02)
Solo: Kirby Shaw
Arrangement: Kirby Shaw
Words & Music: Ellis Walsh & Louis Jordan
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Christian Flohr
Drums: Daniel Schay 

2 Stella by Starlight (3:57)
Solo: Michaela Nagl
Arrangement: Klaus Frech
Words: Ned Washington
Music: Victor Young
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Christian Flohr
Drums: Daniel Schay 

3 Kairo (4:31)
Solo: Roger Treece
Words: Norbert Gottschalk
Music & Arrangement: Hugo Read
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Jean Hommel
Drums & Percussion: Daniel Schay

4 So What (5:30)
Solo: Bob Stoloff (scat) & Bertrand Gröger (theme)
Arrangement: Bertrand Gröger (originally arranged for The Swingle Singers)
Words: Eddie Jefferson
Music: Miles Davis
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Christian Flohr
Drums: Matthias Meusel

5 Soulville (3:58)
Choral Arrangement: Bertrand Gröger
Arrangement: Hein van de Geyn (for Dee Dee Bridgewater)
Words & Music: Horace Silver
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Jean Hommel
Drums: Daniel Schay 

6 Joy (3:59)
Solo: Myriam West
Vocal Quartet: Margret Horrer, Michaela Nagl, Nina Ruckhaber, Steffen Bodemer
Choral Arrangement: Klaus Frech
Words & Music: Torun Eriksen
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass & Snare Drum: Klaus Frech

7 From Day to Day (5:01)
Solo: Tokunbo
Choral Arrangement: Klaus Frech
Words & Music: Torun Eriksen
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Jean Hommel
Drums: Matthias Meusel 

8 Here We Are (4:22)
Solo: Bettina Ntimpirangeza
Sax Solo: Morten Klein
Words: Rebecca Jeffrey & Helen Jones
Music & Arrangement: Philipp Moehrke
Rhodes: Jens Gebel
Bass: Jean Hommel
Drums: Matthias Meusel 

9 I‘ve Got the World on a String (3:28)
Solo: Cécile Verny
Arrangement: Kirby Shaw
Words: Ted Koehler
Music: Harold Arlen
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Christian Flohr
Drums: Daniel Schay

10 Straighten Up and Fly Right (4:52)
Solo: Oliver Gies
Arrangement: Bertrand Gröger
Words & Music: Nat King Cole & Irving Mills
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Christian Flohr
Drums: Matthias Meusel 

11 She‘s Leaving Home (5:53)
Arrangement: Bertrand Gröger
Words & Music: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Jean Hommel
Drums: Daniel Schay

12 Route 66 (4:29)
Solo: Kirby Shaw
Arrangement: Bertrand Gröger
Words & Music: Bobby Troup
Piano: Andreas Erchinger
Bass: Christian Flohr
Drums: Matthias Meusel

 

 

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