5 jaw-dropping DOMi & JD BECK moments

I have to admit I slept on these two Zoomer hyper-jazz savants for a while. Fortunately, they’re still extremely young and their music is so good, it definitely holds up. For Everything Jazz, I compiled five of their best YouTube moments.

12 September 2023

Unit Structures: Cecil Taylor’s Atonal Jazz

If you really want to annoy your neighbours on a Sunday afternoon, I’ve got exactly the right record for you. Even the most extreme metal can’t match the disorienting effect of Cecil Taylor’s “Unit Structures” on the unprepared listener. For the true connoisseur though, it remains a masterpiece to be acquired, never consumed.

Read my extensive review of Cecil Taylor’s 1966 milestone album „Unit Structures“ over at Everything Jazz.

7 August 2023

Out to Lunch: Eric Dolphy’s avant-garde masterpiece

A close friend and temporary roommate, who happened to be a jazz pianist, once handed me a Blue Note record he’d bought on the flea market. With his typical dry smile on his face, he said: “I bet you’ve never heard something like this before.” He was absolutely right.

Read my extensive review of Eric Dolphy’s 1964 milestone album „Out to Lunch!“ over at Everything Jazz.

24 July 2023

How to Become More Visible as an Artist

The nice people at TRPPN asked me to share my views and experiences on how artists can increase their visibility – without using social media.

I guess they were asking me because I’ve deleted most of my personal social media accounts in 2018 and still managed to successfully publish and promote a book and reach my audience through my Zen Sounds newsletter.

Another reason might be that I’ve been working in music journalism and the music industry for over 20 years now, with a good quarter of that time recently spent in the editorial team at Spotify.

While I definitely don’t have a masterplan, I felt inclined to speak about the need for rebuilding alternative infrastructures. Decentralization is key. We need more of that, in every aspect of the business.

That’s why I generally support ideas like TRPPN, a community-owned platform for creators and fans to share and discover live music experiences and generate income through subscriptions, tickets, partnerships, bookings, and merchandise.

I spoke a bit about myself as well, about my newsletter Zen Sounds, the positive aspects of self-publishing, what we can learn from the early 1980s experimental scene, what I’m listening to right now, and the current situation of independent music.

(Spoiler alert: It’s pretty messed up but not completely hopeless.)

Full interview on TRPPN’s blog

21 July 2023

Paul Brändle Trio – „Paul, Rick & River“ (Squama, 2023)

„Paul, Rick and River“ is a programmatic title for the new album from Munich-based Paul Brändle Trio, a Modern Jazz group led by the eponymous 31-year old guitar player and band leader. Playing together for years and across continents, this recording manifests the trio’s current state of matter, focusing on a no-gimmicks approach and a classic, melodic style of musical world-building.

66-year old US drummer Richard „Rick“ Hollander moved to Munich over 30 years ago. Paul has extensively worked and toured with him in the last decade. On one of those tours, 27-year old bass player River Adomeit – US-born, but living in Amsterdam –, joined them spontaneously when the bass player in Rick’s quartet dropped out due to illness.

„When assembling my trio, I deliberately included these two characters“, Brändle states. „Rick is an experienced drummer with a traditional but very creative way of playing. River, while being an exceptional musician, doesn’t so much build on virtuosity, but their musical approach is more subtle. Both complement one another really well.“

The album was recorded with Squama producer Martin Brugger. When it came to choosing the material, Paul opted for three of his own compositions („Homecoming“, „Fab“, and „Awake“), one of Rick’s compositions („As If There Were Simple Times“), and three standards („Round Midnight“, „Moonlight In Vermont“, and „A Flower Is a Lonesome Thing“).

„Paul, Rick and River“ sounds substantially different to Paul’s work in German groove jazz outfit Fazer. His own trio is indebted to a much more traditional, conventional style of playing. „Still, the idea of progress is deeply engrained in the jazz tradition as well“, Brändle says and points to the inclusion of „Round Midnight“; Monk, who wrote the tune, shaped bebop in the 1940s, but his unique, sometimes dissonant style of playing wasn’t well-received with the mainstream crowds at first.

With a long-standing history in jazz, the trio constellation of guitar, bass and drums automatically brings up references – whether it’s Grant Green’s legendary trio records on Blue Note, or Pat Metheny’s early ECM works. „Paul, Rick and River“ owes much to the melodic, colorful sound of the 1976 classic „Bright Size Life“, a record that Brändle ordered at his local drug store when he was just 14, a young guitar player in rural Bavaria deciding to focus on jazz after eight years of classical training. Almost two decades later, this album adds to a rich musical heritage that inspired Paul, Rick and River in the first place.

Words: Stephan Kunze

Release: September 15th, 2023
First single „Awake“ is out now

20 July 2023

Everything Jazz

I am super excited because I can finally talk about a project I’ve been working on for many months!

The new online record store for EVERYTHING JAZZ is now live. I’ve created and executed its editorial and content strategy. Store is CA only for now, but stories can be accessed from anywhere.

On the site, you can read in-depth pieces on:

  • How Nina Simone became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement (by Jeffrey Boakye)
  • When „Tone Poet“ Joe Harley met Darrel Sheinman of Gearbox to talk Blue Note reissues and Rudy Van Gelder’s magic (by Stephan Kunze)
  • The art of jazz harp – from Dorothy Ashby to Brandee Younger (by Freya Hellier)
  • How Terry Clarke sat in to play with John Coltrane one evening in 1965 (by Daniel Spicer)
  • Reconnecting with classic albums by Ahmad Jamal, Norah Jones, Madlib and Robert Glasper (by Stephan Kunze, Daniel Spicer, and Shannon J. Effinger)
  • A sashay through the late Astrud Gilberto’s discography (by Jane Cornwell)
  • Artist profiles for all-female jazz collective Artemis, neo-soul trailblazer Meshell Ndegeocello and #jazztok sensation Samara Joy (by Sharonne Cohen, Stephan Kunze, and Freya Hellier)

Much more to come. The journey has just started.

26 June 2023

How to Work With Me

I’ve been reading a lot about „How to Work With Me“ manuals recently.

They can be a way of setting clear expectations, and helpful to find out if someone is a good fit for a team or organization. They can create transparency and trust in work relationships.

That’s why I’ve started putting together a How to Work With Me page for my clients. I’m going to update it as we move along.

22 June 2023

Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore

Singer, songrwriter and bass player Meshell Ndegeocello explained it to me in an in-depth interview. My feature about her new album „The Omnichord Real Book“ just went live over at ZEIT Online.

Jazz isn’t cool anymore, because the word has turned into a mere marketing slogan. Nedegeocello refers to musician Nicholas Payton, who published a scathing blog article in 2011: On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore.

Ndegeocello’s new album surely will not satisfy the jazz genre police. In fact, they’ve always struggled with her music. She’s been mixing jazz with influences from funk, soul, hip-hop and poetry.

For 30 years, she’s been talking about the hot topics of the day: Racism, misogyny, queerness. On „The Omnichord Real Book“, she adds Afrofuturism to her agenda. She doesn’t want to leave this powerful concept to the mainstream.

This is my first feature for ZEIT Online. They’re one of Germany’s top three news sites, and I am now working as a freelance writer for their culture department.

As a suscriber, you can read my feature here (paywall, in German).

16 June 2023

Beats & Business

On June 24, I will be speaking on the „Beats & Business“ panel on lo-fi beats and editorial streaming playlists. After the talk, there will be live sets and drinks on the rooftop terrace of the Superbude Altona Paradise hotel in Hamburg.

On the panel, I will sit alongside Julia Gröschel (artist manager), Patrick Gerner (label & distribution manager), and producer/artist 7apes. It will be moderated by journalist Johanna Kaatz who produces under the alias Jtothek.

The panel starts at 6 pm CEST. Find the hotel near the train station Bahrenfeld.

It’s free, you just need to register. See you in Hamburg!

7 June 2023


11 years ago on this day, Adam „MCA“ Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away at 47, and subsequently the band ceased to exist.

I’ve been a huge Beastie Boys fan for most of my life. Their first album was one of the first records I bought with my pocket money in 1987.

Back then, they were cringeworthy at best, three insecure dudes that boasted premature party raps over clunky metal riffs. Their stage design consisted of inflatable male genitalia, and their live show included showering female cage strippers with beer cans.

By the mid-90s, they had changed. They had switched from clumsy rock-rap to tasteful funk breaks. MCA turned into their de facto spiritual leader, referencing Taoist poetry and inviting Buddhist monks to the stage.

MCA also openly addressed the misogyny of some of their earlier work in the song »Sure Shot« and offered his „love and respect til the end“ to all women.

Confronted by an interviewer with what he perceived as hypocrisy, band member Adam „Ad-Rock“ Horovitz responded with a quip: „I’d rather be a hypocrite to you than a zombie forever.“

Truth is, we all grow and learn and hopefully change for the better. That’s not a betrayal of our values, but a sign of our intelligence.

As a young music writer, I didn’t have such a problem with certain song lyrics and artist conduct that I find highly problematic today. Sometimes I come across one of my old articles or reviews and find it to be awkwardly self-centered, overly biased and highly unfair.

When we’re young, we tend to strongly believe in our ideas and assessments, and we hold on to them for dear life. Later, we constantly re-assess our opinions according to our experiences and learnings.

The Beastie Boys have taken us with them on their development path – from cringey high school boys to sensitive artist-activists to cultural icons. To me, that is a sign of true growth and maturity.

4 May 2023