Saxophone Player / Composer
Which were the most important sources of inspiration for you as a musician?
At the age of 16 I discovered Jazz and immediately the sound of the saxophone grabbed me. Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker…. I soaked up their music and soon felt the urge to produce that sound, too.
Who is your greatest musical hero?
It used to be Sonny Rollins, but when I heard Maceo Parker in the 1990s for the first time I realized immediately: this is how I want to play. Parker is of course unattainable, there is no other musician who has imposed his own personal style on his instrument in quite the same way. It was through him that I realized that funk is my music with its full focus on the rhythm. Parker could easily do a solo on just a single tone and still create the very essence of funkyness.
Which music do you listen to in private?
Again I follow Maceo´s line: 2% jazz, 98% funk. Soulive, Adam Holzmans Brave New World; Jamiroquai, Prince….
I used to focus almost exclusively on instrumental music, but since Mel and I got together I have discovered vocalists, male and female, from legendary soulsingers such as Al Green and Donny Hathaway to contemporary singers such as Amy Winehouse, Alice Russel or Ledisi. I suppose this has made my own style a little more melodious, as well. Quite logically, the human voice is the instrument with the greatest power to express all sorts of emotions in the most direct way.
You have been working as a painter for a long time. What is the essential difference between music and painting?
While working on a painting you are completely alone and you do not get any feedback until long after it has been completed. Music is a very communicative process, you react spontaneously to the impulses of the other musicians and there are moments when we are playing in which we all follow an idea together and develop it as if the whole band were one single mind. Those are magical moments. When playing live you also get to feel the immediate response of the audience.
How do you write your songs? How do you go about composing?
I always start with the groove, mostly from some bass riff. I just love a prominent and highly elaborate bass riff, if I didn’t play the saxophone I would certainly play the bass! Around the bassline I arrange everything else, while always following my prime principle: keep it simple.
Is there a song which makes you cry?
Oh, there are many – this is why I love music so much. It is the only form of art capable of immediately getting into touch with the listener, of reaching down into their soul.
Tenor or alto sax? How come a Maceo Parker fan like you integrates the tenor sax into funk grooves?
I have always loved the sound of the tenor saxophone. It is a lot more difficult to get a good sound out of an alto, it can really get on your nerves. On the other hand it fits much better into a funk or soul environment: in a loud band it can be heard much better and the higher pitches are much better suited to create an emotional climax. This is why I have recently bought my awsome Cannonball Alto in the USA and I daily face the challenge to make it sound really good.