UniRoyal Jazz combo

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UniRoyal - Die Combo des Studentenwerk Göttingens

Spielwitz, Offenheit und die Auslieferung an den Augenblick, das ist Jazz von UniRoyal.Unter diesem Namen haben sich zehn junge Musiker aus der Göttinger Szene vereint, die sich mit ihren Rhythmen und Klängen zwischen Archaik und Avantgarde bewegen. Die internationale Mini Big Band (D/S/CH) vereint einen klangvollen Big Band-Sound mit kreativen Solo-Improvisation und bedient auf Konzerten die ganze Bandbreite des Jazz von Swingnummern (”Archaik“) bis zu Fusion/NuJazz (”Avantgarde“), welche auf ihrem Album”Jazzimilation“ (2006) zu hören ist.

Was den Alchemisten im 17. Jahrhundert nicht gelang, entsteht hier mit den Elementen aus Rhythmusgruppe und Bläsersection - Gold zum zuhören. Die alchemistische Mischung aus Instrumentalstücken und Vocals veredelt den Charakter des nach Harmoniesucht getriebenen Repertoires. UniRoyal vereint auch Stimmenvielfalt: Esra Sohlström glänzt durch ihre soulige Nuancierung, Die Royal Horns sind das beispiellose Markenzeichen der Band und überzeugen als Ensemblespieler und Solisten zugleich. Unter den Fingern des in ganz Deutschland tätigen Pianisten Harald Kusch erklingen Latin und Cool Jazz, gefordert von Montgomry Smiths Gitarre, Dieter Klopfensteins Bass, Viktor Schröder Perkussion und Bastian Findeiß verschlagener Massage der Felle und Becken.

Ein Konzert mit UniRoyal lebt von dem Wechselspiel zwischen Instrumental und Gesangsstücken, zwischen klassischem Swing (I won’t dance), groovigen Funk (Pick up the pieces), verspieltem Be Bop (Ms. B.C.), feurigem Latin-Jazz (Mas che nada) und virtuosem Fusion (Some Skunk Funk). Vor allem bietet ein Abend mit UniRoyal viel unterhaltsame Abwechslung.

Als Aushängeschild Göttingens vertraten die jungen Musiker ihre Stadt bereits in den Partnerstädten im polnischen Torun und in Cheltenham in England (2005). Am 4ten Internationelen Musikfestival in Marrakesch, Marokko (2007) wurden sie als Jazz Sensation gefeiert und konnten wieder 2008 in Marrakech wie auch in der Hauptstadt Rabat brillieren. Mit Konzerten in Zürich (2009) Basel (2010 und 2012) und Lissabon (März 2009) bringt die Combo ihr neues Programm „Perpetuum jazzimile“ quer durch Europa. Desweiteren ist UniRoyal mittlerweile ein fester Bestandteil des Göttinger Jazz-Festivals geworden, wo sie auch 2014 bereits zum 14ten Mal in Folge spielten.

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UniRoyal - Combo of the Studentenwerk Goettingen

Ask the UniRoyal Combo how they would describe their music, and they will sum it up in one word: “Jazzimilated!”

“To describe UniRoyal Jazz best is to reflect on the nature and charisma this formation has. Coming from a young student’s breed of musicians, where everyone likes to develop compelling section phrases and still be able to shine out the others when soloing, the combo has a constantly changing face – nevertheless developing a buoyant, centered, and clear sound”, says Elisabeth Lindenmayer (the band’s artistic director). UniRoyal came into life in 1995 under the guidance of Elisabeth Lindenmayer. It started out as an acclaimed traditional bigband (swing) of the Studentenwerk, University of Göttingen, producing in 2000 their debut album “Tribute”. That was also the year that marked a fundamental change, away from the bigband to the nowadays combo. The combo was now working on a funk-infused repertoire, while keeping the bigband sound alive. In 2004, a small album “Something quiet” was released, that indicated a transition lead to completeness a year later with the newly developed sound put into the eclectic third album “Jazzimilation” in 2006. “The influences we gathered in those last two years,” says Sebastian Kiehlmann (percussion), “were literally assimilated and pushed us to a new direction, groove and jazz, swing and latin, rap and jazz, … or as we call it - jazzimilation.”

Looking at their instrumental arsenal, they should need a licence to groove. A fully fletched five-head horn collective and the groovy rhythm section consisting of piano/rhodes, guitar, bass, percussion, and drums lay the harmonic foundation for creative soli. A warm engaging voice and unassailable taste in music is conbeyed by the vocals of Esra Sohlström. Esra interprets songs ranging from Swing, Soul and Latin, among them classics like „Day In Day Out“ or „They can’t take that away like” noone else does. A concert with UniRoyal is nourished by the interplay between instrumental and vocal features, between classical Swing (I won’t dance), groovy Funk (Pick up the pieces), imaginative Be Bop (Ms. B.C.), hot Latin-Jazz (Mas che nada) and virtuoso Fusion (Some Skunk Funk). Modern interpretations of standards from a variety of eras, including songs by such greats as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, and others, as well as some self-penned originals, including the uplifting song called “Derramado” or "Agent Higgs" never fail to impress. The balance of Jazz, Funk and Latin is the ground on which UniRoyal thrives as a consistent and successful jazz combo. UniRoyal’s mission is simple, delivering an evening of entertainment and feel-good time.

“The jazz/funk/latin trichotomy soon became even more of a leitmotif”, says Dieter Klopfenstein (bass). “Whenever we dig into swing-based bigband arrangements, the crave for more funk was obvious and driving us to funk-up the set. Consequently, more funk lead to more latin. And vice versa!” This process developed into a sort of internal dialogue about what UniRoyal is and what it should be. A dialogue that emerged as their multilayered heart&soul.

In 2006, the combo decided to stir up a little trouble by juxtaposing and fusing mainstream jazz with german hip-hop rhyms, rap, electronica and other idoms. Fennis, the „rapper“ wolf amongst the „Jazzer“ sheep joined forces, with his strong, brilliant voice takes the band and the audience to the boiling point with word acrobatics and rhymes. And it was only a couple of weeks later, that Francis Norman (viola, conservatoire Cologne) was recruited the add another layer of complexity and beauty with his virtuoso string play.

A journalist, Udo Hinz, once described a gig as (translated) “The band catapultes the Miles Davis classic So What with lyrical rap into the present. […] MC F*ckna enriches the jazz with beautiful rap poetry. […] They integrate exciting sound-scapes out of the laptop, and experiment with live electronics.“

Performing on stage is pure paradise for them. “It’s so important to be in touch with your audience. I want them to be entertained”, Benjemin Lütke (trumpet) says with a laugh, while Ines Kostka (trombone) adds, “It’s so amazing to see their eyes glowing, their feet tapping, then you know, you managed to take them away”. A year with lots of traveling was coming in 2007, when UniRoyal was playing several concerts in vibrant German cities (Berlin, Hamburg) and performed at the annual music festival in Marrakech, Morocco. Celebrating the wholehearted welcome, they returned to Morocco early in 2008, where they immersed themselves in and lerned traditional music, performing joined gigs with Moroccan musicians in Rabat and again at the festival in Marrakech.

In 2008, it was time to capture the intensity of the repertoire, a repertoire that was nourished by German rap lyrics, a voice as soft, exuberant percussion and rhythm parts, and a smashing horns&reed section. So how should they call their new construct? It was a construction indeed, it was a…. perpetuum jazzimile. A philologist would interpret it as a “persistent jazz-similar something”, an description that was well received in the band and hence, became the title of the 2008 album. On this album you can hear the influences that formed the combo’s character during the last two years. There is the exhilarating salsa-flavoured “Have a nice trip” written by Klose, that the combo attacks with a hot vengeance. “Viele kleine Sachen tells the story of perceiving the details in the world, the great joy that come from small things“, Fennis (rap) elucidates with a smirk.

“So, in a sense,” Montgomery Smith (guitar) explains, “we never change completely, instead we grow by attracting new personalities, engulfing innovative styles, making space for new ideas, painting us a self-portrait of a never-ending-always-persisting-jazz machine”.

Got jazzimilated? Check out this perpetual jazz-thing!

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