After discovering music while listening and starting on various instruments at home with my family, and later with guidance from several teachers, at the end, I decided to become a trumpet player. I began to study classical trumpet at the “Hochschule für Musik in Detmold” in the early 80’s at the age of 16. Therefore, I was fortunate to be able to experience the scene of a professional musician very early. In addition to all of the school’s input, I had the great opportunity to perform with regional orchestras and theaters, Big Bands, Gala Bands, and many trumpet students. Inspired by fellow students and playing in Big Bands, I became increasingly interested in learning about improvised music. Jazz music? Although the subjects at school included classical theories, for me, at that time, studying Jazz seemed to be an excellent way to really learn about the ingredients of improvised music -theory, composing and arranging. In 1986, I began studying Jazz at the University in Graz, followed by studies at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag in 1992. Both schools had so much to offer.
During my years in Graz, I was able to form my first nine piece band. I was also fortunate to gain experience working with musicians like Mark Murphy and Art Farmer. I had the great chance to write arrangements for Mark Murphy’s CD “Very Early” (West & East, 1992) and the opportunity to perform at Festivals in Montreux, Vienna, Warsaw, and Nancy. During this time, I also met Ack van Rooyen and Chuck Israels, with whom I continued my studies after leaving Graz.
In 1994 I was offered a chance to study and work in the US. I began studying arrangement/composition with Chuck Israels at Western Washington University in Bellingham. During my time being at Western, I shared a house with Willie Thomas. This collaboration opened up a new view of jazz education for me. Willie and I kept in touch over the years, even after I left in 1996 and returned to Germany. I incorporated his system into my teaching, and I felt equipped to work with people beginning to discover Jazz.
So, in July 1996, ten years and three University degrees later, I found myself back near Detmold, where I was born. I arrived with my trumpet, a flugelhorn and a little money I had saved. I played roadshows, taught and wrote arrangements, did almost anything to merge into the scene, make contacts and open up doors. Within the next year, two teaching positions were posted and I had the good fortune to get hired on at both HfM Detmold and HFK Bremen.
In 2009, I returned to the PNW to visit Chuck in Bellingham and Willie on Orcas Island. Willie had moved to the island shortly after I left Western to be closer to his daughter, Wendy. Little did I know that life would take a new direction with Wendy in it. She and I got together and she joined me in Germany in 2010 to live in Hamburg. It was a great time. There, I had the opportunity to do some work with the NDR Big Band. When we decided to move back to the PNW in 2014, it was almost like coming home. Not long after, and with help from old friends, I managed to get a new NewNet setting lined up in 2013 and was happy to be able to keep most of my arranging work from Europe going. We released the first NewNet CD “I Always Knew” featuring Jay Thomas on Origin Records in 2019.