Dance Band 1984 - 1996
Rüdiger Carl: tenor saxophone
Alexander von Schlippenbach: piano
Jay Oliver: double bass
Sven-Åke Johansson: drums
Performances at artists' parties in Eurpoe; with guest vocalists: Lol Coxhill, Shelley Hirsch, Uschi Brüning
The early knowledge of jazz music from school bands, dance bands, and so on, led to an odd idea in the time of unified playing styles in free jazz: to introduce just those knowledges into the happenings as a counterpoint (if it indeed was a counterpoint is anyone's guess). In any case, the idea of letting a swing dance orchestra perform after a free jazz concert (where classical jazz had no place) was daring indeed: some people danced, enjoyed themselves, some suspected treason. The four of us brought back out our earlier performance practices and encounters with "classical" jazz and placed them into a context where they were considered unusual music: as dance orchestra at boisterous parties, film festivals, artists' parties, and, as I said already, as aperçu after a free jazz evening. The music was not presented "solemnly" in clubs with still listeners; instead it was put into the middle of a chattering, dancing mass, to some extent as functional music, which didn't bother us. Of main importance was that the people danced. It inspired us to "be one with" the dancing crowd. After all, the four of us mainly played "New" Music, conceived exclusively for listening, and now we were offering the guests – for many of them often were the types who were good swing dancers (usually after one or two glasses of wine) – the opportunity to dance to a jazz orchestra!
The artist Martin Kippenberger, who unfortunately died much too young, was a frequently seen guest at the artists' parties, and he customarily danced withthe band into the wee hours. The band's premiere was at an art opening in Essen in 1984, on the occasion of the exhibition Wahrheit ist Arbeit (truth is work) with Werner Büttner, Albert Oehlen, and Martin Kippenberger. One of the most difficult yet interesting tasks was to play quietly during the meal, as we were often asked to do: swing, but really quiet, so as to be well integrated into the table clatter and the murmurs of the guests. Every now and then we had the opportunity to bring in a guest singer. So the Englishman Lol Coxhill was invited several times, as was the North American singer Shelly Hirsch. The guest performances in the GDR brought with them guests such as the saxophonist Ernst Ludwig Petrovsky and the singer Uschi Brüning!
At some performances with dancing in nightclubs we had to bring a thick rope with us and encircle the band with it so the dancing throng wouldn't fall into the instruments. Then there was something seldom experienced: playing music pieces while the guests had reached a zenith of communication with one another such that they forgot to clap. Our bassist Jay Oliver had a weak heart; tragically, he died already in 1993 and is buried in Berlin-Kreuzberg. He was a very debonair, amicable man who often sent the ladies into rapture with his soft baritone voice. Oftentimes, after gliding througha rehearsal with ease, right in the middle of a "dance set" he would realize that the music for the next piece wasn't in his folder, making us decide to continue with the next best piece with that legendary exclamation, "I don't have it." We played from the page, from music that we had painstakingly sought out in libraries, music collections, from music that some befriended musicians, such as Arjen Gorter, the bassist from Amsterdam (who also occasionally jumped in for Jay Oliver), had sent us. In the end we had a repertoire of 115 tunes. SÅJ, 2002
Günter Förg: tenor saxophone
Albert Oehlen: piano
Hubert Kiecol: double bass
Martin Kippenberger: drums
Alex v. Schlippenbach
LP project by Sven-Åke Johansson and Martin Kippenberger
produced and designed by Kippenberger.
Photo: C. Binder
Invitation: 5 years "Freunde guter Musik" (Berlin)