The Music of Jürgen Wuchner

Recently, a German book on Jürgen Wuchner and his compositions was published by Wolke Verlag, edited by Monika Schießer-Wuchner:

Serendipity. Jürgen Wuchners Kompositionen

Click on the link and scroll down the page. You see “Bb- und Eb-Stimmen zum freien Download”. If you click on that field, you get the sheet music for Bb and Eb instruments.

I hesitated to make this free download public. I recommend buying the book so the publisher and the authors get their fair share. Even if you do not speak German, there is the sheet music for C instruments. I am writing this article to help proliferate Jürgen Wuchner’s music.

 

The Beginner’s Blues Accelerator

It is just a proposal inspired by the Jazz Blues Accelerator on LJS (learnjazzstandards(dot)com). This small accelerator has three steps:

1. Play the roots of the chords of a blues in all 12 keys.

2. Know the blues scale in 12 keys.

3. Improvise over the blues scale in 12 keys.

Some explanations:

1. Take a blues in C and play half notes:

C C F F C C C C

F F F# F# C C A A

D D G G C C G G

For bar 8 to bar 11 it is good to know the circle of 4ths, aka “the cycle.”

Then do the same for a blues in F, and so on.

2. The blues scale is the minor pentatonic with the tritone. For example:

C Eb F F# G Bb

Find it in the other 11 keys.

3. As a piano player, play the roots of the chords with the left hand, with the right hand improvise over the blues scale.

As a horn player, create a play-along, e. g. with Band in a Box or iReal Pro.

The chords are

C7 F7 C7 C7

F7 F#dim C7 A7

Dm7 G7 C7 G7

(one chord per bar)

 

Sunny Side

Joyful songs are important, particularly in difficult times. I wrote a contrafact over the harmonies of “On the sunny side of the street” and memorized it. I recorded it with the soprano saxophone and Band in a Box.

The lead sheets:

Sunny_Side_Contrafact-C    Sunny_Side_Contrafact-Bb    Sunny_Side_Contrafact-Eb

 

Farewell to Darmstadt

view from balcony

Another part of my life came to an end in October. Writing about it puts the question in which attitude I do it. I want to write thankfully. In 2009, I came to Darmstadt. First I worked at the Technical University, then at the accelerator GSI. I wrote a monography. For 10 years I took part in the workshop band of Jürgen Wuchner who died in 2020. Eight times I participated in the Jazz Conceptions, a one week summer workshop. I enjoyed the vibrant music scene, especially the concerts at Jazz Institute and at Knabenschule. The Frankfurt Radio Big Band played at Centralstation. Darmstadt also has a Staatstheater (public theatre) with opera. Each summer the Jürgen Wuchner Workshop Band gave a promenade concert in Orangerie Garden if it did not rain. I feel sad that I had to leave friends. Certainly will I return as a visitor.

In My Dreams

Are you curious what I am dreaming of? I am going to tell you, musically. It is an admittedly short composition, but for three tenor saxophones. On account of the pandemic it is hard to get three saxophonists together, so I recorded myself thrice.

Here you find the written composition:

In_meinen_Traeumen_Tenor_Trio

 

Farewell to Jürgen Wuchner

Jürgen Wuchner in 2014 (Photo by Helge Kramberger)

On 1st May 2020, Jürgen Wuchner has passed away. He was a bassist, composer, band leader and teacher. He was honoured by the Hessian Jazz Award, the Darmstadt Music Award and the Johann Heinrich Merck Award. I knew him from his workshops. I played in his Darmstadt Workshop Band for 10 years. In his emails, he addressed the participants as “Dear jazz friends, …” and everybody knew about the double meaning. I feel very thankful that I could bring in original compositions which he arranged so wonderfully.

I feel helpless regarding something absolute like death. However, I take comfort from the fact that he had a fulfilled life of a musician and that he could travel all over the world. Gilbert Bécaud once sang, « Quand il est mort le poète, le monde entier pleurait ! » (When the poet died, the whole world cried!) This is also true for other artists.

It gave me so much having made music with him. He had many good traits of character. I miss him a lot.

 

Learn a Lick

From time to time I compose licks. These are only a few bars long. A lick for the chord C7 over one bar served as a source for an etude which I called “Learn a Lick”. I attach three versions in different keys. The eager players may practice all three of them. Or you may use them to play a blues in concert Bb with your jazz mates.

Learn_a_Lick_C   Learn_a_Lick_Bb   Learn_a_Lick_Eb

 

Why Jazz?

This music is a great passion of mine. Mostly it is characterized by swing, forward drive, and improvisation. It is important for me as an attitude towards life and as a journey. I associate freedom, curiosity, openness, and tolerance. Racism and jazz are very difficult to combine, for this kind of music originated mostly from African Americans. Jazz is the most beautiful present that America gave to the world.

Actually, you do not need to read any further. I am going to list my favourite jazzwomen and jazzmen. It is a long, incomplete list without specific order.

Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Herbie Hancock, Esbjörn Svensson, Michael Wollny, Heinz Sauer, Karolina Strassmayer, Klaus Doldinger, Peter Back, Jürgen Wuchner, Uli Partheil, Christopher Dell, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Inge Brandenburg, Ingrid Laubrock, Paul Kuhn, Rolf Kühn, Chick Corea, Kalle Kalima, Emil Mangelsdorff, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie.

Dreamful

I would like to draw your attention to the composer, saxophonist and pianist Renate Hartnagel. Visit her homepage:

http://mellow-tones.de/?lang=en

She is the composer of piano sheet music collections like Enjoy Your Piano and Traumhafte Klaviermusik (Dreamful Piano Music). She masters many styles: classic, Latin, pop, and jazz. One of my favourite pieces is Wie ein Wunder (Like a Miracle):