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):

 

Away From The Blues

The title can also be read as A Way From The Blues. I have practised many ways to play the blues and to improvise over the changes. Now, the composition is supposed to have nothing in common with a blues. This year it was performed thrice, the last time in a park in August.

The lead sheets of the third version:

Weg_vom_Blues_C_V3    Weg_vom_Blues_Bb_V3    Weg_vom_Blues_Eb_V3

Indian Boogie

This is a piece from the year 2017 performed at the barbecue of the Jazz & Pop School. The melody consists of an Indian pentatonic. Essentially, this is a minor pentatonic with a major third. I especially like the mysterious, psychodelic intro by the string instruments.

Here you find the lead sheets:

Indian_Boogie_C   Indian_Boogie_Bb   Indian_Boogie_Eb

Heavy Ions

The title refers to the double meaning of heavy. It is employed in physics as well as in music, only think of heavy metal. Thus a piece of tonal physics was created and performed at the barbecue of the Jazz & Pop School in 2018. When you listen to the recording, I recommend to close your eyes. Imagine you are chasing through the vacuum of the beam pipe with so many other ions of your bunch almost at the speed of light. Again and again you are accelerated by high frequency cavities, being kept on track by superconducting magnets.  🙂

The lead sheets:

Schwere_Ionen_C   Schwere_Ionen_Bb   Schwere_Ionen_Eb

 

Easier Than Easy

First I composed a bossa with a lot of typical offbeat which I called Easy Bossa. It was never performed, since it seemed too difficult. Therefore only a Band in a Box version exists:

I simplified the Easy Bossa now calling it Easier Bossa. Still it is not easy, but easier.

In the Orangerie Garden Darmstadt the Jürgen Wuchner Workshop Band performed it in the summer of 2015. I especially like the relaxed atmosphere of the recording.

The lead sheets can be found here:

EasierBossa_C   EasierBossa_Bb   EasierBossa_Eb

 

Tritone Blues

This is a blues which sounds a bit off-key, but where I stay within the harmonies. It has been performed for several times. Here you can listen to a recording I made at home with a guitarist and a bass trombone player. I played the soprano saxophone. Bass and drums came from Band in a Box, i.e. from the computer.

Where does the name come from? The tritone is a dissonant interval consisting of three whole steps. For improvisation you should play the third and the seventh. However, between the major third and the minor seventh, there is the tritone. Take, as an example, the chord C7. The third is E and the seventh Bb. There are mainly dominant seventh chords in the blues. Thus I could compose a blues with many tritones.

You can find the lead sheets here:

TritoneBlues_C   TritoneBlues_Bb   TritoneBlues_Eb

 

Japanese Bossa

This piece was performed during the Xmas Session 2015 at Jazz Institute Darmstadt by the Jürgen Wuchner Workshop Band.

You find the lead sheets here:

JapaneseBossa_C   JapaneseBossa_Bb   JapaneseBossa_Eb

I would like to add some remarks on the harmonic background. The melody consists of a Japanese pentatonic. This can be built by a major pentatonic where the major third is substituted by a minor third and the second note becomes the root. I give an example:

D major pentatonic: D E F# A B

Major third is substituted by minor third: D E F A B

Second note becomes root: E F A B D

When I harmonised the melody, I did not do the last step. To stay within the example, I kept D as the root.