Exactly thirty years ago today…

I played my first concert in Berlin, at the Stakkato Festival at Kato in the Schlesisches Tor train station. It was supposed to be a trio with Walter Gauchel and Rudi Mahall, but since Walter didn’t show up, Rudi and I played as a duo, as we had already been doing for 12 years before.

1994 in Berlin at the festival Jazz Across the Border at Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Berlin

The festival was organized by Thomas Borgmann, and the fact that my name was misspelled on the poster probably had to do with the fact that in those days, before the Internet, you had to communicate by phone, mostly from phone booths (anyone remember those?), because in East Berlin, where Rudi and I had moved a few months earlier, there were no telephones in the apartments.

I well remember Lol Coxhill and Mark Sanders playing in a duo on the same night, and Mark playing so well that I didn’t know what was left for me to play, and Peter Hollinger giving an inspiring performance in his duo November! with Cécile Coiffard, in which a toy locomotive played a leading role.

Little did I know then that I would still be in Berlin thirty years later, and I am happy and grateful that these thirty years have been full of great music and wonderful people, and even though some of them are no longer with us and their music is gone in the air and we can never capture it again, we will always remember them. 

I’m having the time of my life right now and I’m looking forward to the next thirty years. 

Then I’ll be as old as Alexander v. Schlippenbach, who is still going strong and has just won three awards in a row. 

Happy prospects!

If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to tell you how Rudi and I ended up in Berlin, and what it was like to live in Berlin as musicians back then, how we squatted in vacant apartments in Prenzlauer Berg and had to stand in line at phone booths at night to check our answering machines for possible gigs, and how the gigs started at 11 p.m. (as opposed to today, where you have to stop at 10 p.m. because the neighbors complain), how you met all your colleagues in the public bath on Oderberger Str, because that was the only place you could take a shower, since most apartments didn’t have a full bathroom back then, and many other things you can’t imagine in today’s Berlin.