Today is the 69th birthday of Gerold Genssler.

Today is the 69th birthday of Gerold Genssler.

Most people know him as the maker of excellent strings, mostly for double bass (I think they are currently sold under the name Sonores).

For me, however, he is above all the person who lured me to move to Berlin in 1994, which in retrospect was one of the decisive moments in my life.

Alex Nowitz had brought me and Rudi Mahall to Berlin to provide the music for a student production at the “Ernst Busch” drama school. (Rudi & I behaved so badly that Thomas Ostermeier, who was in charge of the production, fired us a week before the premiere, but that’s another story).

We had a whole floor in the (empty & unrenovated!) Hackesche Höfe to ourselves as a rehearsal room, which we could use for sessions outside of the theater rehearsals.

At one session, Gerold was there on bass, and after we played together for the first time, he said straight out: “You are the drummer I have been waiting for all my life. What can I do to get you to move to Berlin?”

The idea of moving to Berlin was very appealing, of course, and I told him, “Find me a rehearsal space and I’ll come”. And he delivered.

A few days later I had the key to a basement room on Torstrasse under a school for modeling (it was the gold rush in Berlin at the time and a school for modeling was a sure source of profit).

The room sounded very good, was quite spacious, and above all, no one was disturbed by our music.

I made music and played sessions in this basement for years. With Rudi Mahall, Gerold, John Schröder, Henrik Walsdorff, Axel Dörner and many others who were also in Berlin at that time.

Jan Roder played his first session in Berlin there and then moved into town right away.

The late saxophonist Tina Wrase brought Sam Rivers over one night while he was in town and we played half the night down there. I also rehearsed there with Billy Bang and Sirone, and also with Mats Gustafsson after a much too large dinner (I’m sure I have the recordings somewhere, I remember we played in slow motion because we were so stuffed).

Those were great times!

After a while Gerold got more and more involved in inventing and making his own strings and we had less and less time to play together.

But I am forever grateful to him for all the opportunities he made possible for me.

Happy birthday, Gerold!