Today is the 80th birthday of Günter Christmann.
I can honestly say that without him I would not be the musician I am today.
I will be eternally grateful to him for taking me under his wing after I came, almost by accident, to a solo concert by Evan Parker that he organized when I was 15.
I never attended a proper music school, but through him I discovered not only the various forms of improvised music, but also great music from all different traditions of music making, be it jazz, new music, or even Sardinian pastoral songs. Not to mention an almost complete education in modern art and African tribal art.
He was the first of the group of European improvisational musicians to collaborate with dancers, painters, and new music musicians when most others were still busy trying to outdo each other with power play.
I’ve been fortunate enough to regularly participate in, and occasionally even help organize, his projects since our first concert together in 1990. All these different opportunities probably shaped me more than I realize.
Without him (and all the arguments we had), my musical life might have been simpler and more straightforward, but ultimately more boring.
The photo is from one of our first concerts together, back in 1990 when I still had hair. (Yes, that’s John Russell’s guitar in the front)
Photo by the great Matthias Creutziger