THE UNITED JAZZ + ROCK ENSEMBLE SECOND GENERATION
The fans surely didn’t expect that: after the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble had done their farewell tour in 2002, everyone had assumed that really was the end of the famous formation. So the surprise was all the bigger and better when there were new signs of life, albeit with a major change of generation. The team was much younger: only Wolfgang Dauner and Dave King were still there out of the original line-up. Yet although the team has changed, the group still breathes the spirit of the founding generation; their love of experimentation and discovery is still there and the reformed ensemble wants to go onstage in concert halls and at jazz festivals from early 2012. The UJRE will be the highlight of this year’s Jazz Lights in Oberkochen. Another appearance is planned for May in Stuttgart, at the SWR Broadcasting Corporation’s summer festival; the SWR will be sponsoring and promoting the live event.
Wolfgang Dauner has now been highly active on the scene for more than fifty years. Stuttgart’s great son first got talked about in the 1960s with the avant-garde group Et Cetera and their first record releases; later he became well known as the leader of his own bands and as an influential jazz musician alongside Jean-Luc Ponty, Sugar Cane Harris or Larry Coryell. For many years he was duo partner to Albert Mangelsdorff and Charlie Mariano. His LP “A Jazz Tune I Hope” with Albert Mangelsdorff, Eddy Gomez and Elvin Jones was a musical highlight. Today, at 76, Dauner the pianist and composer is as active as as he always was. At an age when others are enjoying their retirement he’s not thinking of stopping. So he took on the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble’s new project with his usual youthful élan.
Dauner hired top young musicians to be around him for the current upgrade to United 2.0. Next to him himself on the grand piano, there are the saxophonists Klaus Graf and Bobby Stern, trumpeters Claus Stötter, Tobias Weidinger and Stephan Zimmermann, and Adrian Mears on the trombone. The rhythm section consists of guitarist Frank Kuruc, Dave King on bass and Flo Dauner on the drums.
The second United generation, like the first one, is eagerly researching the crossing points between jazz, rock, funk and world music. Older listeners will well remember how it all began in the mid-70s. Back then, Dauner & Co. with their new approach played a considerable role in emancipating the European jazz scene from Big Brother USA. Between 1977 and 2002 the "band of the bandleaders" released 15 albums, the core of the ensemble included trumpeters Ian Carr († 2009), Ack van Rooyen and Kenny Wheeler, saxophonists Charlie Mariano († 2009) and Barbara Thompson, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff († 2005), keyboarder Wolfgang Dauner, guitarist Volker Kriegel († 2003), bass player Eberhard Weber and drummer Jon Hiseman.
So much for the history of the "little big band", and now back to the present. After ten years’ break they now continue with new faces. Their sound is definitely from here and now, but they still preserve the heritage of their forebears with new interpretations of legendary numbers: the classics "Double Bind", "South Indian Line" and "Gone With The Weed" have been revived and altered. Even Wolfgang Dauner’s hits "Ausgeschlafen" (Well Rested), "Capriccio Funky", "Wendekreis des Steinbocks" (Tropic of Capricorn) and his "Feuerwerxmusik" suite have been lovingly given a new interpretation. The crew have got a surprise special treat lined up in the form of Die Fantastischen Vier’s hit "Was geht". With Wolfgang Dauner as their leader, they have turned the hip hop number into furious fusion jazz with rap inserts. It shows quite audibly that the keyboard veteran has not become blinkered in his old age. Dauner, eager and inquisitive as ever, still looks beyond jazz, and in this case not just because his son Flo is playing percussion for the “Fanta 4”. No, he has always had a great need to relate to as many genres as possible and to keep on permanently developing and taking inspiration from all sides. There is no standing still, especially not for an indefatigable innovator like Wolfgang Dauner.