Wolfgang Dauner


Dauner was brought up by his aunt, who was a piano teacher and gave him lessons from his fifth year. He first worked as a mechanic, but took up music professionally in 1957 when he was offered a tour with a commercial band. In 1958 he studied trumpet and piano briefly at Stuttgart College of Music, but as a jazz musician he was largely self-taught. Initially, Bill Evans was his main influence but Dauner's restless energy and interest in experimentation and the theatrical side of performance soon led him to evolve his won musical climate and method of procedure. In 1963 he formed his own trio, with Eberhard Weber and Fred Braceful, and its unconventional performances caused a sensation at German festivals.

He also worked with visiting American and European jazz stars, and had begun composing not only music, but also some bizarre, even outrageous events. In the second half of the 1960s e destroyed a violin and burned a piano on stage on one occasion, and on another he covered the heads of one of Germany's most renowned choirs in nylon stockings so that they could only emit noises. During this period he devised and recorded Free Action, for a septet featuring Jean-Luc Ponty, Psalmus Spei, for choir and jazz group for the 1968 Berlin festival , and Dauner-eschingen, for jazz-soloists and choir for the 1970 Donaueschingen music festival. Since 1969 Dauner has led the Stuttgart radio jazz group, doing at least one broadcast a month with guest soloists such as Chick Corea, Ponty, Michal Urbaniak and Zbigniew Seifert. In 1970 he formed the group Et Cetera which combined electronics with rock rhythms. He has conducted many workshops for children, bringing out their creativity and helping them to improvise, and in 1974 he had his own TV show, Glotzmusik, for children.

In 1975 he founded the United Jazz + Rock Orchestra (UJRE) to play on a Stuttgart TV show for young people directed by his friend Werner Schretzmeier. The band became so popular that it began to tour regularly, and to record it Dauner got together with three other members (Volker Kriegel, Albert Mangelsdorff and Ack van Rooyen) and Schretzmeier, to form their own record company, Mood Records. Dauner also composes music for films, television and plays. In 1978 he collaborated with the composer Rolf Unkel in creating new background music for F.W. Murnau's classic silent movie Faust (1926), Unkel composing the acoustic score and Dauner the integrated electronic music. In the later 1970s he wrote The Primal Scream for symphony orchestra, choir, prepared tapes, solo voice and solo violin (played by Seifert), which as premiered at the Berlin festival. In 1985 he wrote Trans Tanz for symphony orchestra plus solo trombone (Mangelsdorff) and solo piano (himself). He plays many solo piano concerts and he also often works with Mangelsdorff in duo, trio and quartet formations. With the German All Stars he has toured South America and Asia and with hi own groups and the UJRE he has played festivals all over Europe.

In 1986 he began working with the singer/songwriter Konstantin Wecker for concert tours and recordings and in 1991 he and Wecker did a South American Tour, during which Dauner played two solo concerts in Mexico at Guadalajara and La Paz. The following year Dauner played a solo concert in Mexico City and conducted a workshop in improvisation at the Guadajajara Conservatory. In 1994 Dauner and Charlie Mariano played in duo at the Red Sea Festival. He has had many composing commissions in recent years including Feuerwerksmusix (1985) for the UJRE to celebrate twenty years of jazz on NDR (North German Radio) and for Baden-Wuertemberg a symphonic poem for orchestra and soloists, When In Trouble Travel (1992).

His favourite pianist is Glenn Gould, and other inspirations are Coltrane, Webern, Debussy and Ravel. Dauner is a massive talent embracing (as both player and composer) every facet of contemporary music-making. His hobbies of painting and the theatre have inspired and informed his music.

Q: Carr, Ian / Fairweather, Digby / Priestley, Brian:
Jazz - The Rough Guide, 1995