German jazz band lulls Lahore audience


Berlin-based saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Jonas Schoen and his “Jonas Schoen Quartet” performed a seven-track concert, for the first time in Pakistan. Organised by the Annamarie Schimmel Haus (Goethe Institute), the concert was held at Peeru’s Café, where a stage was set for the four-member band, and their familiar combination of jazz instruments including the piano, electric bass, drums, and both the alto and tenor sax as well as the clarinet used as a lead instrument.
The band was formed in 1999 and their premiere CD, “Neindo”, was nominated by the German Music Critics’ Association for its recording prize. The second and third CDs “My Middle Name” and “Five and Fortunes” have earned broad acclaim from the press and the public in Germany. The concert was held in connection with the two-day German Jazz Festival, in continuation of the first day when a photo exhibition of the History of Jazz was displayed in NCA.
Germany and Jazz have had an interesting history together especially during World War II when jazz, and any other form of modern music was banned by the fascist Nazi government.
While the German musicians had solid groundings in classical music which was dominated by the European musicians, especially in the Scandenavian belt, including Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart and several others, the real jazz was nevertheless created in the USA, inspired by the Blues formation of music. An urbanized version of the Blues therefore, with a replacement of instruments along with some other employed techniques, resultant in the sound of Jazz, the word instantly bearing a connotation to the “glitzy city life”.
Rounding out the Jonas Schoen Quartett are the internationally acclaimed pianist Buggy Braune, bassist Pepe Berns, and drummer Heinz Lichius, who Jonas affectionately refers to as “delicious”. Jazz audiences are essentially quiet and Lahore’s was no different. It sat still and noiseless, carefully listening to the lilt of each note being played, and clapping at the very end of the piece, to show their calm yet enthusiastic appreciation. But the band, though happy to play for Pakistani audience, played with a great amount of difficulty.
“The heat had caused the instruments to go off-tune,” says Jonas. “My playing the lead instruments were not sounding as they should have and we had to tune the piano quite low. Everything was quite different than what it should have been.” Drummer Lichius is relieved that his drums were not made from animal skins. “Once I was playing with those in a very hot weather and throughout the performance I felt as if I was spending all my time in retuning the drums,” he said. Lichius used reed sticks to create a lighter, more diffused sound instead of the regular drumsticks.
“We are influenced by everyone, from John Coltrane to Elvin Jones, to Keith Jared,” says Jonas. “We cannot choose who we follow. In fact it is not just jazz musicians who we are inspired by. I have been listening to European classical, pop, rock, funk….James Brown.” True enough the band had a lot of funk impressions in their music, especially through the bass, which notched itself on notes of groove. Jonas says he and his band do not restrict themselves to any one kind of emotional state either. “Anything that draws our attention we translate into music,” he smiles. “Sometimes it is melancholic, other times it is hopeful; but since I am an optimistic person, hope is inevitable for me.”
Today the band has reached its style of a mixture of contemporary jazz, bebop, and many Swedish influences in particular, according to Lichius. The Jonas Schoen Quartett has released their music on Jonas’s own label called the “Schoener Hören Music”. Jonas since 2003 has also been Professor of Jazz Composition and Saxophone at the College of Musical and Theater Arts in Hannover. The band performed on May 5, 2011, in the German Consulate in Karachi, and will follow on May 7, 2011, with their performance in the German embassy in Islamabad, Nadiya Riaz of the Annamarie Schimmel Haus told Pakistan Today.


  1. Nice! Always great to read about foreign bands playing here. I think its great that Pakistan organizes shows like this, so people can listen to some great music coming from the outside, besides the commercial stuff they listen to on their TV, which is usually boring

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