I have learned to play the piano in an autodidactic way. Already in my early childhood, I was given a melodica and a small accordeon from my parents, a little later also a real acoustic piano. I had always great fun with producing sounds. But I also like to go my own way in everything. So, in a natural way of trial an error, I learned to play with the piano all the songs that I heared from radio or LPs, melody with the right hand, accompaning chords with the left. I didn't receive any instructions, and I strongly believe that every normal child can learn an instrument by its own way. This is not fundamentally different from learning how to walk or talk: one simply tries to immitate some model, tries it again and again, with many repetitions and slight variations each time. Sometimes, a good new technique, or pattern, is found accidentally. This creates joy and the brain will easily remember such successfull variations. I think there is almost no limit to what can be achieved with this joyfull, effortless, self-controlled, evolutionary process.
Actually, when I was a little older, my parents made me have lessons with piano teachers. Yet, there was a problem now: Since I had already the ability to replicate on the piano whatever I listened to, at least in some approximation, it turned out exceedingly difficult for me to learn to play after music scores. It seems that the parts in my brain responsible for reading are not coupled at all with the parts relevant for music. After a few years without much progress, I eventually gave up learning to use music scores. I never had any teachers since then.
During my later childhood and youth, I enjoyed frequent home music with most of my friends. I was in the happy situation to receive from my parents all the instruments I wished: an electric organ, an early synthesizer, and an electric piano. Sometimes I even played solo piano or electric organ in public. I also joined a rock band for a few years, with which we had several performances. We started with Beatles songs, but little by little the style drifted towards hard rock, which was not really what I wanted to do. Also, the increasing energy needed for high school made me finally quit the band.
I became interested in Jazz in my early twenties. For almost two decades, I kept playing Solo Piano for myself, never really practicing, not forcing myself into any predefined direction, just letting things evolve in their own way. During this period I was strongly influenced by J.S. Bach and my playing was a strange blend between baroque music and Swing Jazz, somewhat resembling the style of Jaques Loussier. I also loved to indulge in sad ballads and in extended improvisations like Keith Jarrett.
Only occassionally I played together with friends, mainly duo piano, or duo with a guitarist. Once it happened that Bernd Knüpfer, a great hobby Jazz trumpeter, was working in our physics institute. Together with another physicist keyboarder, Stefan Malzer, we performed as a Jazz trio at the opportunity of an institute party. This was a very stimulating experience for Stefan and me, and we started longing for a permanent Jazz group.
The dream was eventually realized in December 2003, when we founded Fullhouse. Stefan had heard that Markus Renn, another former institute member, was playing tenor sax. Markus in turn knew Joachim Flues, a soprano sax player, and it was in Joachim's home when we first met and decided to found a group, gratefully using his living room for our weekly practice. The first time we met, Günther Prahse joined us as a drummer. I realized very quickly that Günther and me played well together, but I didn't know yet that we would collaborate in two other bands in the future. More and more members joined Fullhouse, among the first being the trumpeters Joachim Rossmann and Christian Schardt. At one point, we had drums, bass, two keyboards, two trumpets, two saxphones, a clarinet, and a guitar. Thanks to Joachim Flues, we could also find out and rent a nice practice room.
At our first public performances with Fullhouse, we were happy to have also Peat Zeitler as a singer in the band. She, Günther and me formed a fine little Jazz trio called Night and Day , which evolved in parallel with our large ensemble. In fact, so far I had most of my gigs with this trio formation, and our repertoire already amounts to about 50 pieces.
Now Günther and me were already engaged in two hobby bands simultaneously, while still running our fulltime jobs. This went on, until our new electric bassist, Marc Summa, joined Fullhouse. As he once participated in a jam session at a local club, he met a great tenor and alto saxophonist, Andreas Lechner. Marc arranged a practice session with Andreas, Günther and me. It was so much fun that we decided to form still another band in parallel, a quartet for which we chose the Japanese name Onnokawa.
Being a computerholic, I am also fascinated with digital music technology. In particular, I found out that I have enormous fun with Mixing sounds in the computer. It feels like writing the screenplay of a pictureless movie, or a radio drama without words, emerging in the mind of the listener.
This is where I stand at present. Jazz became a rather large part of my life. It takes some amount of energy, but it is also a great source of pleasure and friendships. I am spending the daytime with thinking about exciting physics problems, using abstract mathematics and strict logical reasoning. During my sparetime, I allow my mind to switch to this completely different dimension of improvised music. And as a mere hobby musician, one doesn't need to make any compromises .....