Till Brönner - New CD "The Good Life" - On tour 2017/2018

Till Brönner

"The Good Life"

Album release September 2016
* not D/A/CH

Till Broenner "The Good Life"

- various periods in 2017/2018

"The Good Life"
All tracks arranged by John Clayton
Click for "Making of"

Recorded with (not touring line up):
Till Brönner - trumpet, flugelhorn & vocals
Anthony Wilson - guitar
Larry Goldings - piano
John Clayton - bass
Jeff Hamilton - drums
The gentlest of provocations often have the most lasting impact. Berlin-based trumpeter Till Brönner is not exactly known for his provocative musical statements, but his latest release, The Good Life, represents something of a challenge, even if that wasn’t his intent at the outset.
Every album tells its own story, and the best results often come when the original plotline twists and turns itself into something entirely different. That’s what happened with The Good Life. Of course, we can just take the album at face-value, as an amazingly laidback reworking of evergreen numbers, which it’s perfectly happy not to “modernise” in any way. Far more exciting, however, is to see it as the latest highpoint in what’s been an unusual career so far...
Brönner, now 45, first came to fame as a soloist in Berlin’s famed RIAS Big Band, the perfect training ground for learning to groove with a perfectly synchronised ensemble, mastering a rich and varied repertoire and perfecting every note of every number. In 1994, he recorded his first album, Generations of Jazz, also featuring veteran bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jeff Hamilton – a sensational way for a German jazz musician at that time to make his recording debut. Since then, Brönner has steered his career through a series of different phases, including making a name for himself as a producer through his work with artists such as Hildegard Knef and Thomas Quasthoff and, very significantly, discovering his own singing voice.
Till Brönner can rightly be regarded as Germany’s most successful jazz musician, but his fame has spread far beyond the national and even the European scene, thanks to his many appearances in the US, the home of jazz. Indeed on International Jazz Day 2016 he took up an invitation to the White House, something most politicians can only dream of doing. And in playing alongside such legends as Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck and James Moody, he has himself become part of the annals of jazz history.
Brönner can polarise audiences and his fellow musicians as well, of course. His concepts are not always met with unalloyed joy, especially within the jazz world’s inner circle. Nevertheless, he continues to walk his own path undeterred, finding ways in which to challenge the jazz community. That brings us back to the present, and to The Good Life, for which he made the bold decision to revisit a selection of standards, all of which have made history through their vocal interpretations. His aim throughout was to create a specific atmosphere, a sunnier, more lighthearted groove, easygoing but thoughtful, gentle but never superficial. Only at an advanced stage of the project did it become clear how many of these songs had been made famous by Frank Sinatra. It was never Brönner’s intention to make a Sinatra tribute album, however, and it’s precisely because his interpretations are free of any hovering influence, that they bring the listener such enormous listening pleasure.
What’s even more remarkable here is the way Brönner balances his work as vocalist and instrumentalist. Up till now he has been seen as a trumpeter who occasionally sang – now, on The Good Life, we’re suddenly confronted with a singer with two voices. On the issue of this dual challenge, he says, “If I’d spent the whole time thinking about the virtuoso and technical differences between voice and instrument, I wouldn’t have been able to play the trumpet the way I do. And when I was singing, my throat would have tightened up, which would have been a disaster. The only chance I had to pull it off was to see voice and trumpet as inseparable.”
This album, like Brönner’s previous release, was recorded at the former Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles. The fact that Sinatra had recorded the classic My Way there is just another happy coincidence. “Most of the musicians live over there. It was just easier. And recording this kind of music in the Californian sunshine is perfect! When you watch the interaction between Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton there, you realise that the West Coast vibe is no myth. People come to the studio in a relaxed frame of mind that you don’t get anywhere else. There are a lot more cigars smoked there than here, too.”
Talking of Jeff Hamilton, this was the first time he and Brönner had recorded together since Generations of Jazz, 22 years ago. For Brönner it was both the closing of a circle and a reminder of the early days of his career. Working with the drummer had left its mark on him – since then he’s remained true to himself while constantly seeking out new horizons. Bassist John Clayton’s credentials include his work in the early 70s with Count Basie and Henry Mancini, while on guitar we hear Anthony Wilson. Pianist Larry Goldings, better known for more avant-garde projects, completes the line-up – he may be something of an outsider in this company, but that’s precisely why Brönner wanted to work with him. He brings a certain ironic intellectual counterpoint to the project, adding a new layer of interest and taking the album to a wider listenership.
Legendary producer Ruud Jacobs brought the impartiality of an outside perspective to bear on proceedings. Although Brönner has produced many of his albums himself, on this occasion he made the conscious decision to hand over the reins to someone else: “I’ve begun to relinquish the production work because constantly looking at your own reflection can get a bit wearing after a while.”
On The Good Life Till Brönner achieves the feat of taking tried-and-tested standards and using them to tell a fresh and original story. That he does it so easily, with a twinkle in his eye, and at times a cheeky grin on his face, proves that he has avoided falling into the trap of treating tradition with too much respect. He doesn’t take himself too seriously either, or worry about which greats of the past he might be measuring himself against. In other words, he simply does it his way.

For booking inquires please contact Catherine Mayer - cmayer@justjazz.de