Michael Wollny

Michael Wollny Michael Wollny is an internationally successful jazz pianist, music inventor, unconventional thinker, popular cultural figure. Nobody plays the piano like him. His trademark: the unpredictable, the quest for the never-before-heard, the courage to devote himself to the moment, to make the unforeseen sound self-evident. His desire to keep reinventing himself, both in terms of sound and composition; that is what makes him a “consummate piano maestro” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Michael Wollny is anything but a typical jazz pianist. Few people work the piano as physically hard as Wollny does, his mind and body in constant motion. There is a viscerality about his playing. His inspiration can come from Franz Schubert or Gustav Mahler, from Björk or Kraftwerk, from Japanese gangster films or horror stories, in other words his quest for both the unknown and the unheard are completely boundless. His expressive power is irresistible; it comes from the sheer energy levels he is capable of, from an inexhaustibly rich imagination and from a phenomenal technique. The pianist was born in 1978 in the German city of Schweinfurt. Wollny had his first piano and violin lessons at the age of five. When he later attended the Herrmann Zilcher Conservatoire in Würzburg, as a junior external student at the age of 16, he was discovered by pianist and teacher Chris Beier. Beier recognized Wollny's talent straight away, and took him under his wing as a young student at the Musikhochschule in Würzburg. Then followed the German Federal Youth Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO), Wollny’s first trio and also a duo with saxophonist Hubert Winter. From 2001 Wollny was invited several times to play as pianist with the jazz ensemble at Frankfurt Radio, where he worked with major figures in German jazz such as trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, and saxophonists Emil Mangelsdorff, Christof Lauer and Heinz Sauer. Sauer was so enthusiastic about the young piano player, he invited him to perform with his sextet at the 32nd Deutsches Jazzfestival in Frankfurt. That first collaboration ushered in a cross-generational musical partnership which has continued until the present day, and has produced four award-winning duo albums. Wollny founded the trio[em] in 2002 with bassist Eva Kruse and drummer Eric Schaefer. ACT founder and producer Siggi Loch received copies of an unmarked trio recording from a number of people. Completely taken aback by what he had heard, Loch then spent several months searching out the name of the pianist. The outcome was that Michael Wollny became an exclusive ACT artist, and trio[em] released its first album "call it[em]". That CD was the first release of "young german jazz", a series which has proved a great success and still continues. The critical responses to the trio’s following four albums went on to echo this hymn of praise. All this success has not changed his artistic direction by one iota. To this day Wollny has managed to consistently avoid getting stuck in a rut. After his experiments with influences from rock and pop to the second Viennese school in the trio[em], his many-faceted collaborations and projects with artists far removed from jazz such as Konstantin Gropper, Christian Brückner, Leafcutter John, Alex Nowitz, Uwe Dierksen (Ensemble Modern), his following trio album "Nachtfahrten" (night journeys) in 2015 –with Christian Weber on bass - was all about paring things down. The success was imminent, the CD rose to number two on the Amazon charts for a short time, overtaking pop stars such as Beyoncé. In the UK it was "Album of the Year", there were three - the “German Grammy” - ECHO Jazz awards, the most ever for a single album. "Neon Nocturnes" exuded its magic with the immediacy of still- life paintings in sound – and had a level of success which was comparable with "Weltentraum". That success led him to play one of the Karsten Jahnke JazzNights – a concert format which is normally conceived as a double-bill – as the only artist featured, alternating solo performance with duo and trio. He also took part in many other collaborations with musicians from all kinds of musical directions such as Nils Landgren, Emile Parisien, the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, Marius Neset, Leafcutter John or Joachim Kühn. And he does not seem to slow down any time soon.