Cumbia Cumbia Cumbia

September 27. Berlin.

Another day in Berlin, another 2 gigs!

Busy night tonight. Two gigs 11pm & 1am. Had offered to join the Cumbian band on flute. The regular sax player George (great musician) had printed a book of charts for me to read.

First venue was in an artist compound. Lots of fun. We were support for an African band. Appreciative audience.

No time to mess around. Straight to our next gig. This place was like an underground venue….out the back of a building, through a few winding corridors (think of Spinal Tap). Actually this venue was like something you would see in a French Art House movie.

Great sound on stage, stoned audience, guest singers, wonderful band and to top it all off…..game of piñata!!!! Yes, I’m sure a few Australian health and safety rules were broken.

Phew, what a night.

Fun Times.









Second day in Berlin = Second gig in Berlin

September 22. Berlin.

Sunday. After a sensational nights sleep I woke to buddy Greg saying Good Morning…..”I think we may have another gig today”.

What? I’ve only been here 12 hours.

Well, yes we did end up having another gig. You see, Greg’s friend Martin (an amazing classical pianist) was supposed to have a performance this afternoon in his home town…..a performance with an actor, playing accompanying music.

It turns out Martin was stuck in Brussels due to flight delays, had called all the classical pianists he knew ( with no luck) and…..Greg was his last resort ….

So Greg seized the opportunity to do the gig as a duet with trumpet and saxophone (me).

After liasing with actor Christian Klischat we played some wonderful jazz standards as duets to suit the mood of the acting.

Fun times.

Got a ride to the gig, lunch provided , treated like royalty, got paid, given bunch of flowers at end of performance (first time for me). WOW, go Berlin.




Chilean festival in Berlin

September 21. Berlin.

After a 6 hours train journey from Amsterdam I finally arrived in Berlin.

Was excited to catch up with my old friend Greg who now lived in Berlin.

Being a trumpet player, Greg and I used to perform together a lot in Melbourne in days gone by. Funny how things work, because within 4 hours of arriving in Berlin I was on stage with Greg playing in a Cumbia band at the local Chilean Festival.

The party vibe was ON. Festival was in a big top tent and people were dancing and partying hard. I’ve never danced so much Cumbia in my life, but a great mix of new friends and partying atmosphere made it a memorable night.

Very funny that Upon arriving in Germany the first language I needed to speak was……Spanish!!! Good thing too, as I’d just been in Cuba for a few weeks, my Spanish was ordinary and my German was non existent!!!!

The band were a bit like Chilean rock stars!!! The crowd couldn’t get enough.

Wow, what a welcome party to Berlin.







Paul Van Ross jamming @ Bb jazz club Berlin

September 25. Berlin.

Getting around Berlin on a bicycle is easy. Today a new friend cycled with me to the forrest area on the west side of Berlin, an area that has been protected for decades. Its like a forrest on the edge of the city. Great view of the city, and a great spot for some parasailing & kite flying.

I’d heard about a jazz jam that happened on wednesday nights at Bb jazz club. So had decided to the bike, load up the sax on my back, brave the cold and rain and head down there.

People in Berlin must love going out because I could barely get in the door of the club due to the number of people there. The place was PUMPING!!! It literally took me a good 15 minutes to find my way to the seating area at the front. I estimate there were 150 people here.

Anyway, the house band played a set (sounding pretty good) then opened it up for a jam. I was surprised at the number of people wanting to jam, possibly 15 or so…trumpet, clarinet, guitars, vocals, alto sax, etc…

It’s a unique blend at a jam session. Often a mix of opposites…..players that have decades of experience and skill, and players with lack of experience and skill, but plenty of enthusiasm.

The first 5 or so tunes enabled the barrage of enthusiastic players to jam, a mixture of skill levels….mostly enthusiastic amateurs. Credit to the female vocalist who sang well.

I played later in the set on a blues & Beatrice. The pianist playing seemed to have a good ear for mimicking however a complete lack of taste for comping and soloing, often ignoring the changes completely….:( Hard work out the front as a soloist, glad to have a competent drummer and bassist on stage at this time. Drummer very responsive to my playing 🙂 thanks Derrick Scherzer.

Later in the 2nd set of jamming a working band took the stage (drums, bass, piano, trombone) and played “Afro Blue”. These guys sounded awesome. Energy level was doubled instantly, pianist was beautiful. Ahhhh, these guys had played together a lot, was a joy to listen to. (Got to chat later with them).

Anyway I have to mention etiquette. Why? Because while this amazing working group was performing, a younger enthusiastic clarinetist was also on stage wanting to play. Points for enthusiasm but not for etiquette or manners. He’d been on stage for the whole jam so far. Usually players will play 1 or 2 tunes and then depart, leaving opportunities for other soloists. This clarinettist had no concept of this common etiquette. I’d say that he was a classical clarinettist at his first jam session…..eager to play, with no idea about soloing, playing changes or etiquette. Staying on stage for most of the night, soloing without knowing the proper keys, soloing without knowing the changes, trying to solo (badly) over a professional working band…..is just not on! Every other player was playing 1 or 2 tunes and departing gracefully…..when in Rome do as the Romans do, eh??

Am fortunate that over my younger years I was taught about these things.
Hope that he can learn from others next time.

I played a little later in the jam also “Alone Together”, with a worthy female guitarist and rhythm section.

Had a great time, met some lovely people, cycled home at 1am.

Thanks to bass player Robin who organises the jam.







Paul Van Ross visits Edelweiss club in Berlin

September 24. Berlin.

After a day of cycling around Berlin and checking out the Brandenburg gate I was keen to go to a jazz jam. I’d heard about one happening at “Edelweiss Club”.

A half hour cycle with a tenor sax ain’t so bad. It’s annoying when you get lost though, one wrong turn can equal a lot of backtracking!!

So after an hour riding, I finally found the place. IT WAS PUMPING!
The club was situated in a park area amongst a few other buildings and was Full of people. Also full of smokers, but apparently that’s Berlin.

The core band comprised piano, double bass, drums, congas. Guest soloists were a plenty at 11pm when I arrived including flute, alto flute, soprano sax, sopranino sax, and guitar. Both flute players had bug microphones.

After listening for a while I managed to make it to the front and play a few tunes…..
“What is this thing called love,
All the things you are…”

A very inviting scene, and extremely responsive audience.

Special mention to the soprano sax player in red who managed to drag on his cigarette between phrases in his solo!!!!

Jam got a blues blues and funky sometime later, but managed to accompany a vocalist on a bluesy number.

Had a great time, met some lovely people, cycled home at 2.30am.






Alto jazz club in Amsterdam

September 19. Amsterdam.

After an exhaustive day of walking everywhere visiting the van Gogh museum and a few other tourist attractions I managed to locate the famed “Alto jazz cafe”.

This hip bar very honey and inviting – Free entry, affordable drinks and a great atmosphere.

Tonight, a Live jazz band comprising mainly Hungarian musicians now living in Amsterdam were taking the stage. Line up: tenor sax, guitar, drums, double bass. Led by Daniel Mester, this energetic group performed a mixed bag of originals and standards including ‘yes or No’, ‘Blues for Bilbao’, ‘Equinox’ and ‘Moment’s Notice’.

Some exceptional playing by the guitarist. Enjoyed the gig. The audience were very responsive and appreciative.
Met the band. Great bunch of guys.