How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
My latest album sounds electronic, yet is played entirely acoustically. I love beautiful melodies and moving between different styles. For me, the most important thing in music is the mood, the vibe.
How is your newest album, KY organic, different from prior ones?
My last album, MEMENTO, was recorded together with an orchestra, so it’s actually quite the opposite of KY organic, which has a very small and intimate instrumentation.
You play both piano and trumpet, and your music bridges a number of genres. Has Berlin, as a place that is also multifaceted, influenced your style in this regard?
Berlin has a super creative jazz scene and at the same time, it’s also a hotspot for electronic music and classical music too. There aren’t many cities in which the music scenes are as open to each other, and respectful of influences from one another, as here in Berlin. The XJAZZ Festival is our way of trying to represent this multiplicity.
How long have you been in Berlin? How would you describe the music scene here?
I’ve been here since 2000. What really appeals to me is the openness and aliveness of the music scene. There are constantly great new musicians coming here. This means that nobody can sit back and stay stationary – everyone has to stay creative all the time and keep developing as musicians. I find this very inspirational.
What are your favorite places in the city to listen to music?
I like the small jazz clubs, such as A-Trane (www.a-trane.de) and Zig Zag (www.zig-zagjazzclub.berlin), but also orchestra concerts at the Philharmonie. I also like the vibe in the many offbeat locations, which are often temporary spots. The XJAZZ Festival is also about showing contrasts. The concerts take place at locations like the Watergate club, Lido, and Privatclub, but also in Kreuzberg’s Emmauskirche church.
Other than your concert, which shows in this month’s XJAZZ Festival (p. 47) are on your must-see list?
I’m a fan of Grégory Privat from Martinique and Petros Klampanis from Greece – both proper jazz cats. But I’m also into Ätna, from Dresden. Azerbaijani pianist Isfar Sarabski is fantastic – he’ll be playing a duo show with both saxophone and piano/organ.
Which neighborhood do you live in, and what drew you to it?
I live in Friedrichshain, near Ostkreuz. I’ve got my favorite cafés here, Safé on Sonntagstraße (www.cafe-safe.de) and Tres Cabezas on Boxhagener Straße (www.trescabezas.de). Bakeries and restaurants are just around the corner, and I’m close to the river at Rummelsburger Bucht. I like kicking a ball around with my son on Lenbachplatz and going to the market on Boxhagener Platz.
Imagine it’s a beautiful day and you’re free to spend it however you choose. What would your perfect Berlin day look like?
I would take my bike on the regional train out to a lake in Brandenburg. Liepnitzsee is my favorite. Tempelhofer Feld is another of my regular destinations. When it’s really warm out, I like going to Molinari & Ko in Kreuzberg (www. molinari-ko.de) to sit in the shade with a white wine and something to eat.
Clockwise from top left: A Friedrichshain café; Sebastian Studnitzky; Tempelhofer Park; neighborhood market in Boxhagener Platz; Studnitzky's album; The river bank in Rummelsburg.