Ger­man Jazz Group Wows Nairobi

Diplomat East Africa - - Odysseys - By BRIAN MUREITHI

Ham­burg- based CNIRBS Jazz group which was on African tour to pro­mote its mu­sic in the con­ti­nent was in Nairobi where it thrilled fans alike with its elec­tri­fy­ing ren­di­tions from its ‘Out­side the box’ al­bum and new hit sin­gle ‘Hey Col­lege’.

CNIRNS means whip­per­snap­per or manikin in Ger­man

The show at the Ger­man Cul­tural Cen­tre Goethe In­sti­tute in part of the group’s tour Oc­to­ber, that saw the gifted trio tour seven African ci­ties, start­ing in Maputo, Mozam­bique be­fore pro­ceed­ing to Antananarivo, Mada­gas­car, Jo­han­nes­burg, Kampala, Ki­gali, then came to Nairobi and be­fore head­ing for Ad­dis Ababa where the tour ends.

The jazz crew con­sists of key­boardist and com­poser Matthaus Win­nitzki, drum­mer Kon­rad Ull­rich, and trum­pet and eu­pho­nium player Stephan Mein­berg. They rou­tinely push the boundar- ies of jazz with their wild rhythms, un­der­tak­ing brief mu­si­cal for­ays into re­lated gen­res.

You can hear bor­row­ings from al­ter­na­tive rock in their mu­sic as well as elec­tronic el­e­ments and in­flu­ences from African and Caribbean mu­sic. This makes Matthaus not to re­gard him­self as just a jazz mu­si­cian, but more, in his words as a ‘world mu­si­cian’. Born in the late 1970s in the Pol­ish city of Ty­chy, he moved with his par­ents to Ham­burg, where he stud­ied clas­si­cal and jazz pi­ano.

Kon­rad Ull­rich dis­cov­ered his pas­sion for the drums at the early age of 10 and took lessons from then on. He played in the big band at mu­sic school, where he dis­cov­ered his sec­ond love: Jazz. After high school he went straight on to the con­ser­va­tory in Ham­burg, where he was trained. On the side, he played in a Ger­man Youth Orches­tra be­fore go­ing to New York in 2006 on a jazz schol­ar­ship.

Stephan Mein­berg, the third man in the group also plays eu­pho­nium –a brass in­stru­ment which has a some­what deeper reg­is­ter than the trum­pet and is of­ten used in brass bands and orches­tras. Mein­berg first stud­ied Euro­pean clas­si­cal mu­sic in Lubeck, then jazz in Cologne, be­fore like­wise fly­ing to New York for a one year schol­ar­ship. Upon his re­turn to Ger­many, he played with count­less mu­si­cians and with the Big Band of North Ger­man Broad­cast­ing (NGB). He has re­leased a num­ber of CDs with his Vi­TA­MiNE quin­tet and the bands Arnie Bolden, Mold and Heel­ium.

With their wild im­pro­vi­sa­tions and com­plex rhythms, CNIRBS never ne­glect to have some fun when play­ing live gigs. With their key­board, brass and per­cus­sion in­stru­ments, panoply of wires, flash­ing lit­tle lights and mys­te­ri­ous foot ped­als, with their verve and painstak­ingly achieved light­ness of touch and sound. CNIRBS have al­ready played in a num­ber of jazz clubs and fes­ti­vals around the globe.

The Goethe In­sti­tute spon­sored their tour of the seven African coun­tries to foster AfricanGer­man re­la­tions and ce­ment the his­tor­i­cal re­la­tions as the band’s mu­sic is syn­ony­mous with African tunes, and the re­ac­tions from the au­di­ence in Nairobi re­flected just that

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