The NDR Bigband - An Ensemble of Soloists

NDR Bigband 2015 © NDR / Sibylle Zettler Foto: Sibylle Zettler
The NDR Bigband

There's nothing quite like the NDR Bigband. Unique among Germany’s radio big bands, the NDR Bigband is a jazz ensemble composed of premier soloists of diverse backgrounds and influences whose collective endeavors coalesce to produce an original and striking group sound for a large ensemble.

After leaving behind traditional radio entertainment, prime-time TV shows and the rest of everyday light music, the ensemble has focused their energies on pursuing creative music. From men like long-standing lead saxophonist Herb Geller, a veteran of the West Coast scene, to today’s band members, Frankfurt rhapsodist Christof Lauer on tenor saxophone, abstract expressionist Peter Bolte on alto saxophone, Claus Stötter with all the contemporary trends, the tonal conjuror Ingolf Burkhardt, and the free-thinking avant-gardist Reiner Winterschladen on trumpets, each and every musician contributes his personal array of musical color to the whole, shifting the ensemble’s horizon to the outer regions of the color spectrum.

The sound of unifying character

Known to perform various stylistic programs ranging from swing, latin, to avant-garde, the NDR Bigband sounds different on each occasion, yet retains a unifying character that is immediately recognizable. This was the goal set thirty-five years ago by entrepreneurial editor Wolfgang Kunert and his long-standing bandleader Dieter Glawischnig. In Hamburg, they assembled a top-notch band unlike many other big bands.

Dieter Glawischnig, Steve Gray, Al Jarreau (from left) © Foto: Steven Haberland
Dieter Glawischnig, Steve Gray and Al Jarreau (from left)

Involving celebrated arrangers such as the late Steve Gray, Colin Towns, and Michael Gibbs the NDR Bigband has avoided flights of musical artistry as mere backing for appearances by international celebrities, and instead developed a repertoire featuring the ensemble’s soloists. The NDR Bigband’s concerts have become significant events locally and around the world.


Al Jarreau bei der Probe mit der NDR Bigband zum Tournee-Programm "Porgy & Bess" am 13.11.2007 im NDR Hamburg, Foto: Steven Haberland ©

"A just extraordinary band"

Al Jarreau has worked together with the NDR Bigband for several times. And he's just crazy about these musicians and the sound of the band. Download (2 MB)

An extraordinary band

The band’s programs are as multifaceted as its members’ individual tastes and temperaments. Historically, it is from the amalgamation of diverse influences that jazz retains its vitality. The strength to question itself again and again, to come up with fresh answers, and to continue being vibrant and alive is precisely that which makes the NDR Bigband so special.

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