Michael Wollny Interview

Interview by Dominic Reilly Oct 2017

Every Autumn Music Network promotes a tour of Ireland with a notable international jazz act. Over the last couple of years it has been scheduled in the last week of October and usually includes a performance in The Triskel Arts Centre as part of the Cork Jazz Festival.  

This year it is the turn of Michael Wollny the German jazz pianist. Wollny is a well established artist with serious international credentials. Over the years he has risen from the jazz club scene to the major festival main stages and concert hall circuit.

I talked to Wollny last week. Wollny has visited these shores before. He recalls working with Gary Sheehan when Gary was with Note Productions back in 2009 and 2012. So he was delighted to come back to Ireland.

I asked about his musical influences. “The Keith Jarrett Trio is very high on my list, however I also take inspiration from The Guitar Trio of Bill Frisell and Joey Barron and Kermit Driscoll. Over the years I have also listened to Joachim Kühn.”

Wollny comes to Ireland with his Trio. Eric Schaefer on drums has been playing with Woolny for the past fifteen years. Christian Weber from Switzerland has been with the trio for the last three years. “Christian is a really strong improviser, he can make a lot of noise and he has a wonderful picking technique,” says Wollny. “As a trio we play really free. We do start off with an idea of a set list but each night it gets discarded.” One of the things he is looking forward to when he comes to Ireland is getting back to a freer style of playing. “Over the past fifteen years Eric and I have built up a repertoire so we have a lot of music we can call upon when we feel the need to change the set list”. I asked Wollny what kind of ensemble he favours; solo, quintet, big band etc. “I am at home in the trio format. I also like a duo format for similar reasons”. What are they? “ In a trio and duo you don’t have to press or force things, you can be much more in the moment” Each evening we play a new place. Everything is different. We travel there, there is new scenery, new conversations. All these things create new ideas outside the music. These things get added, they help to make it a different concert every evening”

 Wollny has recorded on the ACT label for the past 12-13 years. Although he sees that there is a cultural change taking place and he feels that in five years time all music could be digitised he still places a lot of importance on the “Album”. “Each album is a collection of new ideas and is therefore a step forward. I like the common topic of an album as opposed to releasing a series of single tracks.”

The Michael Wollny Trio will be playing six concerts in the week starting the 23rd October. His tours starts in Linenhall, Castlebar and takes in the Sugar Club, Dublin, Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, The Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda and Triskel Christchurch, Cork.

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