Christian Weidner is a German Saxophonist and composer who has worked with internationally renowned musicians and bands. His own music projects have been released on the Munich label Pirouet since 2004.
As a musician and teacher, he pursues an integrated approach. Equally central to Weidner’s work are the consolidation of tradition, research into new methods and the dedication to authentic personal expression.
Christian Weidner was born in 1976, grew up in Kassel and discovered the alto saxophone and jazz at the age of 12. At 16 he played in the Hesse State Youth Jazz Orchestra and at 17 in the Federal (national) Youth Jazz Orchestra. At 18 he won first prize in the ‘Jugend Jazzt’ (Youth Plays Jazz) competition and began playing in a duo with Gunter Hampel, a collaboration which would continue for many years. In 1996 he began studying at the Hamburg University of Music. In 1999 he received an Erasmus scholarship to study in Stockholm and from 2000-2002 he studied at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin.
In 1999 Weidner moved to Berlin and began working together with well-respected contemporaries of the Berlin scene, such as Eric Schaefer, Simon Stockhausen, Chris Dahlgren, Antonis Anissegos, Gebhard Ullmann, Christian Lillinger, Dejan Terzic, Ronny Graupe und Oliver Steidle.
In the following years, he also played in the Franco-German Jazz Ensemble with Albert Mangelsdorff and worked in the bands of Günter Lenz, John Schröder und Rainer Tempel as well as on projects by Henning Sieverts, Kalle Kalima und Sebastian Merk together with international greats such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Hollenbeck und Greg Cohen.
2004 saw the beginning of an intensive collaboration with the jazz label Pirouet Records, which resulted in the first recordings of his trio, together with Daniel Schröteler und Antonio Palesano. The trio then became a quartet and since then, three albums, widely praised by the international music press, have been released. Currently playing with him in the quartet are Achim Kaufmann, Henning Sieverts und Samuel Rohrer.
In addition, Weidner plays in Frank Gratkowski’s experimental microtonal saxophone quartet ‘Four Alto’, in Frank Möbus’ trio ‘Der Rote Bereich’, in the harpist Kathrin Pechlof’s trio collective, in Johannes Lauer’s orchestra ‘Lauer Large’, in Norwegian Karl Ivar Refseth’s trio and in Robert Landfermann’s quintet with Elias Stemeseder, Sebastian Gille and Jim Black.
Since 2008, Weidner has worked regularly with the voice actor Christian Brückner. He composed the music to audio books by Kazuo Ishiguro and Ror Wolf and performed an E.E. Cummings programme as a duo with Brückner at the 2013 Berlin Jazz Festival.
Weidner has received numerous studio advancement prizes as well as a composition scholarship from the Berlin Senate. He has led workshops at the Colleges of Music in Dresden, Hanover und Danzig, as well as while on tour for the Goethe Institute in diverse locations in South East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Since 2014 he acts as external expert and member of the jury at the Bern University of the Arts as part of the Bachelor examination process.
From 2013-2018 Weidner also co-curated the Berlin concert series ‘Serious Series’.
In autumn 2015 Christian Weidner was appointed Professor of Saxophone at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart. (press release)
When it comes to so-called “free” jazz, there’s a lingering misconception among some listeners who’ve only heard Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, or late-period Coltrane – there’s the belief that “free” means “fiery,” and that all of the music, by necessity, comes out of the same white-hot barrel as Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun. Of course, that’s not true; while some of the genre’s best recordings are, indeed, explosive, there are just as many that evade that descriptor. In short, there are many shades of freedom. Some sound like spiraling shrapnel from a hand-grenade, and others are closer to the lazy flights of migratory birds.
Christian Weidner is one of those artists who sticks to the cooler, calmer side of the free jazz spectrum. His compositions are, well, composed, and they always seem to maintain a certain reserve, an equable demeanor that lends itself well to the late hours. On this, his latest album, Weidner returns with the trusty group that helped him deliver the enchanting Dream Boogie: Achim Kaufmann on piano, Henning Sieverts on bass, and Samuel Rohrer on drums. Dream Boogie was a stellar effort, with pieces that ranged from the architectural elegance of ECM, to pieces that wandered down more unpredictable paths.
After one or two listens, there might not seem to be much to distinguish Every Hour of the Light and Dark from the previous album; both exist in a world of dreams, and the compositions themselves mirror this fact – sometimes, they glide along with a sensible, transparent beauty. Other times, they come to us in fractals, shards of melody that skip and stutter and swirl. Like the duo of Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp, Kaufmann and Weidner have a certain simpatico when they play together, and they tackle all this stylistic variation with astounding proficiency.
Though this newest album shares many attributes with the 2012 outing, I would say that it’s a refinement of what made the last one so compelling. It’s even more ethereal, and it strikes me as (yet again) an album that is practically made for nocturnal musings. “Tethys” is lovely, yet slippery, with Kaufmann’s notes sometimes clustering, sometimes cascading, but never spoiling the listener with a straightforward progression. In many ways, the crystalline delicacy of his playing on this piece recalls Debussy’s compositions – impressionistic tonal swaths that are near-spectral in their lightness. The title track develops in more direct ways, but still maintains a heart of inscrutability; Weidner is endlessly expressive here, but he is also laconic – each note arises as if it were the last drop of water squeezed from a damp towel. This terse approach is shared by the rhythm section: Henning Sieverts plays with great economy, not often taking solos or busying up the compositions with undue complexities. Likewise, Samuel Rohrer has a soft touch – he plays just what is necessary to maintain the foundation of Weidner’s shadowy sound-world.
As its title implies, “Weightless” is a sparse affair, and its success owes perhaps more to the vacuum between the notes than to the notes themselves. Although it stretches to seven minutes, it never loses its enchanting quality – like being stranded in the depths of space, watching the Earth move from marble-to-pea-to-speck, it’s enchantment of a somber sort, but enchantment nonetheless. “Dance Fantasm” is a quick antidote to the solemnity, injecting the album with a burst of primal energy. It’s only a burst, however, being soon replaced by the elegiac wails of Weidner’s alto on “In Memoriam.” In this piece, the other players are slow to appear, giving Weidner and Kaufmann an opportunity to show just how deep-seated that aforementioned simpatico truly is. When Sieverts and Rohrer do arrive, it’s not to tie a rhythm to Weidner and Kaufmann’s productions, but to accent them with sibilant splashes (in Rohrer’s case) and leaden lumps (in Sieverts’). The final piece, “As Long as Now,” finds the album closing in much the same way that it began – somberly.
Weidner’s compositions are pleasant, and they never veer off into the harsh, uncompromising landscapes that many other albums lumped under the “free jazz” label tend to do. For that reason, Every Hour of the Light and Dark might strike some listeners as overly safe. While my first couple of listens seemed to be leading me to that same opinion, it was with a few more that I started to see the complexities buried in these compositions – yes, they are (for the most part) calm, but there is a knotty, mystifying heart in the center of this album. As with any exceptional recording, it is in the untying of those tangled threads that we receive the greatest sense of fulfillment. (by Derek Stone)
Achim Kaufmann (piano)
Samuel Rohrer (drums)
Henning Sieverts (bass)
Christian Weidner (saxophone)
01. Tethys 5.01
02. Every Hour Of The Light And Dark 6.31
03. Fuzzy Membership 4.33
04. Weightless 7.07
05. Dance Fantasm 1.51
06. In Memoriam 8,12
07. Fairy Tales Friends 5.48
08. As Long As Now 4.29
Music: Christian Weidner
The official website:
“Weidner is a musician with a very developed and finely focused artistic vision; an owner of a rare original voice.” (Dan MacCleaghan, All About Jazz)