Why has jazz music left the mainstream

Rainer Tempel & the NDR Bigband: Serious Fun

Status: 02/20/2021 6:00 a.m.

Rainer Tempel and the NDR Bigband presented their "Serious Fun" program exclusively in a live stream concert from the NDR's Rolf Liebermann Studio.

In his program for the NDR Big Band, composer and arranger Rainer Tempel builds a bridge from the original big band jazz to today's pop music - and that apart from the mainstream.

Due to the measures to contain the corona pandemic, the concert in the Rolf-Liebermann-Studio of the NDR took place without spectators and exclusively in the live stream. The concert recording will be published here on this page at a later date.

When Rainer Tempel speaks with respect of his role models and predecessors as big band composers and arrangers, names like Maria Schneider, Bill Holman and Bob Brookmeyer, three innovators of the "Big Band" genre, come up. And yet Tempel is also close to the origins of jazz, when the swing big band shaped the sound of the time.

Away from the mainstream: From jazz to pop - and back

In his program for the NDR Big Band, the composer Tempel for his part builds a bridge to the popular sound image of our day, whose atmosphere he sees shaped by protagonists such as Björk or the French electro duo AIR - or by the British band Radiohead, whose hypnotic songs have long since become a permanent repertoire of the jazz pianist Brad Mehldau.

The guitarist of the NDR Big Band, Sandra Hempel, plays in the Rolf Liebermann Studio of the NDR. On drums: Jim Black.

"There is also a mainstream in modern big-band jazz that I would like to leave," explains Tempel. As a professor at the Stuttgart University of Music and arranger and conductor for a number of renowned big bands, Tempel knows what he is talking about.

Rainer Tempel & the NDR Bigband

Tempel has also worked several times with the NDR Bigband and is looking forward to the joint experiment. "There are many exciting things to discover in the sound aesthetics of pop today. But it should remain an acoustic project. In principle, two microphones are sufficient."

Rainer Tempel and the musicians of the NDR Bigband have long-standing and complex relationships.

Despite all his enthusiasm for the sound world of pop - Tempel only found his musical home as a young pianist in a jazz band. "The piano is a solo instrument. Many pianists never have the orchestral experience of sitting in one voice among perhaps ten violinists. I miss that feeling very much - that's why I keep gathering large groups around me," says the composer and leader of various bands who include some of the most prominent musicians, from Nils Wogram to Claudio Puntin, Frank Möbus to Claus Stötter, who is also a member of the NDR Bigband. "At some point you run into each other. I still remember how it was my dream to play with him. He lived around the corner from me and I thought: That would be something ..."