In some ways, as you might imagine, Berlin is a city of contrasts. You have staid Germans, whether young or old, going about their lives and business, primarily interacting with those who look and act like them, besides the Germans who are eclectic, whether young or old, who reach out to and enjoy peoples of all kinds: different cultures, different languages, differences of thoughts and behaviors (among other things). Not knocking the former at all, you have those who can combine and/or appreciate their own culture and music, and those of others. And of course, you have a huge multi-cultural mix of people otherwise.
You also have a distinct slice of ageism here. You see it is advertisements for employees or business partners, start-ups, and projects of all kinds: “We are a hip young team searching for other young people to______.” Fill in the blank, as you will. But the primary attitude prevails in that set that only young people, and usually those under 25 and no older than 30 at most (!) cannot be knowledgeable to trends, or be hip, cool, smart, funny or anything else. If you are older than 30? You are to be dismissed, ignored or blinked at owlishly.
Whatever your ethnicity, your background, your age, or how you felt at the moment…for I came to this venue straight from work and was rather worn-looking, and felt out of place in the crowd of, by majority, “proper” Germans, stylishly dressed, the kind that, unless forced to, never look at or acknowledge you at all if you are not like themselves: The jazz Trio at Luisabad Bibilothek were vivid in a moment outside of time.
The music played by the trio of Uli Lenz (piano), Gerhard Kubach (Bass), and Zam Johnson (Drums) soon took me beyond b, but oundaries, most especially because most of the others didn’t interest me at all. Art transcended comparative age, and the trio were hip, cool and happening, even if the younger crowd have their new slangs and phrases to describe the same.
It was an undeniably beautiful venue, an intimate venue, with probably no more than seventy-five chairs (at the most) fanned out for the pieces of the trio: piano, bass and drums. Playing jazz favorites like “Morning Star” and “I Cover the Waterfront,” I recognized almost all the music, and on row three, aisle seat, I had a very good view of Zam and the other two players. The performance was superlative with the musicians clearly displaying, without words, their love for their art and craft, as well as the players who’d gone before them. If you had the “soul,” you could feel the music in the different way than politely nodding.
Seated next to me, on the left, were two older gentleman who obviously “felt” the music. One was obviously a former drummer whose staccato finger and hand movements on the top of his brown-trousered thighs showed his knowledge of the pieces being played, shadowing Zam’s alternatively slow, hypnotic movements in one set… contrasting to the high energy moves in another. On the old drummer’s farther side was a gentleman with nails carefully trimmed and rounded on long, eloquent fingers which almost perfectly followed Uli Lenz’s playing.
You don’t have to be 20 to be cool or happening. Just because you’re over 3o doesn’t mean you have no appeal, energy or can’t truly “feel the love” anymore. Even if “they” say at Der Spiegel magazine that Leipzig is the New Berlin for hipsters, and that all the young artsy, German musicians are headed that way? I say let them go, if you can’t appreciate the vibrant scene that is still here or if only those who are young are to be considered as worthy.
Sure, I would have felt more comfortable in some basement or backstreet lounge with lowlight, a drink in one hand and perhaps a cigarette in the other, among people willing to look you in the eye and acknowledge you as human just like themselves, but these three guys played their hearts, souls and fingers out, and rocked the venue. They transcended the venue. Lovers of classic jazz mixed with jazzed contemporary? Don’t miss them next time. Check http://105lenzkubachjohnson.com/ and Facebook pages for next.