A Friday evening in North Rhine-Westphalia’s Hochsauerland region: jazz fans and culture vultures gather in the foyer – all of them with proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test – and pass the time until the concert begins with drinks and a tour of burgbad’s bathroom furniture showroom. That’s because the concert – one of the highlights of this year’s Sauerland Herbst festival – is taking place in an unusual setting: a production hall that is otherwise used for polishing high-gloss cabinet fronts.
But for this one day, the factory racks were replaced with a big stage, sophisticated sound equipment, lighting technology and rows of chairs. And all the effort paid off! The event turned into a memorable evening of world jazz. 230 visitors got to enjoy the world-class musicians in an atmosphere that could almost be described as intimate.
To celebrate its 75th anniversary, burgbad sponsored a concert that formed part of the 22nd International Brass Festival Sauerland Herbst: the Trilok Gurtu Quartett featuring Frederik Köster. The production hall at burgbad’s Bad Fredeburg facility near Schmallenberg hosted world-class musician and jazz legend Trilok Gurtu with his ensemble, as well as jazz trumpeter Frederik Köster, a native of the Hochsauerland region: two virtuosos, one of them famous for his unconventional percussion and drum arrangements and rhythmic singing, the other loved for his funky trumpet sounds.
Trilok Gurtu, who has played with musicians like Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Neneh Cherry and Angélique Kidjo, is regarded as a mediator between Indian and western music traditions, while Frederik Köster and his ensemble “Die Verwandlung” caused a sensation. They were accompanied by Jesse Milliner (electronic piano and keyboard) and Jonathan Cuniado (bass).
Besides some of Trilok Gurtu’s own compositions, the programme also included pieces by style-defining trumpeters like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. The hall was throbbing with the driving rhythms and soaring trumpet, and the musicians swept the pandemic-weary, music-hungry audience along with them. In some humorous comments about his music, a jovial Gurtu thanked the audience for their understanding: there are times, he said, when music just has to be played loud. But there were quiet passages too, of which Gurtu’s solos were among the most fascinating – when he played the Indian tabla drums, for instance, or transported his listeners to faraway worlds by using strings of shells and other reverberating objects to coax sound effects from a bucket of water.
It wasn’t just the percussionist who felt the music, the audience felt it in every fibre too. After their standing ovations were rewarded with an encore of Balato, most of the audience headed happily for home with a burgbad washbag tucked under their arm – a gift from the bathroom furniture producer, which used its 75th anniversary as an opportunity to advocate regional engagement and sustainable practices. After all, as burgbad’s head of marketing Sabine Meissner, who hosted the evening, underscored at the beginning of the concert, culture isn’t something that can be turned on and off. It needs to be nurtured and cared for – just like the environment we live in. Her words can also be seen as a fitting definition of one of burgbad’s most important goals for the years ahead – until the next anniversary comes around.