Tag Archives: music reviews

Music/Venue Review: “When They Make You Feel It”: The 105 Lenz Kubach Johnson Jazz Trio, 12 April 2013 at WABE

When they make you feel it…the music that is…my first analogy would be: it’s like walking on air, or what you’d imagine walking on air would feel like. Or experiencing joy of a sudden because of a sound or thought that makes you smile…

As silly as it might sound, sometimes when I sit and listen to the jazz trio, 105 Lenz-Kubach-Johnson, it reminds me of the cartoons of Charles Schutz, and specifically two characters, Snoopy and Woodstock. When the two friends were together in good times, Snoopy dancing in his crazy, wonderful way and the little birdie, Woodstock, flying all around him? They visibly exuded pure joy, love, sharing, togetherness. Honest and true positivity. On Friday, 12 April, Uli Lenz, Gerhard “Kubi” Kubach and Zam Johnson brought that spirit to the WABE.

WABE Entrance by Red Haircrow

WABE Entrance by Red Haircrow

Located at 101 Danzigerstr. in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, Germany, a former municipal gasworks plant circa 1873, the WABE is a venue that is well laid out, convenient and intimate in a great way, for its auditorium may house up to 400 people, but its circular interior gives a great perspective for any guest.

Bar drinks don’t have inflated prices, and there are plenty of tables in its foyer to relax and visit with friends at during a program’s interim, yet because they have a video feed and screen in said space, you can see and listen to the action on stage even if you are away from your seat. You don’t have to miss a note. And believe me, with this trio? You don’t want to miss one, for each is lovingly rendered and produced.

WABE Foyer by Red Haircrow

WABE Foyer by Red Haircrow

Like the two older men who are long time followers, who I’ve seen at every event I attended, and who, Zam tells me, were musicians themselves in various orchestras and arrangements in Europe for over half a century, I never get tired of listening to or watching this trio. Their enthusiasm is infectious, their skill is great, and their professionalism is impeccable but unlike some musicians where such creates an aloofness or separation, this trio is warm and friendly.

They greet their guests like old acquaintances, and many are or have come to be. But whether or not, before or after their concert,  you might be able to speak to one or all of them personally, the enormous appreciation they exude for your having come to see and listen to them can be felt. That’s an exceptionally special thing about 105 Lenz-Kubach-Johnson jazz trio besides their classic approach to modern jazz. When you want to experience the true meaning of love for the music, musician generated atmosphere and an individualistic yet collective flair of personalities that returns to combine in smooth jazz harmony? Go see 105 Lenz-Kubach-Johnson wherever they are, whenever you can. You’ll never be disappointed.

Players by Red Haircrow

Players by Red Haircrow

Paying It Back by Red Haircrow

Paying It Back by Red Haircrow

Bows by Red Haircrow

Bows by Red Haircrow

My personal plus photo? Even the bathrooms have class. This was the men’s. I can’t tell you about the ladies room.

The "John" by Red Haircrow

The “John” by Red Haircrow

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Filed under Events, Music, Reviews

Music Reviews: “Moved by Blues” -The Pete Wyoming Bender Band, Rickenbackers Music Inn

Intro by Red Haircrow

Compared to many private venues in Berlin, Rickenbackers Music Inn is generously spacious enough to accommodate a sizeable crowd in its many nooks and cranies while still maintaining a very intimate atmosphere. Yet when you have a crowd that swelled to the size the legendary Pete Wyoming Bender Band drew on Sunday night, 31 March? It was packed wall to wall. Every table was reserved, standing room only.

Rickenbackers by Red Haircrow

From my perspective in one front corner generously suggested to me by Pete, I waited for the gig to begin while observing some typically Teutonic behavior in a modern sense: an older German couple glanced at their recently delivered plus-sized hamburgers with mild dismay before beginning to delicately go at them with a knife and fork. People, you just pick them up and take a big ol’ bite.

Next, there was a ten-minute discussion between several people on how a young woman might deal with a stool with one leg shorter than the other. They finally folded up coasters so it could sit evenly, but I couldn’t help but think, what did it matter? They were not at Berlin’s fabulous symphony orchestra hall, so what did they expect? They were there for the music, or should have been. I was, for that and a couple of beers.

Close Set by Red Haircrow

I suppose it’s my background in psychology, which can include so many other disciplines and nuances, that I watched the faces of the performers as a clue to how they feel about the music and bandmates, not while they were actively playing of course, but when they were listening to the other members. Also, it’s curious how their instrument of primary choice reflects what seems to somehow reflect them-

Warsteiner by Red Haircrow

selves, especially the ones I’ve met before or knew personally.

Paul Playing by Red Haircrow

In this case, there was Paul Schwingenschlögl on trumpet: friendly and upbeat but with a surprising sultriness. Zam Johnson on drums: direct, attention-getting and relentlessly exciting, and Pete “Wyoming” Bender himself, whom I found on short acquaintance suggestive of great depth and passion, with an infinite love for music and people in every word and gesture. There was the lead guitarist whose name I didn’t know, as well as the bass guitarist whose persona matched his instrument, and the special guest, saxophonist Detriot “Detroit” Gary Wiggins, who closed his eyes, smiling, patient and enjoying himself while waiting for his solos.

Zam Johnson by Red Haircrow

There was no impatience or indifference on the faces of the players whether they were active or not, and several times, if you were paying attention, you could catch the spark of communication between them with no words being spoken: inside humor or a heartfelt nod of “great job, bro, I’m feeling you” evidenced by a sudden smile, a quick glance or a special, personal crescendo because they utterly knew their mates were backing their rise. This might not seem like something special, but when you consider that a number of these musicians regularly play with other people: different gigs, different places, even different types of music? It is spectacular when they can come back again and achieve this level of harmony and meaning.

In the end, that harmony can be attributed to Pete Wyoming Bender, who can pull these talented men together and direct them in song after song that moved their audience. The Incredible Pete Wyoming Bender Band completely satisfies lovers of the genre, not just delivering songs one might know, but infusing every single one: every word, every cord and key with profound knowledge, appreciation and respect.



*Except for the last photo with titling for the Pete Wyoming Bender Band, all others were taken by and are copyright to Red Haircrow.


Filed under Events, Music, Reviews, Travel

Music/Event Review -“Making Beautiful Music Together”: The 105LenzKubachJohnson Jazz Trio at Martinique Bar

Jazz Players by Red Haircrow

Jazz Players by Red Haircrow

For events like this, it’s always better to get there early, and on March 2nd I was glad I did, for although Martinique Bar at Monumentenstraße 29 in Berlin is housed in a series of interconnected rooms, in the main one: it was virtually and quickly standing room only.

With a moderately sized yet loyal following: Uli Lenz (piano), Gerhard Kubach (DoubleBass), and Zam Johnson (Drums), the members of the jazz trio, mingled with the guests, seeking out old friends and welcoming newcomers, in a venue I would call both intimate and open; directed in tone but slightly chaotic as staff hurried back and forth to resupply beer and wine and dish out appetizers.

There is a special dynamic about this trio, from its charismatic leader to its flamboyantly friendly drummer and the quieter yet no less intense bass player. To be a performer, a pre-requisite is being comfortable in the public eye, the centerpiece of a crowd but there’s a big difference discerning fans can sense in those who crave the spotlight and those who are willing to be there to simply “share the love.”

At Play by Red Haircrow

At Play by Red Haircrow

And it’s love you can feel in every stroke of the sticks, ever strum on the strings, every brush and tap of the keys. You can feel the love of the music, the special rhythm and anti-rhythm that is jazz, and how the guys go to their instruments with a curious mixture of joy, anticipation and pride.

Their enthusiasm becomes your enthusiasm, and soon the house was jumping. Even when the tenants upstairs complained of the noise, Zam gave a particularly strong flurry on the drum and a decisive clash on a cymbal that was happily applauded, and he was backed up by Uli and Kubi who only laughed.

When the performance was finished, you could see a kind of reluctance in the players, an apology and disappointment at having to stop for the moment, to let the spirit they had invoked settle down until the next time. And there will be a next time….

Truly giving meaning to the phrase, “For the love of it….” The Jazz Trio of Lenz-Kubach-Johnson, will be playing at the WABE, Danzigerstr. 101 on Friday, April 12th. Entry at 19.00, concert begins: 20.00. Tickets: 15€ / 10€, please call to  make reservations as seating is limited 030 902953850.

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Like them on Facebook or Visit their website http://105lenzkubachjohnson.com/.

From their website.

From their website.


105 Lenz Kubach Johnson: Uli Lenz – piano, Kubi Kubach – doublebass, Zam Johnson – drums. Since 2007 the trio is playing around the world.

Uli has taken the style of all the old masters of piano and has developed a unique personal style that deals with tradition and the future of modern jazz.

Kubis is one of the few bassists to come to a music situation and read the music down and make it his own.

Zam is about the swing and the groove.

*All photos were taken by and are copyright to Red Haircrow.


Filed under Events, Music