Photos and Review: The European All-Stars: Martin Sasse, Mini Schulz, Bernd Reiter feat. Stephane Belmondo & Gabor Bolla

This international all-star quintet brings together outstanding soloists and bandleaders from four European countries (France, Germany, Hungary, Austria), who continue the musical legacy of the great masters of jazz with a lot of respect, admiration and passion.

Stephane Belmondo is one of the most renowned trumpeters in Europe. He has lived in Paris since 1986, and in 1987 he played in Laurent Cugny’s big band “Lumiéres” and also on two of this band’s albums with Gil Evans. Belmondo also played in the Orchester National de Jazz under Laurent Cugny (“Hommage a Miles Davis” 1994). For several years he accompanied Dee Dee Bridgewater (album “Love and Peace” on Verve in 1994) and also played with Andy Emler (“Sombritude” 1999), Stéphane Grappelli (“Michel Legrand et Stephane Grappelli” 1992), Michel Legrand and many others. a. His album “Wonderland” was released in 2004, for which he received a “Les Victoires du Jazz”. In 1994 he received the Prix Django Reinhardt, and for the album “Hymne au Soleil” he won both the “Les Victoires du Jazz” prize (2004) and the “Prix Boris Vian” in 2003. “Influence” with Yusef Lateef was followed by another “Les Victoires du Jazz” in 2006. In 2011, Belmondo played at several “Trumpet Summits” with Roy Hargrove and Tom Harrell.

Gabor Bolla, born in Budapest in 1988, began to play the clarinet self-taught and quickly received the first national Hungarian awards (National School’s Clarinet Competition). At the age of 12 he switched to the tenor saxophone. In spring 2003 he was the only teenager to reach the semi-finals of the “World Saxophone Competition” at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and in Budapest he was invited as a guest soloist by the Vienna Art Orchestra. In December 2004 he finally won the Hans Koller Prize in the “Talent of the Year” category, and in 2006 he received the New York Scholarship at the Hans Koller Prize and lived in NYC from the beginning of October to mid-December 2007. Bolla subsequently performed with musicians such as David Murray, Benny Golson, Johnny Griffin, Roy Hargrove and Kirk Lightsey; he has lived in Copenhagen since 2014.

Belmondo and Bolla are supported by an outstanding and well-rehearsed international trio. Martin Sasse from Cologne has been one of Europe’s leading pianists since the 1990s and has worked as a leader and sideman with the most important soloists from the USA and Europe such as Al Foster, the New York Voices, Jimmy Cobb, Steve Grossman, Peter Bernstein, Vincent Herring, Roberta Gambarini, Till Brönner, Dick Oatts, Dennis Mackrel, Philip Catherine, Dusko Goykovich, Steve Grossman, Scott Hamilton, Tony Lakatos and many more. m. Mini Schulz is one of the most sought-after bassists in Europe due to his subtle and accomplished playing style. He played countless concerts with international jazz legends and is also active as an organizer and teacher in Stuttgart. The Austrian drummer Bernd Reiter, who studied in Graz and New York and now lives in Paris after several years in Munich, has performed worldwide with many jazz greats such as Harold Mabern, Kirk Lightsey, Don Menza, Steve Grossman, Jim Rotondi and many more. m.

Together, the five extremely established and experienced musicians present classical, energetic and swinging jazz at the highest level, in the style of their role models such as Cedar Walton, Steve Grossman or Freddie Hubbard, simply “Jazz at its best”!!! (Jazz club Bix Stuttgart)

Bernd Reiter always knows how to put together exceptional all-star bands. Three years ago this band consisted – in addition to Belmondo – of Aldo Zunino, Piero Odorici and the pianist David Hazeltine. In June last year, Bernd Reiter performed at the BIX with the great guitarist Peter Bernstein, Zunino and Hutman. Not only is he an accomplished jazz drummer, he also knows how to put together exclusive tours for the bands, which they take almost every day across Europe. We experienced one of these dazzling jazz evenings here at BIX today.

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