Music journalist, author and sound artist Michael Rüsenberg invites jazz greats to an interesting exchange at "Speak Like A Child." The title of the series goes back to the title track of the legendary Herbie Hancock album from 1968 and is a reference to the musical primary color of the Stadtgarten. Now the popular interview series is also available as a podcast, to be heard here on this website, Spotify and iTunes.
The joy of sharing among jazz musicians is not evenly distributed. Most of them "tell stories" - with their instruments. But among those who are also verbally communicative, Joachim Ullrich is one of the most gifted. And this has not only been the case since his time as pro-rector of the Cologne University of Music (2010-2021), when talking rather than playing was his main activity. Even earlier, for example during the times of the Cologne Saxophone Mafia (1981 - ca 2011), he was able to explain both vividly and wittily what jazz is actually about.
Joachim Ullrich, born in 1955 in Saxony-Anhalt, was one of the founders of the Initiative Kölner Jazzhaus e.V. in 1978. Two years earlier, he had enrolled at the Cologne University of Music to study the clarinet. He switched to the saxophone, joining Manfred Schoof's jazz class.
Although he did not graduate, in 2004 he took a professorship in jazz composition and ensemble conducting at this university, and in 2010 he additionally took the post of pro-rector (the deputy leader in a committee).
Previously, he had led the jazz/pop course at the University of Mainz, also with the rank of professor, 1999-2004.
Joachim Ullrich is - along with Dieter Manderscheid and others - a prime example of the transfer of knowledge from the members of the Initiative Kölner Jazzhaus e.V. via the Stadtgarten, the Offene Jazzhausschule e.V. and the bachelor's and master's degree programs at the Musikhochschule to the next generation.
It is to their credit that Cologne today hosts more jazz talent per km2 than any other German city.
The conversation with Joachim Ullrich took place on Nov. 24, 2021 at the club "Jaki," in the series "Past & Present - The Music of Joachim Ullrich"; without an audience, before the concert of the Cologne Contemporary Jazz Orchestra with a heavily revised version of Ullrich's "Faces of the Duke" (1991) as well as a new composition, the four-part "Third Crime Suite."
Text: Michael Rüsenberg