The path as a goal – The story of the recording “Content” by Roman Rhode
The seven tracks are snapshots. Oli Bott simply calls them “content”. In both senses of the word. For the recordings reflect both the quartet’s joy in playing and the content: compositions reduced to the essentials that offer an astonishing amount of room for interaction and improvisation. In them, Bott, a cross-genre musician, composer and arranger, conveys his own vision of jazz: as freedom for personal development. “Nothing was rehearsed, nothing counted on,” Bott says. “We had no idea how it would start and how it would end, when the theme would come, who would improvise when.”
The basis of the session were some miniatures Bott had written beforehand: two-liners that can be opened up for improvisation, allow variations and tell stories. Bott had initially only invited the musicians for the project to a non-binding, free rehearsal. Although they knew and appreciated each other, they had not yet played together in this constellation. But during the hours in the rehearsal room, everyone revealed an irrepressible desire to make music together – just after the lockdown was lifted in early summer 2021.
The four musicians themselves were surprised by the spontaneous session, during which – under the supervision of sound engineer Guy Sternberg – only a demo tape was made. A single take was enough until Markus Stockhausen happily stated during a break: “A real album is being created here!” All the pieces on it are inspired not only by individual imagination and creativity, but equally by the enormous ability to listen to each other in order to produce an exciting dialogue. “In this form,” says Oli Bott, “I couldn’t have arranged it at all.” For him, this is ultimately the essence of jazz: celebrating the impulsive, unrepeatable moments of a session. With the seven “Contents”, the rehearsal is therefore already the result. Why spend three days tweaking a single take? Less can sometimes be much more.
About Oli Bott
Oli Bott studied vibraphone and composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston with teachers such as Gary Burton and Bob Brookmeyer and graduated ‘summa cum laude’. Since then freelance musician in Berlin, several scholarships from the Berlin Senate, composition commissions for his own jazz orchestra, radio and television recordings of numerous concerts in Germany and abroad, winner of international competitions such as NDR Music Prize for Jazz Conductors, 1st Prize Leipzig Improvisation Competition, Europ Jazz Contest and Wayne Shorter Award, USA.
Oli loves to interpret good music of all styles and feels comfortable improvising his own stories on works of classical, jazz, rock and world music. Thus his portfolio ranges from the Romanian rock band ZMEI3 to working with cellist Anna Carewe and the Sheridan Ensemble (cross-genre ensemble from baroque and classical to jazz, rock and improvisation) to his jazz quartet with Markus Stockhausen, Oliver Potratz and Eric Schaefer. He has played at festivals such as WOMAD Festival, Electric Castle Festival, Schwetzingen SWR Festival, Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, Niedersächsische Musiktage, Beethovenfest Bonn, WDR Jazz Festival Cologne, Händel Festspiele Halle, Musikfest Stuttgart and Kurt Weill Fest Dessau.
Since 2001 Oli has been teaching improvisation to classically trained musicians in Berlin and gives workshops for the education programme of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berlin University of Popular Arts, the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus and the Landesmusikakademie Berlin.
In 2022, he was commissioned by the German Bundestag to compose a 60-minute homage to Haydn’s work to mark the 100th anniversary of Germany’s anthem, which he produced with Anna Carewe, Markus Stockhausen, Oliver Potratz and Eric Schaefer.
Markus Stockhausen – trumpet
Oli Bott – vibraphone
Oliver Potratz – bass
Eric Schaefer – drums
26.09.2023 – Berlin – A-Trane: CD Release Konzert
“The extemporized interplay of the four musicians is truly striking, for all pieces contain cleverly constructed arcs of tension and rousing dramaturgies with exciting dialogues. The free imagination developing out of simplicity thus creates complex musical entities of some entertainment value, whose friendly basic character is audibly marked by elementary, original joy of playing – an enthusiasm that is immediately transferred to the listener.” JAZZPODIUM
“Opening doors – Oli Bott takes all liberties.” JAZZTHETIK
“A multi-layered, passionate album with magical moments.” DAS MAGAZIN
“Bott, Stockhausen, Potratz and Schaefer celebrate the true content of jazz – the creation of succinct narratives out of the moment, based on what has just been heard. In addition to Stockhausen’s trumpet, which sometimes sounds like a lively bird, sometimes like an ice-cold mountain stream, Bott’s vibraphone proves to be a great emotional content provider: the range extends from barely perceptible like a sunrise announcing itself from a distance to the greatest soloistic playing intensity.” RONDO
“The essence of jazz, a celebration of impulsive, unrepeatable moments.” Jazz Now, HR2
“Happy diving into the waters of Cool Jazz in Bach’-like chamber music manner. The seven minisongs (two-liners) that vibraphonist Oli Bott has composed are an excellent basis for the virtuoso interplay and improvisation of the band members. Besides Bott, Markus Stockhausen (trumpet), Oliver Potratz (double bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums) have plenty of time to articulate themselves, radiantly beautiful and soulful. The joy of playing that has built up during the Covid pandemic breaks through fully on the 58-minute album – tingling listening experience!” CONCERTO
“Moment of glory in the studio: All the pieces speak volumes of the enormous creativity of the musicians involved in the all-star band and are a testament to their ability to listen carefully to each other in order to always react in exactly the right way.” JAZZTHING
“It is the spontaneity of the arrangement that makes this melodically focused, flowing, sometimes almost meditative, yet tension-filled jazz album so special (it consists entirely of first takes). When the music itself surprises the musicians, it mercilessly sweeps the listener along.” DRUMS & PERCUSSION