ERKRATH He wanted to pick up the friends of Dixieland, but also show what other things jazz can do: Helmut Stein gets encouragement for his concept. The start date for the coming year has already been set.
Passed the baptism of fire, that’s how briefly Helmut Stein’s debut as artistic director of the “JazzSommer Erkrath” can be summed up. Not only the visitors to the finals on Sunday with the concert by “Jazzstep”, the “All-Star” band around Wolfgang Steelen, agree. The response on the two previous Sundays was also largely positive, as Ute Achermann and Lydia Winnik confirmed.
With his selection, at least for the first two bands, Stein deviated from the usual Dixie band sounds in order to also show other facets of jazz: “That was my intention: to take the ‘Dixie countries’ with me as well as to try new things , “Said Stein in his greeting. “I didn’t want to offer the same fare three times,” said the proven jazz connoisseur, who himself performed numerous times as a drummer with his jazz band for twenty years.
Today he invites European jazz celebrities as an organizer and host to his own location, the QQtec (Art-Culture-Technology) he founded in Hilden. Due to the corona, Helmut Stein’s debut as the successor to the legendary Jacky Müller had to be postponed for a year. The spectators were all the more pleased that all three concerts could take place this year, provided the weather was good.
“I invited my mother to all three concerts,” says Martin Schlüter, who really appreciated the range that Helmut Stein covered with his selection of bands. “Friends and acquaintances, whom I have asked in the past few years whether they want to come to the jazz summer, have always declined because Dixieland and swing dominated.” Currywurst, tarte flambée or cakes were there especially for the appearance of “Jazzsteps”, like Erkrath’s deputy mayor, Regina Wedding with her husband and friends from Hilden. The “All-Stars” formation exceeded their expectations, both as soloists and as a team. In terms of track selection, everything was there that a jazz fan with an inclination to Dixieland and Swing could wish for. The detours to the blues and rock’n’roll were just as enthusiastic: While the first and last set were shaped by the classics of the 20s to 50s of the last century, the middle section became so stylistically more varied: Wolfgang Scheele first acted as a soloist, then as an interplay with Mike Rafalczyk, who excelled as a singer and trombonist, to the harmonica. He showed why he is an “all star” in demand on the European jazz scene.
As is usual with jazz musicians, all six musicians performed spectacular solos. With Bastian Korn at the piano, not only did the fingers fly over the keys, but also feet and buttocks were used. The vocal duet with his twin brother Benny, who is in no way inferior to his ten-minute younger brother in terms of ability on the drums, was also worthy of all honor. With Clive Fenton, a much sought-after Sousaphone professional who played with Ray Mason for a long time was honored in the locomotive shed. Last but not least, Mathias Seuffart, who jumped in at short notice for the sick Boris Odenthal, enthused with his clarinet and saxophone solos. He also received a lot of applause when he played with Mike Rafalczyk on the trombone. The fun of playing that the six professionals had with each other already spread to the audience with the first piece and lasted until the second encore piece. A fan who sat right in front of the stage had wanted it: “Ice-Cream” sang Mike Rafalczyk with his changeable voice, first with German lyrics, then in the original English version.