Interview/ Music: Bodo Maier

Bodo Maier

Get acquainted with one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets trumpeter and composer Bodo Maier.

Playing the trumpet since the age of eight, he very quickly turned to jazz and improvisation. For the last 12 years, he’s been touring intensely with various artists across the globe playing in Hong Kong, China, Brazil, and Senegal, which started a deep connection with the Afro-American music heritage.

Additionally, he spent some time in London, where he became very active in the music scene. He began collaborating with guitarist Tjoe Man Cheung, with whom he recorded two albums. 

Having returned to his native Switzerland, he’s preparing the release of his upcoming EP ‘Eclipse’ with a new track titled ‘Lamento Oliviado’. The song was written as a tribute to his love of Latin jazz. ‘Lamento Oliviado’ is a soothing number composed of gorgeously arranged elements that grow and grow over its near ten-minute duration.

Taking time out from the release of his latest single, we chat with Bodo about his new track, his quintet LP and more.

Hello Bodo, how are you today? How has your day been so far?

Hi, thanks for asking. I am on a flight to Brazil right now. Pretty excited.

So you’re from Switzerland? What kind of influence has living there had on your music?

Yes, I am from Switzerland, even though both of my parents are German. Well, so far, Switzerland has had an influence because I studied music here. I graduated with two masters in music pedagogy and performance. But I think a bigger influence came from my father, who chose to give me a Louis Armstrong album on my 9th birthday after I had played the trumpet only for one year. My father had a friend who was a trumpet player called Charlie Dubler. He used to drive vintage cars, and sometimes when we went hiking in the mountains, I could hear him playing the trumpet somewhere. But actually, I collected most of my musical influences from all around the globe as I had the chance to travel with music quite a lot. Most of it I derived from my time in South America, Africa and London, of course.

Can you tell us about the story behind your single‚ Lamento Olvidado?

I wrote and produced Lamento Olvidado in winter 2020/2021, which was the darkest time of my life so far. I was stuck in a situation where no exit was in sight. As well, there was a pandemic, winter, no sunlight, living alone, no work, no reason nor motivation to practice the trumpet, losing embouchure and endurance… losing my music. I almost stopped being a musician. The dark time of a planet is called eclipse. This was my dark time. Nevertheless, a beautiful song was the result of it and its production literally saved my life. The title is in Spanish and means forgotten or lost lament. A lament is a song somebody sings with sorrow, distress or pain. Meaning somebody was singing the sorrows out of the heart, but nobody listened, so it was lost and gone forever. The melody came up in some of those lonely nights, and fortunately, I managed to record it so it didn’t get lost forever. I wanted to have this Spanish ambience and heat in the music I knew from Miles Davis’ ‘Sketches of Spain’ or maybe ‘Miles Ahead’. I achieved it mostly by the ornamentation of the Flugelhorns melodies together with the sound of the flute and the chords of the Rhodes Piano. The song is also a tribute to the great trumpet player Wallace Roney and his genius album Mistérios. He died last year (2020). Wallace was Miles’ only student, and Miles used to call him as his substitute when he couldn’t play a gig. The bass line and the percussion are derived from salsa, so if you want to label the style of music, one could call it Latin jazz.

You released a quintet album, ‘Approaching Change’ late last year. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?

The last album is a journey through 10 years of me being a musician and composer. Some songs are old, and some are more recent. The first song, also entitled, ‘Approaching Change’, is the most recent one on the album and showed me a new way to go in jazz and with my music. Weird enough, besides this musical change, my life also changed completely by the time I recorded the song. It’s in 7/8 and has the energetic vibe of the London music scene, which I’m missing a lot! But there is also ‘Sara Siriri (Cold Peace)’ with Annina Mossoni on vocals. The oldest composition on the album, a ballad with big contrasts inspired by Miles Davis. Or there are two funky songs towards the end…

How long did it take to record? And where did you record it?

We recorded it in 3 days in a row in a studio in Bern, Switzerland. Looking back to the time I recorded and produced, ‘Approaching Change’, I’d say that it prepared me to be ready for ‘Eclipse’(my upcoming EP). ‘Eclipse’ will hopefully be the turning point to a better time.

How long have you been together as a quintet? And how did you all meet?

The quintet has existed already for quite a while, but the musicians changed. The first recordings were done in 2016 in London with Hong Kong guitarist Tjoe Man Cheung, and Mussinghi Brian Edwards featured on tenor sax. I even went on tour with Tjoe two times through Hong Kong and China with musicians from there and Florian Haas, my drummer and longest member of my band. He is also from Basel, the city where I live now, but used to be in London when I was living there. The actual pianist and tenor sax player are two crazily talented youngsters I met during my master studies in Bern.

You’re involved in other projects; what else are you working on at the moment?

I play a lot of Latin music like Brazilian, Salsa, Cumbia with different groups and singers. The current regular group is the Cuban salsa band, Arturo Y Su Azucaribe’. I also play with, Fischermanns Orchestra for more than 12 years now, a collective that plays a crazy mix of experimental Jazz, industrial and world grooves. And for a few weeks, I play in a street band again and the Fame musical.

Are there any artists that we should be keeping an eye/ear on?

Oh yes. More than ever. 🙂 Last discovery was, Hemai who will do a remix for‚ ‘Road Runner’, the second song of the upcoming EP Eclipse. Also, Alma Negra, will remix, ‘Lamento Olvidado‘. You will also probably soon hear a lot of my only 23-year-old genius tenor sax player Max Treutner from Germany, who is planning to record an album with some big cats in New York. Also, watch out for the amazing singer Emilia Anastazja who just dropped an amazing new single called, ‘Take A Look’ and will come out soon with a new EP. As a trumpet player, I recommend listening to Wallace Roney who passed away last year and also listen to Yelfris Valdés, an incredible Cuban trumpet player who I met in London.

Any plans to come and tour the UK anytime soon?

Well for sure it is in my plans to come back to London any time soon to jam and to see all my friends. The touring depends on how much success I’ll make with, ‘Eclipse’ and will depend, of course, on the current situation with the pandemic and Brexit. Get us some gigs, and we come. 🙂

Would you like to add anything else? Do you have any closing words for the Twistedsoul community?

Thank you very much for your interest, and I hope you like the EP! It means a lot to me. Happy to be able to share new music and energy in these weird times. With your interest and ears, you can help contemporary music culture survive!

CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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