Solo parts with style, walking bass with groove or a subtle song foundation: musician Florian Dohrmann has garnered a broad artistic spectrum through the years with his Benjamin Patočka-double bass from Bohemia. The double bass model with the warm, full sound is almost 120 years old (built in 1903), more than double the age of his human sound creator (*1972 in Tübingen) – but that corresponds excellently with innovative music. Maybe the strings (made by Gerold Genssler, Sonores) add the last refinement to the aesthetic sound – their core is made from silk.
Florian Dohrmanns ensembles integrate styles from jazz, soul and pop through classical and contemporary influences to klezmer and world music. There were moments and encounters in his life that turned his way to a certain direction. The enthusiastic piano student, who already saw himself on the classical concert stage, discovered the electronic bass, soon the double bass – and most important: jazz. Miles Davis’ quintet records Cookin’, Steamin’ and Relaxin’, all with Paul Chambers on double bass, brought him on his way. He decided to study jazz and pop at Stuttgart Music College (Musikhochschule Stuttgart). Thomas Stabenow became an important professor and mentor there, and outside of the music college, also Dieter Ilg. Among his idols, Dohrmann names senior jazz greats like Paul Chambers and Charlie Haden, but he was, and is, also inspired by other artists, for example Dave Holland or Lars Danielsson.
A first trio that lasted two decades came about, when he was 25 years old and finishing his studies. His cooperation with at that time only 16 year old, exceptional clarinetist David Orlowsky turned out to be an essential step toward big stages. There were two different guitarists, until from 2005 Jens-Uwe Popp became a long time member of the band. In 2019 the three played four sold-out farewell concerts at Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival. What they created until then, is well worth listening to (and seeing): several records (with Sony Classical), two ECHO Klassik awards (for Noema in 2008 and for Klezmer Kings – a tribute to Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras in 2015), the publication of many compositions (with Schott/Advance Music), and numerous concerts worldwide.
At home in Germany, the trio with their special integration of Yiddish folklore, klezmer, classical music, jazz and other styles were frequent guests in concert halls and at big festivals, from Rheingau Musikfestival through Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival. Their concert tours equally led them into renowned Carnegie Hall in New York, to Ukraine and South Corea. Among the highlights are performances with orchestras like Kammerakademie Potsdam, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Aachen Symphonie Orchester, Nürnberger Symphonikern and Swedish Jonköping Sinfonietta. There they presented their trio music in large scale arrangements to an enthusiastic audience. Also worth listening to are their various cooperations with musical partners as Avi Avital, Daniel Hope, Iveta Apkalna, Klaus Paier and many more.
In the last few years Florian Dohrmann has initiated various ensembles. That means more space for the double bass, as it now can be heard more often than before with inventive solo parts. As he already did in the former trio and other, earlier bands, the bassist also writes pieces and arrangements. Already started in 2017, there is his jazz quartet Blank Page with Joachim Staudt (saxophone, clarinet), Christoph Neuhaus (guitar) and Lars Binder (drums). The four dedicated their debut to composer Claude Debussy, whose music once already inspired jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Bill Evans.
For a wanderer between the styles as Dohrmann, that is an ideal starting point for a repertoire, that makes recognize Debussys influences, integrates, changes, adds to and expands them. Well-known compositions Claire de Lune or La fille aux cheveux de lin can be heard in a new style and sound, combined with other arrangements and original pieces. The bands debut New Impressions of Debussy was added to the second quarter of the year list of best musicians in 2019 (list 2/2019) of German Record Critics’ Award (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik).
Together with Austrian accordion and bandoneon artist Klaus Paier, who already had performed earlier with David Orlowsky Trio, the bass player founded a fascinating new duo end of 2019. With a great amount of space and sovereignty these two, who both compose and like to improvise, vividly exchange ideas between bow and strings, buttons and reeds.
Dohrmann took on several functions at a time for the stage project Feeling Good? to honour extraordinary singer Nina Simone. Fascinated by her music and life he developed script, dialogues and show, light design as well as film projections, and invited artists to his ensemble, like Fola Dada, storyteller Katharina Eickhoff, Ulf Kleiner on piano, drummer Felix Schrack and guitarist Christoph Neuhaus. With excitement the premiere in Theaterhaus Stuttgart at festival Osterjazztage 2020 was awaited. Due to Covid it eventually had to be postponed to an unknown date, as many other concerts and performances since early 2020.