Carte Blanche Daniel Schenker: Things to know about the Zurich musician

Brigitta Grimm12-06-20234 min. read

Daniel Schenker has been on the Moods stage since the club's beginnings (at the Selnau railway station) and has become an increasingly important figure in Swiss jazz over the years. As part of Carte Blanche 2024, the Zurich-based trumpeter will play two evenings that reflect this development.

The name first appears in our archives on 20 October 1994 under the concert title "Gitta Kahle-Eliane Cueni Quintett feat. Daniel Schenker (CH) CD presentation". And a month later, the programme for the Jazz Brunch read: "The history of jazz is rich enough for countless Sunday concerts. With Dani Schenker, the regular rhythm section [consisting of Klaus König (piano), Peter Frei (bass) and Nick Liebmann (drums)] presents a young trumpeter from Switzerland who raises great hopes".
A brief look back
Born in 1963, Daniel Schenker started playing the trumpet at the age of 10 and joined a Dixieland band as a teenager. You could be forgiven for thinking he was on his way to a career as a musician if Schenker hadn't decided to study computer science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) after graduating from high school. He took the plunge back into music and graduated from the Swiss Jazz School in Berne in 1995. In the same year, the first of many tours with Herbie Kopf's "Hip-Noses", featuring Letieres Leite (saxophone), Hans Feigenwinter (piano), Herbie Kopf (bass), Kaspar Rast (drums) and Daniel Schenker, took him to Brazil, a country whose music had long been present to Schenker, but whose vast musical cosmos only really became tangible once he was there - a trip that had a huge impact on him creatively.In the years that followed, Schenker immersed himself in the inspiring hustle and bustle of the New York scene, and in 2001 formed his own quartet with Stefan Aeby on piano, Dominique Girod on bass and Elmar Frey on drums, which later grew into a quintet with Chris Cheek.
Although he usually sits on the far right, Daniel Schenker has been co-director of the Zurich Jazz Orchestra since 2015, having briefly taken over as interim director after Rainer Tempel's departure in 2013. Since 2021, the leadership has therefore been a triangle of Ed Partyka, Daniel Schenker and Bettina Uhlmann, with Schenker still involved in the programming and logistical organisation (not an easy task for a big band).
So! We've come a long way, but what about the carte blanche?
Monday, 20.11.2023 Schenker und Berner in der PredigerkircheThe first concert took place on 20 November 2023 in Zurich's Predigerkirche. Organ and trumpet - a festive combination in church music, but rarely found in jazz. How did it come about?Daniel Schenker told me that as a teenager he had played a lot in church, for example at Christmas, and that he had always been impressed by the organ because it was a real orchestra. Working with Elisabeth Berner was therefore an obvious choice, and it wasn't the first time: they had already performed together ten years ago. Sacred music meets jazz: on 20 November, the audience heard an abundance of blue notes as well as arranged, reharmonised church chorales - often in unconventional metres or as jazz waltzes. The 7-8 second natural reverberation of the Predigerkirche was a special experience.Tuesday, 12.12.2023 Raphael Kalt überdies: & Daniel Schenker Quintet feat. Chris Cheek On the second concert evening of Daniel Schenker's Carte Blanche, we can expect nothing less than the aforementioned Daniel Schenker Quintet with Chris Cheek. As the quintet's first CD ('Soundlines', 2004) was a live recording from our familiar club, it is fitting that they return to Moods for Carte Blanche. Musically, Schenker's enthusiasm for Brazilian music culture and his creative experiences there are reflected in many of his compositions.
Last but not least, there is Schenker's teaching at the ZHdK. It is both a responsibility and a privilege to train professional musicians, he tells me in conversation. Silvan Schmid, for example, is one of his former students, as is Raphael Kalt (now a member of the ZJO), whose project "überdies:" will open the second Carte Blanche evening.
Finally, I had a question on the tip of my tongue, the answer to which I don't want to withhold from you:
Who would Daniel Schenker - dead or alive - want to perform with one day?
"Maybe with Miles Davis. Sometimes you know musicians so well from their sound. But of course I don't know if it would work when you play together.There is a lot of music that I really like. It's pure joy to be on stage with Steffen Schorn and to experience how he works with the band. And I'm looking forward to the two concerts with Elisabeth Berner and the quintet with Chris Cheek."And we are delighted too!

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