Norbert Susemihl (42)

er født i Hamborg, og begyndte at spille som 14-årig. Han var medstifter af Papa Tom's Lamentation Jazzband, hvor han spillede guitar, sang spirituals og gospelmelodier, inspireret af Golden Gate Quartet.
I 1971 begyndte han at spille trompet. Fornylig er han begyndt at bruge flügelhorn og cornet, for at beherske det størst mulige lydbillede. Lejlighedsvis kan man opleve Norbert på trommer.
I slutningen af 70-erne begyndte Norbert at optræde regelmæssigt i Norge, Danmark, Holland og Belgien. I 1977/78 turnerede han med Sammy Rimington. Dette samarbejde inspirerede ham til at rejse til New Orleans i 1978 og 79. I 1980 blev han medlem af musikernes fagforening i New Orleans, og i et helt år sugede han New Orleans-kulturen til sig. Dette var et vendepunkt i hans karriere, der i høj grad påvirkede hans musikalske udtryksform. Mellem 1980 og 1990 har Norbert boet i New Orleans 3 - 4 måneder hvert år. Her var han i daglig kontakt og spillede med de sidste »old-style« musikere som »Kid« Thomas Valentine, Percy og Wille Humphrey, Louis Nelson, Josia »Cie« Frazier, Thomas Jefferson og Danny Barker - for at nævne nogle få. Han spillede regelmæssigt med både unge og ældre lokale musikere i flere af New Orleansmusikkens stilarter, og var også engageret i teaterstykker som »Fats Waller« og »Farwell to Storyville«. Andre stærke påvirkninger var gospelkorene og de sorte Baptistkirker, ligesom Rhythm & Blues og de unge Brass Bands.
Norbert indspillede i New Orleans bl.a. med Willie Humphrey og »Father« Al Lewis for GHB. I en periode havde han eget orkester, The Arlington Jazzband med Raymond Burke på klarinet. Siden 1986 har han haft eget orkester i Hamborg: Norbert Susemihl's Arlington Annex. Norbert er en meget efterspurgt solist, der har optrådt med Lillian Boute, Caledonia Jazzband (Oslo), Lars Edegran New Orleans Jazzband, Wanda Rouzans Taste of New Orleans, Jazz Cats (Göteborg) og nu også "New Orleans Deligth". Vi er stolte over at komme i det gode selskab.


Kjeld Frandsen, journalist and reviewer in Berlingske Tidende:

”Norbert Susemihl has been living for longer periods in New Orleans in the years 1978-1990 and he has been working with quite a lot of the last legends. To me it seems that his playing contains just about the whole New Orleans tradition - from Bunk Johnson to Wynton Marsalis. In my job as a critic I’ve heard him through the years and I have always been fascinated by his fine way of entertaining, his uncomplicated way of singing and - most of all - his brilliant musicianship.”

Same in another rewiev:

”... and besides that it was – to quite as high a degree, the the guest-soloist the German trumpetplayer Norbert Susemihl who secured the artistic level. In good form he took care of the to the genre belonging vocal parts, but his force was absolutely the melodious and easy–flowing playing on trumpet, cornet or flugelhorn. ... His playing never seemed kaleidoscopic or copy–like, on the contrary. It was quiet, clarified, determined and melodic. And whether it was gospel, folkmusic, calypso, waltz, rhytm & blues or the basic New Orleans repertoire, Norbert Susemihl seasoned his playing with tiny lifegiving curlicues, which put a safe distance to any form of exhausted museum-jazz.”

Sally-Ann Worsfold in Just Jazz, September 2000:

”Norbert Susemihl's contributions, as both ensemble player and soloist, are outstanding. His burnished tone, flexible technique, use of dynamics and intuitive sense of phrasing, which seems both inspired and inspiring, mark him out as one of the finest jazz trumpeters currently active. To mention just a few highlights, listen to the swift, unexpected allusion to Louis Armstrong's Cornet Chop Suey coda at the tail end of Swanee River, the understated blues playing on Franklin Street, plus the holy roller 'signifying muted statements', on Last Night On The Back Porch, contrasted by the plaintively bittersweet flugelhorn solo on Higher Ground.”

Marcel Joly from The JazzGazette:

”Norbert Susemihl is an old friend, whose playing I enjoyed many times in the past, mainly in New Orleans where he often stayed and worked for several months in a row. He was accepted by the local musicians and treated as one of their own. After playing a parade with the all black Algiers Brass Band, a neighbour asked one of the musicians: “Who’s that white cat playing with your band?” The answer that came is a classic: “He ain’t white man, he’s German!” Could there be a nicer compliment to a young European musician? Norbert is without any doubt one of the best New Orleans style trumpet players today and his exciting playing is an asset to every band he works with.”

Andreas Geyer in Jazzpodium:

”... Susemihl demonstrates with his many shaded phrasing, adaped to the corresponding style, that there doesn’t have to be gap between traditional or modern aproach of playing ...”

Norbert Susemihls own story:

My first trip to New Orleans in 1978 was a revelation. I was 22 years old and had just begun to study in Hamburg. I had already played the trumpet for 8 years with my first band. The city took me in completely, and changed me as a person and as a musician. Not did I realise that this was to become my second home for a decade, and that it would change my live.

I only stayed 14 days this first time, but I landed right, slab dab in the middle of Jazzfest. Meeting people I only knew from books or records, among others Eubie Blake, Danny Barker, Louis Nelson, Kid Sheik,all the musicians from Preservation Hall. Fascinating places, the Quarter, as the French Quarter is called by the locals with its unbelievable mix of artists, bohemians, musicians, drop outs, or just crazy people. The New Orleans cuisine, my first Red Beans and Rice, parties every night,
meeting new people all the time, "May I introduce you to".

Preservation Hall, the Mecca, and headquarter of my new university to be. To see all these wonderful musicians in person, what an experience. They had so much energy, power and spirit. Trumpet player Kid Thomas Valentine, he spoke just like he played, he even moved like he played. Man, horn, personality, all "One". Within one day, this music was something completely new to me again, and this started the process of beginning to really understand it.

There was music everywhere. Jam sessions with so many musicians fromall over the world. England, Scandinavia, Japan, Australia, musicians and fans, all part of a family that share the same passion.

I had to come back next year. I did so for the following 11 years to stay from Mardi Gras, the completely wild Carnival, in still chilly February, until Jazzfest in May, when the temperatures went up to the 90s F°, and thus making the music even hotter, yet even more laid back and relaxed. This phenomena of "sitting on it" and yet exploding.

My interest in my studies in Hamburg was not near as big as in my musical world, besides I was playing my horn full-time since 1981. My parents were not so happy about this development, but they still always supported what I was doing, for which I am very thankful. Sadly they both passed away in 1998. They are deeply missed.

It was actually my dads tape collection that exposed me to Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and many other swinging cats when I was only 3 years old. But I sang along for sure back then.

I met Gretta Milochi, my piano player and long time partner, in New Orleans. She was in fact just beginning to play piano then. On those long stays we both shared the experiences that this city and its music was giving to us.

New Orleans took over my life. Each trip I met more musicians and heard something new. I felt that I became more and more part of the local scene. Soon I played professionally in New Orleans. I tried to learn from all the musicians I played with, young, old, traditional or modern. This was another part of my alternative university and it really made me open my ears.

Jazzfest, the town is boiling over with music. One can hear international stars, as well as all kinds of Louisiana music and lots of Rhythm&Blues. I had the privilege to be part of the Jazzfest myself, as member of Wanda Rouzan's Taste Of New Orleans.

The New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, warm beautiful sounds from a long lost world with William "Bill" Russell on the violin, the man who rediscovered Bunk Johnson in the 40s and consequently started a new strong interest in New Orleans Jazz world wide.

"One Mo' Time", a show with the music from the Bessie Smith era, without the dust and scratches of the old 78-records. Alive and wild. The singers had fabulous voices, the band including wonderful trumpeter Lionel Ferbos and drummer John Robichaux. The script was filled with so much humour and delivered with that ever so special local accent.

Brassbands: Olympia, Young Tuxedo, Eureka, Dirty Dozen, Rebirth. Wild, exiting sounds in the street, hypnotic rhythms one has to move and dance to. Touching, crying funeral music. Afterwards the sound stays with you, and when you fall asleep in the night, you still can hear and feel that bass drum. No wonder that all the kids in New Orleans have rhythm.

The great New Orleans trumpet player Leroy Jones took me to the "Glasshouse" in back 'o town New Orleans. There I heard the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for the first time. It was a local neighbourhood bar. Very dark, very hot, and very late. The place was packed, mainly men. They were all dancing to the music. Band and dancing crowd were actually one unit in ecstasy. Soon after, the Dirty Dozen were away more and more on concert tours, and the Rebirth Brass Band with Kermit Ruffins and Philip Frazier took over. I went to played with them as often as I could.

Small kids playing their horns on Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, the future generation of jazz musicians playing in the street. Then a veteran, Joseph "CoCoMo Joe" Barthelemy, one of the best traditional drummers I ever heard. He played on the street all his life. He never owned a drum set, only a home made box out of thin plywood and some tin cans. Gretta and I played with him for 7 years. We also took him to Europe for two unforgettable tours.

A hot sunny Sunday morning, a Brass Band was supposed to have played on St. Charles Avenue, but it was nowhere to be found. In the next block over stood a church building, First Emanuel Baptist Church. The wind brought over faint waves of sounds: Hands clapping, deep Hammond Organ chords, voices shouting and singing. We went closer, sensing the power that was inside. "Should we go in?"

The church was filled to capacity with people standing, singing, dancing and clapping. Gospel music, this was the pure essence of Jazz, the root and the tree, and it was love and joy. 300 people opening their hearts and sharing their emotions in total openness, singing and floating away until they had the spirit inside them. My eyes were filled with tears of joy and completely unknown emotions. A beautiful elderly Creole lady shook my hand and said "Do come back, you're always welcome". After that day, there was no more Sunday in New Orleans without listening to Gospel Music. A few year later I was to play my trumpet right in that church on a Sunday morning service.

Back in Europe I began to teach, almost like a missionary, trying to give some of my experiences to other musicians, as the European style is different, especially the way the rhythm is interpreted. Then in 1986, Norbert Susemihl's Arlington Annex was founded, with the goal, to play and present all the facets of New Orleans Music.