The Stephan-Max Wirth ensemble has achieved a true master piece with this CD. The compositions: perfect pass par touts – the instrumentation: the best basis – the musicians: fantastic spectrum – the entire tone. All in all a spectacle of music which gives everything that little extra glint – pure illumination!

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Stephan-Max Wirth has created a powerful new masterpiece with his CD “Illumination”. Following his European tour there has been an increasing demand for a new CD. Now the waiting is finally over!

Once again compiled of the bandleaders own compositions this CD boasts a collection of first class jazz musicians. Each musician is a band leader talent in their own right, – an added bonus for the album. The layout of the composition allows free space for the individual musician to bring out their creative potential.

The unmistakeable sound of Stephan-Max Wirth’s tenor sax sets the tone on this CD. Where other musicians may turn to the Alt- or Soprano Saxophone, Stephan only needs the one instrument his “King Super 20 Silver Sonic”. The musical heights of his solos encourage his co-musicians both rhythmically and dynamically to give a top quality performance. As the compositional creator it’s no wonder that Stephan feels totally in his element. It was he who had the idea of using throat singing as an additional harmonising component.

Simon Jakob Drees studied traditional throat singing in different Asian countries and is now a master in his field. The throat singing is integrated into the music in a way that the tones fuse with instrumental level creating a new sound in modern jazz.

The CD also boasts Germany’s most exciting jazz pianist, Julia Hülsmann, whose previous work includes the project “Skattered Poems” with Rebecca Bakken. Her virtuoso solos are proof enough of her talent on the Rhodes. The electric sound is particularly suitable to produce a space of multilayered tones that are broken up abruptly by the underlying percussion.

It’s these tones which are prevalent throughout the CD. Keeping true to format Stefan Weeke’s bass tones comprising prerecorded loops, give way to another, deeper level. Known from the Jazz group “Tricocolor,” here Stefan impressively demonstrates the versatility of his instrument. Through his experimental bass playing one has the feeling of being drawn down to the depths of an ocean, to find oneself in the midst of an unknown and fascinating world.

Frank Wingold’s unique guitar sound also brings a new tone into the ensemble. Floating bubble blowing tones provide a basis, which depending on the piece, range from virtuoso structures to rock guitar or even edging towards the exotic world with the strings of the sitar.

Marcel van Cleef is currently one of the most sought after drummers in the Netherlands, who unfortunately does not play often enough in Germany. Martin unites both drummer and percussionist in one person producing ingenious rhythmic variations.

The guest artists featured on the album are Martina Gassmann, whose deep soul voice takes you back to the 70s and percussionist Eddy Cichosz whose Udu tones ring through in the “Desert Walk”. He also provides the video bonus track which gives a short insight into the creative working days spent in the studio.

The Stephan-Max Wirth ensemble has achieved a true master piece with this CD. The compositions: perfect pass par touts – the instrumentation: the best basis – the musicians: fantastic spectrum – the entire tone. All in all a spectacle of music which gives everything that little extra glint – pure illumination!

Stephan-Max Wirth, saxophone

Simon Jakob Drees, throat singing

Julia Hülsmann, fender rhodes

Frank Wingold, guitar, sitar

Stefan Weeke, bass

Marcel van Cleef, drums


Martina Gassmann, backing vocals

Eddy Cichosz Udu, video

Stephan-Max Wirth is considered one of the top saxophonists in international jazz. With his “robust tone, which gets under your skin” (Der Spiegel), he’s proved himself over the years at all the important festivals. Wirth doesn’t re-create; he creates anew. “He immerses himself deeply in the story and then lands perfectly in the moment” (Jazzthing). His projects and interpretations enjoy the highest regard from press and public alike, win awards and receive great praise. Stephan-Max Wirth is “a great asset not just for jazz, but for the entire cultural landscape” (Jazzpodium). Lastly, as Titel Magazin puts it; “Wirth is considered a brilliant composer and saxophonist in the contemporary jazz scene; a great musician“.

Stephan-Max Wirth was born in 1968. He was already a jazz enthusiast in his early years and took his first saxaphone lessons with Leszek Zadlo in Munich. He moved to Cologne in 1995 having finished his studies under Jörg Kaufmann at the School of Arts in Arnhem (NL). From here as bandleader he organised international tournees for his own ensemble which he had formed in 1992. The tenor saxophonist and composer has been living and working in Berlin since 1999.

Stephan-Max Wirth was commissioned to compose various works for theater ( incl. Studiobühne Cologne) and continued to work intensely on his own projects. In order to keep his artistic talent independent and uncompromising he founded his own label BOS.REC. in 1993. Using this label and through innovative projects he has been able to support other jazz artists like Henning Wolter, Marcus Schinkel and the Cologne group “Leisure Minx”.

Many of Stephan-Max Wirth’s compositions have been adapted for Bigbands by the Cologne music arranger Thomas Forkert. The arrangement of “fish and monkey” profited greatly from this and is now part of the permanent repertoire of over 200 Bigbands in the whole of the German speaking area.

In 2004 Stephan-Max Wirth and his Ensemble released the album “Illumination” which won high praise from the press. In this program he combined, as a premier, throat singing and modern jazz within his compositions and so doing created an extraordinary and varied sound structure, raising him above the many superficially arranged “multi-kulti” projects prominent over the last years. He received the Berlin Senats Studiosponsership prize for this album.


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