What he meant for the jazz world in Luxembourg from its early days to today only becomes clear with his death: As the former director of the Center opder Schmelz, Danielle Igniti, announced on her Facebook profile, Michel Pilz has died. Many scene leaders joined in the mourning.
Luxembourg’s distinctive jazz bass clarinetist and pioneer of the genre in the country has died, according to information from scene insiders.
The further circumstances are not known. Pilz, who says he was born in Germany in 1945, grew up in Luxembourg and learned to play the clarinet at the capital’s conservatory – he ultimately found his personal creative means of expression with the bass clarinet and jazz. At a time when jazz was still completely new territory, he and the jazz generation of the time, such as the pianist Marc Weber, were ultimately seen as pioneers for the genre in the country, including as a co-founder of the “jazzclubluxembourg”. And he was also active as a man in the background of the “JAM -Jazz am Minett” initiative and supported the forum.
This exciting time is mentioned in LW’s obituary for the pianist Weber von Wolf von Leipzig in January 2000. “After the first concert in the Walsheim restaurant, the club was bankrupt. But the friends were not discouraged. A new home was found in the ‘Napoleon House’, an outbuilding of the ‘Hastesch Millen’ in the city grounds, the basement of which was converted into a private club in a Sisyphean effort. Marc Weber writes: ‘From then on there was live music here every Friday, initially with local musicians, then increasingly with professional groups from abroad. The most memorable event at the time was the performance of the still largely unknown pianist Keith Jarrett in a trio in front of a full house. After moving to the ‘Melusina’ in 1972, jazz experienced a small blossoming in the 70s and 80s – when the concert offerings in Luxembourg were still poor: Highlights were performances by Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Elvin Jones, Gary Burton, Chet Baker, Anthony Braxton, MyCoy Tyner… There were 24 concerts in the 1978/1979 season – i.e. one almost every 14 days.
But anyone who looks at the expressions of condolence quickly realizes that Pilz also had a much broader impact. In recent years, the bass clarinetist has repeatedly been involved in projects by drummer Benoît Martiny and has been involved in cross-generational collaborations such as concerts by the hip-hop troupe “De Läb”. This also goes back to Danielle Igniti’s commitment.
Among other things, an evening in 2014 at the Like A Jazz Machine Festival in the opder Schmelz Dudelange was a great opportunity: Martiny got involved with the old masters of the Luxembourg scene such as Pilz and the saxophonist Roby Glod. The result: a storm for musical ears. “What the two of them, who come from free jazz backgrounds, were able to achieve with themselves and their instruments was simply fantastic. Their experience on the international stage paid off immensely,” said Martiny, looking back at the team under the project title “The Grand Cosmic Journey”.
In concert, Michel Pilz dominates the stage with his infallible technique, his cascades of surging notes, unusual phrases and a rare ability to shake the audience as soon as a slight climate of satisfaction sets in.
Dabei wirkte Pilz’ besonderes Charisma am Instrument, wie das Center opderschmelz es in einer Konzertankündigung von Pilz’ eigenem Quartett betonte: „He regularly participates in various musical experiences with local artists, notably in Luxembourg where he spent his youth and where he resides again at present. In concert, Michel Pilz dominates the stage with his infallible technique, his cascades of surging notes, unusual phrases and a rare ability to shake the audience as soon as a slight climate of satisfaction sets in. For him, jazz is a musical language in its own right which can even function as a means of social communication.“
The trained Charisma is an unused instrument – Davon abgesehen, was Pilz in und für Luxemburg leistete, war er schlicht einer der besten Jazz-Bassklarinettisten Europas. Dafür sprechen nicht nur die Würdigungen im „Jazzbuch“ des Musikproduzenten Joachim-Ernst Berendt, ein Standardwerk der deutschsprachigen Jazzmusikszene. In the Foren des Genres oder Platttformen wie YouTube wird die Anerkennung von Pilz’ Schaffen deutlich. Besons aber die bis in Alter bleibenden Auftritte wie an der Seite des Kölner Pianist Georg Ruby zeigen, wie stark er bestimmte Facetten des Jazz ausleuchtete. Die komplett freie und wilde Improvisation, das Schaffen im Moment war für Pilz essenziell.
Wichtig dabei: seine Erfahrung, seine früheren Kooperationen. 1968 by the Manfred Schoof Quintet (with Alex von Schlippenbach, Buschi Niebergall and Mani Neumeier). We also have biographical information here: „In 1970-Jahren tourte Michel mit dem Quintett „German All Stars“, dem „Globe Unity Orchestra“ and in Japan mit dem Trompeter Itaru Oki durch den Nahen Osten, Asia und Sudamerika. Today I’m here for international Jazz festivals, including Montreux, Bombay, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Chateau-Vallon. Im Oktober 1999 released within Trio Deutschland auf dem European Jazzfestival in Damaskus. ft.“
What also becomes clear with the death of Michel Pilz?
Based on the model of the authors’ lexicon and the new music lexicon, we actually also need a music lexicon. Ursula Anders-Malvetti, Alain Nitschké, Damien Sagrillo Jean Thill, and Tina Zeiß-Zippel have published the “Luxemburger Musiklexikon – Volume 2; Personalities of Luxembourg musical life: 20th and 21st centuries” took an important path. But even with the other initiatives such as those from the Center d’Études et de Documentation musicales (Cedom) of the National Library, the Center national de l’Audiovisuel (CNA) or, in the area of female musicians, the archive of the CID Fraen a Gender is still standing There is no widely accessible and wide-ranging database of the country’s musical creations available.
This then raises the question: How should the musicians, composing and producing creatives be remembered in the future who have had a lasting impact on the country in their own way and left an international mark? Pilz would certainly be a candidate for an initiative in this direction.