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Molto Abene

Michael Abene
Chief Conductor, Composer, Arranger
WDR Big Band Cologne
January 2004 July 2014


2014 LAG Musik-Verlag

All Rights Reserved
Printed in Germany
ISBN 987-3-9810730-6-5
Conception, Realization, Editor:
Michael Brning, LAG Musik NRW
Photos/Photo Credits: WDR/Ines Kaiser,
all photos anything except:
WDR (p. 6 and 9), MFKJKS NRW (p. 7), US Embassy (p. 8),
Eastman School of Music, Rochester (p. 11), Matthias Muff (p. 14),
Andreas Krebs (p. 16), Volker Beushausen (p. 38 and 46),
Markus Braun (p. 38 below), machreich-artists (p. 60),
Catherine Slusher (p. 63), Devin De Haven (p. 70)
Layout Design: artwork, Wolfgang Bialek
Print Production: Limberg Druck, Die Buchwerkstatt

Thank you: Philine Lissner, Ines Kaiser,

Lucas Schmid, Manager and Producer, WDR Big Band Cologne
Cooperation Partner: Westdeutscher Rundfunk Kln
This Book contains material protected under International
and Federal Copy Right, Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized
reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, digital or mechanical, including printing/
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retrieval system without written permission from the publisher.

Abenes Personal Selection..................................................................................................................5

Official and Personal Notes and more............................................................................................ 6
Members of the WDR Big Band Cologne and colleagues.....................................................18
More Personal Statements.................................................................................................................23
More Facts about Michael Abene................................................................................................... 74
Projects and Concerts...........................................................................................................................77
CD Productions...................................................................................................................................... 83

Abenes Personal Selection

Freitag, 27. Juni 2014
20.00 Uhr
Stadtgarten Kln


WDR Big Band Kln

Tomorrow Is Just Another Tomorrow*

The Nuss is Loose*
Memories of Lives Past*
Summer in Central Park
A Change Will Come
Infant Eyes
A Folk Song For Friendly Folks*
Two Of One*
The Fifth Degree*
Green Dolphin Street

Johan Hrlen, 1. as
Karolina Strassmayer, 2. as
Olivier Peters, 1. ts
Paul Heller, 2. ts
Jens Neufang, bs
Wim Both,
Rob Bruynen,
Andy Haderer, 3. tp
Ruud Breuls 4. tp
John Marshall,
Ludwig Nu, 1.tb
Shannon Barnett, 2.tb
Andy Hunter, 3. tb
Mattis Cederberg, b-tb

*composed by Michael Abene

Arrangement: Michael Abene

Frank Chastenier,p
Paul Shigihara, git
John Goldsby, b
Hans Dekker, dr
Produktion: Lucas M.Schmid
Koordination: Annette Hauber

Dear Michael Abene,

thank you for a decade of creative arrangements and
exciting music.
Your input and energy have propelled the musicianship
and musical standard of the WDR Big Band to a higher
And: Dear Gretchen Hoffmann Abene, thank you for
your reliable support.
Warmest regards, yours
Wolfgang Schmitz
Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Director of Radio Operations

For ten years, Michael Abene has created a musical

furor with the WDR Big Band. It has been heard far
beyond North Rhine-Westphalia. The WDR Big Band
Cologne has always been playing contemporary jazz
and influenced style, even by opening musical borders.
Michael Abenes great musical sense and his ability to
arrange has shaped the WDR Big Band Cologne as a
dynamic and sometimes even explosive ensemble.
As one of the few jazz radio orchestras in Germany,
the Big Band has always been supporting young
talents. Michael Abene has prepared the band for the
future and he leaves a lasting impression. I would like
to express my sincere thanks and my best wishes for
his musical future!

Ute Schfer
Minister for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport
of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

As the Musical Director (Chefdirigent) of the WDR

Big Band in Cologne since 2004, Michael Abene has
brought the joy of music, and the special exuberance of
American jazz arrangements in particular, to audiences
throughout Germany. His deep family connections to
music mirror my own familys lifelong engagement
with music and the arts. His profound influence in
the field of jazz arrangement for some of the great
names in contemporary jazz reflect the role he has
played as a jazz Ambassador for America. Mr. Abenes
book on Jazz Composition and Arranging in the
Digital Age, (with Richard Sussman) underscores his
innovative spirit and his passion for an art form that is
as American as it is universally loved. I wish Mr. Abene
continued success as he embarks on a new chapter in
life, and hope he will continue to delight, entertain, and
enrich all of us with his impressive musical talents.
John B. Emerson
U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany

No matter if it is a piece of swing music, bebop, hard

bop, soul or funk, Michael Abenes arrangement of the
material is always imaginative, colorful and characteristic for his great style. It is also admirable how fast
Abene is able to work: in my neighboring office, I often
experienced how he rearranged whole programs for
the WDR Big Band within a few days.
Christoph Stahl
Westdeutscher Rundfunk
General Manager Orchestras & Choir

Dear Gretchen,
Managing Michaels business affairs is a challenge
and a task with high responsibility. Knowing where to
draw the line between the world of art, the world of
the family and partnership and the world of business
requires extreme sensitivity and skill. We have all
profited from your advice, your care and support. Thank
you for this.
Dear Michael,
When I first entered your music room, I was amazed by
the way you work on your arrangements: two or three
different scores were placed within reach, so that you
could switch from one to another whenever inspiration
struck you. This method allow you to write several
arrangements at the same time and be extraordinarily
productive. The results are fresh, demanding, multifaceted, creative, timeless.

With the same ability for switching from one score

to another, you can easily switch from one time zone
to another. You are fully present in the here and now,
and it seems that the more challenges you are faced
with, the more energy you radiate.

In the big band studio, I have always seen you ready for
a friendly chat with the musicians before the recording
session started. But of course you are also highly
professional and always on time.

Lucas Schmid


This talent is infectious and inspiring, I thank you

for this.

Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Manager and Producer

WDR Big Band Cologne

I always admired Michael Abenes writing and piano

playing since I heard the recordings he did with
Maynard Fergusons band in the early 1960s when I
was finishing public school and starting my studies at
Kent State University. I met him for the first time while
I was living in Cologne. My wife and I were at Anaheim,
California, in mid January at the IAJE Conference and
he recognized me while we were having breakfast
in a restaurant. We had a nice conversation and, by
interesting coincidence, he had many questions about
the WDR Big Band.


I heard several projects that Michael did with the

band during his tenure as principal director, and I
loved everything he did. Im very happy that he was
chosen as my successor, and I wish him all the very
best in his future activities.
Bill Dobbins
Chief Conductor, WDR Big Band Cologne
September 1994 December 2003

New York, January 10, 1998: WDR Big Band on stage in

the concert hall of the Marriott hotel ready to start
a jazz concert to be broadcasted direct to WDR in
Cologne/Germany. We are live on air and everybody
waits for the band leader Bill Dobbins to join the band.
He doesnt turn up and Heiner Mller-Adolphi, then
musical boss of WDR, has to talk and talkabout New
York, about Jazz and the world. Outside they eventually
find Bill completely caught up in conversation with
Michael Abene whom he met by surprise on his way to
the stage. Conversation stops, the concert can start, a
live broadcast from the conference of the International
Association of Jazz Educators in New York.
For me it was the first time I met Michael Abene and
Gretchen, his wife, in person. It was the beginning
of a very successful cooperation of Michael with the
Cologne-based WDR Big Band at the radio.

In my position as person responsible and producer

of the WDR Big Band at that time I invited him for
a concert America on March 11, 2000 in Colognes
Philharmonic Hall what made him as well
candidate for the job as chief leader after Jerry van
Rooyen and Bill Dobbins.
The audience in Cologne was enthusiastic about
this concert in March 2000 that showed already the
broad musical talent Michael Abene later regularly
proved during his contractual time from 2004 until
today as leader and arranger for WDR Big Band. One
of the most competent jazz musicians, a pianist,
composer, arranger and producer in the center of
jazz entertainment in New York was brought to
Cologne and the radio Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
Programme work for the radio, the diversity of
musical styles in the different productions mean an
enormous challenge for the band leader. Michael
can cope with it by means of big musical knowledge,
ideas, vitality and pleasure in music.
I wish him luck and energy for a new creative period
in his life that will hopefully bring him back to
Cologne some time. I am looking forward to it.
Wolfgang Hirschmann
WDR Big Band Cologne
Music Production and Management
1986- January 2002


Dear Michael,
It has always been a great pleasure working with
you on WDR BIG BAND projects ! We developed some
wonderful productions including the Maceo Parker
albums, the Bill Evans and Mike Stern projects as
well as the work with Chuck Loeb and Mitch Forman
of Metro. I love your style of discussing the projects
and your art of writing. We will do some more work
together! You are the Greatest. And beside the music
we share another important thing: good food and
good wine! ALL THE BEST TO YOU!
Joachim Becker


I really admire Michael Abenes work. He has

achieved amazing things for jazz music, not only as
the conductor and arranger of the WDR Big Band.
His concerts with the WDR Big Band always create
a very special atmosphere in the Philharmonic Hall
of Cologne. Sometimes Jazz is supposed to be an
outmoded genre, but with Abenes approach of
anything goes, he keeps creating surprisingly up-todate results. Since his debut in 2000, he has conducted
about 30 concerts in the Philharmonic Hall and has
shaped our institution and the musical landscape of
Cologne like few others. Thank you very much!
Louwrens Langevoort
Klner Philharmonie / KlnMusik GmbH
Executive and artistic director


Michael Abene, this wonderful musician and

charismatic bandleader, is leaving the WDR Big Band?
Not without our most sincere thanks! We at the KlavierFestival Ruhr owe him amazing concerts which he
arranged and conducted in a very inspirational way
our concert with Simon Nabatov and Arkady Shilkloper
in 2010 for example, or the one with Raphael Gualazzi in
May 2012. Michael Abenes concerts not only leave the
audience impressed, also the musicians are enthusiastic
by his great empathy and verve. This year in June, we will
say farewell together with Jacky Terrasson and the WDR
Big Band at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr. Michael Abene is,
and always will be, a master of his craft. We will miss
him very much at the Festival! Or maybe we will have
the chance to work with him again, because it seems
impossible to imagine him as a retiree.
Ad multos annos!
Prof. Franz Xaver Ohnesorg
Director of the Klavier-Festival Ruhr


What the symphony orchestra was for the 19th century,

the Jazz big band is for the 20th century. However, both
ensembles need a conductor who knows how to merge
a bunch of individualists into one unit and yet retain
the characteristic sound of every single musician.
Michael Abene is one of the persons who has achieved
this on the very best. His concert series Very Personal,
regularly presented in our concert hall, was a beautiful
example of his abilities as a conductor. Michaels time
as the musical director of the WDR Big Band has been a
great joy for all fans of big band music. We hope to see
him many times again in the future.
Reiner Michalke & Matthias von Welck
Stadtgarten Cologne


I see him before me, animated, animating, swinging

to the music. With Michael, the music never stops, it
circulates inside him, is born and created. You can see
the music in his body, you can tell from his face how
the music makes him free.
I see him before me, in his open and attentive
manner, inspiring, inspirational, brightening up his
surroundings. Sometimes I wish I could hear the music
with his ears, because I know how deeply he listens
inside the arrangements. I can tell from his face that
what he hears is always a gift to him.
I see him before me, a bandleader so friendly and
self-effacing, who shows empathy for all different
personalities and has the gift of connecting well
with all of them. A man in possession of essential
characteristics for dealing with the fresh spirit of jazz
music: a radical approach, spiritedness, sensuousness,
humor, a strong inner life. It is impossible to love jazz
and not love Michael Abene for how he embodies it.
Roger Willemsen


Dear Michael,
The musicians of the WDR Big Band extend our
deepest thanks to you for many great years of music,
hard work, hard play, and beautiful friendship. You
are one swinging cat, and weve grown enormously
through our work with you on the bandstand, in
the studio, and on the road. We know and recognize
the amount of blood and sweat you put into your
music, and we appreciate every note youve written
for us. Its been an honor and a pleasure to call you
our Chief Conductor, and we look forward to your
many happy returns as a guest conductor.
The WDR Big Band

What a privilege to have worked with one of the true

greats of Jazz for so many inspiring years!
Thank you Michael, for your music and friendship.
yours, Paul


Every single arrangement from your pen,no matter

in what style of music,has been nothing less than
a true honour and joy to play.You even made me
become somewhat of a master at switching
between my doubles really fast...

Maestro Michael Abene!

The most creative and complete musician
I know and a wonderful human being and friend.
Ludwig Nuss

Every time you sit down and play the piano is a

humbling lesson in jazz and musical communication.
Thank you for having suggested and brought in
some of the heaviest cats in jazz as guests with the
WDR Big Band.
I promise to always have a smiling saxophone reed
ready whenever you come back to work with us-the
sooner the better,the more the merrier!
A big fat THANK YOU and cheers from
Johan Hrlen

A musician who puts his art above all else, Michael

Abene believes in the power of swing, groove,
melody, and emotion-driven harmonies. But more
than anything, Michael believes in challenging and
empowering the musicians under his sway to step
out and take chances. Whether hes sitting at a
piano conjuring new paths through a standard tune,
standing in front of the WDR Big Band goading us
to shake everything we got, or hanging out on the
band bus coming back from a late-night concert,
Michael always displays his inimitable charm,
personal style, and happy disposition.

Dear Chief,
I would like to express how much I enjoyed
working with You.Especially being able to play your
wonderful writings for all these Years was a real
treat. May I also say that you left a lot of space for
me to create my own interpretations and this is
something Im really thankful for and I think shows
a real outstanding Arranger.Youre also an amazing
Guy ,and getting to know you personally was a lot
of fun and I cherish all the good times we had and
spend together.

Thanks to Michael for many great years of beautiful

compositions, stunning arrangements, and musical
John Goldsby

All the best, Ill miss You, Love and a big Hug from
Boomer !
Hans Dekker

MICHAEL ABENE is truly one of the most brilliant

Arrangers Ive had the pleasure to work with
during my 22 years with the great WDR Big Band
Cologne . Thank you Michael !!
All the best to you and Gretchen.
Rolf Rmer

Mike Abene is a truly wonderful musician.

It has been a great honour for me to know him, work
with him and become a great friend.
He was truly an inspiration to me and also gave me
many opportunities to express my music by asking
me to write arrangements for the band.
It was a sad day when I retired from the band for
many reasons, but a great part of it was not working
with Mike every day and playing his wonderful
arrangements and compositions. (Not to forget
drinking the occasional glass of wine together!)
I wish Mike every success, enjoyment and happiness
in his future projects and in his future life.
He will be sorely missed by all, but thank heavens
it will be the German or French version of goodbye,
namely Auf Wiedersehen or Au Revoir!!.
To the re-see!!!! See you soon Mike and God bless.
Dave Horler

Dear Michael, it was a beautiful time to have you

as our Chief Conductor. I always loved the sounds
of your arrangements, especially when it came
to wooden woodwinds in combination with
flugelhorns, euphoniums and tuba. Thank you very
very much for that.
I wish you and Gretchen all the best for many years!
Best wishes from
Klaus and Margie.

It was a privilege to work with you and play your
great arrangements these past few years. You are a
true master and inspiration. Thank you for the great
memories and I hope to see you in NY sometime.
Marshall Gilkes

Michael Abene is one of the nicest, most cultured,

most competend and most creative bandleaders/
arrangers Ive met in my life.
Heiner Wiberny

Michael Abene ... the man with the best haircut !

Bernt Laukamp

Michael Abene seems to me like somebody who still

thoroughly enjoys music, somebody who stays young
making music. There is not any bored second, no
moment of listlessness, just always 100 % of music and
100 % of good mood.
Gtz Alsmann


Collaborating with Michael Abene on three projects

with the amazing WDR Big Band has been one of the
great joys of my career as an artist.
Michaels adventurous approach to arranging great
songs from the Gershwins and Duke Ellington
challenged me to take my vocal game to the next
level. I enjoyed every minute of it. And what a great
bonus it was to win a Grammy in the process as the
fruits of our labor !
I wish Michael all the best in his new ventures and
look forward to working with him whenever he
needs me.
Patti Austin


Michael Abene is simply one of my favorite arrangers

and orchestrators, his charts have a New York Hipness
about them that gives them unmistakable style.
Just returned from playing in the big band on the Jazz
Cruise and whenever we hit an Abene chart whether
it was behind a Kurt Elling or just an Abene chart in the
book, the level of the music jumped up a few notches!
Randy Brecker


Dear Michael,
Since I first worked with you on a recording project
some 30 years ago, and on other occasions in the years
that followed, I have considered you one of those rare,
amazingly-talented writers, who I can count on one
hand. Collaborate with you on not one, but two, major
projects with the WDR band was a career highlight for
me during the past few years. Congratulations on your
decade of awesome leadership of the WDR band, and
may you continue for many more years.
Gary Burton


Mr. Abene is one of the greatest arrangers Ive ever

known and worked with. I had the privilege to share
the stage with him in Germany a couple of times
and I remember those evenings as some of the most
important experiences with a jazz big band in my
In his music you can find the tradition, but there is
always a modern and contemporary approach in his
Thats the same point of view as mine. Thats why
I like his way of arranging for big bands.
Francesco Cafiso


... Michael, you are leaving your position as chief

conductor way before i have had the opportunity to
enjoy playing with you
Ron Carter


Michael is the greatest arranger walking on the planet!

He is the master of lines, colors and rhythm he lets
you sound like a million dollar, both as an arranger and
a pianist! Im so grateful to have the chance working
with him so often! Thank you, Michael, and heres to
many more Big Band projects and Duo concerts!
Fay Claassen


Dear Michael,
This project was an outstanding achievement of the
talents of Mike, Toninho, myself and the WDR Band ...
Mike and I go back as far as 1959 in a band called
The Newport Youth Band that had all the best players
from the Tri-state area with guys like Andy Marsala,
Larry Rosen, Eddie Gomez, Harry Hall, Herbie Mickman,
just to name a few ... and within this band we formed a
4 horn group with some excellent writing by Mike also
just so we could play more hard bop tunes...
That was also extremely important for me and the
other guys, so we could get to play in a small ensemble
too! The concert at Philharmonie Koln was very special
for me with Toninho and Mikes wonderful writing and
adaptations of Toninho Hortas songs.
It was a highlight of my career to play alongside of
Toninho in this WDR presentation and hope to do
many more concerts with Mike and Toninho!!!
Ronnie Cuber


Mike and I go back a long way since the Newport Youth

Band ... 1957? He is one of the most creative musicians
I know ... and he has truly blossomed like fine wine ...
through the years.
I thoroughly loved my WDR project we did about
3 years ago. He is a composer, who adds composition,
IE original material ... although related to the music
he is crafting ... and I would call him a kind of designer,
re-designer, producer, and a co-composer in the final
setting ... IE performance.
He will deny this, because Ive expressed it to him ....
hes a humble guy ... who has extended the fine craft
of jazz and the big band/orchestra and given it his
OWN special voice.
Hes also a great person and very funny.
What else to say ... I could go on...
All the best,
Eddie Daniels


It was with the wonderful WDR Big Band that I had

the chance to work for the first time with Michael
Abene; so I guess I should thank my dear friend
trombonist-producer Lucas Schmidt for putting me
in touch with a musical director with so much talent,
professionalism, imagination and sense of humor.
I love working with artists like Michael Abene.
Paquito DRivera


When it comes to recalling successful short-term

musical collaborations, my times with Mike and the
WDR come to mind as among my favorites. The band,
of course, is most excellent. But Mike had a way of
writing for them that was Ellington-like... in that he
knew the individual players well, and wrote for them
personally. He wrote to their strengths as individuals
and to the strengths of the band as a unit. Moreover,
there was always a spirit of what the Germans call
Gemtlichkeit to the experience. Everybody was
there to experience and create goodness and the
music came first... Its a way to make friends for life.
Kurt Elling


Mike Abene brings incredible energy, passion and

excitement to every piece of music he touches. His
time with the WDR Big Band has been marked by
the very best of Mikes New York-based swing feel
and ensemble direction. Ive been a fan of his music
since his days as an arranger for the likes of Maynard
Ferguson and Gary McFarland, and truly enjoyed our
collaboration last year playing the music of Cannonball
Adderly. I wish him well in the future, and thank him
for the great contributions he has made to my favorite
big band in the world, the WDR Big Band.
Peter Erskine


Mike Abene is able to look at the world through the

eyes of child, with wonder and amusement. Music
is much like this for those that still have that gift of
Mike is able to arrange someones music and look at it
in a different way that adds so much color to the notes
but still retain the personality of the original artist
who wrote it. On top of this, he can take it somewhere
it has never been before, and the place he takes it too
is where we would all like the music to be in the first
Mike is able to write for the WDR like an artist paints
on a canvas. The WDR is a group of amazing musicians,
so the symmetry between guest artist, Mike and the
band is something that becomes a very special musical
situation for everyone including the audience.
Mike is able to get so much life out of the music
he writes and arranges that it really is a humbling
Bill Evans

Mike Abene is one of my favorite musicians and is one

of my favorite people.
I always enjoy playing his music. His writing is like a
combination of Duke Ellington,Billy Strayhorn and
Gil Evans, full of beautiful colors and swing.
God Bless Mike Abene, or as I call him, Molto Abene!
Jon Faddis


It was a great pleasure to work with Michael Abene.

He has the ability to honor the compositions while
imprinting his own unique personal stamp on the
arrangements. Michael was also very supportive
when I brought in one of my own arrangements.
A first class musician and friend.
Mitchel Forman


Cologne shall miss Michael Abene! He is a gifted

composer and arranger, as well as a warm person.
Christina Fuchs


I got asked to play with Michael and the WDR Big

Band doing a tribute to the late Hiram Bullock, with
whom I played for many years, both in college and
professionally. I had known of Michael from his
reputation as a composer and arranger in New York. I
was curious how he was going to treat Hirams music,
as his compositions exhibited both a hard edge and
sensitivity. I was very pleasantly surprised when I
heard how he had arranged Hirams songs. Each one
remained true to the spirit of Hirams writing, as well
as exhibiting Michaels amazing talent as an arranger.

Every song we played was a gem. Michael treated all

of us as professionals which inspired us to give him
the best we had in us. I personally wish Michael the
best of luck in his future endeavors, and hope the
very best for him.
All the best. Take care.
Frank Gravis


Collaborating with Michael Abene was an outstanding

experience for me.
The arrangements he did on my songs have been
simply incredible and I felt so honored to meet him
and to work with him.
A great pianist, arranger and Big Band conductor.
A great honor for me.
Raphael Gualazzi


Mike is a great composer, arranger and pianist. I really

enjoy working with him. I had a great time playing
his masterful arrangements of my compositions for
the WDR Big Band. I look forward to playing with him
Tom Harrell


In the past 30 years, I have been playing with a lot of

big bands around the world. Some highlights were
provided by the WDR Big Band under the direction of
the Great Michael Abene. Michael has a keen sense
of arrangements for big bands. His arrangements
have a warm and full sound and always treat the
original composition respectfully while still bearing
his signature. In addition, he has a very relaxed style of
leading a band and communicating with the audience.
To me, Michael Abene is a true master of his craft, a
great musician and an amazing person!
Wolfgang Haffner


Generosity, openness, warmth, sociability and the

fact that they created jazz music: these are the
characteristics we Europeans love and admire the
Americans for. These are also the characteristics which
immediately crossed my mind as I thought of Michael
while writing these lines. In this light, Michael Abene is
his countrys best ambassador in Cologne. We all know
he is an amazing artist, arranger, composer, pianist and
conductor, additionally and I always admired this
he is always creating something new. He writes, thinks
and breathes music, jazz. There is nothing artificial
about Michael or his music, everything is easy,
laid-back and of highest quality. Thats great!
Thank you, Michael, for setting this good example,
thank you for the music!
Mike Herting


Dear Michael,
Working with you was a great experience for me.
Your enthusiasm and commitment to the music is
highly inspirational. Im looking forward to our next
encounter. Cologne will miss you!!
All the very best,
Pablo Held


Michael Abene is one of the best musicians and

arrangers that I have met in my life. The colors of
his musical expression and the beautiful way he is
conducting the orchestra are magical, seems that
the sound grows from his arms and body, totally
integrated with the spirit and protection of divine

Toninho Horta


Michael Abenes mastery of arranging amazes me

time and again. My personal highlight is for sure his
arrangement of Duke Ellingtons Sound of Love for
the Symphonica project with Joe Lovano, the WDR
Radio Orchestra and the WDR Big Band, which I also
experienced live at the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne.
So easy, so intricate, so amazingly beautiful.
Niels Klein


Ive been lucky to work in all kinds of situations with

Mike Abene everything from trio to jingles
to records to big bands. Hes the best there is at
making music, whether as a player or as arranger.
His ultra-hip and relaxed sense of lifestyle, both as a
person and musician, makes his music ebb and flow
with whatever situation hes in. Always full of life
and humor, which is what we all need more of!
Mike-A, we love you!
Will Lee

Michael is one of the most experienced big arrangers/

composers around. He is familiar with all styles past
and present with a deep knowledge as to what makes
a band sound good. Also.a beautiful human being
with Gretchen, his wonderful wife, always by his side.
Dave Liebman


Mike Abene is one of the most complete musicians

I know. His grasp of all the elements of music as an
arranger, composer, and pianist is what sets him apart
as one of the greats.
Most recently our experience recording and
performing his arrangements for the WDR Big Band
was just a prime example of this. He took some very
challenging music and shaped it into a beautiful
program and led the band perfectly.
Chuck Loeb


Working with and knowing The Grand Maestro

Michael Abene through the years has been one of
the most rewarding musical collaborations of my life
... We have a brotherly personal relationship which
I treasure as well, and is a gift ... As a conductor,
arranger and pianist Michael is full of ideas and
executes them freely and spontaneously with
Love & Passion ... It has truly been a joy to work
with Michael, Gretchen and the WDR Big Band and
Orchestra through the years... Im very proud of the
work weve done together, especially my Grammy
Nominated Blue Note release Symphonica...
Maestro Abene in performance live at Kolns
Philharmonic Hall conducted the WDR Symphony
Orchestra and Big Band of his orchestrations of my
tunes with power and grace!!! I feel quite humbled
and honored to be a part of his brilliant career and
look forward to future dinners and performances ...
Joe Lovano


There is not much that I can say that has not already
been said about Michael.
I know this because every time I run into someone
who has just finished working with him, they talk
about him because they are always very happy,
animated and charged with good and positive energy
that they undoubtedly received from him!
In fact, they say so many good things that I know that
whatever good things I could possibly say about him,
its all been said before!
What I will say is that I am very grateful for the
love and kindness both he and his wife, Gretchen
Hoffman-Abene, have shown me over the many
years that Ive known them and that I wish them as
many good and positive things in the future as they
have given to me and everyone else whove had the
pleasure of their company!

So I wont tell you what Im sure you already know.

Like how hes one of the greatest arrangers on this
planet or any other one!
Or how his energy, creativity and generosity seem to
be limitless!

Dennis Mackrel


Michael Abene has always been a musician Ive

had the greatest respect for. I love his playing, his
arranging, his compositional skills and his personality.
A great guy.
Christian McBride


What an honor to work with Michael Abene! We

were lucky enough to have him produce our very
first album way back in the good old days, and are
fortunate to consider him one of our supporters for
the last 26 years. His endless creativity and energy
have been inspiring to us all his work is timeless,
unique, and legendary. He is certainly one of the
icons of arranging the king of his domain! Looking
forward to his next chapter.
New York Voices


Dear Michael,
I mostly got to admire your amazing talents as a
listener, and that was already spectacular...I am so
thankful and proud that a few years back we got to
work together, and you arranged my music with such
skill and musical love...I can only try to imagine the
whole scope of your immense imprint on the musical
life in Cologne and elsewhere.Now that you leave
Cologne, I can only say: lucky any and all places youll
call in the future home or working base.
Wishing you all the bestthankfully
Simon Nabatov


Ive always been a fan of Mike. A wonderful cat,

who is multifaceted, as a pianist, arranger, producer &
There is such a broad scope in his abilities.
He has the knack to really get into the music and
always seem to bring an extra something special.
Its a pleasure to have made music with him.
Thank you (-:
Adam Nussbaum


Your spirit, experience, and talent on so many levels
made both of my visits with the WDR Big Band
spectacular and life long memories. It is truly an
honor to play your compositions and arrangements.
It is why I practiced so hard as a kid. You made my
dreams of playing great music come true. Some of
my happiest moments was listening to you play solo
Thanks for making me a better musician.
All my respect, love and appreciation,
Dick Oatts


I performed with the WDR Big Band for the first time
in 2009, a tribute concert to the late great Hiram
Bullock. There was a star ensemble that included
some of my musical heroes and Mr. Abene wrote
typically amazing arrangements and conducted the
show with effortless mastery.
My excitement however, was tinged with nervous
anticipation. It was the first time Id ever worked
with a big band. However, In an act of generosity
and sensitivity often rare in the biz, Mr. Abene made
great effort to ensure I felt safe and at ease in what
he rightly guessed was a pressured environment for
me. Soon I felt like Id been fronting a big band all my
life and the show is one of the highlights of my career
thus far. Mr. Abene, I offer sincere thanks and my best
wishes for your continued success in all your future
Ola Onabule


Ive had many many highspots in my career and I

consider one of the highest when I got to work with
Michael Abene.
Hes the top of the list of arrangers and conductors
and I marvel at his technique for handling Big Bands.
So I feel really really comfortable when Im involved in
a project that hes part of because of how how great
he is at managing Big Bands. Michael makes me feel
really special because of who he is!
Maceo Parker


Working with Mike Abene with the WDR Band was

a real privilege and inspiration for me, hes a total
master. Its very seldom in any walk of life to find
someone with as much skill, devotion, good humor,
and attention to detail as Mike has, so I feel very lucky
to know him and work with him.
Chris Potter


The concert with Michael Abene on the occasion

of my 50th birthday was one of the most beautiful
in the past years! He had a friendly and highly
professional manner conducting this concert,
which will remain unforgettable to me. I wish him
contentment and happiness and a merry active
With kind regards,
Prof. Thomas Quasthoff


It was not until the WDR put us together that I

finally had the chance of working with Michael
Abene. While his reputation precedes him and this
from musicians Ive long admired I had no idea
if we would be a good fit. Well, not only were the
arrangements pure magic, but Michaels a beautiful
person an open spirit who is so much fun and a
terrific storyteller. In short, Michael is an absolute
delight and its so nice to be able to join the chorus
of those singing his praises.
Dianne Reeves


Dear Michael,
You are a true master of arranging. Each of your
arrangements expresses your very own (Sicilian?)
aesthetics of sound. Some of them are a thrill
for example the arrangement with five soprano
saxophones and your boldness is very inspiring to
me! You always leave room for solos, for JAZZ. And on
top of this, you have an abundance of positive energy,
which is infectious to everyone and every big band
you work with. Thank you for this, Michael, and thank
you for arranging some of my pieces I feel truly
We had a few rehearsals in your study, an arrangers
paradise: a plain little room containing a grand piano,
a small table with a coffeemaker always full of filtered
coffee and a desk with king-size score paper and a
You look at music in its entirety, in arranging as well
as in playing: I can hear a complete orchestra in your
piano, polyphonic themes which are high and gentle
seem to be flutes and clarinets, I can hear trombones,
baritone saxophones and quite a few piano solos. But
you never waste a single note!

It would be wonderful to play some further duos

with you, preferably in Sicily! Take care and rock on!
Matthias Schriefl

Michael Abene is an outstanding composer and

arranger. Since my time with him as a student at
Manhattan School of Music, listening to his work has
been and still is a true and great inspiration.
Stefan Schultze


Dear Mike
Congratulations on your great run at the WDR.
It was such a rewarding experience working with you
and the big band. Youve written so many wonderful
charts. Your orchestration abilities are unparalleled,
its magic!!! (and you play a mean piano too!) Youve
really helped the band to grow and given so much
to the music. Thanks Mike, I hope to see you soon,
old friend.
John Scofield


Michael Abene is a great arranger, performer and

band leader who embraces tradition while utilizing
his creative spirit to always serve his fellow musicians.
Having the opportunity to work with such a jazz
master is an experience I will always cherish.
Terell Stafford


Michael Abene is a great writer, incredible arranger

and a beautiful musician. On a personal level, it was
a pleasure to be with Michael. My experience playing
with the WDR and Michaels arrangements was so
much fun. I had a great time.
Mike Stern


An idol is probably someone who, like Michael Abene,

has remained a humorous, warmhearted and modest
person, despite of being one of the best musicians
and arrangers in jazz history. In creating music,
Michael is a master of structure, composition and
color, guaranteeing sophisticated reharmonizations
and fresh basslines. He is a musical seducer with a
great intellect and a whole lot of soul!
I especially love another of his exceptional skills: his
creative and soulful way to write arrangements for
large formations in combination with solo singers or
vocal groups. Only few people in the world can master
this challenge like Michael does! It is a privilege to
know him personally, as well as it is to experience
how caring he is with people and how passionate
about music. I wish him all the best for the future!
Ansgar Striepens


I knew Mike Abene, but not well, in the early 1960s,

when we joined a hopeful, optimistic generation of
young jazz musicians determined to make it in
New York, pretty much the only place for a young
player or writer to be in those days. Weve worked
hard, each in his way, since then, and its hard work
that wins in the end. Our music demands constant
application, year after year, and steadfast devotion.
Thats what Mike has achieved, and he aint done yet.
It was incredibly enriching to reconnect with Mike,
and to work with him, at the WDR in 2013. He shaped
the music of We3 (Dave Liebman, Adam Nussbaum
and me) into something bigger and better than it had
been. He saw things in the music we hadnt known
ourselves, and he caused us to bring things out of
the music we couldnt have imagined without his
prompting. What more can one ask of an arranger?
Of course, what Mike did was more than that
inadequate word describes: he entered into the music,
reshaped it, redefined it, made it more expressive.
Im most fortunate to have worked with him.
Steve Swallow


Take 6s experience working with Michael Abene was

nothing short of awesome! To hear our arrangements
come to even more life with the backing of one of the
most amazing big bands in the world, the WDR Big
Band Cologne, was completely exhilarating! Michaels
big-band arrangements are second to none! And
our personal experience working alongside him in
rehearsals and performance was and will be totally
unforgettable! This man has a huge heart, and it
comes through in every note played and sung in his
arrangements. Take 6 salutes you Mr. Abene!
Much Success Always!
Mark Kibble on behalf of Take 6


See, I have never met Michael Abene. We only spoke

on the phone a few times. So all I can say is that
he seems like a really nice guy and he is a pleasure
to work with, very astute yet very relaxed. I have
now received a few arrangements for concert we
are preparing in June. Michael has done a great job
rearranging my music for the big band. I am really
excited to start rehearsals.
Jacky Terrasson


Ce ft un plaisir immense et dlicieux de rencontrer

Michael Abene et de travailler avec lui. Pianiste
extraordinaire, il a su tout de suite me mettre
laise lorsque nous nous sommes rencontrs
pour slectionner les morceaux arranger. Avec
une grande gnrosit, il a cout mes timides
propositions et les a pour certaines en partie inclues
dans ses arrangements. Sa connaissance du jazz, son
got exquis et son savoir ont fait de chaque morceau
arrang par lui un voyage excitant. Me poussant
parfois la limite de mes possibilits il ma, sans
doute sans sen tre rendu compte, beaucoup appris
et je suis reconnaissante davoir pu travailler avec ce
Grand Monsieur. Merci Michael!!
Ccil Verny


Thanks, Michael, for inviting me to play the music

of Charles Mingus with the wonderful WDR Band. I
had a great time with you, as I always have, from the
GRP Big Band to now. Its always a very enlightening
musical experience for me to play your great
arrangements and compositions. Thank you so much
also for the beautiful arrangements of my tunes,
For Michael and To The Point. Its always so much
fun making music with you; you always bring so
much joy to our musical environment. Many blessings
to you and Gretchen, now and in the future.
Ernie Watts

Mike is an incredible arranger that Ive had the

pleasure to work with on many occasions with
many big bands. The time spent with him on the
projects I did with the WDR were wonderful and very
memorable. All the best Mike!
Dave Weckl


More Facts about Michael Abene

What do you think is unique about her?

Patti, like all great singers, has a wonderful sense of
rhythm, pitch and responds to what you write for her.
She is also comfortable in many styles of music.

From New York, Michael Abene answered some

questions posed by Michael Brning about his
extensive musical activities. He commented on a
number of projects, explained some musical and
biographical milestones, and gave an insight into the
personal and creative outlook he shares with his wife

When you became musical director of the WDR Big

Band, you already were a renown composer, arranger,
bandleader and professor for Jazz music.
Which where your expectations and personal hopes
coming to Cologne? And looking back, did everything
come up to your expectations or were they even
exceeded? Maybe there were positive developments
you had not thought of at the beginning?
My reason for coming to Koeln was wanting to be
associated specifically with the WDR Big Band and not
just any band. I like to leave feeling I wrote some very
good music and made some invaluable friendships
along the way.

You have been very active in New Yorks music

business as well as internationally. When did you first
learn about the WDR Big Band?
Im not sure exactly but it was at least 25 years ago, I
remember Brookmeyer and Mel Lewis telling me about
the band.
You made your debut with the Big Band in the Klner
Philharmonie 14 years ago. Do you remember the
evening? Patti Austin was in on it as well.
I believe Wolfgang Hirschmann originally approached
me about doing a tribute to Maynard Ferguson. I
spoke to Maynard and he was agreeable but there
was a problem with his manager at the time so that
project did not happen. Patti Austin was contacted by
Hirschmann and she arrived in Koeln with some charts.
I remember her not being happy with some of the
endings so I wrote some endings she was happy with.
I also just finished a project with Chick Corea with the
Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and asked Wolfgang if I could
bring some of those charts which also had French
horns and Tuba I believe.
At the same time I had
brought my arrangement
of America from the GRP
recording of West Side
Story which Patti had
sung live. She sounded
wonderful and it was
a very inspiring concert.

Of course we want to know about your favorite

concerts and productions with the Big Band. Are there
outstanding pieces or memories you like to think of?
Thats a very difficult question to answer so then Ill just
say I loved everyone.
Are there any projects which you have not been able
to carry out?
I would like to have done more projects with orchestra.
Coming back to your professional history, is it correct
you grew up in a very musical environment in the
Italian community in Brooklyn?
My father played guitar and his father played string
instruments and there was a lot of music in the house.
How was it that your interest in Jazz, Rhythm and
Blues and other genres was sparked?
When I started to be involved in doing studio work as
a keyboardist and arranger for recording sessions and
for commercials for television and radio. It was a paid
You belonged to a talented Youth Band which
performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and other

venues. How do you explain that so many members

of this ensemble became successful musicians, just
like you?
I feel it had greatly to do with the people who were
mentoring us. Marshall Brown, who was the organizer
of the Youth Band. John LaPorta and Lou Mucci who
made us so aware of the music around us.
Your debut at the WDR Big Band Cologne in June
2000 was opened by your arrangement of Sonny
Rollins Airegin, a tribute to your first arrangements
for Maynard Ferguson. How did it come about that
you played with Ferguson and became responsible
for arranging?
I was playing with trumpeter Don Ellis who was close
to pianist Jaki Byard, who was the pianist on Maynards
band at the time and one of the most original pianists
and Arranger/Composers. He was leaving the band
and asked if I was interested in joining the band, of
course I said yes. I had some nonet arrangements I had
written for a group I had in the Youth Band and just rescored them for Maynard. I joined the band in 1961 and
immediately started writing. I had my own approach for
the band and Maynard started liking my writing and it
just progressed from there. The version of Airegin that
you mentioned was for the GRP All-Star Big Band.

With your compositions and arrangements, you have

enriched the repertoire not only of the WDR Big Band
Cologne, but also of orchestral Jazz in general. We
would like to spotlight some facets of the variety of
projects you have worked on.
Jazz classics you have dealt with include the Great
American Songbook, an homage to Benny Goodman
with Paquito DRivera and the WDR Big Band, or
explorations of Charles Mingus repertoire with guest
soloist Ernie Watts. From your experience, how can
the tradition of big band Jazz be revived to provide
new potential for soloists and orchestras?
It is entirely up to the creativity of the arranger.
As for funk, fusion and soul, I remember productions
like Funkhouse, Roots & Grooves with Maceo
Parker, Bill Evans Vans Joint or the homage to
Hiram Bullock with Dean Brown et al. In these
projects, you transferred compositions for small
ensembles to a big band format. What is the best way
to unfold the energetic potential of electronic Jazz
genres in a big band?
Starting with having the right material and right
rhythm section that best plays that groove, it then
becomes again the creativity of the arranger.

As you have shown in your compositions, like for the

collaboration of the WDR Big Band Cologne with
the WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne, there are always
new facets of orchestral Jazz to be discovered. In this
context, what is appealing about the album version
of the concert Big Music?
The recording you are speaking about is the Grammy
nominated Symphonica featuring Joe Lovano and
the WDR Big Band and Rundfunk Orchestra. What is
exciting for me is the combination of big band and
symphony, something that should be done more
often. I have been speaking to Ed Partyka, head of the
Jazz Department at KUG in Graz about the possibility
of such a course for Composition students. I was
instrumental, along with the late Manny Albam, of
creating such a course at Manhattan School of Music,
the official title being Jazz Composition and Arranging
For the Studio Orchestra.

You have directed musical encounters between the

WDR Big Band and outstanding personalities like Lee
Konitz, Tom Harrell, Gary Burton, Joe Lovano, John
Scofield, Peter Erskine, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker
or Chris Potter. What makes such encounters special
and unforgettable?
The level of the players and the level of the material.

Lets talk about you as a pianist. In the concert

Cannonball you directed, you played the piano
publicly for the first time. Why did it take so long? It
always surprises the audience when you take off your
shoes first, do you need to be in direct touch with the
piano pedals?
I have no idea why it took me so long to play an entire
project with the band. As far as my playing with my
shoes off its just a matter of comfort.

such as Fletcher Henderson and Benny Carter for

example and all the way up to Maria Schneider. Not
to write like any of them but to know and understand
the evolution of the music.

You studied at the Manhattan School of Music and

later rejoined the school as a professor for Jazz
yourself. You have also taught in Germany and several
other European countries. Concerning the approaches
and conceptions of the music academies, do American
and German Jazz departments differ a lot?
I am self taught but went to Manhattan School of
Music for one year writing a string quartet and a
piano/clarinet piece to gain entrance. Jazz education at
that time was not what it is today.

Many people know the composer, arranger and

conductor Michael Abene. Your wife Gretchen is
less known, although she plays an important part
in your manifold activities. You could tell us more
about her part, if you like to. The two of you are
truly a dream team.
Gretchen is the business person of the family. She studied
music as a child, has a great ear and knows the music
and lyrics to many songs. She was also a music copyist
for many years when music copying was done by
hand. She also co-produced and was responsible for the
budgets and contracts for all the projects I produced for
GRP Records. Last but not least Gretchen is an extremely
talented painter and has worked in different mediums.

It is not like you to rest on your laurels, so what are

your plans for the future?
To keep composing music everyday. There is no such
thing to me as resting on ones laurels.

You have been working at the University of Music

and Performing Arts in Graz for some time now.
Which priorities do you set in your teaching?
In working with Composition students that they are
aware of the great composers and arrangers in Jazz

Mr Abene, thank you very much for the interview!


Projects and Concerts

Klner Philharmonie
Mar - 11 - 2000

Very Personal 2005

Dsseldorf, Kln: Stadtgarten, Bonn, Siegen
Jan-10 Feb-02 2005

The Sicilian
Essen: Schloss Borbeck, Kln: Stadtgarten
Nov-12 21 2002

Nows The Time

Kln: Stadtgarten, Wuppertal
Mar-01 12 2005

Songs of Spring
Mnster: Studiofest, Hilden: Jazztage
May-10 + May-30 31 2003

FunkHouse Cologne
Ldenscheid, Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
Apr-04 16 2005

Michael Abene Project

Sep-11 14 2003

Thoughts and Visions

Dortmund, Klner Philharmonie
Jun-27 Jul-09 2005

Very Personal 2004

Ldenscheid, Dsseldorf, Kln, Siegen, Marl, Bonn
Jan-12 31 2004

Klner Philharmonie, Essen: Zeche Zollverein
Aug-31 Sep-16 2005

Tribute to Billie Holiday

Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie, Herne
Mar-15 28 2004

Big Music/ Joe Lovano Project

Mechenich, Klner Philharmonie
Nov-14 26 2005

Rick + Rolf
Venlo, Kln: Stadtgarten, Mnchengladbach
Jun-01 12 2004

Italian Movie Music

Kln: Stadtgarten, Remscheid, Dortmund
Nov-29 Dec-10 2005

Klner Lichter
Kln: Rheinschiff
Jul-10 2004

USA 2006
New York
Jan-03 16 2006

Very Personal 2004

Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Meinerzhagen,
Dortmund, Willich
Sep-20 24 2004

Very Personal 2006

Essen, Siegen, Bonn, Dsseldorf
Mar-02 18 2006
The Gershwin Night
Klner Philharmonie
Mar-20 31 2006

Billie Holiday Leverkusen

Sep-04 09 2004

Young Generation
Dortmund, Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
Apr-03 07 2006

Take6 and more

Klner Philharmonie, Bad Ems
Nov-29 Dec-12 2004

Gershwin Songbook
Dortmund: Westfalenpark
Aug-21 26 2006

Dizzys Atmosphere
Mlheim an der Ruhr
Aug-3 25 2007

WDR 50- Die amtliche Geburtstagsshow

Kln, Essen, Mnster, Aachen, Bielefeld, Dsseldorf,
Dortmund, Siegen, Wuppertal
Aug-28 Sep-10 2006

WDR Jazzpreis
Essen, Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von BismarckSaal
Oct-22 26 2007

WDR Jazzpreis
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
Oct-23 27 2006

Hargrove Grooves
Leverkusener Jazztage
Oct-29 Nov-07 2007

Take6 and more 2006

Leverkusen: Jazztage, Klner Philharmonie
Nov-02 18 2006

Christmas Revisited
Bonn: Harmonie, Dsseldorf: Jazzschmiede, Kln:
Dec-10 21 2007

Paris: Lionel Hampton Jazzclub
Jan-09 14 2007

Very Personal 2008

Iserlohn, Dortmund, Kln: Universitt
Jan-28 Feb-15 2008

Roots & Grooves Tour

Heidelberg: Stadthalle, Rsselsheim: Stadttheater,
Luzern: KKL, Paris: Le Grand Rex,
Barcelona: Palau de la Msica Catalana,
Madrid: Palacio Municipal de Congresos
Jan-26 Feb-03 2007

Presenting Bill Evans

Siegen: LYZ Kulturzentrum, Dsseldorf: Jazz-Schmiede,
Kln: Stadtgarten
Feb-18 29 2008
Ballads And Soft Music
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
Mar-03 13 2008

Roots & Grooves

Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
Jan-16 25 2007

New York Voices

Duisburg: Landschaftspark, Geblsehalle,
Klner Philharmonie
May-06 17 2008

Leander - Holiday
Studio production
Feb-26 Mar-02 2007

Daves Musical Diary

Bonn: Harmonie, Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von
May-19 30 2008

Improvise One
Klner Philharmonie
Apr-23 May-06 2007
Very Personal 2007
Iserlohn, Dlmen, Bonn, Kln
May-29 Jun-16 2007

Maceo Parker in NRW

Dsseldorf: Hofgarten
Jul-11+12 2008

Maceo Parker, Sommertour 2008

Rotterdam, Differdange, Hamburg, Jena, Villingen,
Alicante, Nizza, San Sebastian, Madrid, Barcelona, Kln,
Jul-12 31 2008
Gary Burton Special
Kln: Stadtgarten, Dortmund: Opernhaus
Sep-01 14 2008

Heiners Music
Kln: Stadtgarten
Aug-24 28 2009
Mike Stern Selection
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
mittendrin!-Ein Tag mit den WDR Klangkrpern
Sep-06 2009
Mike Stern Selection
Kln: Stadtgarten, Essen: Zeche Zollverein
Aug-31 Sep-11 2009

Remembering Hiram Bullock

Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
Sep-16 25 2008

Celebrating Billie Holiday- Tour

Dillingen: Lokschuppen, Echternach
(LU):Philharmonie, Zweibrcken: Festival
Sep-14 21 2009

Jazz Greetings from Germany

Riga, Donezk, Kiew
Sep-26 Oct-04 2008
Tribute to Ray Charles
Leverkusener Jazztage, Berlin: Jazzfest
Nov-03 06 2008

Celebrating Billie Holiday- NRW

Viersen: Jazzfestival, Klner Philharmonie
Jun-18/21 2009

Ellington Songs
Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Iserlohn: Stadthalle, Klner
Nov-24 Dec-06 2008

Celebrating Hndel
Wuppertal: Unihalle,
Mechernich: Tonfabrik Zikkurat
Oct-05 09 / Oct-26 Nov-01 2009

Very Personal 2009

Wipperfrth, Dsseldorf, Siegen, Kln, Aachen,
Feb-16 Mar-13 2009

Bill Evans Special

Dudelange: Opderschmelz, Neckarsulm: Audi Forum,
Leverkusen: Forum, Leverkusener Jazztage
Nov-04 12 2009

Hard Boppin
Ldenscheid, Dortmund
Apr-21 30 2009

Studio production Fay Claassen

Dec-07 11 2009
Very Personal 2010
Essen: Schloss Borbeck, Ldenscheid: Kulturhaus
Marnach (LU): Cube 521, Greven: Ballenlager,
Dsseldorf: Jazzschmiede
Jan-11 Feb-10 2010

Cafiso Plays Parker

Bonn, Hilden
May-11 23 2009
Benny Goodman Revisited
Mnster, Detmold, Klner Philharmonie
May-26 Jun-06 2009


Calypso Night
Ennepetal: Haus Ennepetal, Klner Philharmonie
Jan-27 Feb-06 2010

A Legend In Jazz - Charles Mingus

Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
Nov-23 04 2010

A Russian Play
Hamm: Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Alfred-Fischer-Halle
May-03 11 2010

Quasthoff Gala
Essen: Philharmonie
Dec-13 18 2010

Leverkusen: Bayer Kulturzentrum
May-17 22 2010

Very Personal 2011

Leverkusen: Bayer Kulturhaus, Essen: Schloss Borbeck,
Ldenscheid: Kulturhaus, Marnach: LU, CUBE 521
Jan-10 22 2011

Kapstadt, Port Elisabeth, Johannesburg
May-29 Jun-05 2010

New Stuff
Kln: Stadtgarten, Potsdam: Nikolaisaal
Feb-08 18 2011

Welcome Kurt Elling

Gtersloh: Theater Gtersloh, Klner
Jun-14 26 2010

Bernies Tunes
Kln: Stadtgarten
Mar-28 Apr-01 2011

Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Dsseldorf: RobertSchumann-Saal
Aug-23 Sep-03 2010

Antiche Danze
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
Apr-04 14 2011
Scofield Special
Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
May-10 21 2011

Unterwegs mit Roger Willemsen

Essen: Zeche Zollverein
Dsseldorf: Robert-Schumann-Saal
Jun-28 Jul-02 2010

Northsea Jazzfestival 2011 Fay Claassen

Rotterdam: The Ahoy
Jun-27/Jul-05/Jul-10 2011

Fernsehstudio B Rechtschule
Sep-07 12 2010

Arte Film
ARTE broadcast 2nd quarter 2012
Sep-05 07 2011

WDR Big Band Plays Mingus

Viersen: Internationales Jazzfestival
Sep-15 24 2010

Mittendrin 2011
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
Aug-31 Sep-04 2011

Billie Holiday 2010

Ratingen: Stadttheater, Baden-Baden:
Nov-02 21 2010


Eddie Daniels - One of a Kind

Klner Philharmonie, Viersen: Stadthalle
Sep-12 24 2011

Remarkable Music- Tom Harrell

Duisburg: Steinhof, Kln: Stadtgarten
Jun-04 15 2012

Fay Claassen Sing

Unna, Amsterdam: Bimhuis,
Rotterdam: De Doelen
Oct-04 08 2011

Mittendrin 2012
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal
Aug-27 Sep-02 2012
Heek: Landesmusikakademie
Sep-03 07 2012

Soul Classics - Leverkusener Jazztage

Oct-31 / Nov-07/10 2011

Viersen: Jazzfestival, Kln: Philharmonie
Sep-10 22 2012

Soul Classics - Herbsttour 2011

Backnang, Zrich: Volkshaus
Nov-08 09 2011

New York Voices- CD Release

Mnchengladbach: Das Rote Krokodil, Dillingen:
Lokschuppen, Aachen: Universitt Aula
Oct-08 12 2012

Bone Breakers
Mnchengladbach: Das Rote Krokodil, Wuppertal:
Caf Ada
Nov-28 Dec-10 2011

Welcome Back Kurt Elling

Essen: Philharmonie, Klner Philharmonie
Nov-26 Dec-07 2012

Maribor 2012 WBB plays Mingus

Greven: Kulturzentrum Ballenlager, Maribor
Jan-24 29 2012

Christmas Revisited 2012

Wuppertal: Caf Ada, Paderborn: Audimax der
Dec-11 19 2012

Lee Konitz A Jazz Life

Dsseldorf: Robert-Schumann-Saal
Siegen: LYZ Kulturzentrum
Feb-27 Mar-09 2012

Horace Silver
Kln: WDR Funkhaus, Studio 4: Studio production
Mar-18 22 2013

In The Idiom
Gronau: Jazzfestival, Klner Philharmonie
Apr-12 16 / Apr-24 28 2012

WBB Plays Horace Silver

Hilden: Hildener Jazztage, Klner Philharmonie
May-27 Jun-01 2013

Tribute to Ray Charles

Mailand: Teatro alla Scala
Apr-17 23 2012

We3 - WE All
Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
Jun-16 21 2013

Greeting Gualazzi
Bonn: Telekomforum,
Bochum: Klavier-Festival Ruhr,Jahrhunderthalle
May-02 12 2012


The Harvest
Kln: Stadtgarten, Hattingen: Heinrichshtte
Jun-25 Jul-05 2013
Mittendrin! Music of Horace Silver
Kln: WDR Funkhaus Klaus von Bismarck-Saal,
Vreden: Kulturzentrum
Sep-05 08 2013
Metro Meets WDR Big Band
Essen: Zeche Zollverein, Klner Philharmonie
Sep-14 20 2013
My Songbook
Klner Philharmonie, Essen: Philharmonie
Nov-20 29 2013
A night in Brazil
Borken: Aula Gymnasium Remigianum, Klner
Feb-03 15 2014
Deep Impressions
Hattingen, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, LWL
Abenes Personal Selection
Kln, Stadtgarten


CD Productions

Birli Lagrne, g
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
Dreyfus Jazz CD FDM 46050366962

Celebrating Billie Holiday

Ccile Verny, voc
Strings of
WDR Rundfunkorchester Cologne
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
CMO Jazz/WDR 2008

avant gershwin
Patti Austin, voc
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
Rendezvous CD ren 51232

Fay Claassen, voc
WDR Rundfunkorchester Cologne
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
Challenge 50117 390

Marceo Parker - Roots & Grooves

Marceo Parker, sax
Dennis Chambers, dr
Rodney Skeet Curtis, b
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
Intuition CD INT 34132

maceo parker / soul classics

maceo parker: vocals & alto sax
christian mcbride: bass
cora coleman-dunham: drums
wdr big band cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
Moosicus Records M 1201-1

Bill Evans Vans Joint

Bill Evans, ts,ss
Dave Weckl, dr
Mark Egan, e-b
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
BHM 2009 /The WDR The Cologne Broadcasts 2008
BHM 1038 2 Bill EvansSoulgrass

Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne

New York Voices
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
Palmetto Records 2013/PM 2160

Joe Lovano, ts
WDR Rundfunkorchester Cologne
WDR Big Band Cologne
Conductor, Arranger: Michael Abene
* GRAMMY NOMINATION for Michael Abenes
Arrangement Charles Mingus Duke Ellingtons Sound
of Love