- BLOODLINE -
Sounds – cannot be invented. They were there long before us, meet us in the moment, but know neither before nor after. It is possible that the sounds created us in order to be played and heard. They are in us, in our vibrations, movements, thoughts, in the traces of our lives. Our togetherness is a constant interplay of harmony and dissonance, a sequence of rhythms, condensations and phase shifts. Microcosm-macrocosm, yin and yang, chicken or egg. Is the music in us, or are we in the end only a cadence ourselves?
In the final analysis, playing with tones is nothing other than the conscious acceptance of life. Do we need more than this unconditional engagement with creation to hear music? To play it? Nothing could ever fade away. Every note, every beat is eternal. Even the sounding is only illusion. Participation in the perpetuity of sound corresponds to the punctual insight into the canon of the universe that we call perception.
Living music in the original sense of the word is based on unconditional respect for every single note, every beat, every harmony. Beyond physical describability, every sound is unique. The unmistakability of timbre, colour and mood can never be subjugated. If the creative individual succeeds in synchronising with the unfathomable mystery of sound and internalises improvisation as a category of life, the divine principle of music unites with our pulse, breath, step, our biorhythm and family tree.
– Wolf Kampmann –
Sounds – cannot be invented. They were there long before us, meet us in the moment, but know neither before nor after.
– Wolf Kampmann –
Robert Keßler – A Portrait
Robert Keßler – to begin a portrait of the guitarist with his name contradicts everything the restrained Berliner stands for. When he plays, whether in the studio or on stage, his personality is fully at the service of his music. Even this „his music“ he would critically question, because what he invents and passes on to his listeners does not belong to him, but to everyone who gets involved with it. In this sense, his compositions and their realisation have a quality that one finds only very rarely: They seem to listen to their listeners themselves more than they invite them to listen. Robert Keßler is always and without exception concerned with reciprocity in exchange. For him, art is anything but an end in itself. Even if it may help him here and there to answer his own questions, for him it is always a medium of interpersonal interaction that transforms every public space into a private refuge. For good reason, every listener may feel that he or she is the sole addressee of his music.
He pays homage to the philosophy of the absolute sound experience especially on his second album „Bloodline“, which he recorded with bassist Andreas Henze and drummer Tobias Backhaus. With both musicians, he forms a sworn unit that is based on human connection even more than on musical values. There is nothing banal on „Bloodline“, no hierarchies or categorisations. He hones every nuance until it is one hundred percent right. Nothing is further from his mind than reinventing the jazz guitar, and yet „Bloodline“ is a flawless jazz album that does not break with conventions, but leads to very unconventional narrative threads within the jazz vocabulary. Every single note that he transforms by virtue of his inspiration via his fingers onto the strings of his guitar is a complete self-portrait. The DNA of a few bars is enough to justifiably get the feeling of getting to know a person.
Born in Jena in 1984, his heart beat for music at an early age. As a teenager, he rode his bicycle to jazz festivals to meet his idols, later his path led him to the motherland of jazz. After studying at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music and the Jazz Institute Berlin with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jiggs Whigham, he declared his love for modern jazz on his debut album „Jasmin“. In the following years, he opened himself up to blues, R’n’B and country as well as to the music cultures of Latin America, Spain, Arabia and Eastern Europe, recorded the records „Emilias Lächeln“ and „Moravica“ with the band Klezmeyers and toured Europe with them. He was involved in productions of the Berlin Theater des Westens and the Theater am Potsdamer Platz, recorded soundtracks and worked with artists such as Jocelyn B. Smith, New York Voices, Udo Lindenberg, Felix Jaehn as well as Herbert Grönemeyer. Since 2017, he has been a professor for guitar and ensemble at the SRH University Berlin, School of Popular Arts (formerly Hochschule der Populären Künste), where he heads the music production and popular music courses. He now lives in Berlin-Weißensee with his wife and three children.
His everyday family life, the daily impressions of his living environment, the input he receives hour after hour from his students all flow into his music, as do the impulses of his idols John Coltrane, Barney Kessel, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny or Sting and his unshakeable belief in the good in people. His music may be neither avant-garde nor futuristic, his respect for the jazz tradition is unmistakable, and yet his work is composed into a utopia of what is possible. The term „good music“ in the original sense of the word is literally in good hands with Robert Keßler.
Robert Keßler doesn’t have to release new albums every six months to feel like an artist. Between two records under his name, it can sometimes be a whole decade, because other aspects of life are also important to him. But it is precisely this self-honesty in dealing with his career that makes his music so credible. With Keßler, a musician speaks to us who not only stands in the middle of life, but also doesn’t want to be anywhere else. When he says something on his instrument, it is certain that he also has something to say. Musical small talk is not his thing.
In Robert Keßler’s artistic appearance, the pragmatist, the perfectionist, the connoisseur and the mystic form a unique alliance. An unobtrusive master of psychoacoustics and a gifted storyteller who needs no words, he casts a spell over everyone who comes into contact with his music.
Robert Keßler is a guitarist and composer whose music combines contemporary jazz with world music, blues and
Born in Jena in 1984, his heart beat for music at an early age. As a teenager, he rode his bicycle to jazz festivals to meet his idols, and later his path led him to the motherland of jazz. After studying at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music and the Jazz Institute Berlin with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jiggs Whigham, he declared his love for Modern Jazz on his debut album „Jasmin“. In the following years, he opened up to blues, R’n’B and country as well as to the music cultures of Latin America, Spain, Arabia and Eastern Europe, recorded the records „Emilias Lächeln“ and „Moravica“ with the band Klezmeyers and toured Europe with them. He pays homage to the philosophy of absolute sound experience especially on his current trio album „Bloodline“, which he recorded with bassist Andreas Henze and drummer Tobias Backhaus. Those who have never met Robert Keßler will be able to get very close to a human being in these songs. He reveals a lot about his children, his neighbourhood, his world view. „Bloodline“ is an honest self-portrait of an artist’s personality, a flawless jazz album and an enchanting story that in the best moments seems to listen more than it tells.
As a sideman, Robert Keßler was involved in productions of the Berlin Theater des Westens and the Theater am Potsdamer Platz, recorded soundtracks and worked with artists such as Jocelyn B. Smith, Elen Wendt, New York Voices, Udo Lindenberg, Felix Jaehn and Herbert Grönemeyer. He was a lecturer for guitar at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music Berlin, at the Jazz Institute Berlin and since 2017 has been a professor for guitar and ensemble at the SRH University Berlin, School of Popular Arts formerly Hochschule der Populären Künste, where he heads the music production and popular music courses. He now lives in Berlin-Weißensee with his wife and three children.
– Wolf Kampmann
„An unobtrusive master of psychoacoustics and a gifted storyteller who needs no words, he casts a spell over everyone who comes into contact with his music. „Bloodline“ is the thoroughly honest self-portrait of an artistic personality“
(Wolf Kampmann 01/2021)
„THE BALLAD ‚THEO‘ IS A REAL INSTRUMENTAL MASTERPIECE OF EACH MUSICIAN. THE CAPTIVATING MELODIC LINE PLAYED BY THE LEADER IS ACCOMPANIED BY DELICIOUS SOLO PARTS OF THE DOUBLE BASS AND SENSUAL PERCUSSION.“
(LONGPLAY POLEN – ROBERT RATAJCZAK 02/21)
„Promising and very worth listening to, his solos are outstanding gems“
(Andreas Polte – Archtop Germany 12/08)
(Guitar and Bass 07/09)
„WITH THICK JAZZ GUITAR SOUND KESSLER FLIES THROUGH THE DIFFERENT GROOVE WEBS OF THE BEAUTIFUL ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS!“
(JAZZ ‚N’MORE, ANGELIKA BALLHORN 02/21)
„A Name you should remember!“
(RBB Kultur, Ulf Drechsel 03/21)
„Compositionally, Keßler sounds very much like modern jazz. It quickly becomes clear that Keßler, with his standard Modern tone, can shift between solo and chordal playing as if by magic. This makes immensely many facets audible in one line.“
(MDR Kultur – Jazz Feature, Julia Hemmerling 03/21)
„His most important tools are conscientiousness, self-honesty and a very precise power of observation. To every single note he brings the greatest possible respect and a lot of humility.“
(Jazzthing – Wolf Kampmann 03/21)
„With great respect for the jazz tradition, Keßler and his trio open up a colorful spectrum of both technical and innovative. Certainly – this is an album that will be remembered for a long time and will charm everyone, not allowing even a tiny moment of boredom“
(Babskim Uchem – Marta Ratajczak 03/21)
„ …A HUGELY SOPHISTICATED AND MODERNISTIC APPROACH, WHICH IS AN IDEAL PARTNER FOR HIS OWN HIGHLY CREATIVE, PERSONAL AND FAR REACHING COMPOSITIONS THAT FILL MOST OF THIS NEW ALBUM.“
(JAZZVIEWS.NET – JIM BURLONG 02/2021)
„And that’s exactly what Bloodline sounds like. Relaxed, firmly anchored in jazz, with audible detours into other genres, – very melodic and like an absolute lover’s project.“
(Jazzthetik Feature/ Verena Düren 03/21)
„Emilia’s smile shows itself light and perky, but at the same time mature, multi-layered and exciting. (…)Space for Keßler’s virtuoso string runs (…) he can show what he is capable of, which he succeeds in doing impressively
(Jazzthetik Thomas Kölsch 10/2015).
„A stroke of luck. The guitarist, Robert Keßler, whose playing switches effortlessly between jazz, flamenco and orientalism, set accents with furious riffs, and floating chord progressions, which gave the pieces presented a very unique character.“
(Arnulf Sowa – Fränkischer Tag 03/2011)
„Emilia’s smile works wonders, (…) refreshes the tormented soul. (…) Exquisite natural sound. Franziska Orso’s clear clarinet tone alone is a delight. “
(KLangtipp in Stereoplay 08/2015)
„This band is a steaming laboratory that presses the working heat into the listener’s stomach and consciousness.“
„Keßler’s debut is a thunderbolt“
(Alexander Schmitz/ agas 12/08)
„With Wüstensturm Franziska Orso has succeeded in creating a particularly atmospheric work, to which Robert Keßler has donated an atmospherically dense prologue.“
„The guitar of the grandiose Robert Keßler and the equally virtuoso double bass of David Hagen bring lush jazz to the 13 songs, which without exception have super qualities.“
„A delightful journey of sound“
(Kulturtipp Switzerland 09/205)
NOMINATION FOR CD OF THE YEAR ON ARCHTOP – GERMANY
„With the jazz guitarist Robert Keßler and the bassist David Hagen, a stroke of luck succeeds“
„The green „Rumpelstiltskin“ by the talented guitar virtuoso Robert Keßler is with its steady flow a nice bouncer from a varied album.“
( Jazzthing Rolf Thomas 09/2017)
„Robert Keßler is a very talented, accomplished musician and experienced composer“
(Jiggs Whigham trombone legend 12/2016)