Günter Christmann

Photograph copyright Matthias Creutziger.

Born 1942; trombone, cello, film.

Günter Christmann has been working since 1968 as a free-lance musician specialising in improvised musics - particularly free improvisation - and their links with other art forms. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, he was primarily known for his trombone (and less frequent double bass) playing in a variety of groupings: Rüdiger Carl group (1969-1972); Peter Kowald Quintett (1972-1974); a duo with Detlef Schönenberg (1972-1982) which itself included many collaborations - for example with the electronics player Harald Bojé - as a member of the Globe Unity Orchestra from 1973 onwards; and in duo with Tristan Honsinger (1978-1981). In the mid-1970s Christmann also began exploring the possibilities of solo playing, sometimes including electro-acoustic manipulations and montage techniques. Since 1980 Günter Christmann has played regularly with Paul Lovens - for example, in the excellent (and recorded) trio with Maarten Altena, in duo, and in trio with Mats Gustafsson - in duo with bass player Torsten Müller (generally under the name of their recording, Carte blanche, as a member of King Übü Orchestrü (1987-1994), and in duo with Alexander Frangenheim. He also started to feature cello in his playing, not as a second instrument to trombone but as an equal.

From 1979 Günter Christmann has been interested in working with different combinations of improvisers from an international pool, often combining musicians with dancers, actors and acrobats. These groupings have gone under the generic name of VARIO (now up to VARIO 35), with many combinations having been documented on LP and CD (see list below). VARIO concerts have included: Langenhagen Jazz 1979/1981/1983; Moers 1981/1983; Actual London 1981; Pisa 1982; Osnabrück 1982; Utrecht 1982; a tour of South and Central America in 1983 (Mexico, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil); Zürich 1984; Hannover 1985; Bremen 1985; Paris 1992; Hannover 1993; Den Haag 1994; Stuttgart 1995; Nickelsdorff 1998; Hannover 1998. Artists who have participated in VARIO formations include: Maarten Altena; Regina Baumgart (dancer); Steve Beresford; Udo Blickensdorf (acrobat); Lindsay Cooper; Axel Dörner; Katie Duck; Alexander Frangenheim; Wolfgang Fuchs; Mats Gustafsson; Andy Geer (pantomime); Gerd Gläsmer (drums); Michael Griener (percussion); Ulrich Gumpert; Bernd Halleck (actor); Shelley Hirsch; Tristan Honsinger; Guus Janssen; Sven-Åke Johannson; Theo Joling (clown); Peter Kowald; Gyde Knebusch (harp); Thomas Lehn; Paul Lovens; Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet); Radu Malfatti; Phil Minton; Torsten Müller; Christian Munthe; Maggie Nicols; Evan Parker; Melvyn Poore; Jon Rose; John Russell; Jo Sachse; Wolfgang Schliemdun (percussion); Detlef Schönenberg; Irène Schweizer; Günter Sommer; LaDonna Smith; Mariano Suarez (trumpet); Martin Theurer; Roger Turner; Peter van Bergen; Davey Williams; Stephan Wittwer.

Even outside VARIO, Christmann has longstanding interests in bringing together similar-minded artists from a variety of disciplines. This started in 1974 through a collaboration with dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch and was later continued with Elisabeth Clark and Regina Baumgart. These early experiments led to his interest in film, particularly the relationship between improvising musicians and experimental film-makers; his current work in this area goes under the banner Deja-vu, being a sequence of music-theatre scenes in which live music, acting, films and sound collage are brought together. At its centre is the playing musician who works both with and against the film and whose relationship with the situation on stage in constantly changing. Advantages are taken of the ability of film to snatch up, to double and enlarge, and to fragment what would otherwise be a traditional relationship between action, scenery and person. This results in an interchange and transformation of themes, properties and associations, and movement between illusion and reality. The films are by Günter Christmann, music is provided by Christmann and Michael Griener, and technical assistance is provided by Elke Schipper. Deja-vu has included the following projects:

Further interests in multimedia productions has resulted in in actu, a combination with the painters K.R.H. Sonderborg and Wolfgang Hannen (sometimes in trio with Paul Lovens) and which has been recorded on disc and on video; and Parole with Elke Schipper which explores the role of language and sound poetry in instrumental play. Günter Christmann runs the label Edition Explico.


1970, Born free, Scout Records ScS 11. On two tracks on festival album.
1972, King alcohol (new version), FMP 0060. Carl/Christmann/Schönenberg.
1972, Peter Kowald Quintet, FMP 0070.
1973, We play, FMP 0120. Duo with Detlef Schönenberg.
1973, Live in Wuppertal, FMP 0160. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1973/75, For example, FMP R123. Two orchestra tracks (Globe Unity and Brass Group) on commemorative/compilation 3LP set.
1974, Der alte mann bricht ... sein schweigen, FMP S4 (single). Globe Unity Orchestra.
1974, Hamburg '74, FMP 0650/Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP248CD. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1975?, Live at Moers, Moers Music 01012. Duo with Detlef Schönenberg.
1975, Remarks, FMP 0260. With Detlef Schönenberg plus Harald Bojé.
1975, Bavarian calypso/Good bye, FMP S6 (single). Globe Unity Orchestra.
1975, Topic, Moers Music 01020. Duo with Detlef Schönenberg.
1975, Baden-Baden '75, FMP CD 137. Globe Unity Orchestra + Guests.
1975/1976, Jahrmarkt/Local fair, Po Torch PTR/JWD 2. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1976, Solomusiken für posaune und kontrabasse, CS-5.
1976-1977, Hohe Ufer Konzerte, Hohe Ufer Records LP. One duo track with Detlef Schönenberg.
1976-1979, ..off..., Moers Music 01070.
1977, Pearls, FMP 0380. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1977, Improvisations, JAPO 60021. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1978, Horns, FMP 0660. Christmann/Dudek/Mangelsdorff/Schoof/Rutherford/Wheeler.
1978, Earmeals, Moers Music 01040. Duo with Tristan Honsinger.
1979, Compositions, JAPO 60027. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1979, Weavers, Po Torch Records PTR/JWD 7. Trio of Günter Christmann/Paul Lovens/Maarten Altena.
1979, Groups in front of people 1, Bead 14.
1979, Idylle und katastrophen, Po Torch Records PTR/JWD 6.
1980, Vario II, Moers Music 01084.
1982?, Kaizo Inoue, Trio. Inoue/Christmann/Lovens.
1982, Intergalactic blow, JAPO 60039. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1981/1983, White earth streak, UMS/ALP228CD. Christmann/Williams/Smith/Müller.
1983, White earth streak, transmuseque 7. Christmann/Williams/Smith/Müller.
1983/1985, Vario, Moers Music 02048.
1986, 20th anniversary, FMP CD45. Globe Unity Orchestra.
1985, Carte blanche, FMP 1100. Duo with Torsten Müller.
1991/1992, Sometimes crosswise, Moers 02094 CD.
1992, Binaurality, FMP CD49. King Übü Orchestrü.
1992, In actu, Po Torch Records PTR/JWD 22. Music and painting.
1993, Vario-34, Edition Explico exp 05/Blue Tower Records BTCD 06.
1993, Wittener tage für neue Kammermusik, WDR-Köln.
1995, Tokoloshes paradise, X-OR FR 7. Duo track with Luc Houtkamp.
1994, parole, Edition Explico. Schipper/Christmann.
1994, TR!O, FMP CD 136. Christmann/Gustafsson/Lovens.
1997/98, Three concerts per a A.T., Edition Explico 08. Three tracks with Lovens/Gustafsson.
1997, One to (two)..., Okka Disk ODL 10002. Gustafsson/Christmann duo.
1997, Alla prima, Concepts of doing 001/Edition Explico 007. Duos with Alexander Frangenheim.
1997, Hidros one (1997), Caprice 21566. Mats Gustafsson.
1998, Here now: solos/duos, Concepts of doing 003. Duos with Evan Parker + solos.
1998, * water writes always in * plural, Concepts of doing 004. Vario 34-2.
1998, Temps durée, Edition Explico 10. Christmann/Lehn duo.
2001, Parla, nat nat 03. Bosetti/Christmann duo.
2001, Mal d'archive, Concepts of doing 007/Edition Explico 11. Baghdassarians/Baltschun/Christmann.
2001, ”(for) friends and neighbo(u)rs“, Concepts of doing 008/Edition Explico 12. Minton/Christmann.
2002, Total Music Meeting 2002 - Audiology II, a/l/l 006. Compilation CD of 11 groups live in Berlin.
2004, Vario-41, Edition Explico 14. Baltschun/Butcher/Christmann/Griener.
2004, Mal d'archive 2, Edition Explico 13. Baghdassarians/Baltschun/Christmann.
2006, Vario-44, Edition Explico 15. John Butcher/Roger Turner/John Russell/Thomas Lehn/Dorothea Schürch/Günter Christmann.
2010, Core, Creative Sources CS 183CD. Christmann/Frangenheim/Schipper.

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