year, Joris Dudli travels miles throughout
Europe, to Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, etc.
Although he has recorded dozens of albums, over the years, the
drummer, born in 1957 in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, now based in
Vienna, Austria, has primarily toured with such musicians as Benny
Golson, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Griffin, Joe Zawinul, Vincent Herring,
Eric Alexander, Harold Mabern, to name a few, not to mention regular
work with Art Farmer (1977-1985), Mathias Rüegg's Vienna Art
Orchestra (1977-1985) and Hamburg's NDR Big Band (1993-1995).
Dudli was also able to build a career as
a leader and launch his own projects featuring some excellent
musicians: "Earth Jazz,” with Vincent Herring, Anthony Wonsey and
Richie Goods (2006-2008), his own sextet (with Benny Golson, Vincent
Herring, Jeremy Pelt and Anthony Wonsey) and since 2013 "Soul Jazz
Alliance”, with Sachal Vasandani, Vincent Herring, Jeremy Pelt,
Freddie Bryant and Jared Gold. Joris Dudli, who plays an active role
in keeping jazz a living art, has succeeded in stepping
into the light and presenting us his
Dudli: My father used to play the piano
but he wasn’t a professional. He was playing on the side. My mother
played a little bit too. So my parents made me take classical piano
lessons, which I really didn’t enjoy! Then during my Boy Scout
years I discovered the drums and started playing with a couple of
rock bands. It didn’t take too long before I got my first
professional gigs and some studio work. Back then there was no drum
programming, so they needed drummers to do the commercials on TV and
on the radio and so I became a studio musician. It was a great
experience. I wanted to leave school when I was 16 or 17 but my
parents wanted me to finish Graphic Art School first.
did you study the drums?
the beginning I had a couple of teachers but I’m mostly
did you want to play jazz?
was after I heard a record by pianist Fritz Pauer and never in my
wildest dreams would I have imagined that years later I would start a
working relationship with him. I also heard some of John Coltrane’s
music. Right away I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
was the scene like in Vienna at that time?
wasn’t much of a jazz scene in Vienna at the time. It was tiny. We
were the young cats and tried to sit in at every gig there was in
there many clubs?
there were a couple of clubs. One important thing was that Art Farmer
used to live in Vienna. So one day Fritz Pauer set up a rehearsal and
introduced me to him. Shortly after that, I was playing with Art
Farmer and his band.
worked with Art from 1979 to 1986. That year I left Vienna to move to
New York. We
played in Vienna and toured a bit in Belgium and in Germany. He would
always encourage me to go to New York. I remember once he sent me a
little postcard where he wrote something like "I wish you were
here.” So I guess it was thanks to Art that I gained enough
confidence to leave for New York, which I did in 1986.
you close to Art Farmer?
was very kind and over the years he became like a father figure to me
both musically and personally. Of course everybody around him had
access to so much valuable musical information. When he called me for
a gig at Michell’s on 96th Street with Mulgrew Miller on piano,
Todd Coolman on bass and Clifford Jordan on sax, I was so excited!
you familiar with his work when you joined his band?
then, I knew he was important but I didn’t know much about him at
all. That’s what I tell all my students now! Take as much time as
you can and learn about the history. At that time, I was just
practicing my own ideas more than studying the masters. Years later,
when I saw young drummers like Bill Stewart and Greg Hutchinson I
started to understand how much research you have to put into the jazz
tradition. I wish Art had told me to copy and learn from the masters
back when I lived in Vienna.
you work with Art Farmer after you relocated to New York?
hired me occasionally when Lewis Nash, Marvin "Smitty” Smith or
Carl Allen couldn’t make it. Once he got really hard on me on stage
because he wasn’t happy with the way I sounded. Afterwards he told
me he expected more. It was an important lesson. Developing never
stops! To this day I’m still working on it.
worked with Mathias Rüegg (Jazz
Hot #639) at the beginning of
the Vienna Art Orchestra. What memories do you keep from that
was fun touring with the Orchestra. Musically it wasn’t my cup of
tea but it was definitely special. It’s great that this Orchestra
happened for Vienna. Many musicians got a lot of recognition.
stayed 9 years with the Orchestra.
and on. I got fired three times! (Laughs)
was Mathias Rüegg’s style as a bandleader?
knew exactly what he wanted. He organized everything beautifully. In
general, he treated the musicians well and provided so much work for
also worked with Roman Schwaller (ts).
was living in Munich at the time and was deeply into jazz. He had a
great record collection and we would do a lot of listening during the
times of our gigs. It was very fun. It was pure jazz.
you been to New York before relocating there in 1986?
several times. The first time I went to the States was in 1976. I
stayed in a hotel room in L. A. with Jaco Pastorius and Alex Acuña
whom I had met a year before in Vienna.
did you survive in New York?
I left Vienna, I pretty much sold everything I owned to put something
in the bank. After about a year, I started to have little gigs here
and there and started to make a living just by playing music. It was
a struggle but a great time.
there jam sessions that you never missed?
went to the Blue Note’s jam session almost every night until 4 am.
terms of style, did you feel comfortable playing there?
Austria, besides having the pleasure of playing pure jazz with Art
Farmer, there were also different styles I used to play, like funk or
Latin music. It was interesting and open. So when I arrived in New
York, I was looking for everything. But I got into straight-ahead
jazz more and more. The competition was incredible! It took me years
to find my place.
you have many gigs?
about five years, I was able to support myself by playing gigs. But
in 1991 when the first war in Irak started the gig situation got
really bad so I chose to go back to Austria. Overall, there were some
very hard times and some wonderful times too. New York is an
drummers amazed you in concert?
"Smitty” Smith playing with the Jazztet at Sweet Basil. Also,
Jeff Watts, Kenny Washington and later Joe Farnsworth. They all blew
my mind. For a few years, I had three nights a week at a place uptown
called Augie’s. Now it’s Smoke. And
there I saw Bill Stewart for the first time, he must have been 18 or
so, it was incredible. Another one was Winard Harper. He used to be
in the house band at the Blue Note Jams. I also saw Art Blakey, Billy
Higgins and Ben Riley many times. Once I was playing at Michell’s
and Roy Haynes stepped in. That was great!
was your best gig?
best gig that I had was at Sweet Basil with Art Farmer, Geoff Keezer
and Jimmy Heath for two weeks.
you get together with any drummer to have more insight into
had a couple lessons with Kenny Washington and Joe Farnsworth.
were you into when you got back to Austria?
went back to Vienna in 1992 and stayed for 3 years. There I started
to get back into funk and fusion and practiced a lot, up to the
famous 8 hours a day before moving back to the States in 1995. There
I was still practicing fusion but New York was never big on that
did you start teaching at Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz,
got a teaching job in 1993. But I had so few hours to teach that I
was able to go back and forth between the States and Europe.
you feel comfortable teaching as a self-taught drummer?
not really. Although, I already had a lot of playing experience I
feel much better about teaching today because of I am able to give
better advice to each personality. And technically I finally have a
better understanding, especially thanks to Joe Farnsworth.
have been touring a lot with the bebop veterans like Benny Golson
#616). Who do you keep from those experiences?
met Benny Golson in 1987 during a gig with Art Farmer and the
Jazztet. When we started a regular gig in Vienna years later he also
influenced me spiritually. I love being around him. Fortunately, we
are planning our third tour with the Curtis Fuller Sextet in 2015.
you toured with Eric Alexander (Jazz
Hot #666) and recently with
Sonny Fortune (Jazz Hot
#665). How was it playing with them?
tours were amazing! I played with Eric in combination with the great
Harold Mabern and with Sonny who is very different, more open. They
all take the music to a very high level.
you tour so much, are you ever involved in the booking process?
days, aside from playing, a musician needs to be able to book his
gigs. My father was a manager and I’m Swiss. So after a while of
not enjoying doing emails and phone calls I started to feel more
comfortable doing it. Of course we would like to play music instead
but by setting up tours we create for ourselves an opportunity to
play with musicians like Vincent Herring and Sonny Fortune.
was the best tour experience you did recently?
of the best tours I did was with Vincent Herring, Eric Alexander,
Harold Mabern and Joris Teepe in 2012. It was incredible.
did your album True Paradise
(2013) co-led with Vincent Herring come together?
I got a call to play with Sachal Vasandani I fell in love with him
right away. In order to make it to that one concert with him I had to
get out of two important commitments. Then Vincent Herring asked me
if we should start a new project using Hammond organ. So therefore we
needed a guitar player and I knew Freddie Bryant back from the
Augie’s days. He was the one who suggested Jared Gold, a fantastic
player and a great guy. Sachal wrote some lyrics to my tunes, which I
really wasn’t expecting. It was so great! After adding Jeremy Pelt
on trumpet, we all met at Vincent’s house in Brooklyn. After a
two-hour rehearsal, we recorded and mixed the whole album in the next
few days. It took less than 24 hours!
toured with that band last winter, is that correct?
our first engagement was 3 nights at a sold-out Ronnie Scott’s club
in London and in February and March we went on a four-week tour.
People enjoyed it. I think that Sachal and Vincent sound so good
album features mostly your originals. How early did you start writing
always wrote music ever since I started to play. Once there is a
melody in my head, I use the piano to write. For the album, two tunes
are brand new. The other ones are older pieces that we rearranged.
did you choose to call the band the Soul Jazz Alliance?
Upcoming concerts with the Curtis Fuller Sextet : Jim
Rotondi (tp), Ralph Reichert (ts), Curtis Fuller (tb), Oliver Kent
(p), Milan Nikolic (b), Joris Dudli (dm) Birdland,
Hamburg, Germany, February 6-7, 2015 Half
Note, Athens, Greece, February 13-16, 2015 Jazzland,
Vienna, Austria, February 17-21, 2015
CD 2007. Vincent Herring & Earth Jazz Agents, Plan A, Jive Music 2058-2 CD 2008. Joris Dudli Sextet, A Rewarding Journey, Alessa 1013 CD 2010. Vincent Herring & Earth Jazz, Morning Star, Challenge 73297 CD 2013. The Soul Jazz Alliance, True Paradise, Jive Music 2075-2
Sideman LP 1976. Wolfgang Ambros, Es lebe der Zentralfriedhof, Bellaphon
270-01-023 LP 1980. Timeless, Dreams, Bellaphon 270-31-001 CD 1981. Art Farmer, Foolish Memories, Optimism 45008 CD 1981. Vienna Art Orchestra, Concerto Piccolo, Hat Art 6038 LP 1981. Christine Jones, Jonesmobile, Yederman 24581 LP 1983. Harry Sokal, Hit Hat, Extraplatte 316137 LP 1984. Roman Schwaller, The Bizarre Is Open, Jazz Publications 8505 LP 1984. Thomas Stabenow, Chutney, Bassic Sound 001 CD 1985. Vienna Art Orchestra, Perpetuum Mobile, Hat Art 6096 LP 1985. Vienna Art Orchtra, Jazzbühne Berlin '85, Amiga 856168 CD 1985. Klaus Ignatzek, Standards, Red Records 123197-2 CD 1985. Johnny Griffin, Sal Nistico, Roman Schwaller, Three
Generations Of Tenor Saxophone, JHM 3611 LP 1986. Woody Schabata, May-Rimba, Amadeo 829324-1 CD 1986. Vienna Art Orchestra, Nightride Of A Lonely Saxophone
Player, Moers 02054 CD 1987. Klaus Ignatzek, Blue Energy, Red Records 123217-2 CD 1988. Vienna Art Orchestra, Two Little Animals, Moers 02066 CD 1990. Klaus Ignatzek, Day For Night, Nabel 4639 CD 1990. Klaus Ignatzek, Is That So ?, Koala 24 CD 1991. Klaus Ignatzek, Today Is Tomorrow, Nabel 4654 CD 1991. Swiss Art Orchestra, Swiss Art Orchestra 91, MGB 9201 CD 1993. Vienna Art Orchestra, European Songbook, Amadeo 527672-2 CD 1993. Christian havel, 3 Ladies From Vienna, RST 91568 CD 1994. T.C. Pfeiler, Out of Space, Tonewheel 1999501 CD 1994. Karl Ratzer, Happy Floating, RST 91575-2 CD 1995. T.C. Pfeiler, Dynaflow, Tonewheel 1999702 CD 1995. Karl Ratzer & Beat The Heat, Coasting, Bellaphon
290-31-027 CD 1995. Michel Matthieu, Estate, TCB 95802 CD 1995. Jach Walrath-Ralph Reichert, Solidarity, ACT 9241-2 CD 1998. David White Quintet, Double Double, CIMP 168 CD 2000. Christian Havel, It’s Never Too Late, Jive Music 2026-2 CD 2001. Yacasu, Lissatodashiddapla, Jive Music 2032-2 CD 2002. T.C. Pfeiler, Live Grooves !, Tonewheel
CD 2004. Karl Ratzer & The Night Club Band, All The Way, Enja 94482 CD 2004. Christian Havel, Reflection, Jive Music 2049-2 CD 2005. Vincent Herring, Ends And Means, HighNote 7149 CD 2005. Hannes de Kassian, Hannes de Kassian Trio,
CD 2006. Earth Jazz Agents, Rhythms of the Sea, Wyland SE07 CD 2010. Chico Freeman & The Fritz Pauer Trio, The Essence of
Silence, Jive Music 2066-2 CD 2012. Vincent Herring / Eric Alexander Quartet, In the Spirit of
Coltrane and Cannonball, autoproduit CD 2013. The Beatles : A Jazz Tribute, HighNote 7260 CD sans date. Musical Munchkins 2, Play, Sing and Dance !,
Austro Mechana 002