Skip to content

Frank Woeste

[English] [français]

Born into a musical family in Germany in 1976,Frank Woeste has the chance to play many instruments at a very young age. Before being 10 years old he has tried the drums, the clarinette , the flute or the accordion but he stays with the piano . Soon Frank starts giving concerts, performing with his sister and brother playing classical music as well as jazz. While studying classical piano at the Bremen Conservatory he often plays at night at a local jazzclub. For him there is no separation between the differents genres, just music.

In 1997 he arrives in Paris to study at the Paris Conservatory and starts working with many different musicians thanks to his talents as a pianist and his inventive sounds on the fender rhodes.

His prestigious collaborations include Ibrahim Maalouf , Dave Douglas, Michel Portal, Flavio Boltro, Rosario Guiliani, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier , Gretchen Parlato , Clarence Penn , Nasheet Waits Malik Mezzadri , Mederic Collignon, Stefano di Battista , among others.

Frank Woeste won the Steinway and Sons Prize at the Montreux Jazzfestival International Piano Competition . He was nomintated for the french Victoires du Jazz 2011 and is a grantee of French American Jazzexchange 2014 along with trumpet player Dave Douglas.

POCKET RHAPSODY

Frank Woeste has taken his time to prepare his new album POCKET RHAPSODY .He s been touring extensively since his last album DOUBLE YOU .The music of Pocket Rhapsody was composed on the road and is inspired by weeks of traveling the world .
This album s music sounds like film music for a road trip.
Frank Woeste found an ideal cast of musicians for Pocket Rhapsody. Frank and Justin Brown on drums are the backbone of this album , Frank choosing to play bass on the Moog himself . They are joined by Ben Monder on guitare and a string section on some of the songs . Finally his longtime musical friend Ibrahim Maalouf is featured on « Nouakschott « and « Moving light » and singer Youn Sun Nah on « Stargazer ». Frank has become a master in the art of blending the piano and rhodes , mixing contemporary jazz with his classical background and popmusic.. Convincing compositions , daring improvisations that fit his songwriting , splendid arrangements and great interplay between the musicians make Pocket Rhapsody a great follower of Double You.

DADA PEOPLE

Dave Douglas and Frank Woeste Pay Homage To Man Ray and the Dada Movement on anew collaborative project. Dada People brings Together The American Trumpeter and French Pianist for a (Re)inventive Quartet Session

In the years between the two World Wars, the Dada movement questioned, altered, teased and undermined the very idea of art. A century later, trumpeter Dave Douglas and pianist Frank Woeste draw inspiration from that “art of reinvention” with their collaborative album Dada People, due out October 2016 via Greenleaf Music.

Perhaps no single artist embodies Dada’s slippery juxtapositions quite like Man Ray. Both French and American, commercial and avant-garde, Jewish by birth and mysterious by design, Man Ray epitomized the conflicting personae and attitudes that have come to define so much of the modern art world of the last century. Bridging the Atlantic through support from the French American Jazz Exchange, Douglas and Woeste explore those concepts through a 21st century lens, realized by a stellar quartet rounded out by bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Clarence Penn.

In his liner notes for the album, Douglas calls Man Ray “the ultimate impostor.” Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia to Russian Jewish immigrants, he moved to Paris in 1920, changing his name and effectively erasing his heritage as anti-Semitism was spreading across Europe. His artwork spanned disciplines, including painting, photography and sculpture, and including “readymades” in the style of Dada founding father Marcel Duchamp – ordinary objects repurposed as works of art.

Bringing together a French pianist and an American trumpeter, Dada People immediately connects Woeste and Douglas to Man Ray’s elusive identities. But they’re also suggested in the ways that the two composers’ music, like Man Ray’s art, fluidly traverses the accessible and the experimental ; in the spectrum of possibilities offered by translating visual art through sound.

“Writing music based on visual art is always very subjective and intuitive,” Woeste says. Douglas adds, “The Dada Movement is such an elusive term (like so-called ‘post bop’ or ‘free jazz’) that half the fun of working with various ideas was being able to explore for ourselves and explode some of the manifestos and stances. These were great artists, and as such were mutable and fluid. In that way there is great relevance within improvised music.”

Douglas hails the “spirit of mischievousness, of play, of mystery, and also of the ‘play of identity’ within the work of Ray and his circle,” and immediately engages in that spirit with his own version of a “readymade.” Album opener “Oedipe” makes explicit reference to the work of composer Erik Satie, a contemporary of Man Ray and the Dadaists. It’s followed by the gaslit dance of Woeste’s “Mains Libres,” which takes its title from a book of poetry penned by Paul Éluard to accompany Man Ray’s drawings.

It’s not hard to imagine Man Ray or Marcel Duchamp finding inspiration in the spork, an object that exists as two things simultaneously ; Douglas certainly does in his surging tune of that name, which features Woeste on Rhodes. The sultry mystery of the pianist’s “Montparnasse” evokes Man Ray’s muse, Alice Prin, also known as the “Queen of Montparnasse.” Douglas’ “Transparent,” meanwhile, interweaves elegance and abstraction in a way that certainly wouldn’t be alien to the Dadaists.

Woeste offers his own manifesto with the bold “Art of Reinvention,” a notion that he finds particularly compelling as it “reflects on the idea that we can see things in a different light depending on our perspective and also our motivation to see art in things that are not necessarily meant to be art in the first place. As an improviser and as a jazz musician we need to ‘reinvent’ ourselves constantly, reinterpreting and reinventing songs that have been played many times.”

The two composers originally met while Douglas was working on a collaborative project with French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, with whom Woeste regularly works. They kept in touch until the time was right for a collaborative effort. Woeste suggested Man Ray as a source of inspiration, to which Douglas immediately agreed. “Having read about and looked at the Dadaists for years,” the trumpeter says, “I was enthusiastic about making these connections in our music.”

“What I found fascinating in the Dadaist Movement was that it changed our view of what art is or what art can be,” Woeste explains. “The fact remains that all of these artists had a great freedom in thought and speech and that we as post-surrealists have learned to see the potential of art in daily objects when we set them free from their original function.”

***

Dada People has been made possible through the French-American Jazz Exchange, a joint program of FACE Foundation and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, with generous funding from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Institut Français, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique (“SACEM”).