Tim Sund (*1971), Jazzpianist, Keyboardist und Composer
German Pianist and Composer Tim Sund is one of the most creative and promising artists from Europe. Discoverd and brought to New York by legendary jazz pianist Richie Beirach in the early 90s, Sund was taught privately by Beirach himself as well as by classical composer Ludmila Ulehla at Manhattan School of Music. In Berlin since 1997, Sund has already recorded 11 albums as a leader and received numerous prizes for his playing and his compositions.
Originally from Hagen, Germany Sund started with music at 6 and with piano lessons, when he was 8 years old. First receiving a purely classical education he discovered Jazz in his early teens. Soon he started to participate at workshops and masterclasses with so reknown pianists as Joanne Brackeen, Walter Norris, Bob Degen and Richie Beirach. In 1988 he already won the 1st Prize at Jugend Jazzt NRW, Germany.
When in 1993 Beirach invited him to New York as his student, Sund had already been studying Jazz at Musikhochschule Köln with Frank Chastenier (WDR Big Band), had been on tour with saxophonist Ernie Watts and had recorded his debut album About Time (LK 93-043). Still in 1993 Beirach produced Sund's second CD Borderlands (Luxaries Records, LUX 9404) - a duet with the German saxophonist Claudius Valk.
After finishing his studies at the Musikhochschule Köln in 1995 Sund received a scholarship to enroll for his Masters in classical composition at Manhattan School of Music. Studying under Ludmila Ulehla Sund dived into New York's colorful New Music Scene, composed a.o. his Piano Concerto Towards the Lotus Shrine and world- premiered Ulehla's Sonata for Improvisation. At the same time he participated in many session in the city and soon found himself leading a quintet including saxophonist Joel Frahm and Gregor Huebner on violin.
Just before returning to Germany in 1997 Sund recorded with his quintet the album ...In the Midst of Change (Nabel 4679). David Liebman wrote in the CD's Liner Notes: "With first class musicians who play together in an almost seamless interactive manner and the great writing, the listener is subject to a feast of moods, passion and feeling."
From 1997 to 2000 Sund's focus was on his international quintet. With this group he can look back on two succesful albums (...In the Midst of Change and The Rains from a Cloud Do not Wet the Sky) and extensive touring. Also the release of his adventurous adaptions of classical songs by Schubert, Schumann, Vaughan Williams and Manuel de Falla on Erika Rojo & Tim Sund - Das Lied (Nabel 4684) in 1999 was received euphorically by critics and audience.
In 2001, after finishing a commission by the City of Berlin for a composition for large orchestra and Jazzensemble, Sund returned, after a long musical journey, to the musical format from which he originally had started off: the piano trio. With bassist Martin Lillich and Michael Kersting on drums he could rely on two of the most reknown and experienced jazz musicians from Germany and recorded what Richie Beirach called 'his breakthrough recording!'
Since his other recordings focused mostly on his original compositions, in instrumental settings from quartet to large ensemble, here the main focus is on Tim Sund, the pianist and his creative approach to Standard repertoire and entirily free collective improvisation.
As the title Trialogue (Nabel 4692) already suggests, here everything is about that special kind of musical interior conversation. Based on the great trios of jazz history the three reassemble, transform and envision and prove that even in the 21st century the format of the jazz trio can still be fascinating and exciting.
In 2002 Sund was invited by saxophonist Tom Christensen to play several concerts in NYC. This collaboration resulted in a co-led quartet album called Americana (Nabel 4697) with bassist Ben Allison and Michael Kersting on drums.
In 2004 the group was reformed into a more classical chamber music like format: Christensen on oboe, English horn, alto flute and bass clarinet, Sund on piano, Tomas Ulrich on cello and Michael Kersting on percussion. Sund and Christensen composed completely fresh new music for this group before going on tour in Germany and recording for RBB (Radio Berlin Brandenburg). In the fall of 2006 Sund, Christensen and Ulrich recorded the music for a new album and went on tour in Germany in 2007.
In 2005 Sund started concentrating on solo piano and recorded his album As Dark As The Sun (Nabel 4706), which has just been released on Nabel accompanied by a book including all the music of the album (Tim Sund - As Dark As The Sun - The Complete Compositions And Transcriptions For Solo Piano). On invitation of the German embassy and the Goethe-Insititute in Mexico he played on the EuroJazzFestival in Mexico City folloed by a concert tour throughout the country.
In 2006 he was reinvitated to Eurojazz to open the festival together with the great German jazz singer Daniel Mattar.
By 2008 Sund started thinking about a new long-term project incorporating his early Rock influences and the use of electric keyboards. In 2009 he formed his new group THE MIGHTIEST EVER with Valentin Gregor (violin), Christian Kappe (trumpet & flugelhorn), Guilherme Castro (electric bass) and Kai Schoenburg (dr).
After starting to play in the local Berlin area in 2010 they recorded their debut album "NOW" in the fall of 2011. Released in 2013 the album received enthusiastic reviews. Since then the band has started playing outside of Berlin as well as preparing for a second recording.
Sund is very clear about his pianistic influences as Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Paul Bley, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Richie Beirach and Lyle Mays. But consciously searching for and working out his own voice and vocabulary as a player and composer he also draws upon the innovations of 20th Century classical music and his early love for Progressive Rock.
Besides Strawinsky, Alban Berg and Takemitsu Sund feels especially close to American composers like Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Barber, Morton Feldman, John Cage and Steve Reich.
In his early teenage years he drew great inspiration from bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Yes and Supertramp.
Sunds compositional opus includes more than 100 jazz compositions from piano solo to 10-piece Jazzensemble as well as several compositions for Orchestra, a chamber opera, songs and chamber music.
Sund is constantly finding himself trying to balance compositional unity and improvisational freedom: bringing a composition down to its essence to reveal as many different directions for improvisation as possible.
For Sund his roles as a pianist and a composer are as closely related that it would be hard for him to say wether he prefers playing or writing. Instead both the playing and the writing are growing simultaniously and are continuosly influencing each other.