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Tim Sund (*1971), jazzpianist, keyboardist and composer


Tim Sund is one of the most promising representatives of European jazz and rock music. Since he was discovered by Richie Beirach in the early 1990s and brought to New York, while still a student of the Cologne School of Music., 14 albums have been released under his own name, which clearly document Sund's homogeneous musical development.

Originally from Hagen in Westphalia, Sund's musical career began at the age of six and he began playing the piano when he was eight. Initially learning purely classically, he discovered jazz at the age of 15. Soon he was taking part in master classes and workshops with well-known pianists such as Joanne Brackeen, Walter Norris, Bob Degen and Richie Beirach and in 1988 he won first prize at Jugend Jazzt NRW.

When Richie Beirach invited him to study privately in New York in 1993, Sund was already studying with Frank Chastenier at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, had been a sideman with the American saxophonist Ernie Watts and had meanwhile recorded his debut album About Time (LK 93-043).

While studying with Beirach he released his second CD Borderlands (Luxaries Records, LUX 9404) - a duo with saxophonist Claudius Valk - which was produced by Beirach.

After graduating in Cologne in 1995, he studied classical composition with Ludmila Ulehla at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Meanwhile, Sund immersed himself in the colorful new music scene in New York, composed, among other things, the piano concerto “Towards the Lotus Shrine” and premiered Ulehla's Sonata for Improvisation in together with Claudius Valk. But he didn't completely turn his back on jazz during this time either: the weekly sessions in the apartment of a German doctor and jazz freak in Spanish Harlem, which were often supposed to last all night, became a test laboratory for a group of musicians, from which ultimately also Sund's new ensemble, the Tim Sund Quintet, was formed, composed of Joel Frahm (saxophones), Gregor Huebner (violin), Mark P. Brown (bass) and Andreas Griefingholt (drums).


Before his return from New York, Sund recorded the album ...In the Midst of Change (Nabel 4679) with this formation in the summer of 1997, which also brought him greater attention in Germany. 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."

Since autumn 1997 in Berlin, Tim Sund has been touring regularly with his quintet. In 1999 the Portuguese Carlos Bica took over the bassist role. The second quintet CD The Rains from a Cloud do not wet the Sky (Nabel 4686) was released in 2000.

In the meantime (1999-2001) Sund wrote a comprehensive work for large orchestra and jazz quintet commissioned by the Senate of the City of Berlin (Time/Window/Memory).

In 1999 the highly acclaimed CD Erika Rojo & Tim Sund - Das Lied (Nabel 4684) was released, on which songs by Schubert, Schumann, Manuel de Falla and Vaughan Williams, enriched with more than just a pinch of jazz, appear in a new light.


The trio album Trialogue (Nabel 4692) was released in 2002, on which Sund works together with Martin Lillich (bass) and Michael Kersting (drums), two well-known colleagues from the German jazz scene.

On his previous releases, Sund's own compositions had been in the foreground, but on this trio album he now included foreign material for the first time.

Richie Beirach writes in the liner notes to the CD: "This is his breakthrough recording! This is a real trio record... truly group music... both familiar yet new... one of the most creative arrangements of my recent memory ... has caused sparks to fly everywhere... delightfully surprising... extremely spontaneous and joyously burning! We need this music now more than ever before."

In the spring of 2002, Sund was in the studio again with drummer Michael Kersting and the Americans Tom Christensen (saxophones, English horn, alto flute) and Ben Allison (bass) for Nabel Records in New York and recorded the album Americana (Nabel 4697). The quartet then gave guest performances at both the Fieldston Jazz Festival and the Cornelia Street Café in New York.


In 2004 the quartet was reformed into a kind of classical chamber ensemble: Christensen (oboe, English horn, alto flute & bass clarinet), Sund (piano), Tomas Ulrich (cello) and Michael Kersting (percussion). Sund and Christensen composed a completely new program of exciting music at the borders of classical and jazz, which was then also recorded for RBB (Radio Berlin Brandenburg).


In the fall of 2006, Sund and Christensen recorded this music again in a trio with Tomas Ulrich for Nabel in New York, resulting in the album Kailash. The trio toured Germany in autumn 2007 and made guest appearances at the Festspielhaus Hellerau as part of the Dresden Days of Contemporary Music.


In 2004 Sund also began to focus on solo piano and in 2005 recorded his solo album As Dark As The Sun (Nabel 4706), which was released by Nabel accompanied by a sheet music volume containing all the music from the CD (Tim Sund - As Dark As The Sun - The Complete Compositions And Transcriptions For Solo Piano).


At the invitation of the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute, Sund performed his solo program at the EuroJazzFestival in Mexico City in 2006, followed by a concert tour across the country. When he was invited again in 2007, this time to open the EuroJazzFestival, he took the great Berlin jazz singer Daniel Mattar with him on the trip, the duo album A Mexican Story in his hand luggage.


In 2008 Sund came up with the idea of ​​a longer term band project to incorporate his early rock influences and the use of electronics and keyboards. In 2009 the time had come: he founded his new band THE MIGHTIEST EVER with Valentin Gregor (violin), Christian Kappe (trumpet & flugelhorn), Guilherme Castro (electric bass) and Kai Schönburg (dr).


After initially appearing exclusively in the Berlin region, the band recorded their debut album "NOW" for ESC Records in autumn 2011.

A live DVD was produced in autumn 2014, but has not been released to date.

Over time, Sund's desire to give the rock aspect of his music more room, preferably with singing and lyrics, grew.

In autumn 2015 he found his companions for this adventure and so he founded the progressive rock band Green Desret Tree together with Timo Enders (vocals), Simon Rainer (g), Alex Will (b) and Jonathan Gradmann (dr). The band worked consistently for a year on the songs for the debut album, which was then recorded in October 2016. Afterwards GDT also began to play concerts.

The album "Progressive Worlds" was released by Clostridium Records in spring 2019 and was released as a double album on 180g vinyl.


In addition, Sund's album "Butterfly Effect - A Tribute to Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi" was released in spring 2019 with many Berlin colleagues and some international guests, which was produced and recorded by RBB in summer 2017.

Both publications attracted a great deal of attention and positive feedback from the music press.

During this time, a very close cooperation and friendship developed with Stephan Schmitt, the founder of Native Instruments, who in the meantime had founded his new company Nonlinear Labs, with which he had just released his first hardware synthesizer, the C15.

Sund began using the C15 live and in the studio as well as recording video demos for NLL.


Alex Will and Jonathan Gradmann were no longer part of GDT. However, Sund had always kept in touch with both of them and in early 2020 the trio started meeting up and playing on an occasional basis. And it didn't take long before the idea of ​​filming these meetings came up - this is how the video series "TIM SUND electrified" came about.


In October, the trio went to the studio and played the album "The Future on our Doorstep", which will be released in January 2022 on the new label Signal Source Music, which Sund and Schmitt founded together with Ernst Pelzer in 2021.


Sund is aware of his pianistic influences from Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Paul Bley, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Richie Beirach and Lyle Mays, among others. However, he also refers to the achievements of classical music of the 20th century and is in the process of carving out his personal, unmistakable musical voice more and more. In addition to the music of Stravinsky, Alban Berg, and Takemitsu, Sund is particularly drawn to American composers such as Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Barber, Morton Feldman, John Cage, and Steve Reich.


Two great American musical personalities played a significant role in Sund's development: the composer Ludmila Ulehla, who could be described as the American answer to Nadja Boulanger, and the jazz pianist Richie Beirach,

Sund's compositional work already includes well over 200 jazz compositions from solo piano to 10-piece jazz ensemble, several compositions for orchestra, a chamber opera, songs and chamber music.

His musical world is characterized by the constant balancing act between compositional density and improvisational freedom - bringing a composition to its essence to such an extent that as many ways as possible are open to improvisation.


For this reason, for him the roles of pianist and composer are closely intertwined. It would be difficult for him to give priority to one or the other. On the contrary: both, the piano playing and the composition, develop parallel to each other and are under constant mutual influence, so that the distinction is ultimately unnecessary because only one thing remains: music.



After Tim Sund had built up and managed the Studienvorbereitung (prep-division) Jazz/Pop at the Berlin Musikschule City West for many years, he followed Stephan Schmitt's call and joined the Nonlinear Labs team in the Spring 2022.


(November 2022)

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