THE SALT OF THE EARTH
Joe Bauer, Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Flaneursalon
It is one of those mornings when the rainy November night will never end. I put on music to at least wake up the brain, and then this song tells me what it sounds like and how it swings when there's not much of a celebration for life: "Women" rhymes with "slipping away", "beer" on "me" ", The" cool "to" school ".
This song, called "My Best Friend", was written by bassist Branko Arnsek from Stuttgart for his band Guttenberger Brothers and released on a new CD with other German and American songs. On Wednesday, November 9, the sextet presents his album in the theater house; bass player and globetrotter Branko Arnsek, born in Slovenia in 1959, is celebrating his 40th anniversary as a stage artist this evening with the Guttenberger Brothers.
I met Branko in the tavern the other morning. Let's chat for an hour, I thought, that will be enough to learn the bare essentials. But then, without my noticing, it has become three hours. And not all was said for a long time.
Branko Arnsek, at home in Stuttgart, is probably the most sedentary outlier I know. He tells good stories, and I would have liked to be there, back in the Zhivago bar, when Gorbachev had already proclaimed glasnost and perestroika. Branko plays with his band White Diamonds in Moscow, lodging at the finest hotel near the Kremlin, before continuing on the night train to the next performance at a festival in St. Petersburg. The band members from Germany, including the Russian guitarist Vladimir Bolschakoff, have cheap, only Russian tickets, and the others on the train are more than funny when these guys answer all questions with "da" and "njet". But what else is there to say in revolutionary times, except yes and no. If I understood Branko correctly, fate played a certain role in this Russia tour: A gangster shot and killed the sponsor of the St. Petersburg Festival shortly before the show. Nevertheless, Branko occurs even more often in Russia.
He's been around a lot in the evil world. He got into his first big adventure as a baby. His mother piggybacked through some waters with him to escape from Slovenia to Austria. Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia, and her father had gone to Germany without a family as guest worker of the first generation, as was the rule at that time.
Branko grows up in Sindelfingen. When he meets the later Hollywood director Roland Emmerich in high school, there is already plenty of music in the air. He is already burdened. His father Franz, a trained glazier, sings and plays guitar and bass with his trio in a cellar bar in Königstraße. The young Branko hangs on the radio, cleans all the jazz and rock shows, records the music with his father's tape recorder. Then in the seventies: Deep Purple and Frank Zappa kill him, as well Miles Davis and Chick Corea. One day he hears the music of the American salsa pioneer Eddie Palmieri in a Südwestfunk broadcast by the legendary journalist and producer Joachim-Ernst Berendt. The New York orchestra leader plays the Afro-Cuban sound that hardly anyone in Europe knows.
A couple of times during our inn meeting, Branko's mobile phone rings and every time he talks in perfect Spanish: Salsa, the salt of the earth, has done it to him. At the beginning of the eighties he is one of the pioneers of this music in Germany and one of the first to lead a salsa orchestra in Germany. Branko discovers early on a dynamic Latino scene in Stuttgart: people from all over the world meet at the Salsa am Wilhelmsplatz in a church hall that no longer exists today. Handsome limousines drive up, well-dressed men and women get out, there's something going on - even in Branko's international love life, which is likely to give away some songs.
Always curious, he has no fear of contact as a human being and musician. When it gets too narrow at home, he flees as a 17-year-old in a country town and completed an apprenticeship as a glass and porcelain painter. He is hit by a car and seriously injured. He is in a coma for four days, but is healthy again three months later. At some point he grabs his backpack and hitches to Yugoslavia to seek his roots.
In 1987 he began his studies at the renowned Swiss Jazz School in Bern. Previously, he earned money from the band at Daimler. In addition to his penchant for salsa, he soon discovers the sound that is still called "gypsy music", the swing of the Sinti - today known as Gypsy Music. The boy who fled from Slovenia became a world musician and multi-manager. He leads bands, founds a record company, gives lessons, and in the nineties builds up the association Musicians Network: jazz enthusiasts like the cook and musician Vincent Klink and the music professor Bernd Konrad organize extraordinary concerts in Stuttgart, first with piano-Fischer, later in the Institut français. Branko's climax as a networker is a show with the American jazz greats Archie Shepp. He does not get rich with these things, but he still gets by quite well today.
This coming Wednesday, Branko Arnsek's big anniversary concert with the Guttenberger Brothers, named after the musicians Knebo (vocals, guitar) and Mano Guttenberger (guitar), will be rising. The songs are reminiscent of Frank Sinatra - and the German jazz and pop singer Roger Cicero, who died this year at the age of 45. It will certainly not a sad evening, rather "hard & hearty" - that's one of Branko's pieces on the new CD.
MUSICAN - COMPOSER - PRODUCER - TEACHER