Trumpeter and crooner Till Brönner was the most famous German jazz musician of his generation, updating traditional bebop sensibilities via elements of contemporary R&B and hip-hop. Born in Viersen, Germany, on May 6, 1971, Brönner discovered the music of Charlie Parker at 13, and later studied jazz trumpet at the Hochschule für Musik Köln. After just three semesters, he turned professional as a member of pianist Horst Jankowski's RIAS-Tanzorchester. In 1993 he cut his debut solo LP, Generations of Jazz, a traditional hard bop homage recorded with guests including bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jeff Hamilton. The album won a number of awards, among them the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and the Preis der Deutschen Plattenindustrie. With his third release, 1996's German Songs, Brönner arranged classic German film themes for jazz quartet and classical orchestra, anticipating the creative detours of sessions to follow. 1998's Love heralded his first release for the venerable Verve imprint as well as his debut as a singer, and two years later he issued Chattin with Chet, a project that cemented his growing debt to the American cool jazz legend Chet Baker. After scoring the acclaimed 2001 feature Jazz Seen, a documentary spotlighting the influential photographer William Claxton, Brönner resurfaced a year later with the ambitious Blue Eyed Soul, a collaboration with Japanese DJ Samon Kawamura and soul vocalist Mark Murphy that embraced electronica idioms to update the trumpeter's sound into the postmodern era. A concert tour with soul singer Joy Denelane followed, setting the stage for Brönner's biggest mainstream hit to date: 2004's That Summer, which reached number 16 on the German pop charts and made him the nation's biggest-selling jazz artist of all time. Two years later he resurfaced with the Larry Klein-produced Oceana, an all-star effort featuring contributions from singers spanning from Madeleine Peyroux to model Carla Bruni.
By Jason Ankeny