Theo Jörgensmann

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Theo Jörgensmann
Theo und Ernst Ulrich Deuker 10. 10 grau.jpg
Jörgensmann at "Kulturhalle Jülchendorf", Germany 2009
Background information
Born (1948-09-29) 29 September 1948 (age 71)
OriginBottrop, Germany
GenresModal jazz
Free improvisation
Avant-garde jazz
Years active1975–resent
LabelsHathut, Konnex
Associated actsTheo Jörgensmann Quartet
German Clarinet Duo
Clarinet Contrast
Klarinettenquartett Cl-4
Clarinet Summit
Contact Trio

Theodor Franz Jörgensmann (born 29 September 1948 in Bottrop, Germany) is a jazz and free-improvising Basset clarinet player and composer. He has been a professional musician since 1975.


Theo Jörgensmann belongs to the 2nd generation of European free jazz musicians. He was part of the clarinet renaissance in the jazz and improvising music scene. Jörgensmann is one of a few clarinet players for whom unaccompanied solo recordings are a significant part of his work.[1]

He started to play clarinet when he was 18 years old. From 1969 until 1972 Jörgensmann took private lessons from a music teacher at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen. At the same time he started working with fellow musicians from the Ruhr industrial area. During this time he was also a chemical laboratory assistant. After a one and half year hitch in the German Army Jörgensmann worked with handicapped children and studied social pedagogics, but he never brought it to a conclusion. Since 1975 he has been a professional musician.

During a career spanning three decades as a free improviser Jörgensmann has worked with (among many others) Mike Richmond, Barre Phillips, Kent Carter, John Lindberg, Charlie Mariano, Wilber Morris, Eric Vloeimans, Jeanne Lee, John Fischer, Vincent Chancey, Kenny Wheeler, Paul McCandless and Lee Konitz.

From 1975 to 1977 he headed the group Clarinet Contrast; a group which frontline consisted only of clarinets. In this group played Perry Robinson, Hans Kumpf, Bernd Konrad and Michel Pilz. At the end of the 1970s he was leader of one of West Germany's best-known jazz groups. At the beginning of the 1980s he took part in a Clarinet Summit (which was created by Joachim E. Berendt and himself) with John Carter, Perry Robinson, Gianluigi Trovesi and others. Since those days Jörgensmann has been involved in numerous international projects. In 1985 Jörgensmann toured Europe with bassist Barre Phillips and reed player Paul McCandless. He was a member of Willem van Manen's Contraband (1985–1998), Andrea Centazzo's Mitteleuropa Orchestra (1983–1985), John Fischer's Interface (1981–1996) and Franz Koglmann's Pipetet (1983–1985). At the same time he was also leader of Klarinettenquartett Cl-4 and co-founder of large ensemble Grubenklangorchester. In 1987 Jörgensmann was the subject of a documentary film, Theo Jörgensmann, Bottrop, Klarinette, directed by Christoph Hübner.[2]

Between 1983 and 1993 he held a lectureship for clarinet and ensemble at University of Duisburg, and from 1993 until 1997 he was a lecturer for free improvising at Music Therapeutics Institute of Witten/Herdecke University. In company with the music-scientist Rolf-Dieter Weyer, Jörgensmann wrote a philosophical book about improvising in music. In 1997 he started playing with a new Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, which toured in North America in 1999, 2001, and 2003, including playing twice at Montreal International Jazz Festival (1999 and 2003). In addition he has played with the young Polish twins Marcin Oles and Bartlomiej Oles since 2003. The album Oleś Jörgensmann Oleś, Directions, was chosen by Polish internet jazz-magazine Diapazon as "The Record of the Year" in 2005.

Since 2008 he is a member of Trio Hot with Albrecht Maurer, violin and Peter Jacquemyn, bass, and in 2009 he started the Deep Down Clarinet Duo together with the contrabass clarinet player Ernst Ulrich Deuker. They also work together in the Tribal Trio, a clarinet trio with the French-American clarinetist Etienne Rolin. In 2009 Jörgensmann performed a few concerts with younger musicians from UK (Seb Rochford, Dominic Lash, Shabaka Hutchings and Noel Taylor) in London. In 2011 he formed a new trio - The Freedom Trio - with bassist Christian Sydney Ramond and acoustic guitar player Hagen Stüdemann. After a twelve-year break, he also works together again with pianist Bernd Köppen. Currently Jorgensmann is also working again with the “Clarinet Summit”. The members of the group are Perry Robinson, Gianluigi Trovesi, Bernd Konrad, Albrecht Maurer, Sebastian Gramss and Günther “Baby” Sommer. In 2018, Jörgensmann was artist in residence at Singers Festival Warsaw, the biggest festival of Jewish culture in Poland.

Selected discography[edit]

  • Contact 4tett, Full House, 2019
  • Contact 4tett, Loud Enough To Rock The Kraut, (Konnex Records 2015)
  • art of making, Tribute, with Christopher Dell and Christian Ramond (2015)
  • Rivière Composers Pool, Summer Works 2009; Kent Carter, Albrecht Maurer, Etienne Rolin (Emanem Records 2010)
  • Trio Hot, Jink with Albrecht Maurer and Peter Jacquemyn (2008)
  • Theo Jorgensmsnn & Oles Brothers, Alchemia with Marcin Oles and Bartlomiej Oles (2008)
  • Oles Jörgensmann Oles, Live in Poznan 2006 with Marcin Oles and Bartlomiej Oles (2007)
The Tribal Trio; October 2009
  • Oles Jörgensmann Oles, Directions with Marcin Oles and Bartlomiej Oles (2005)
  • Oles Jörgensmann Oles, Miniatures with Marcin Oles and Bartlomiej Oles (2003)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, Hybrid Identity (2002)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, Snijbloemen (2000)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Albrecht Maurer, European Echoes with Barre Phillips, Bobo Stenson, Kent Carter, Wolter Wierbos, Benoit Delbecq a.o. (1999)
  • Theo Jörgensmann, Fellowship with Petras Vyšniauskas, Charlie Mariano, Karl Berger, Kent Carter and Klaus Kugel (1998)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, ta eko mo with Christopher Dell, Christian Ramond and Klaus Kugel (1998)
  • Hans-Günther Wauer, Theo Jörgensmann, Günter Sommer, Merseburger Begegnung (1994)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Werkschau Ensemble, aesthetic direction with Albrecht Maurer (1993)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Eckard Koltermann Perry Robinson, Materialized Perception (1992)
  • CL 4' Seltsam ist Propheten Lied (1987)
  • CL 4' Alte und neue Wege, with Lajos Dudas, Dieter Kühr, Eckard Koltermann; guest Gerald Doecke (1986)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, Next Adventure with Georg Gräwe, Kai Kanthak und Achim Krämer (1981)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, Song of BoWaGe (1988)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet feat. John Thomas, Go Ahead Clarinet (1978)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Trio, Live at Birdland Gelsenkirchen (1978)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, Straight out (1977)
  • Theo Jörgensmann Quartet, in time guests Clarinet contrast, with Perry Robinson (1976)
  • Contact Trio, Contact Trio (1972)

Solo recordings[edit]

  • Bucksch (2014)
  • So I Play (1996)
  • Zeitverdichtung (1987)
  • Laterna Magica (1983)

Duo recordings[edit]

Theo Jörgensmann Freedom Trio and Christopher Dell; 2011
  • Theo Jörgensmann/Albrecht Maurer Hymnen an die Nacht (2017)
  • Bernd Köppen/Theo Jörgensmann The story of Professor Unrat (2011)
  • Theo Jörgensmann/Albrecht Maurer Melencolia (2011)
  • Theo Jörgensmann/Karoly Binder in concert (2011 - recorded 1990)
  • Theo Jörgensmann/Hagen Stüdemann Ourspace (2010)
  • Theo Jörgensmann/Eckard Koltermann Pagine Gialle (1995)
  • Theo Jörgensmann/John Fischer Radio Swiss Days Volume Three (1994)
  • German Clarinet Duo Hommage à Jimmy Giuffre (1993)
  • Károly Binder featuring Theo Jörgensmann Live at Music Academy Budapest (1993)
  • Hans Günther Wauer/Theo Jörgensmann Introitus (1990)
  • Károly Binder/Theo Jörgensmann In Budapest (1989)
  • German Clarinet Duo Schwarzlicht (1987)
  • Theo Jörgensmann/Bernd Köppen Für den letzten Gast (1986)
  • John Fischer/Theo Jörgensmann Deep Blue Lake (1983)

As a sideman[edit]

  • Clarinet Summit, Clarinet Summit, with Perry Robinson, Gianluigi Trovesi, Bernd Konrad, Annette Maye, Sebastian Gramss, Albrecht Maurer und Günter "Baby" Sommer (2017)
  • Ig Henneman Tentet, Indigo with Ab Baars, Lori Freedman, Wilbert de Joode, Tristan Honsinger, Steve Arqûelles (1998)
  • Eckard Koltermann Collage 11, Achtung, wir senden with Toon de Gouw, Simon Nabatov (1990)
  • Willem van Manen Contraband, Live at Bim Huis Amsterdam (1988)
  • Franz Koglmann Pipetet, Schlaf Schlemmer, Schlaf Magritte (1985)
  • Andrea Centazzo Mitteleuropa Orchestra, Doctor Faustus with Carlos Zingaro, Enrico Rava, Carlo Actis Dato, Albert Mangelsdorff, Gianluigi Trovesi, Franco Feruglio (1984)
  • John Fischer European Interface, The Breghenz Session with Melvyn Poore, Andrea Centazzo (1983)
  • Georg Gräwe Grubenklangorchester, Bergmannsleben (1982)
  • Clarinet Summit, You better fly away with John Carter, Perry Robinson, Eje Thelin, Stan Tracey, Didier Lockwood, Gianluigi Trovesi, J.F. Jenny-Clark, Aldo Romano (1980)
  • Michael Sell Brass Ensemble, 5 Stücke f. 11 Instrumentalisten with Willem van Manen, Paul Rutherford (1979)
  • Hessischer Rundfunk Radio Recordings 1969-1993, Walzer für Sabinchen with Alexander von Schlippenbach, Günther Christmann, Peter Kowald, Rüdiger Carl, Paul Lovens (1973)

As a fusion musician[edit]

  • Cinemascope - Oriental Traces (drizzly records 2010)
  • Grotesk, Grotesk (1980) (republished on erlkönig records 2004)

Selected compositions[edit]

  • Snijbloemen a composition for clarinet, vibes, bass and percussion. (2000) Recorded Hat-Hut records hatOLOGY 539
  • Die Eroberung des Schönen an experimental opera for 3 writers, 1 actor, 1 painter and 1 musician. (1995) WDR-Tv production.
  • Der Garten a dance-theater-piece for 2 dancers, clarinet, bass clarinet, sound-maschine and percussion. (1994) Choreography: Claudia Lichtblau. Composition: Theo Jörgensmann/Eckard Koltermann
  • Hommage á Béla Bartók chamber music for violin, clarinet, bass clarinet and contra bass. (1994)
  • Aesthetic direction chamber music for violin, violoncello, clarinet, bass clarinet and percussion (1993)


Jörgensmann wrote in his book Kleine Ethik der Improvisation: "To find the right balance between communication of motion and non-communication is the major part of improvised music; that communication of motion as a part of interaction in music is an opportunity to create a new structure of time, which the listener could perceive as a new kind of musical space; that the idea of jazz does not depend on a specific material and special form; that the essential aspect of jazz is the fact that jazz musicians discovered the fourth dimension of time in music (they call it swing)." [3]


  • Kleine Ethik der Improvisation: vom Wesen, Zeit und Raum, Material und Spontangestalt, by Theo Jörgensmann & Rolf-Dieter Weyer, with silhouettes of Hermann "Es" Richter ISBN 3-924272-99-9



  1. ^ Solo recordings
  2. ^ Theo Jörgensmann, Bottrop, Klarinette documentary film, 16mm, colour, 30 min. director: Christoph Hübner (1987) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2006-10-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Kleine Ethik der Improvisation: vom Wesen, Zeit und Raum, Material und Spontangestalt, by Theo Jörgensmann & Rolf-Dieter Weyer, with silhouettes of Hermann "Es" Richter
  • Die Klarinette documentary film, NDR-tv (1987)
  • Der Monolog a film by Reinald Schnell; WDR-tv production (1990)
  • Wagner Bilder a film and video-installation with a.o. Bochumer Symphoniker, Christoph Schlingensief; colour, 72 min. director: Christoph Hübner (2001/2002)

External links[edit]