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How can anyone describe how rain falls? How can anyone tell how a swallow flies? How can anyone explain how the moon rises? And how could anyone depict how Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas conjure up a picture of the world by making music together? Some things simply happen.

That, perhaps, says all that there is to say about the second joint CD produced by Christian Elin, saxophone and bass clarinet player, and Maruan Sakas, pianist. From this moment on its the ear that counts, because the musical peregrinations of the two born musicians, who sometimes stroll between intricate inner worlds, sometimes through open rolling landscapes of sounds, tell their own stories. No matter which social background one has grown up with and how, this music rouses a feeling of intimacy, of familiarity, because the two musicians immediately strike a chord with their listeners. Their rare, but in this case absolutely organic and in no way artificial gift is their ability not to expect their listeners to respond to their music but rather, from the very first note onwards to engage with their listeners. We can smell these songs, rub them between our fingers or walk through them and get our feet wet. We can drape them with colours or associate them with texts.

Anyone who might now think that the duo are searching for some kind of lowest common denominator would be much mistaken. The exact opposite is the case. True, both musicians come from a classical background, but their musical preferences are just as varied as the music in this programme. In Christian Elins´ exuberant quarter-tone sounds in the Introduction to “Istanbul“ we hear the muezzin singing as well, and in “Dancing with Dolphins“ a differentiated impressionistic palette of sounds mingles with it. In the Maqamat of his composition entitled “Maurisch“, Maruan Sakas evokes his Arabian roots and in “Rhythm Changes!“ he shows how even classical jazz can be given a new look by simply imposing a 4/4 beat onto a 7/8 one. Something new always happens when Elin and Sakas join forces, fuse, enabling their own personal experiences to become interwoven in the truest sense of the word in unheard of intimacy. They celebrate the beauty in their music without allowing it to become flat and meaningless. For them this clarity has a completely narrative, at times even visual component. It tosses memories into the future and in doing so becomes a second skin which connects both musician and listener.

Each of the pieces in this programme has its very own origins, the history of a different kind of intuition. Trying to put this into words is tantamount to robbing the songs of part of their magic.. They are all so very different, but what they all have in common is their structural and intuitive ability to change. Here there are flowing, flying processes which survive without interruptions.

“Midsummernight“ is no less than a musical utopia. A variable place of yearning, a “mobile home“ and at the same time a fulfilled promise. Something that, in the most positive sense, is refreshingly old-fashioned but forward-looking and which, despite the headlong race towards digitalisation and greater anonymity in society, enables us as individuals to pause and draw breath for a moment.


Wolf Kampmann/Rosie Zahn

First half of the program

Maruan Sakas: ECMS
Maruan Sakas: Maurisch
Christian Elin: Dancing with dolphins
Maruan Sakas: Rhythm Changes!

Second half of the program

Christian Elin: Mittsommernacht
Christian Elin: Hymn angevin
Christian Elin: Istanbul
Maruan Sakas: Die Mücke


>> program MITTSOMMERNACHT for download

some kind of blues

zwischenhaus 01 plakaat

The title „Some Kind of Blues“ is an intentional allusion to Miles Davis´ jazz milestone „Kind of Blue“. In this programme Christian Elin and Maruan Sakas open up a musical horizon which, taking blues as its departure point, moves from Bach to Strawinsky and into the present linking several elements that come as a surprise. Highly intelligent music which is both gripping, virtuous and entertaining all at the same time.

Wonderfully wafting saxophone sounds blend with arabesque piano figures that vary between staccato to softly rhythmic structures, dipping for a brief moment into a swirling pool of cacophony before drying off finally in a sultry jazz-club atmosphere. The escapades of both musicians create the impression of a cornu copia of rhythms interchanging with a wide range of melodies. And the listener is left wondering in amazement where the two musicians have sought their inspiration. The epic „Un pas jusqu´au seuil“ for example starts off like some of the ballads of the melancholic Mediterranean, Paolo Conte, offering a first glimpse of blues. And more are to follow.

„Some Kind of Blues“ can rightly be described as a kind of modern chamber jazz but in fact the classical background both musicians have plays just as important a role as the numerous diversions, even as far as pop, which the wide panorama that is consistently characterised by a multifarious wealth of melodies opens up. And because the duo grants their pieces so much white space so generously, listeners with a bit of imagination can dream up their own film scripts that this music could accompany so well.

Elin and Sakas unanimously agree that their music covers a „wide spectrum“. A good example of this is the composition `Juste pour le plaisir´, the only title in the programme that is the result of a compositional `co-production´: The music starts off with a pretty `pop-like´ series of chords which gradually takes on increasingly complex forms until one suddenly recognises Chopin. And before the listeners are allowed to wallow too long in their romantically harmonious comfort-zone, the piece finally metamorphoses into a lively `jam´in a 6/8 rhythm. Kaleidoscopic descriptions of this nature would be fitting for literally each of the pieces in the „Some Kind of Blues“ programme. A truly rare stroke of luck.

First half of the program (among others)

Christian Elin, En route
Christian Elin, Un pas jusqu’au seuil
Maruan Sakas, 1-2-5
Maruan Sakas, Some kind of Blues
Maruan Sakas, Juste pour le plaisir

Second half of the program (among others)

Christian Elin, Le vent de l'ouest
Maruan Sakas, Stück für Stück
Christian Elin, A better job
Christian Elin, Stella Cadente
Christian Elin, The scent of light

>> Program Some Kind of Blues for download

west wind

westwind pink

Tasks completed in pairs give twice the amount of pleasure – a sentence that has validity for many areas of life. There is intimacy and familiarity and what is more pleasing than to travel away together? For example to France, the mother country of the saxophone? In their new ­programme, „Westwind“ Christian Elin und Maruan Sakas map out the special connecting lines between the aesthetic sounding music of their French neighbours and their own compositions.

With their extraordinary combination of instruments the two musicians create a musical panorama for which you have to climb to a very high vantage point.

Whereas the first part offers works of Bach, Schumann and Poulenc, the original compositions of the second half contain elements of jazz, world music and film scores. But what seems so different at first glance actually belongs together: Firstly there is the music of Johann ­Sebastian Bach, who was one of the greatest improvisers. In addition, Robert Schumann, who influenced many French composers of the late 19th century including not least of all Francis Poulenc, whose ­harmonious sound language in turn refers to jazz. The original compositions by the duo contain a high level of written-out parts with complex structures, as known from classical music and which are dispersed again and again by improvisational flights of fancy.

Another bridge between the two halves of the concert are the French titles of the original pieces, which were often com­posed in France, such as „Le vent de L’ouest“ the title piece of the programme. Music for dreams, which like a ­gentle breeze, expresses Christian Elins’s longing for his French second home. It’s probably not promising too much if one said that the ­classics of tomorrow are being created right here. New music of the 21st century, of which no-one need be afraid. Music which takes the listener by the hand without ­relinquishing ­sophistication and free spirit.

In their music the two exceptional artists blend the clarity of classical form with the freedom of improvisation. Westwind – This is highly ­intelligent music, thrilling, virtuosic and entertaining all at the same time.


First half of the program (among others)

Johann Sebastian Bach, Flötensonate BWV 1031
Robert Schumann, Adagio und Allegro
Claude Debussy, Rapsodie
Francis Poulenc, Sonate für Oboe

Second half of the program  (among others)

Christian Elin, Le vent de l’ouest
Christian Elin, En route
Christian Elin, Un pas jusqu’au seuil
Maruan Sakas, Juste pour le plaisir

>> Program "west wind" for download