The irony of the evening is that it took a trip all the way to Blumenthal (North Bremen) to discover a soulful and very funky jazz band called The Baby-Boomers that is actually based in Berlin. Composed of three superbly talented Americans all belonging to the baby-boomer generation – and proud to flaunt it! – it was certainly an entertaining evening. Jeffrey Lee Mills, Lenjes “the Duke” Robinson, and Ben “the King” Perkoff all have their individual gigs and careers, but when they play together as The Baby-Boomers, it is as if their worlds synergise into a single jazz soul and have been doing for since the very beginning.
The venue was the former library of Blumenthal which now a gallery, studio and archery hall run the artists Peter KF Krueger and Ulla Deetz (Dependance Deetz & Krueger). Co-sponsored by the Bremen Chamber of Labour, 50 chairs were set up, the lights turned low, wine flowed, and the music began. Jazz and blues are very demanding music genres, and if you don’t understand it then it can be torture. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it takes a talented musician to break the barriers of ignorant impatience and transform the experience into a soulful transmission of universal messages. Being tone deaf and musically incompetent, I learned everything I could about jazz in High School. Since I couldn’t play it, I figured I might as well understand it. It is a life-long process, and I’ve had my stumbling blocks along the way, especially with free jazz. There are performances, for example, where I can’t really tell the difference between the instrument tuning and the actual concert, and realise all too late what is what when it is all over.
When you spend an evening with The Baby-Boomers, expect to be blown away by their jazz renditions of Beatles tunes and other great pieces of the 60s and 70s. The best way I can describe it is “George Harrison meats Herbie Hancock” and the result is funky, relaxing and upbeat music. Throw in a sense of humour, creative freedom, and an exquisite sense of rhythm, you will be taken through a cornucopia of beats that range from ragtime, blues, free jazz, afro American jazz, and mainstream that will have you dancing in your seats. Click here for some archive videos from Jeffrey Lee Mills’ website to see what I mean.
The small and intimate gathering made it possible for me to talk to the musicians, and we found common connections in our American backgrounds, agreeing that California was definitely the state for us. As I sat and enjoyed the music, I regretted very much not photographing them in action but I didn’t have my camera with me, and they deserve so much more than a mediocre shot from a mobile phone.