Monday, August 4, 2014

top 100 i have seen - part i

in the 41 matches i have been lucky enough to see so far, there are 196 i consider to be stars. some are national or future international stars, others are international stars, and others even bigger.

i am starting a quick series of the 100 best footballers i have seen play myself, based on their careers (and not on the matches i have seen them play). there will be six posts, 5 of them dedicated to the top 100.

this first post will simpy mention the names that didn't quite make the cut. the ones with a * next to them have not reached their peak yet, in my opinion.

in alphabetic order (first name), with the year(s) i have seen them, teams and number of matches (if more than one). in brackets, their current team and national team, if current.

aaron hunt (vfl wolfsburg): 2010-14 werder bremen (15 times), 2014 vfl wolfsburg
adrian ramos (borussia dortmund & colombia): 2011 werder bremen
alou diarra (without club): 2012 france
anatoliy tymoschuchuk (zenit st. petersburg & ukraine): 2010, 2011 bayern münchen (twice)
andres d'allessandro (internacional rs): 2011 internacional 
antonio cassano (fc parma & italy): 2010 sampdoria, 2011 milan
antonio valencia (manchester united & colombia): 2006 ecuador
benedikt höwedes (schalke 04 & germany): 2012 & 2014 germany
bryan ruiz (fulham & costa rica): 2010 twente enschede
cacau (vfb stuttgart): 2012 germany, 2012 vfb stuttgart
carlos gamarra (retired): 2005 palmeiras
cesar azpilicueta* (chelsea fc & spain): 2014 chelsea
christian abbiati (ac milan): 2011 milan
christoph kramer* (borussia mönchengladbach & germany): 2014 germany
claudio pizarro (bayern münchen): 2010-12 werder (7 times), 2014 bayern
dario srna (shakhtar donetsk & croatia): 2006 croatia
diego benaglio (vfl wolfsburg & switzerland): 2014 vfl wolfsburg
diego lugano (without club & uruguay): 2005 são paulo fc
elano (flamengo): 2008 brazil
eljero elia (werder bremen): 2012-14 werder bremen (9 times)
eric abidal (olympiacos piraeus): 2006, 2012 france
florent malouda (trabzonspor): 2012 france
gary cahill (chelsea fc & england): 2014 chelsea
gilberto silva (retired): 2008 brazil
giovanni van bronckhorst (retired): 2006 netherlands
goran pandev (ssc napoli & macedonia): 2010 internazionale
grafite (al-ahli): 2004 são paulo fc
hakan calhanoglu* (bayer leverkusen & turkey): 2014 hamburger sv
hernanes (internazionale & brazil): 2005, 2009 são paulo fc
hugo lloris (tottenham hotspur & france): 2012 france
isco* (real madrid & spain): 2013 cf malaga
ivan cordoba (retired): 2010 internazionale
ivan perisic* (vfl wolfsburg & croatia): 2014 wolfsburg (twice)
ivica olic (vfl wolfsburg & croatia): 2006 croatia, 2010 & 2011 bayern, 2014 wolfsburg
jakub "kuba" blaszczykowski (borussia dortmund & poland): 2013 dortmund (twice)
javi martinez* (bayern münchen & spain): 2014 bayern (twice)
jeremy toulalan (as monaco): 2013 malaga cf
joaquin (fiorentina): 2013 malaga cf
juan arango (tijuana & venezuela): 2012 borussia mönchengladbach (twice)
jean bernat* (bayern): 2014 bayern
julian draxler* (schalke 04 & germany): 2014 germany
julio baptista (cruzeiro): 2013 malaga cf
juninho paulista (retired): 2005 palmeiras
kevin de bruyne* (vfl wolfsburg & belgium): 2012-13 werder (4 times)
kevin grosskreutz (borussia dortmund & germany): 2013 dortmund
landon donovan (la galaxy): 2009 bayern
lars bender* (bayer leverkusen & germany): 2012 germany
leandro damiao (santos): 2011 internacional
louis saha (retired): 2012 france
maniche (retired): 2008 portugal
marc-andre ter stegen* (fc barcelona & germany): 2012 mönchengladbach (twice), 2014 germany
marcelinho carioca (retired): 2009 santo andré
marcell jansen (hamburger sv): 2013 & 2014 hamburger sv
marcelo (real madrid & brazil): 2008 brazil
marcio amoroso (retired): 2005 são paulo fc
mario yepes (atalanta bergamo & colombia): 2011 milan
marko marin (chelsea fc): 2010-12 werder bremen (6 times)
matthias ginter* (borussia dortmund & germany): 2014 germany
matthieu valbuena (dinamo moscow & france): 2012 france
maximilian arnold* (vfl wolfsburg): 2014 wolfsburg (twice)
mikael silvestre (retired): 2010 & 2011 werder bremen (3 times)
naldo (vfl wolfsburg): 2011 & 2012 werder, 2014 wolfsburg (twice)
nani (manchester united & portugal): 2008 portugal
nemanja matic (chelsea fc & serbia): 2014 chelsea fc
nicolai müller (fsv mainz 05): 2013 mainz
niko kovac (retired): 2006 croatia
nuri sahin (borussia dortmund & turkey): 2013 dortmund (twice)
olivier giroud (arsenal fc & france): 2012 france
owen hargreaves (retired): 2006 england
pepe (real madrid): 2008 portugal
philippe mexes (as monaco): 2012 france
rene adler (hamburger sv): 2011 leverkusen, 2013 & 2014 hamburger sv
ricardo rodriguez (vfl wolfsburg & switzerland): 2014 wolfsburg (twice)
rogerio ceni (são paulo fc): 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2009 são paulo fc
roman weidenfeller (borussia dortmund & germany): 2013 dortmund (twice)
ron-robert zieler (hannover 96 & germany): 2011 & 2013 hannover, 2014 germany
roque santa cruz (cf malaga & paraguay): 2013 malaga
samir nasri (manchester city): 2012 france
sebastian kehl (borussia dortmund): 2013 bvb
sebastian rode* (bayern münchen): 2013 eintracht frankfurt, 2014 bayern
shinji okazaki (fsv mainz 05 & japan): 2011 vfb stuttgart, 2013 mainz
shkodran mustafi* (sampdoria genova & germany): 2014 germany
sidney sam (schalke 04): 2009 1.fc kaiserslautern, 2011 leverkusen
simon rolfes (bayer leverkusen): 2011 leverkusen
sokratis (borussia dortmund & greece): 2012 & 2013 werder bremen (5 times)
son heung-min* (bayer leverkusen & korea republic): 2013 hamburger sv
stefan kiessling (bayer leverkusen): 2011 leverkusen
sulley muntari (ac milan & ghana): 2010 inter milan
sven bender* (borussia dortmund & germany): 2013 dortmund (twice)
thiago alcântara** (bayern münchen & spain): 2011 barcelona, 2014 bayern
tim cahill (new york red bulls & australia): 2006 australia
torsten frings (retired): 2010 & 2011 werder bremen (4 times)
ulf kirsten (retired): 1999 bayer leverkusen
victor valdes (searching for club): 2011 fc barcelona
willy sagnol (retired): 2006 france
xherdan shaqiri* (bayern münchen & switzerland): 2010 fc basel, 2014 bayern

football journey - "my" matches

july 19, 1987. i was not even ten years old when i went to the stadium for the first time in my life. and it wasn't a bad way to start the experience: a derby in the hot maracana stadium, when flamengo played vasco da gama. over 80,000 spectators came to see a special match - zico still played for flamengo (alongside big names like junior), while vasco had a 21-year old romario helping out veteran legend roberto dinamite in the attack. dunga, by the way, played for sebastião lazaroni's vasco side at the time. both would become brazilian world cup managers.
it would be almost 10 years until i saw my second match, thanks to the enthusiasm of "katita", a palmeiras fanatic; which was nice, because i got to see djalminha and cafu in action for the greens from sao paulo; and even the home team from the small city of americana, rio branco, had two future stars: mineiro, who went on to play bundesliga football for many years, and marcos senna, who became european champion for spain in 2008, a full eleven years later.
before the world cup in germany 2006, i had only seen six live matches, half of them in the morumbi stadium to see brazil's best organized team, sao paulo fc. but even in these six matches, i had seen coaches like lazaroni, antonio lopes, christoph daum, tite, paulo autuori and emerson leao work at the sidelines, while players like emerson, zé roberto, ulf kirsten, rogerio ceni, luis fabiano, diego lugano, hernanes, carlos gamarra, marcos and juninho paulista showed off their various skills. then i went to germany to volunteer at the world cup, almost at the age of 30.
first up was france x switzerland. and what a french team it was! world champions fabien barthez, lilian thuram and zinedine zidane. willy sagnol and eric abidal helping out in the full back positions, claude makélélé and the great patrick vieira holding the strings in midfield, and young franck ribéry exciting his nation with his wing play towards striker thierry henry. i remember watching them train in the stuttgart stadium a day before the match, and i had never seen so many stars at one spot. until today, zidane remains the "biggest" player i have ever seen, maybe tied with zico.
those five matches really ignited in me the fever. to watch games live was now becoming a bigger deal for me than ever before, since i had always been a television football fanatic. in the second one, i saw one of my all-time heroes on the dutch bench, as marco van basten was coaching van nistelrooy, robben, van persie, van der vaart, sneijder, van bommel, cocu and van bronckhorst on one side. on the other, legendary coach henri michel was leading the exciting ivory coast team, at the time already led by didier drogba, with the help of up and coming midfielder yaya toure. a few days later, it was iker casillas in goal, sergio ramos as full back, carles puyol as center back, xabi alonso and xavi (genius!) in the middle, david villa on the wing and fernando torres up front. it took raul in the second half for spain to beat tunisia, and cesc fàbregas, whom i just saw yesterday for the second time (over 8 years later) also joined the action.
another three days later, it was time to see croatia - that meant mostly niko kovac to me, as a bayern fan; but also ivica olic and a very young luka modric where on the pitch in stuttgart. tim cahill was already australia's leading player, alongside mark viduka and harry kewell. 
and just another three days later, i saw david beckham convert a free kick to put england in the quarterfinal. what a midfield the english had: hargreaves in his best form ever, steven gerrard, frank lampard, with the back line also being strong: rio ferdinando and john terry in the middle, and ashley cole on the side. and yes, wayne rooney was the star striker back then already.
only at the age of 31, i saw my team play for the very first time. bayern münchen played a winter friendly at kaiserslautern, so that was a great opportunity to also visit that legendary stadium called "betzenberg". it was packed despite being a friendly, and bayern won 2-0 with goals by luca toni and landon donavan. jürgen klinsmann was bayern's coach at the time, and the team had lucio, demichelis, lahm, van bommel, zé roberto, franck ribéry, bastian schweinsteiger and miroslav klose in action.
two other bayern-firsts for me are worth mentioning: my one and only visit to the allianz arena occured in 2011, at the audi-cup (pre-season friendly) in the final between bayern and fc barcelona, coached by pep guardiola. it was on that day that pep went to speak to the management and expressed his interest of one day working in munich; i did not get to see messi play (he would have been the greatest ever!), but thiago alcantara, now a bayern player, scored both barcelona goals. before that, brazilian club inter had tied 2-2 with ac milan, giving me the opportunity to see the likes of ibrahimovic, seedorf, ambrosini, gattuso, zambrotta, robinho, pato and kevin prince boateng live.
finally, only this year, i saw bayern play in a competitive match for the first time. the german cup quarterfinal was in hamburg, where i saw my team beat the home club 5-0, with three goals by mario mandzukic and a goal by arjen robben; dante also scored.
i have seen the brazilian national team once, in 2008; there, brazil managed by dunga (back at his job now) beat portugal (with cristiano ronaldo and pepe) 6-2, with three goals by luis "fabuloso" fabiano. germany i've seen twice; in 2012 in bremen against france (1-2) and this year against poland in hamburg (0-0) - so i haven't actually seen the current world champions win yet.
in total, yesterday's werder x chelsea match marked my 41st game. here are some figures and stats:

30 matches in the last six years
32 matches in europe, 31 of them in germany.
18 in the weserstadion, bremen
5 in morumbi, sao paulo
5 in the gottlieb-daimler stadion, stuttgart (world cup 2006)
4 in the imtech arena, hamburg
14 bundesliga
10 friendlies (3 international, 7 club)
5 world cup
4 uefa champions league
4 brazilian serie a

derbies (3)
1987: flamengo x vasco
2004: sao paulo x corinthians
2005: sao paulo x palmeiras

137 goals, 3.2 per match
4 goals in 3 matches by robert lewandowski
4 goals in 8 matches by claudio pizarro
4 goals in 16 matches by aaron hunt

three hat-tricks:
robson ponte for guarani (in campinas) in 1999 against bayer leverkusen, friendly
luis fabiano for brazil (in brasilia) in 2008 against portugal, friendly
mario mandzukic for bayern (in hamburg) in 2014 against hamburger sv, german cup quarterfinal

most goals:
guarani 6x4 bayer leverkusen - friendly in 1999
brazil 6x2 portugal - friendly in 2008
sao paulo 3x3 palmeiras - brazilian serie a in 2005
werder bremen 0x5 borussia dortmund - bundesliga 2012/13
borussia dortmund 3x2 cf malaga - champions league 2012/13
werder bremen 3x2 hannover 96 - bundesliga 2013/14
werder bremen 2x3 mainz 05 - bundesliga 2013/14
hamburger sv 0x5 bayern münchen - dfb pokal quarterfinals 2013/14

important players seen: 196 (in my book), 141 of them at "international star" level
most seen:
16 aaron hunt
9 eljero elia
8 claudio pizarro
6 marko marin
(none of those at international star level)
5 per mertesacker (international star)
5 sokratis
all for werder bremen, of course; besides merte, with one game for germany, and hunt, one game for wolfsburg, and pizarro, one for bayern.

players seen in three different jerseys:
marco reus (germany, mönchengladbach, dortmund)
ivica olic (croatia, bayern, wolfsburg)

two different clubs (besides the above mentioned):
naldo (werder, wolfsburg)
aaron hunt (werder, wolfsburg)
sebastian rode (frankfurt, bayern)
rene adler (leverkusen, hamburg)
shinji okazaki (stuttgart, mainz)
claudio pizarro (werder, bayern)
antonio cassano (sampdoria, milan)
xherdan shaqiri (basel, bayern)
thiago alcantara (barcelona, bayern)
luiz gustavo (bayern, wolfsburg)
dante (mönchengladbach, bayern)
martin demichelis (bayern, malaga)
mario götze (dortmund, bayern)
zé roberto (leverkusen, bayern)
robert lewandowski (dortmund, bayern)

my 7 favorite matches:

may 30, 2004 - brazilian serie a
sao paulo 1-1 corinthians
full stadium, derby atmosphere, and when corinthians scored, it sounded like something form out of space!

june 16, 2006 - fifa world cup
netherlands 2-1 ivory coast
a great match with lots of attacking football and many stars in a world cup!

november 19, 2008 - international friendly
brasil 6-2 portugal
it is not always that you get to see so many stars, including cristiano ronaldo mabye just 2 meters away, and see such a spectacular match with many beautiful goals.

august 18, 2010 - uefa champions league playoff
werder bremen 3-1 sampdoria genova
to be in a stadium and listen to the champions league hymn for the first time is an awesome experience. great match, too, with a fantastic goal by now captain clemens fritz to make it 3x0.

october 20, 2012 - bundesliga
werder bremen 4-0 borussia mönchengladbach
fantastic atmosphere all game long, great action against a good team. werder at their best.

april 9, 2013 - uefa champions league quarterfinal
borussia dortmund 3-2 cf malaga
hands down the best match i have ever witnessed in a stadium - the incredible atomsphere at the signal iduna park, the dramatic 2 goals after regular time to make it through to the semifinals - it was all too much!
february 12, 2014 - dfb-pokal quarterfinal

hamburger sv 0-5 bayern münchen
first time right next to the bayern fans, five goals, great pep guardiola playing style, and bastian schweinsteiger's long awaited comeback!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

musical journey

i fancy myself to be quite a good listener. at least in the world of music. i have a brother who composes and arranges, and is can listen technically at an absurd level. i have another brother who produces and sings. i guess i'm the one who listens to what they and others do or produce.
when i say i can listen, i really mean that i appreciate music more than most. it really goes deep into my soul and is part of my private inner world, if you will. listening for me is more than a hobby; when possible, it has to be done with complete focus, with the goal to feel and understand. i do admit to being pretty restrictive in chosing what i devote time to in this arena. most of the focused listening time has been going to sting, peter gabriel and pat metheny tradicionally, with quite a lot of leonardo goncalves and herbert grönemeyer in the mix. i have my guilty pleasures (aha and simply red mostly in the past, and even the likes of katy perry more recently), and more recently i've been listening a lot to daniela araujo and sigur rós, which she introduced me to.
but to listen and see live, with the visual and the natural surround audio, this had been a rare pleasure in my life. if i had to make a highlight list of concerts i've seen in brazil, even michael w smith (twice!) would have to be included, although i was able to see the russian pianist evgeny kissin play a recital in rio de janeiro, in the 90s.
this has changed since my arrival in bremen july 14, 2010. i've been back in germany for 497 days now (round number coming up!), and life has been a blessing. the by far biggest one shall be a future topic on this blog, but this minor one is surely worth mentioning.
on average, i've been to a high class musical concert every 31 days - basically once a month. this, of course, is without counting other cultural events (1 f1 race, soon 7 werder matches, 1 bayern match, bird parks & other tourisms). here my list and a few thoughts on each one of them.

august 28, 2010
by then i'd seen two jazz concerts in bars in town, but this was the first highlight: vladimir ashkenazy brought his sydney symphony orchestra (by some viewed as a top ten orchestra in the world) to "die glocke", bremen's main concert hall. with hime came young bulgarian top piano talent behzod abduraimov, who played one of tchaikovsky's concerts brilliantly. incredible concert, memorable day.

october 12, 2010
this would be my first live encounter with sting, who i'd known and listened to for over 17 years at that point. still, i wasn't expecting too much since i hadn't really got into liking the album "symphonycities", but it was a huge surprise: fantastic atmosphere in hamburg's 02 arena, and really high quality music with sting singing with authority and the london symphony orchestra causing the emotions to flow. "i hung my head", "this cowboy song", "the end of the game" and "why should i cry for you" stood out - and it was just fitting that the show opened with my traditional all-time favorite song "if i ever lose my faith in you". i left the show with the impression that this had been the best concert i'd ever been to in my life.

december 4, 2010
first high class concert event not alone - my cousin raphael accompanied me to munich to see a recital by evgeny kissin, the above mentioned russian wunderkind (now 40 years old), who played a liszt recital like a true master. it was simply astonishing, exciting and worth every minute. second time kissin in my life... and not the last!

march 17, 2011
i hadn't heard of the trondheim jazz orchestra until a couple of weeks earlier. this very peculiar orchestra (saxophone, 2 violins, 1 cello, a brass section, guitar, percussion and drums) is based in the famous music university in that norwegian town. they constantly play with some of jazz greatest, including pat metheny, and this day they were playing music from a collaboration with joshua redman, considered by me to be the best saxophone player alive. the sendesaal in bremen is a perfect location, thanks to its incredible (and legendary) acoustics and its somewhat informal setting. joshua is really incredible, and it was very exciting to see him perform live... and the music sticks with me until today.

may 7, 2011
i'd seen him around half a year earlier, but in a different setting. dominic miller has been sting's guitarist since the late 80s and has composed a couple of sting's most beautiful songs, such as "shape of my heart". his band held an event in my neighbouring village worpswede, famous for they're culture and events (last month the red hot chillie peppers gave a concert at their famed music hall). the band consisted of a piano, a base and, most memorably, the percussionist sting used for his winter project. i really enjoyed it, sitting in the first row!

may 15, 2011
i drove to braunschweig, which is a 90 minute drive from home, to see this man do a completely solo performance. sitting in the second row and even participating at a certain point (in a kind of choir he set up at the spot), bobby mcferrin was exactly as expected: a musical genius with a huge heart. i couldn't believe that i was seeing all these people live - mcferrin happens to be one of the artists that i have listened to in that focused way. anytime he's back in germany i'd love to go - if it's not too expensive (like his gig with chick corea next year in berlin).

june 2, 2011
the day i saw herbert grönemeyer live. you have to do it once! the stadium in hamburg was packed (normally hsv plays there), and i was sitting at the furthest seat possible (because it was cheaper...), but it was still a memorable experience. even with that kind of crowd, herbert manages to be personal - he stayed there way after official concert time and played and sang for the crowd, no matter what size, even after his band had left. it started at 20h and only ended close to midnight! some really great performances, people singing along a fantastic sound in this mild pre-summer night. another good one!

july 7, 2011
my cousin laura was with me on this one, and the next two. a 2 hour drive to the nice city of strasbourg, france. a quick look into the "altstadt". then concert time - like with grönemeyer in the back for monetary reasons, but it was vital to be there: keith jarrett, gary peacock and jack dejohnette are one of the most prolific trios in jazz history, and you feel like seeing history happening in front of your eyes. i, of course, really enjoyed keith's musicality, his understanding, his musical language - totally worth it! one of their many albums ("the cure") is part of those that i'd listened to many times in that focused mode...

july 12, 2011
cousin lmmc introduced me to this girl: yulianna avdeeva won the chopin competition, one of the most important piano contests in the world, and was playing at a little castle near montpellier, france. so there we were to see the talented jewish russian female player. let's put it like this (sorry dear cuz'), it wasn't her best day. but sitting in the front row, open air, french castle, evening and listening to a high quality recital wasn't the worst moment of the year... ;)

july 13, 2011
this is the reason we went to montpellier: to see the other russian, male and in no need of winning competitions. evgeny kissin plays liszt, i had seen it in december, but not fully understood every aspect of it. this time i was prepared, and it was an even more enriching experience than the first time. during the sonata, i even got emotional.

july 17, 2011
there are a few reasons why this evgeny kissin experience was by far the most emotional one. you see, i've been listening to the 12-year-old kissin playing the chopin concertos for almost two decades now. they are the single pieces that move me most in classical music. and there i was in bad kissingen (northern bavaria, germany) listening to the russian master playing concerto no.1 by chopin, with the woman of my life, recently arrived from brazil, sitting by my side. that brought more than just one tear to the eye, mainly in the second movement. yes, there was a chinse tenor (keija xiong) singing mozart (great stuff by the way) and the invited orchestra (from montpellier, conducted by lawrence foster) played tchaikovsky's nutcracker (complete version, quite breathtaking!). the end of the kissinger sommer in bad kissingen with kissin - what a night!

july 18, 2011
the following day, sizinha (the woman of my life from above) accompanied me to see sting in his symphonicity tour again, this time with the czech national orchestra, and in the city of mannheim. we were sitting in the last row, so it wasn't as personal or imediate as in october, but it was still a hell of a show with some tunes not played in hamburg. special times.

october 25, 2011
in a bar in bremen, my brother leo, his wife dani, our friends mudo & ju and luquinhaz went to see marketa irglova - the girl from the movie "once". she brought her band, with an impressive vocalist/percussionist (great voice & rythm), a guitarist (from glen hansard's "the frames") and a base player. marketa and glen had been in bremen two years ago, not to long after their cult hit movie "once", but this time she headed her own band. the music was sometimes of very high level, but mostly too melancholic and minor to listen to for 2 hours. still, some really great moments in this one, too. and just to see the main actress from one of my favorite movies live was worth it.

october 30, 2011
front row. hamburg kupfernagel. my love sitting next to me, maybe even more excited for me than i was able to express? and then, lights, pat metheny comes out. so very strange to be there, see him and that typical smile of his, and his shirt, always striped. and his toys, his guitar, his craft. soloing much better than i'd ever seen him before, pat was accompanied by larry grenadier (upright base) and bill stewart (drums). i though this would be a good intro do seeing pat live, since i usually don't like the trio setting. but i knew basically all the tunes (most from the pmg set list) and it was just breathtaking. always & forever, question & answer, bright sized life - he even played with his orchestrion, which was really something else, and he varied his guitars, including the picasso. gotta see it and him again. and again. hope to see lyle some day...

november 8, 2011
back to bremen, back to the sendesaal. this time, a solo artist. a lesser bobby mcferrin, let's say. vinx was in town, i caught it in the newspaper just a couple of days earlier. it was cold, he is warm. vinx worked with sting and peter gabriel, with the us government, with stevie wonder - as percussionist and vocalist. his show was something else, a real shame that it was in the middle of the week and sizinha couldn't be there with me. fantastic stuff, a real highlight. and i got to sit in the front row and chat with him afterwards ("sting is a star, peter gabriel is much more human and friendly", he said). great work with voice, and he is a solo act in his own right, having given workshops everywhere, including berklee.

november 22, 2011
he remembered. joshua redman was back to bremen, but this time in "die glocke". of course i had to be there too, sitting in the back and curious to see his duets with renowned pianist brad mehldau. i own mehldau's collaboration with metheny, and he has his very own specific style, that has to do a lot with the way he attacks the keys, loves to explore rythm and texture, filling up the big concert hall. mehldau is special, redman is special, and i had another really special evening yesterday. both of their musicalities are simply over the roof, and people felt it, didn't want them to leave. they knew it was special. what a collaboration - just piano and saxophone (mostly tenor, a little soprano), no rythm section besides their own incredible rythmic pulse and feel. they can both play beautifully, agressively, fast and deep, and they do it moving between these adjectives with competence.

i'm so thankful. and i hope 2012 will be similar, there is always more to come. berlin philharmonic orchestra, for example...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

class of 2011

this is becoming a habit. over the years, i've had many students, and today seems a good time to write down what i will remember of each one of those which i had in my maths or physics class the last months. this is the first of hopefully many graduating classes here in bremen, and i want to register the three things i will most remember of each one of them.
marlene will be remembered for always greeting me, for her seemingly infinite search for knowledge and for her transparent character. what you see is what you get with her, and it's a good sight.
lea will be remembered for her honest interest for content and people, her lighting-up-a-room smile and her will to help.
jule will be remembered for her incredibly fast thinking (not only in math), her hair colors and her shy smile - ok, one more, her chocolate sessions with the table.
thai will be remembered for her dedication, her maturity and her profound kindness. and, yes, chocolate art.
sadaf will be remembered for her high standards and values, her high goals and dreams and for her love-themed art work.
i'll remember caroline for her positive, almost palpable energy, her good smelling tea and her smile when she got something right.
stephanie will be remembered for her courage, her incredible artistic talent and expression, and her originality.
chantal represents her hometown bremen to me perfectly: quiet, always with a smile on her face, and with a great sense of humor - the kind that makes others laugh while she just continues to smile.
denise will be remembered for the werder schal gesture (chanti and denise, that was really special and will always be cherished), her patience and perseverance, and her latin american flair (always a good thing!).
max will be remembered for caring, for his integrational skills and for always being a good sport. and, of course, for having to deal with me twice as much.
bilal will be remembered for his coolness, his rare and great relationship to his brother and his laid back attitude towards everything, including studying.
aidin will be unforgotten because he reminds me of my best friend from high school: very smart, not very dedicated, and sometimes suprisingly interested in issues. i wish you well!
finally, promita will stay in my memory because of her unique voice, her positive outlook on life and her healthy self confidence.
they all made my days happy, they will be missed. i liked and loved them all, hope they felt it a little.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

looking up to someone

when you are young, there a quite a few people you look up to. singers, sportsmen, sometimes even teachers. few think of close family or even parents when they are preteens or teens.
as you grow older and get a better grasp of what life is all about, of what love is all about, and about all the simple and complex things this world has to offer us. and some point, you sometimes stop to look up to anyone human. i mean there is always a lot to admire in people, but to look up to?
and then, later on, maybe after your twenties, you step down a little from the pedestal you had put yourself on, whilst never really admitting it. and you start looking up to people again; not many, but one or the other.
one of those people in my life is having a special day today. although a good 700 km away, my mother is someone who i've always admired deeply and loved inconditionally, but only in the recent years has assumed this position in my life. a person i look up to.
happy mother's day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

this is it

this post is not about michael jackson. he's been dead for over a year and a half now; coincidentally, at that time the desire to move back to germany was starting to become a concrete plan. although many people who know me are aware of my nostalgic feelings towards this country, some might think: why germany? what is it about that place you grew up?
this is it. today was it, once again, maybe stronger than ever. i left home at around 4 pm for a bike ride in the neighborhood. november and december have been freezing, in all senses, and the mild temperatures of january have caused quite a lot of flooding throughout the country, due to the large amounts of snow freezing and making rivers overflow.
there is a small little river a few hundred meters from where i live, called "wümme". that's where i went on this sunny sunday, and in this time a year, 4 pm is pretty close to sunset time.
i'll post some pictures as soon as i can (can't seem to find the cable), but this is why i love north germany; and this is why i have fallen in love with bremen.
i moved to borgfeld, a little village still belonging to the 10th biggest german city, not even two weeks ago. and already it has the potential to become what i imagine to be a place i could live for a long, long time. it just feels like home, it feels right. within 2 minutes, i was in the middle of the fields, overflown with the water that used to be snow and ice. and what i saw there made me be profoundly grateful to God, and it left me feeling as if i've returned home.
i also remembered my younger brother and think this could be a quite inspiring place for him, maybe for a future project.
the national park here in the wümme area, that's what makes borgfeld, bremen and north germany so great. i can still o visit many places from here, but i'd love this to become my permanent home, sometime.
here are just a few pics:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

album 43: saviour (various artists)

those were good times - when major projects were made, and all major christian contemporary music artists would be invited to lend their talents and voices. the beginning of the 90s had a few of those projects, and i'd like to mention "the new young messiah" and "my utmost for his highest" as very good examples of making this format work.
it was a special project led by greg nelson and phil mchugh, who had made a name for themselves producing the big ccm christian singers of the 80s, sandi patti, steve green and larnelle harris. greg and phil are producers, arranjers and composers, and that's what they did on this special project, which was supposed to be their musical masterpiece. and, to me, it still is. "saviour" attempts to be a musical, and instead of everyone singing a solo or participating in a duet, this time the idea was to ask five singers to solo, duet, trio in various songs, accompanied and sometimes lead by a choir. the high quality of this album is certainly also due to the talent of larnelle harris, steve green and wintley phipps in top form, and a fantastic choir, far from being only backups to the "stars". twila paris did very well, and even wayne watson was okay.
but the songs and arrangements are at the heart of this endeavor; the choir does a great job in the opening (creation) and in the exodos (slavery and freedom), singing very profound and witty lyrics in great orchestreal, but still modern and timeless music. "the kings of the earth", featuring harris, green and phipps, and the creation of man duet pulled off grandiously by phipps as God and harris as adam ("my heart belongs to you") are the high points of the repertoire, with the song "the rose of sharom" being also beautiful.
all in all, a true masterpiece in christian music, with some really thrilling moments in between. i've sung it twice in portuguese, and it was still really great - which gives the songwriters and arrangers even more credit.