Hartmann & Brunn CD Review: “nineteen strings” Laika Records 3510342.2
by Alexander Schmitz

Finally from the comfort of our homes we can listen to the perfectly matched duo Hans Hartmann and Andreas Brunn. “For Free Hands” combines the beginnings of “Jungen Musik-Karawane” with acoustic 7-string inspiration from across the world.

Hans Hartmann, 74, first became known in Switzerland as a talented jazz bassist. In 1968 he came to Germany and played with Guru Guru before returning to jazz, collaborating with Emil Mangelsdorff, Zbigniew Seifert, Attila Zoller, Chet Baker, Johnny Griffin and Philly Joe Jones. In 1995 he discovered the 12-stringed Chapmann Stick and became a lifelong champion of the instrument, despite it having been bought by only 10,000 people in 40 years.

This string-duo, who if anything sound more like a trio, create 10 tracks of pure delight. The music is soft, vibrant and never highbrow. Indeed at first it is hard to distinguish who plays which part. This helps with “Nica’s Dream”, the first of two tracks with a foreign title: seemingly unusual it is a small, delicate festival for the ears. The tempo of Brunn’s, “ordentlich durchgebürstet” also creates a feeling of improvisation. McLaughlins “Friday Night” and the classic “Guardian Angel”, include an enjoyable, almost classical duet at the end.

In Hartmann’s “Tango el cercado” the audience should especially appreciate his stick-bass playing as well as Brunn’s guitar-percussion technique. In “Kontraste” we find calm within their strength, especially through the harmonic, beguiling chords; the gentle flirtation with modern dissonance is also a highlight. In “Smile of Menja” (also a good entry point for novices!) both solos are clearly separate from each other. “Good Movement” is just that: everything flows with gentle drive- another highlight.

And finally we come to Hans Hartmann’s “Swindia” (as in Switerzerland-India), with its meditative style and harmonic corners and edges, at least for non-indian Ears.

Is it Jazz? Could it also be world music? Or Chamber music? Probably all of that and much more. A treasure!




Hartmann & Brunn CD Review: “nineteen strings” Laika Records 3510342.2
by Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther
19 strings, used in all conceivable ways: plucked, hit, pulled, pressed, sometimes softly, at other times strongly and continually retuned. This is “die musikalische Spielweise” (or the “musical way of playing”) of Hans Hartmann, a man who in the past has worked with musicians as illustrious as Chet Baker, Johnny Griffin and Guru Guru, and of Andreas Brunn, the founder of the ensemble “For Free Hand”. These two string players come together in a duet consisting of a 12-stringed Chapmanstick (Hartmann) and a 7-stringed guitar (Brunn). …

The duo’s music creates a positive atmosphere without fail: the floating, cloud-like melodies alone achieve this. The listener is taken along and brought to a rose-tinted, musical paradise, where everything around can be forgotten. Thank you!

Somtimes in this day and age mood enhancers which do not originate from the pharmaceutical industry are urgently needed, particularly in the jazz world this summer where painful losses must be endured: as Toots Thielemans and Bobby Hutcherson depart from this world they leave behind a musical hole. Good then that musicians like Andreas Brunn and Hans Hartmann exist, as with their brilliant music they can successfully fill this gap.



Everything flows:

Guitarrists Hans Hartmann and Andreas Brunn have developed a musical language all their own. Their music style runs in the same vein as jazz, which became self-evident in Germering last week.

Germering – was that jazz? The answer depends on how we define jazz, and there are many varying points of view on what it really means. Ilse Storb, the only european professor dedicated to the research of jazz, now 83 years of age, once wrote: “jazz is vital, creative, democratic and liberal, open to musical languages of all time and space”. So I can say: the duo formed by Andreas Brunn and Hans Hartmann, who performed last Friday in Amadeus in Germering was, under these criteria, unmistakably jazz.

The musicians plucked, strummed and caressed 19 strings to create their melodies, tuning their instruments all the while. The German and Swiss make art possible, and do so in friendly harmony with one another. Musically, the night felt at times much like a geography lesson. You would feel as if you were lounging in a cosy Viennese Café, then we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of India and from there flew six thousand kilometers further to the Balkans, followed by final stop-off in North America, briefly invoking the emergening blues.

On Friday evening, Andreas Brunn and Hans Hartmann were real musical globetrotters, truly capturing the cultural  complexities of their travels, which was evident by the captivated audience.
Andreas Brunn brought a dash of classical music to the table, playing with his seven-string guitar while Hans Hartmann with his twelve-string Chapma Stick is dedicated to creating wonderful atmospheric melodies and musical moods.

Wonderfully, virtuosity wasn’t the hallmark of the night. What was most impressive was the interaction and flow of the two string players. They both motivate and inspire each other, borrowing the others’ ideas to complement their music and developing these with a new meaning to suit their own styles. In each piece they develop their own individual and characteristic sound and on the way to finding a dynamic balance between intensity and meditation, they model an autonomous, fully-formed unit, a must for every musical partnering.

Interestingly, besides their own compositions, the musicians have also included in their program jazz classics from Charlie Parker (Yardbird Suite), Horace Silver (Nicas Dream) and John McLaughlin. When they play, Brunn and Hartmann appear to be under the protection of a guardian angel, due to their speed and dazzling perfection, especially in their pieces of emerging blues, with psychedelic undertones and hynotic timbres.

However, the real phenomenon of the duo lies in their complexity. They don’t line up with any specific genres or ethnic elements but rather the creation of an individual music language and tone, that is synonymous with the names Andreas Brunn and Hans Hartmann. As Ilse Storb once wrote: “Jazz is also created through partnership and working together, as a group”.

Translation by  Emma McKeown & Samson Itodo

Hartmann & Brunn @ Sueddeutsche.PDF


cd-cover-2016-bw„Kulturspiegel“ (section of the german newsmagazine „Spiegel“ devoted to the arts)

The chapmanstick is an instrument that looks like a huge guitar fret-board  without a body, and importantly the twelve strings are tapped rather than picked. The Swiss bass player Hans Hartmann is the master of this instrument and gives the group it’s characteristic sound. Through their music Hartmann and Brunn are part of a self-contained European Jazz style. (H.Hielscher)


Wizards on strings – “…A great concert experience was awaiting jazz lovers in the course of the series “Jazz Live”. The duo Hartmann and Brunn created magical moments with their music. Hartmann proved himself in being a virtuoso on his Chapman stick and Andreas Brunn drew the most exceptional notes out of his seven-string acoustic guitar.

Already after the very first sounds the audience realized that this is going to be a musical top-class event. Not only “new” sounds led to amazement. Diverse styles of music were gently mixed into their play. Once it seemed one could hear and Indian sitar or even Flamenco sounds were audible sometimes. The wizards on strings offered various music recipes to their audience. They were able to play every sound that you can hear around the world in between their play which was complex anyway. Like star chef’s who take a little something hereof and a little something thereof in order to create a delicacy that waters a gourmet’s mouth. Both of the musicians raised the concert to a musical gourmet buffet with different aromas for each delicacy. …” (Westfälische Nachrichten, Beate Trautner)

“Duo Hartmann & Brunn from Berlin, an extraordinary jazz band!”

This handmade magical instrumental music with guitar and chapmanstick has been appearing before audiences for more than ten years. Hans Hartmann, born in Zürich and Andreas Brunn, born in Weimar have played together in different constellations, recorded cd`s, won contests and reached an international audience with their music influenced by various cultures.
Anyone who listened with closed eyes got the impression to let themselves get carried off by a whole band.. there where a bass, two guitars plus percussion and not only two artists. This inimitable quality is not only on account of their musicality, but also due to the special instruments they play. Andreas Brunn plays his acoustic guitar with an extra bass-string, drumming the rhythm on it, creating impressions from jazz to flamenco. Hans Hartmann plays the chapmanstick with a sound that keeps you dreaming.  („Thüringer Allgemeine“, Anke Kühn)


The award winners of last year’s competition proved themselves to be particularly worthy of the festival’s name and motto. To the audience, this duo reveales music from fields that could well have been situated on the dark side of the moon for decades but now want to bring in their part in the ethnic music that’s circulating around the globe : Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia… We are not merely dealing with an attractive combination of exotic sounds meant to be a superficial alternative for satiated affluent consumer’ ears. No, this is an absolute, new challenge:Balkan folk dance music is widely based on uneven times (5/8, 7/8, 11/8, etc.) that can lead to rhythmical problems not only during improvisations but also when a piece is being composed. If the composer wishes to do it convincingly he is faced with the task of joining free and natural melodies to these metrics. Hartmann & Brunn solve these problems with great ease and build bridges towards the audience.


It is simply fun listening to these rhythms since they are frequently combined with well-known waltz and samba sounds. Hartmann’s tapping parts on the not-yet-fully-explored Chapman stick are so closely interlinked to Brunn’s fantastic and accurately played acoustic guitar (built by Jens Kummer) that one can only indulge in these sounds of the future.
(AKUSTIK Gitarre)