Live At Bimhuis by Philipp Gropper’s Philm

2018 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ041), MP3 Album Download

Philipp Gropper’s Philm »Live At Bimhuis«

Track listing

  1. Sun Ship (Part 1)  9:45
  2. Sun Ship (Part 2)  10:49
  3. Ze  10:56
  4. Who Owns The World? (Part 1)  5:11
  5. Who Owns The World? (Part 2)  6:06
  6. J (Part 3)  5:13
  7. Licht  7:10


Philipp Gropper (tenor sax, composition), Elias Stemeseder (piano, synthesizer), Robert Landfermann (bass), Oliver Steidle (drums)

Production credits

Recorded July 30th, 2017 by Marc Schots at BIMHUIS, Amsterdam (Netherlands). Mixed and Mastered by Martin Ruch at Control Room Berlin (Germany). Design and artwork by Travassos.

"Live At Bimhuis" is Philipp Gropper and Philm’s astounding interim statement on the way to new musical heights, a statement of unexpected density, exceptional use of dynamics, sustained emphasis on and sensibility to the details. Done with directness, purity and presence.

Philipp Gropper’s Philm is underway, propelling itself to ever new heights. This forceful quartet takes off with a bursting energy that surges forth throughout their live performances. And so it was during Philm’s tour following the release of their “Sun Ship” album; they amazed festival audiences in Moers, Dobbia, and Ljubiana. They played to standing ovations at Amsterdam’s iconic Bimhuis jazz club. And the journey continues.

Before the band heads into the studio in April 2018 to record a completely new program, the uncut live recording of that Amsterdam concert will be released as the link between “Sun Ship” and the upcoming recording. “Live At Bimhuis” documents the band’s masterful use of dynamics and their emphasis on directness, purity, and presence. There is an improvised balance, a sensitive awareness of the details, as they thrust their way forward. This extraordinary band also takes up and reassembles material from their previous albums "Licht" and "The Madman of Naranam", ingeniously shinning new light on the pieces.

Philm forges music that bursts forth with unexpected intensity and consequence. Through the band’s insistently sharp, cutting agitation, the music comes more and more into focus. It reaches into the essence, the core, through a process that, with passionate urgency, opens up that core for all to hear. With Philm’s understanding that something only becomes exciting when it is no longer arbitrary, it shifts the boundaries of how we listen.

The tenor saxophonist is underway with Elias Stemeseder on piano and synthesizer, drummer Oliver Steidle and bassist Robert Landfermann. Philipp Gropper’s compositions are not written for some anonymous sideman, rather, they center around each player’s character. Urgent, threatening and dense, the music extends beyond a mere sum of its parts; it exhibits a collective compactness roaming over ever-new terrain on which abstraction and earthy sensuality are no longer opposites. The music is layered in such a manner that new space may be found and occupied.

Philm speaks with an urgency that springs from an inner desire to say what needs to be said. The band does that self-reliantly, without compromise. The group speaks directly to our time, something that the listener intuitively senses. A stellar moment for German jazz, to say the least.


These suites of partly composed, partly improvised music, with their dark motives, unsettling use of electronics and unexpected twists and turns of phrasing , suggest the sense of unease that people of Gropper's generation confront, as they watch the fabric of their societies torn by economic stress, diminishing expectations, and the malign influence of demagogic politicians. The players, all veterans of new creative music projects, work through a sequence of moods with technical skill and collective interaction. [...] This live performance, presented in excellent recorded sound, channels the distress of modern-day urban life; the anxiety, tension and anger that that all too often find expression in destructive acts of resentment rather than creative acts of resistance. Philipp Gropper has found a way to engage musically with his own response to those social conditions, and in Philm, a group of fellow musicians who can convey the emotional depth of that response to the listening audience.

Am Saxophon von Philipp Gropper klebt nicht der smoothe Schmalz vergangener Zeiten. Es klingt kantig, trotzdem nie kalt, denn seine motivischen Ideen sind oft von einer sphärischen Melancholie. Elias Stemeseder hat ein Händchen für seltsam entrückte und gleichzeitig eindringliche Melodien und doch kann er auch anders. Dann legt er mit elektronischen Einwürfen oder Ausflügen in Richtung Noise nochmal einen Atmosphäre-Schalter um.

Sandra Hupfauf

[...] there is a lot of freedom and huge responsibility given by bandleader Philipp Gropper to his band mates. It has been a very pleasant surprise to listen to as each track takes one into a world of exciting improvisational mastery. It challenges, enthrals and showcases far wider musical influences offering a worldly perspective giving one pause for thought and reflection. It is an album that must be added to ones collection.

Was heißt eigentlich heute Jazz? Gibt es zeitgemäßen Jazz, einen zeitgemäßen Sound, der weder altbacken und verstaubt klingt noch die Tradition verleugnet? Die beste Antwort auf die Frage liefert, wie ich finde, die ungemein kreative Berliner Jazzszene, zu der auch der Saxophonist Philipp Gropper zählt, mit seinem Quartett Philm. Das steht für einem im besten Sinne progressiven Jazz - kantig, rhythmisch vertrackt, ohne Scheu vor Dissonantem, gespeist von ganz vielen unterschiedlichen stilistischen Einflüssen [...]. Sunship, das ist der Titel des jüngsten, vielgelobten Studioalbums des Quartetts aus dem vergangenen Jahr und mit dem Material dieses Albums sind die vier auf Tournee gegangen, haben unter anderem ein Konzert im Amsterdamer Bimhuis gespielt [...]. Und es ist tatsächlich nochmal eine Spur intensiver, direkter und spannender dieser Musik sozusagen im Prozess mit ihrer Entstehung vor Publikum zuzuhören [...].

While the lineup (and at times their improvisational approach) is reminiscent of the classical quartets of the 1960’s, Gropper maintains a modern feel. [...] The result is a near-perfect amalgam of the familiar and strange – the closer you listen, the more there is to hear. The jazz quartet format has been done so many times over the years that it takes something special in that vein for us to raise our heads and pay attention. Here, we have mostly-conventional instrumentation blending in numerous unconventional ways to produce a gem of a recording. Bravo.

Also available

Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2019, CD)
Sun Ship
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2017, CD)
The Madman of Naranam
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2015, CD)
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2012, CD)