Crouched behind a grand piano and an arsenal of tech, pianist and composer, Martin Kohlstedt creates expressive and passionate music, live, in the moment, in his thrilling live show.
One of Germany’s most interesting composers, Kohlstedt is often associated with neo-classical artists such as Nils Frahm and Hauschcka, and like them, combines the spirit of classical with improvisation, minimalism and shimmering layers of electronic sound.
He makes his UK debut in February at Servant Jazz Quarters, performing music from his recent release ‘Strom’ (Nov 17). With dazzling solo piano at its heart, ‘Strom’ is a collection of softly stirring, seductive pieces that give way to repeating patterns and gently building euphoric climaxes embellished with subtle layers of synths to create a romantic, melancholic sound with a hint of sci-fi, yet where beauty and simplicity, closeness and intimacy are key.
A dynamic performer, Kohlstedt’s live show is marked by contrasts – diving across his piano in an adrenalin-laden wash of frenzied piano & synth sounds only to collapse into the quietest , most tender melodies.
Martin Kohlstedt grew up in the forests of Thuringia, central Germany where as a young teenager he taught himself to play on the family’s piano – alone. Using the instrument as a form of meditation and as an extension of his own feelings he developed a growing empathy with improvisation. It comes as no surprise then, that unlike many of his contemporary classical peers, he was not schooled in a classical conservatoire rather trained in jazz piano (alongside media arts at the Bauhaus University). His musical tastes are eclectic, for him, it’s now what is being played but how.
Before pursuing his solo career Kohlstedt left a mark on electronic dance floors performing with German bands Marbert Rocel and Karocel. In 2012, he released his debut recording ‘Tag’, followed in 2014 by ‘Nacht’, both deeply personal recordings that have earned him a plethora of fans. Both recordings have been followed with reimagined versions that have seen him collaborate with the likes of FM Belfast, Christian Löffler and London-based singer songwriter, Douglas Dare. In 2015 Kohlstedt met US musician Peter Broderick at a festival, a musical bond was formed and they later collaborated in a stunning, must-see, improvised NDR radio session (Broderick subsequently listed ‘Nacht’ in his Top Five Piano Albums).