Kölner Saxophon Mafia


Roger Hanschel – Wollie Kaiser – Steffen Schorn – Joachim Ullrich


Die Story

1981 KÖLNER SAXOPHON MAFIA wird gegründet, 4. Kölner Jazz Haus Festival

1982 1. LP “Live”, Live-Mitschnitt Radio Bremen, WDR.

1983 WDR-Nachtmusik, Daxberger Situationen, Marseille, Jazz in the Garden Berlin, WDR Stadtmusik Gewinner.

1984 Jazzfestival Hofheim, Jazzfestival Balver Höhle, Jazzfestival Ost West Nürnberg, Jazzfestival Gießen, Jazzfestival Frankfurt, 2. LP “Saxuelle Befreiung”, Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

 1985 Jazzfestival Zürich, Ensemblia `85 Mönchengladbach, Mitwirkung bei der LP “Vor der Flut”, 3. LP “Unerhört-Stadtklänge”.

 1986 Tournee durch West-Afrika, Jugoslawien, Leverkusener Jazztage, 50 Null Null Köln, 4. LP “Die Eiserne Nachtigall”.

 1987 Musikalische Mitwirkung Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen “Der Packesel”, Auftragskomposition 125 Opel, Jazzfestival Münster Big Band Meeting München.

1988 FMP Saxophon Festival Berlin, Projekt “Two Continents – One Music” mit der zairischen Gruppe ELIMA und der Dortmunder Gruppe DRÜMMELE MAA, 5. LP “Baboma”, Jazzfestival Berlin, Kabylon WDR, Jazzfestival Istanbul.

1989 Festival “Post this – Neo that” Philharmonie Köln, Kulturwoche Basel, Tournee durch Ost-Afrika, New-York, Festival Glasgow, TV BBC London, Festival Vilshoven, Festival Singen, Breminale Bremen, Jazztage Leverkusen, Konzert- reihe Leipzig, 6. LP “Saxfiguren” Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

1990 Tournee durch Portugal und Spanien, Festival Barcelona, Tournee DDR, Auftragskomposition “Blues für Millowitsch” NDR.

1991 10 Jahre KÖLNER SAXOPHON MAFIA Philharmonie Köln, 7. LP “Kölner Saxophon Mafia Proudly Presents”, KSM Radioshow WDR, Tournee durch USA und Kanada, Jazzfestival Montreal, Preis der Deutschen Schallplatten- Kritik.

1992 Auftragskomposition Goethe-Institut San Francisco – Day of Music, Jazzfestival Vancouver, 8. LP “Mafia Years”, Jazzfestival Willisau, Festival Würzburg.

1993 Biene Maja WDR Hörspiel, L – 498 – K Projekt Leipzig – Köln, Jazzfestival Graz, Jazzfestival Balver Höhle, Jazzfestival Vlotho, 9. CD “Go Commercial”.

1994 “Post This Neo That” Uraufführung von It`s only Rock`n Roll mit Gerd Köster, Philharmonie Köln, Mitternachtsspitzen WDR TV. Tournee durch Pakistan, Indien, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Musiktriennale, Gostenhofer Jazzfestival, Jazzfestival Raeren.

1995 CD-Einspielung mit dem Flötenquartett VIF, Jazzfestival Wiesen, Jazzfestival Hamburg.

1996 It`s only Rock`n Roll mit Anne Haigis, Bill Dobbins Projekt mit dem Rundfunkorchester des WDR und Dave Liebman, 10 Jahre Stadtgarten Köln, Kompositionsauftrag “Festliches Musiktheater” 100 Jahre ÖTV Liederhalle Stuttgart. 10. CD “ Place for Lovers” .

1997 Jazzfestival Tilburg, Kompositionsauftrag “Zauber der Nacht” mit Silvia Droste.

1998 Jazzfestival Stockholm, Storband Festivalen Oslo, Jazzfestival Meersburg, 11. CD “Licence to Thrill”

1999 Jazzfestival Burghausen, Jazz-Rally Düsseldorf

2000 Verleihung des SWR Jazzpreises, Nürtinger Jazztage, “it´s only rock ´n roll” – Rolling Stones Projekt live mit der Sängerin Silvia Droste (SWR-Mitschnitt), Kultur-Event des SWR “vier bis vier” in Karlsruhe,

Kompositionsauftrag des SWR für die Musik zu dem Hörspiel “Händelstraßen Blues” von Frank Grützbach und Peter Meisenberg, Jazzfestival “Bingen swingt”, Jazzfestival Bühl, dreiwöchige Tournee mit elf Konzerten in der Volksrepublik China

2001 Jubiläum 20 Jahre Kölner Saxophon Mafia, Live-Konzert-Programm “20 Jahre Saxuelle Befreiung”, neue CD-Produktion mit vierzehn internationalen Gästen (Herbst 2001)

2002 Preis der deutschen Schallplatten-Kritik für die CD “20 Jahre Saxuelle Befreiung” , Jazzfestival Madagaskar

2003 Festival Abidjan,Elfenbeinküste, Rheingau Musikfestival

2004 Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik „Space player“

2005 Intensive Konzerttätigkeit

2006 Beginn der Zusammenarbeit und intensive Konzerttätigkeit mit Elodie Brochier „Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen“

2009 Festivals in Krakau, Prag, Luxembourg



 ”LIVE”                                                     (JHM 12 ST)           – 1982

”DIE SAXUELLE BEFREIUNG“                       (JHM 19 ST)           – 1984

”UNERHÖRT – STADTKLÄNGE”                     (JHM 21 ST)           – 1984

”DIE EISERNE NACHTIGALL”                        (JHM 28 ST)           – 1987

”BABOMA”                                                (JHM 33 ST/CD)      – 1988

”SAXFIGUREN”                                          (JHM 36 ST/CD)      – 1989

”PROUDLY PRESENTS“                                (JHM 46 CD)           – 1991

”MAFIA YEARS”                                         (JHM 58 CD)           – 1992

”GO COMMERCIAL”                                    (JHM 65 CD)           – 1993

”PLACE FOR LOVERS”                                (JHM 82 CD)           – 1996

”LICENCE TO THRILL”                                 (JHM 100 CD)         – 1998

”20 JAHRE SAXUELLE BEFREIUNG”              (JHM 115 CD)         – 2001

”SPACE PLAYER”                                       (JHM 132 CD)         – 2004

”NUR NICHT AUS LIEBE WEINEN”                 (JHM 160 CD)         – 2008


Press Comments

Jazz Prize of the SWR [Southwestern German Radio]

in its justification for giving the prize, the SWR said, among other things, the five musicians understand how to overcome the overused “alternative” or “innovative” audible stimulus via the constant development and renewal of their musical vocabulary. The richness of discovery, out of which they create unheard sounds and unusual sound connections with their current 27 instruments, seems to continue growing year by year. In spite of their wide range of sounds, they have an unmistakable group identity that can only arise out of years of intensive cooperation. They sound familiar and yet again and again unusual.”

Press Report SWR


“… such polyrhythmic overlappings, harmonic turns or breath-taking virtuosic passages: others would not have the nerve to write such things. What would drive other musicians to sweat buckets when having a quick look at the score is what the five from Cologne master with the greatest of ease…  One has not yet heard an orchestral opulence like this from a reed quintet.”       FAZ


And these near film-musical compositions also show how flexible and tonally versatile a reed ensemble can be – especially when it is played by aces, who naturally sneak modern performing methods of new music into the secretive note collection of the noise makers.”       Olaf Weiden, Kölnische Rundschau


Hanschel, Kaiser, Schorn, Ullrich and Veeck bundle up themes, play around them and themselves in the collective, shrewdly and with a deeper meaning. The magic from the brass jug has been blown by mouth, another sound maker just couldn’t fit inside it. Marlowe would say, we are dealing with a gang of organized criminals.”       Kölnische Rundschau


The power of the Mafiosi rests in the instrumental variety, in the overkill of the sounds, from sopranino to bass saxophone, from the flute all the way to the contrabass clarinet … a courageous act.

Kölnische Rundschau


The omnipresent, universal and all-fertile femininity rounds off an extremely entertaining jazz concert: Petra in front of the Internal Revenue Service. There it is again, the happiness of the Rhine, out of which the music of the Cologne Saxophone Mafia sparkles. Current, modern jazz at the highest level.”
Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus.

“… One saw five reed instrumentalists but could hear percussionists, string players, tonal painters as one would expect from a synthesizer: bassists, the selection of winds, by whom the brass somehow got smuggled in … and of course saxophone players …. This five-man ensemble has gone so far with its art that – whether it be a specialist or layman – everything that has ears is monopolized.!

Eddy Cichosz, Heidenheim


So many wanted to see the Cologne Saxophone Mafia that there weren’t enough normal seats…. The musical Mafiosi get on fine without notes; the highly virtuous ensemble playing has become so perfect in their many years together that obviously each knows what the others are doing. Even in the most complex structures there was never a feeling of insecurity, no questioning gazes….



For years the Cologne Saxophone Mafia has furnished proof that jazz at the highest level and humor do not at all exclude each other.. – simply magnificent! –… as if this were not reason enough to make a dash for the next store to get these super records, the Mafiosi have another special tidbit ready: the entire CD was recorded with a single stereo microphone – the best spatial imaging without studio tricks!



The program hardly left out a variety of love. From hardly ten beats of a short fling, Caribbean via the virtuous swelling up and dying down of the Inner Vibes of Love all the way to a ribald and passionate honeymoon for two elephants … nearly every facet of their playing, always new, found its corresponding musical expression … whether sensual or wild – the Mafia always impress via their perfect mixture of polished arrangements, rousing improvisation and unbridled pleasure of playing. And that infects, makes one want more.”         Juliane Lehmann, Hameln


Alienation is the actual terrain of the Saxophone Mafia. And yet nothing is left to chance. On the contrary: the music is organized in nearly Mafiosi-like hierarchies, no trace of improvised chaos, instead total exactness.”        Frankfurter Rundschau


Shocking: in the bass playing of the love-sick bass player, the entire clarinet family was used; from the partially bizarre looking instruments with a real scarcity value, they elicited witty melodiousness, from bleak tooting between lonely elephants and cast iron watering cans all the way to painful ethereal heights in lamenting tones of chastised humming birds. With an undisputed control over their instruments, the Sax-Mafiosi put a deeply musical jazz cabaret on stage, whereas the joke is always found in instrumental punch lines – paired with the crazy, overexcited joy of playing and unbridled fire.”



No question, saxophones have a soul. They rejoice in their happiness, they sorrowfully pour out their hearts, and some of them have a screw or two loose. When, in addition, the Cologne Saxophone Mafia breathe life into them, then they develop a psyche whose sensitivity the likes of which have not only not been found in the world of music instruments… but supported from the understanding damped ostinato of the colleagues, these instruments spread out their explosive, experimental declarations of love in solo, before the pent-up feelings of all the saxophones were released in a fulminating, resounding primal scream therapy up front on the edge of the stage…. and that such a lamentation of unrequited love from the bass saxophone – a whimpering, howling, moaning in all pitches and tonal colors – was able to transpose not only the present saxophones, but also the human public into the deepest emotion.”                      Göttinger Tagesblatt