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The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection

On 8.8.88, pianists from many countries met in Hamburg, to stage a Boogie Woogie piano session. For this day, Axel Zwingenberger, Vince Weber and Poldi Eidenhammer invited them for the first time to play at the "Fabrik", situated at Barnerstrasse in Altona. "Vince and myself had the idea for this, since the piano has 88 keys, and the Boogie Woogie is trademarked by its Eigth-To-The-Bar beat", says Zwingenberger. "Our friend Poldi Eidenhammer was the patron of our pianists’ hangout, the "Sperl", and he provided the background organisation for the session."

In 1996, eight years after its legendary start, a second edition of "The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection" was held: many musicians and fans were avid to experience such an exuberant Boogie Woogie night again, and to keep the basic idea, the date was again the 8th of August. This time, the entire show, which lasted 6 hours then (!), was filmed by the NDR TV station and later televised as "Boogie Woogie Night", showing more than 4 hours of the music. That resulted in a boost of popularity for "The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection" as well as for Boogie Woogie piano in general.

Since 1996 "The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection" is annually held at the Fabrik, due to the great public demand. Of course, the date is always the 8th of August. There were only two exceptions: in 2003, the roof of the Fabrik needed repair, so the date changed to 1st of August that year, and in 2011, Axel Zwingenberger was on tour in Brazil, thus postponing that date to August 19th. Each year, Axel Zwingenberger and Vince Weber invite their friends and colleagues to the session, international greats as well as young up-and-coming talents. The scene grooves in Hamburg!

Each year, the session is a bit different. There are new constellations each year, and there is also a lot of spontaneous music. Nobody is using sheet music, improvisation rules!

"For that, it’s worthwile to return every year!" states a young fan, who cannot restrain himself from dancing when Axel plays, or to sing along when Vince sings. He says, that he cannot understand, how some listeners can stay calm. "It’s unbelievable, all this music, and you feel how the spirits grab the audience and let sparkles fly. You want to run and start learning an instrument!" a fan from the last row raves, beaming all over her face, when Axel or Vince enter the stage.

The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection was the first festival of its kind, and it’s a magnet for Boogie Woogie artists from all over the world. It became a role model for many Boogie festivals. International luminaries performed here, such as Ray Bryant, Champion Jack Dupree, Bob Seeley, Chris Jagger, Lila Ammons, Papadon Washington, Gottfried Boettger, Jo Bohnsack and many more. But also new, then less-known talents, as Niels von der Leyen from Hannover or Lasse Jensen from Danmark were invited and set the joint on fire. Meanwhile, you find many of them regularly at well-established Boogie meetings and of course, for revisits of The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection.

The festival has contributed to turn Hamburg into the European Mekka of Boogie Woogie, with Axel Zwingenberger and Vince Weber as founding fathers of the Hamburg Boogie Woogie scene and hosts of "The Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection".


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