PREVIEW: Dan Nicholls (with Petter Eldh and Dave Smith, Vortex – Tues 6th October)

Dan Nicholls

Keyboard player DAN NICHOLLS will be performing at Vortex on October 6th with bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Dave Smith, sharing the bill with a band led by Philip Gropper from Berlin. Dan explains how these groups are typical of the cross-city cross-border collaborations in which open-minded musicians from different European countries find new inspiration. He writes:

There’s a newly optimistic feel to musical relations between Berlin and London – both cities are host to lively and eclectic musical niches which also, perhaps most importantly, differ from each other. While there’s no denying the trend of artists of all kinds giving up the claustrophobia and escalating prices of London in search of a more free and easy existence in Berlin (a move which is most often well justified), there is also a reciprocal partnership growing between residents of both cities, which is spawning new music and the potential for a more involved place for the UK in the activities of the wider European scene.

During my two year spell studying in Copenhagen, I noticed an exodus by many of my fondest and most inspiring musical collaborators to the cheaper, more diverse and far larger streets of Germany’s capital, and felt that the already thriving scene there was sure to become even more exciting in the near future. Five years down the line and sure enough we are seeing an explosion of weird and wonderful new music, much of which has thankfully managed to attract the attention of UK promoters and audiences.

Acts like Hyperactive Kid, Philm, Schneeweiss und Rosenrot and Starlight (who play at this years London Jazz Festival joined by trumpeter Peter Evans) have all begun to make waves on these shores, and London musicians are taking note too. Several new groups are forming featuring musicians from both cities, including Kit Downes‘ new trio featuring bassist Petter Eldh, trumpeter Tom Arthurs‘ numerous projects and also some groups of my own.

On October 6th I’m performing with a new trio featuring two long-time collaborators – Petter Eldh and Dave Smith. Featuring Synths, sampling and other gadgetry, the music is in my mind a synthesis of some my favourite elements of what goes on in both Berlin and London.

We’re sharing the Vortex stage with a dazzling group from Berlin led by saxophonist Philipp Gropper (of Hyperactive Kid fame). For those interested in hearing a little slice of Berlin creative music this gig is well worth checking out, as are all of the groups mentioned above. Let’s hope this two-city partnership continues to flourish…


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  1. The Vortex actually has five groups with Berlin connections over the next month. As well as Philip Gropper, there is:
    6 October Tobias Delius with Olie Brice and Mark Sanders
    19 October Foils Quartet (Frank Paul Schubert, Matthias Muller, John Edwards, Mark Sanders)
    16 November Amok Amor (with Peter Evans)
    18 November Double Trouble (led by Peter Ehwald)
    So do come and support them!

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