Lutz Büchner, saxophonist with the NDR Big Band died in Tokyo following a heart attack on March 11th 2016 at the age of just 47. This tribute is by Martin Laurentius and appeared in its original form in jazzthing (link below). This English version is published with their kind permission.
It was when Lutz Büchner stepped forward in front of the band to the solo mic, when the limelight was on him, that the saxophonist really seemed to flourish and to thrive. He brought the stories he had to tell to the attention of the listener with his eloquent phrasing. His tone on both saxophone and clarinet didn’t just have emotional depth, there was also a mature intellect behind it. That combination of attributes allowed him to decorate, to vary and to develop his narratives. Büchner had that special gift of being to draw his audience in completely, right from the very first note he played. As a person, he left a very different impression when you first met him. He was more reserved, he had a quiet sense of humour, he was a team-player who sought out the togetherness of being in a group.
That was a characteristic which set him in good stead for the twenty-two years during which he worked as a member of the NDR Big Band. Even when soloing up front at the edge of the stage he carried with him in his mind’s ear the totality of what had just been played. He was also preoccupied as part of the saxophone section of the radio orchestra to ensure that the others could sound good. “My ambition,” he would say concisely, “is to play completely in the moment.”
This was a credo he had in common with his fellow saxophonist Herb Geller. Büchner was born in Bremen in 1968 and studied jazz saxophone with Geller at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater. The time spent with Geller brought him both the practical craft of playing the instrument and the contextual framework of jazz. “Through jazz,” he explained, “I found a far more playful way to engage with music. When I improvise, I can search out for myself what I am going to play and when I am going to play it, and I can develop a musical flow far better through doing that.” In 1994 Büchner was employed by the NDR Big Band, but always found time for other projects. He had his own quartet, and also worked as side-man in the bands of the Danish drummer Alex Riel and the orchestra of the bass trombonist Ed Partyka.
At the beginning of March, Büchner set off on a tour of Japan with the NDR Bigband. Among other concerts, they played a Weather Report And More programme in the Blue Note in Tokyo on March 9th and 10th. He died in Tokyo on 11th March following a heart attack. Programme Director of NDR Radio Joachim Knuth said: “ Lutz Bücher had a playful love of music. For the NDR Big Band, as well as for the broadcaster NDR, the death of this formidable saxophonist is a huge loss.”
COLIN TOWNS has written this tribute:
“When we lose people we love and respect, it’s right and proper to highlight the person’s positives. I never heard or saw a negative about Lutz Büchner. He was a master musician with a warm heart and a beautiful personality, truly someone this world can ill afford to be without. He lived in music and whatever the challenge was, he was right there ‘on it’! Eager to find answers to difficult passages, he would give one hundred percent to the whole journey. You knew that when he stood to take a solo, he was a giant, someone who made the moment very special. Music to share and celebrate with everyone, Lutz was a rock; and never let you down. I’ve had the honour and privilege to have known and worked with him many times. I never thought I’d be writing this. My thoughts are with his family and also his extended family The NDR Bigband. Lutz – our loss is heaven’s gain. Thank you for your music.”
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NDR has a tribute to Lutz Büchner on Sunday 20th March at 22.05 local time. DETAILS