Eugen Cicero

When it comes around to music criticism, not much bothers me. One cannot argue about taste and one should try to live with critical reviews when they’re bad, just off or just badly researched. There’ll always be that one review that gets things right, negating – perhaps – those that botched things in the past.

With Eugen Cicero, things were and are different. To me he was doubtlessly a musical genius, a man with incredible technical abilities coupled with a great and definitely unique musical sensibility, brought about by a musical education that very few people had the opportunity to enjoy and yet, he was summarily trashed or politely ignored because he fused classical music with jazz at a time when it was easy to get lobbed into one basket with the Swingle Singers, Jacques Loussier and some lesser exponents of a school of jazz that has often been relegated to the living rooms of those that supposedly didn’t and don’t know squat about jazz.

On top of that, Eugen Cicero was popular. So much so that some of his recordings sold over a million copies when that was still a substantial number, and that very fact seemed to have made critics suspicious. You’ve heard it all before. Success is apparently not good for a jazz musician and in the case of Eugen Cicero, this cliché might well have been true. If you sell too many LPs/CDs or whatever, you can’t be adhering to the unwritten rules of jazz written by those (and there are others, of course) who like to keep it in a ghetto of sorts.

Eugen Cicero was a controversial jazz pianist. He was perhaps one of the earliest crossover artists in his adopted Germany if you apply the modern usage of that term, and because of it he had his detractors, especially in German jazz circles. Add to that his infamous love for stiff drinks and what you get is someone whose career was not what it could have been. Yes, he was famous in his lifetime, but when he died – and maybe already a considerable time before – he was all but forgotten.

Those people who visit my site regularly know that I react and recommend recordings based on instinctive and often emotional responses to music. You know, that old Supreme Court Justice Potter school of thought who unceremoniously stated that he knew pornography when he saw it. For myself – and I never try to speak for other people – I know good music when I hear it, and Eugen Cicero is right up there with some of the very best pianists this planet has ever seen.

Eugen Cicero, you ask? Cicero?. Try the English Wikipedia and you come up empty-handed. Try looking for some extensive reviews in English and only the most diligent research will actually uncover something which might be called worthwhile. In fact, there is hardly any material available on this wonderful Romanian jazz pianist who has often been called the “German Oscar Peterson” (rightly so technically , although he was Romanian). Sadly enough, up until more recent reissues, Cicero had also completely disappeared from the public’s ears. It’s almost as if critics had decided not to mention his name anymore.

It is due to my recent immersion in remastered MPS reissues that I came across this wonderful set collecting five albums Eugen Cicero recorded from roughly 1965 to 1970 for that label.

MPS? MPS, “Musikproduktion Schwarzwald (lately unfortunately relabeled ‘Most Perfect Sound’ by Universal)”, was probably Germany’s most important and prominent jazz label of the 60s and 70s. It was founded by Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer (who also inherited a fortune to sustain his activities), a legendary German producer and superb sound engineer, who was responsible for more than 500 jazz releases on Saba (MPS’ ancestor) and MPS from 1963 to 1983. Although he then withdrew from the business, he remained enthusiastically available until his death in 2004, helping first Philips and then Universal rediscover and polish many of the gems that had been lying dormant in the vaults for all too long.

In fact, I wasn’t even looking for Eugen Cicero. I was looking for a boxed set of the complete recordings of Art Van Damme (yes, that accordion jazz guy) on MPS that I had started looking for frequently until it was released a few days ago. When, again and again, researching the release date for that boxed set, I stumbled across more and more older and recent MPS reissues, and amongst those was Eugen Cicero’s “Swinging the Classics on MPS.” In the beginning I just added it to my wishlist on Amazon, but it didn’t take long until I got this nagging feeling that of all the MPS reissues besides the Art Van Damme one, I just had to get that one. So, I jumped on it when I found it at a more than reasonable price.

Eugen Cicero, of Romanian descent, was born Eugen Ciceu in 1940, started playing piano at age four, gave his first Mozart Concerto with the Symphonic Orchestra of his hometown, Cluj-Napoca (Klausenburg), at age six and by the time he was 14 he was widely known as a child prodigy. His parents helped him develop this gift and hone his skills and when he was 11 they sent him to study with Aurelia Cionca, renowned in her native Romania as an excellent pianist who herself was taught by a student of Franz Liszt. Later Cicero studied with Anna Pitis who is said to have “initiated him into the virtuoso traditions personified by Franz Liszt” and later Cicero studied instrumentation and composition at the National Conservatory in Bucharest.

In the early 1960s, Cicero was on tour in East Berlin and managed to escape to the West. It was Charly Antolini, the drummer on most of Cicero’s later recordings, that got him a deal with Saba/MPS and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why does his music resonate so much with me? It certainly started when I was a child, when I was sifting through my dad’s record collection in which I found one of those Cicero samplers or original releases (I simply cannot recall what it was, although I suspect it must have been “Rokoko-Jazz”, released in 1965, but today the LP has disappeared). Next to all the swing big bands and the piano trios, especially Erroll Garner’s and Teddy Wilson’s, I listened to Eugen Cicero again and again. At the time, I didn’t know squat about music and many people might be apt to say that I still don’t today, but I just loved what Cicero was playing, simply because I could feel the passion and fun Cicero was injecting into his music. In hindsight, I think it was the incredible sense of swing this man had, coupled with the impeccable technique to pull off the most outrageous stunts.

Some examples?

On the 3-CD set discussed here, you will find the “Ouverture Miniature from The Nutcracker” on disc 2. It starts off by introducing the theme and after about 50 seconds it launches into the most astonishing jazz interpretation that has such drive that you simply cannot keep your feet still. Many people who are into their jazz trios as much as I am might immediately be reminded of Oscar Peterson, who this long stretch is very reminiscent of, but, and that’s a big BUT, there’s one difference to Oscar Peterson, whom I love dearly: Eugen Cicero just displayed a more sensitive touch with a much more varied dynamic approach and a dead-on sense for what he could get away with. On top of that, he never lost touch with what the piece allowed, and the artistic fireworks never took a top spot. It also has a fade-out that I, for once, love: Cicero, surprisingly, stops playing and lets the bass and drums close the piece. Actually, Cicero stops dead in his tracks. To my ears, this a wonderful way of closing this piece, giving the spotlight to his rhythm section for one of those moments that many listeners might appreciate.

Just afterwards we have “Mélodie Antique Francaise”, a wonderful melody uplifted by a riveting mid-tempo swing feel that just warms my heart. Cicero never takes it too far and the swing feel is what he keeps prominent. Some wonderful block-cords are woven around the rhythm section, and the whole piece comes off with that feeling of a trio having gotten the most out of the piece.

Disc three collects some of the many tunes that step away from the purely classical influence, jazzing up a whole number of (eastern European) traditional tunes that are just a blast to listen to. I have to admit that disc three is my favorite, just because it infuses some well-known tunes with such seemingly easily interwoven jazz variations that just make for a fun and astounding listening experience: “Dir gehört mein ganzes Leben” has Charly Antolini, the drummer, lay a wonderful brush beat and along with the rock-steady bass, Cicero is given a perfect basis to start improvising on – and improvise he does. “Memories of Clausenburg”, which has a wonderful beat, has that eastern European feel to it that is expressed by wonderful staccato chords and a soft melodic line, “Dort in der Ferne” has that Brubeck touch, and “Der Schlitten eilt” has a fascinating brief solo escapade that never goes overboard and showcases an Eugen Cicero that effortlessly moves from a baroque touch to the American jazz idiom. This is followed with what almost sounds to me like his last and final take on Bach: “Und Bach? (“After Prélude in C Minor”), such a powerful and technically virtuoso take on Bach that I’m astonished that most people I know have never heard it.

On disc one we have all the rousing swing takes on classics such as “Solfeggio in C Minor” by C.P.E. Bach, “Bach’s Softly Sunrise” by Cicero himself, “Prélude in C Minor”, “Etude in E (Op. 10, No.3)” and “Valse in C sharp minor” by Chopin, the composer Cicero felt a special bond with, “Sonata in C” (Scarlatti), “L’adolescente” (Coupertin) and many other famous pieces he recorded. They are the backbone of this reissue, and they are the recordings that made Cicero famous.

What then made Cicero unique? To my ears it is one single thing: Cicero, when compared to the few others whose fusion of jazz and classical music put them on the map, is simply more authentic. When compared to Jacques Loussier, for example, Cicero seemed to approach things with a jazz heart, instead of imposing jazz on classical or traditional material. Cicero quotes classical elements and uses them as decoration or transitional elements, but they rarely become or stay the main focus of his music. I think the third disc in the set shows that best when he rolls out madly swinging traditionals, effortlessly switching between a classical approach and a pure jazz one. Often he uses his brilliantly pearly right-hand runs to segue into a rock-solid triplet feel. Cicero had a passion for jazz and it can be witnessed all throughout his oeuvre.

The recordings also succeed so well because Cicero was accompanied by equally accomplished musicians, namely Charly Antolini on drums and both Peter Witte and J.A. Rettenbacher on bass. Antolini, who later became known for his audiophile extravaganzas and – to my ears – often utterly forgettable direct-recording releases that HiFi freaks play religiously to whoever does or doesn’t want to hear them, is in incredibly fresh and good form on these recordings, and both Witte (who will forever be remembered for his appearance together with Horst Jankowski and Charly Antolini at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival in 1964, giving rise to massive critical acclaim for this “incredibly tight rhythm section”) and Rettenbacher (who I only knew from Hans Koller recordings) do the word “tight” justice. All three are certainly of international caliber.

In the end, what we have here is music both for the mind and the feet, music that Eugen Cicero poured his heart and soul into. Yes, there are some tracks that are close to the edge of falling prey to popular taste, but there’s always something to keep them above the slush pile of similar recordings. It is the madly swinging feel that drew me to Eugen Cicero’s music and this 3-disc set serves up the best of that music in perfectly polished sound. In the reissue department, discs don’t come better than this, with perfect sound and accompanied by detailed original liner notes and all the facts and figures you need.

Beg, steal or borrow … and remember that you (probably) heard it here first.

Note: Check out some sound samples on this German site (Jazz Echo, a site run by Universal) by clicking on the speaker symbols next to the tracks in the list: Sound Samples.

***

Eugen Cicero
Swinging the Classics PS

Universal Music Classics & Jazz
2006 MPS-Records
CD 00289 4762788 3
Producer: Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer and Willi Fruth
Recorded: Jan. 1965 – Dez. 1970
Released: August 2006
Musicians: Peter Witte and J.A. Rettenbacher, bass / Charly Antolini, drums

CD 1:
01. Solfeggio C-moll (C.P.E. Bach)
02. Sonate in C-dur (D.Scarlatti)
03. L’Adolescente (F.Couperin)
04. Bach’s softly sunrise (Cicero)
05. Fantasie in D-moll (W.A.Mozart)
06. Erbarme Dich, mein Gott (J.S.Bach)
07. Grande Valse brillante in E-flat (Chopin)
08. Prélude in A, Op. 28, No. 7 (Chopin)
09. Valse in C sharp minor, Op. 64 (Chopin)
10. Prélude in C minor, Op. 28 (Chopin)
11. Etude in E, Op.10, No.3 (Chopin)
12. Prélude in E minor, Op. 28, No. 4 (Chopin)

CD 2
01. Introduction from Swan Lake (Tschaikowsky)
02. Pi ù mosso from Swan Lake (Tschaikowsky)
03. Andante and Theme Swan Lake (Tschaikowsky)
04. Ouverture Miniature Nutcracker Suite (Tschaikowsky)
05. Mélodie antique française (Tschaikowsky)
06. Chanson napolitaine (Liszt)
07. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (Liszt)
08. Etude No. 2 in E flat (Liszt)
09. Etude in G sharp minor (La Campanella) (Liszt)
10. Liebestraum (Liszt)
11. Etude in A minor (La Chasse) (Liszt)
12. Consolations No. 1 (Liszt)
13. Sogni d’amore (Liszt)

CD 3
01. Dir gehört mein ganzes Leben (trad.)
02. Seltener Weizen, seltene Gerste, … (trad.)
03. Memories Of Clausenburg (trad.)
04. Süsser Klang ertönt (trad.)
05. Nur ein Mädel gibt es auf der Welt (trad.)
06. Dort in der Ferne (trad.)
07. Im Mondenschein (trad.)
08. Der Schlitten eilt (trad.)
09. Und Bach? (after Prélude in C minor) (Cicero)
10. Rumänische Volksweisen (trad.)
11. Rumänisches Volkslied (trad.)

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. When I grew up, my parents often listened to Cicero, including his beautiful “Live in Berlin”, a double-LP of which sadly one record disappeared.

    I ripped the other one (I have a very good record player, but that limits me to listening to some true gems at home) and now listening to it in various settings, I get so enveloped in his music that I decided I simply must purchase a complete “Live in Berlin”.

    True, some pieces are bit corny (e.g., Love Story), but overall I keep being amazed how progressive and forward-orientated his playing was, especially at that time. If you remember a great magazine, Hifi Stereophone: in their record reviews they rated, amongst others, by “Interpretation” and “Repertoirewert”

    One should think Cicero would have garnered high remarks in both areas.

    Reply

  2. Hi Tobias,

    yes, I think he would have actually gotten high points in a HiFi magazine (I read Audio, Stereo and Stereoplay regularly), simply because the reviewers there are more neutral/objective.

    In jazz circles he wasn’t only trashed, but very often the tenor was negative.

    By the way: Check out a CD called “Solo Piano” (available on Amazon.de for around 17 Euro) … it’s a brilliant solo concert … I’m sure you’ll like it (there are some clips of each song on the Amazon page). One would think with some of the lesser material he produced at the end, this one would be bad, but the contrary is the case … excellent!

    Reply

  3. I love Cicero’s Spring Song! He was a genius – I think… When you have the Cicero’s Chopin, please-please write a mail to me! …because my girlfriend’s favorite componist is Chopin, and we love Eugen Cicero! Thanx! Eastman ()

    Reply

  4. I’ve been listening to Cicero CD’s since last winter and I can’t stop listening. I think he was one of the greatest pianist in the 20th century. I’ ve been playing the piano for 9 years and I think he was not only a musician. He could play his sadness, and all of his feelings.

    There is not anyone who could copy him.

    Reply

  5. Finally Cicero on internet ! Cant believe that one of the bigest pianist of the world is unknown and thanks for placing him on the top of the list.

    Some remarks, please:

    1 Cicero is not a German pianist . He is a ROMANIAN pianist .Make the correction , please.

    2. Eugen Ciceu ( Cicero) was a 100% pure ROMANIAN not at all a romanian -hungarian.

    I do not to be bad but I am fed up of the minimalization and marginalization we, the romanians have to endure just becouse the world things we are the 3 rd world.

    Thank you,

    Ioan Calapar , romanian pianist living in Oslo since 89

    Reply

  6. Ioan,

    no disrespect to this great musician intended. I stand corrected on the erroneously placed nationality attributions. I’ll fix the post up accordingly, tonight or tomorrow.

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing the love.

    BTW: My family lived in Oslo for several years, end 80s until beginning 90s. I loved the city, especially browsing the sections with English books at the “Tanum” (correct spelling?) book store. I hope that shop still exists. Besides, picking up fresh fish in the harbor before daylight hit the shores was a regular activity.

    Reply

  7. what a surprise to read all about Eugen, we went to the same Conservatory of music in Bucharest- Romania, and just today one of my friends told me to look for Roger, his son on the Eurovision Contest from Finland. I would love to hear his music[Eugen’s] Hope to be able to get 3 cds. Cheerio from Sydney- AustraliaI love Oscar Peterson.  Bye now

    Reply

  8. Hi Georgeta,

    it won’t be all that easy finding this 3-CD collection in Australia. I just looked around and came up with lots of blanks. Also Amazon.com and co.uk don’t seem to have it (anymore).

    The Australian Universal Music site is down at the moment, but they do give you the possibility to contact them. That’s the route I would choose to see if they can tell you where you can get this collection.

    I really didn’t think it was so difficult to get this set (in Germany it is readily available). In my eyes, it really is the best Cicero material available, although there are plenty of other Cicero recordings around nowadays.

    Just make sure you try to find out about any of the releases before hitting that “buy now” button. Not everything that’s out there is worth getting!

    Reply

  9. Hi Volkher,

    Guten Tag! I wrote a review about this superb Eugen Cicero 3-CD set and it was published today on Brazil’s daily newspaper “Tribuna da Imprensa” (Press Tribune). I have quoted one of your more than accurate comments – mentioning your name, of course. You can see it today at http://www.tribunadaimprensa.com.br After tomorrow, it can be found on my Jazz Station blog at

    http://jazzstation-oblogdearnaldodesouteiros.blogspot.com/

    Congrats for the great stories!

    All The Best,

    Arnaldo DeSouteiro

    Reply

  10. Arnaldo,

    thanks for helping spread the word. There can never be enough people listening to this late and great pianist.

    And thanks for the heads up re your article. It’s much appreciated.

    Volkher

    Reply

  11. Wouldn’t you like to hear a living pianist playing just like Cicero? Could It be possible? I mean play Cicero’s songs just like he did.

    Reply

  12. I have accidently stumbled upon the Spring Song 3-4 years ago and instantly fell in love with it. The complex but at the same time light interpretations of Classics have really touched me and allowed to marke Cicero higher that Loussier whom i listened at that time. Since than i piece by piece collect Cicero all over the internet, with variable success. It indeed is very suprising how little is know of Cicero and how hard it is to find his recordings.

    Reply

  13. Alfredo Bernabé Montoro25/12/2008 at 4:53 pm

    Poseo un disco vinilo (Cicero´s Chopin) que mi padre compró en Alemania allá por 1970. Lo encontré mucho más tarde ya aquí en España y cuando lo oí me sorprendió y me emocionó. He intentado encontrar más obras de Eugene Cicero y es difícil por la que entiendo que este artista no tuvo muy buena fama o lo consideraron mediocre,no sé,si alguien sabe donde me puedo bajar algo o comprar ruego se dirija a mi correo electrónico. Un saludo.

    Reply

  14. Volkher:

    Thanks for your long article about Eugen Cicero. It expresses so many things about Cicero that are just now formulating in my mind. I was ecstatic last week when I “discovered” Cicero on the itunes store library. It is such emotional and playful music he creates. As a lifelong devotee of anything that has to do with Johann Sebastian Bach (my stack of Bach CD’s is as high as my house), it was Cicero’s Bach interpretations that captured my heart.

    You have expressed an interpretation of Cicero’s artistry that is only now just formulating in my mind because he is so new to me. I especially agree with your comparison of Cicero and Jacques Louissier. Louissier is great, but Cicero is a genius.

    I was so happy to listen to Cicero’s music and was really looking forward to hearing more of him. So I got on the net to learn something about him biographically. I was deeply disappointed and sad to learn that he died 12 years ago. What a musically emotional roller coaster I have experienced in a very short time…

    Now, I must find whatever I can of music that he recorded(and buy it). I barely know where to begin. I have exhausted the itunes store. Where do I begin?

    Steve, in California

    Reply

  15. Steve, after a somewhat ruined weekend (work) I’m going to enjoy the “leftovers”. I’ll get back to you here on Monday if that’s OK?

    Volkher

    Reply

  16. Kobus (South Africa)26/03/2009 at 2:01 pm

    Hey Volkher,
    Thanks for the interesting article on a great pianist. I also discovered his music through my dad’s record collection and would keep listening to ‘Und Bach’ and some of the other fantastic songs on the record called ‘In concert’. I could never find any CDs on the net so when i visited Berlin last year I surprisingly found a CD in the Kadewee shop. It’s an older (more recent) recording and unfortunately his touch also seem less exciting. But none the less a great artist with incredible talent.

    Reply

  17. @ Steve and Kobus

    I’m a bit late in replying … sorry.

    Kobus: Yes, that Cicero’s touch became less exciting is definitely a problem, a problem I already had with a slice of the recording(s) I discussed here. Already his MPS material showed a touch of “Muzak” at times and I’ve had my problems with many of the other available CDs. At best, Cicero swung like mad (especially also because of the great sidemen he employed), at worst he produced elevator music of the most terrible kind.

    I have a difficult time recommending any recordings aside from the MPS material I reviewed here. Example? Cicero’s “Plays Schubert” is widely available here and has lots of gems on it, “Ciceros Deutscher Tanz Nr.2,” being a highlight, but you also have to suffer through a ton (!) of sweetened string arrangements. That is the basic problem: The gems are few and far between (meaning the solos are often excellent, but the surrounding “soup” can be nerve-wrecking depending on your disposition). That said, …

    a) I think his “Solo Piano” release on (in Germany) In&Out (in-akustik) is excellent. It’s got that Cicero touch, in many places more refined and relaxed when compared to his MPS material, but it’s my second-favorite CD. Get it!

    b) Another good recording is the 1996 “Swinging Piano Classics” released on the same label. The only thing that bugs the hell out of me (!!!) is the electric bass. “Badinerie” is a highlight that has flourishes of his early material. It also has a few (too many) tunes that move straight into muzak territory. 😉

    Don’t shoot me – especially since I only sampled the many other available CDs – but a lot of what’s available suffers from shoddy editorial work, bad digital transfers or just bland material.

    I for one would welcome a properly edited, transferred and knowledgeable boxed set that cuts away most of the crud and concentrates on the excellent. Alas, it’s something we’ll probably never get.

    I’m sticking to the collection reviewed here which is/was, in my eyes, the epitome of what Cicero was all about.

    Reply

  18. Volkher,

    Thanks for the information. I own the Bach, Spring Song and Rococo Jazz 2 (IS THERE A ROCOCO JAZZ 1!?–where do I find it??)so I think I have three pretty good ones. I agree with your comment about Cicero’s excellent sidemen. They add alot! I, too, find muzak and electric guitar (in place of a good string bass) somewhat revolting. I’m going to continue reading your website since your comments put into words my emerging opinion of genius Cicero. Why do you think he lapsed into muzak??

    Steve

    Reply

  19. Hello Volkher,

    I see that “Berlin Reunion” is offered on iTunes. I don’t know the history of that effort… What’s your opinion of that album?? There are just 30 second samples of each, but to me, some sounded promising.

    Steve in California

    Reply

  20. Hi Steve,

    sorry about the delay. I’ve been out and about. 🙂

    I haven’t delved that deeply into the Cicero discography, so I’m shooting mighty bullets into the dark here.

    The “Rococo Jazz 2” you have must be, as far as I can ascertain, a reissue put out there by these Spanish bandits, Timeless Records. The one you have is then a much later effort, recorded at Fendal Sound Studio, Loenen, Holland, in the first week of June 1987, whereas the original album I have, recorded in 1967 (March 14th), is the one included in the boxed set I presented here (“Eugen Cicero: Swinging the Classics on MPS”). It’s on the first of the 3 CDs and encompasses numbers one through six. So, I guess if you want that one which, I guess, would be “Rokoko-Jazz (1)”, you might have to get yourself this box, which you should be getting anyways: Beg, Steal & Borrow! 😉

    For all the others reading along here, Steve’s “Rococo Jazz 2” contains:

    01) Rococo In Rock – from the theme “Ah, Vous Dirai-Je, Maman”(Mozart / Cicero)
    02) Sarabande For Angélique – from Suite No. 4, D-Minor(Händel / Cicero)
    03) Philipp’s Swinging Fantasia – from Fantasia in D-Minor(C. P. E.Bach / Cicero)
    04) Fantasia In Jazz – (Mozart / Cicero)
    05) Toccata Et Fuga D-Minor – (J. S.Bach / Cicero)
    06) Friedmann’s Lamento E-Minor – (W. F. Bach / Cicero)
    07) Sehnsucht nach den Frühling – (Mozart / Cicero)
    08) Menuette in Blues – from Divertimento in D, K334(Mozart / Cicero)
    09) Riveside in Rondo – (American Trad. / Cicero)

    Recorded at: Fendal Sound Studio, Loenen, Holland
    Rec dates: 6, 7 and 8 June 1987

    Eugen Cicero – piano
    Henk Haverhoek – bass
    John Engels – drums

    The muzak aspect of Cicero’s playing I can only guess at. As I have outlined above, Cicero wasn’t a hit with jazz purists, to say the least, he had his run-ins with alcohol and, worst of all, had fallen into critical oblivion well before his death in 1997. To put things bluntly, I think a lot of the muzak aspects were motivated by catering to an audience far removed from jazz … and making money.

    The “Berlin Reunion” release I’ve only heard one track of … and didn’t like. Excellent piano, but too much of that muzak vibe.

    In short, get the boxed set reviewed here and enjoy Cicero swinging his rear end off with the band. I used to have a ton of Cicero CDs on my “Want, Need … Will Have!” list, but after a while, I decided that what I had was enough.

    Cheers!

    Reply

  21. Hi,

    Thank you for such an interesting review. I was looking for some bits of information about Cicero because I am his fan and was shoked that could not get it even on wikipedia. I listened to him by chance one year ago and now he is one of my favourite musicians.

    Best regards
    Mariam, from Georgia

    Reply

  22. and by the way, after your article about cicero I am going to be fan of your blog as well, and read as much as possible.

    Thank you again

    Reply

  23. Hi, Mariam,

    thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. I’m still as much a fan of a lot of Cicero’s work as I was when I wrote this review a long time ago. That MPS reissue swings like mad in many parts! It’s still one I put on absolutely regularly.

    I hope you will stay around and have a look once in a while, but as you have probably noticed, this is a very eclectic site: jazz, classical, punk, hard rock, disco … I’ve got it all. 😉

    Best,
    Volkher

    Reply

  24. My dad worked with him… in a band, they toured from Romania, all around.. then they escaped the communists in East Berlin and crossed the wall to West Berlin…
    etc. etc. My dad left to America to study etc.

    my dad kept in contact, he was a bass player…
    after my dad left, Eugene became famous…
    but that is another story altogether…

    (my dad was a Bass player by the way)

    Reply

  25. I have been buying any and all Eugen Cicero CDs since I heard him by chance on Best of Gershwin CD some years ago. I am constantly amazed at the virtuosity of this wonderful musician… what a blast to sit back and just hear his playing. I continue to look for any videos of him in concert, to no avail.

    Reply

  26. The virtuosity on display is, indeed, mesmerizing.

    Unfortunately, I have also been looking for videos in vain. It would be grand to get some live videos from that early phase I wrote about here. What a blast that would be, especially with those excellent sidemen he employed on these sessions!

    Reply

  27. Thank you for the information. Yesterday for $1.00 I purchased a CD “The best of George Gershwin” at a Cancer resale shop, and Eugen Cicero, whom I’d never heard of, was the pianist for the piano medleys. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this bargain. When I blog about it, I’ll link back to this.

    Reply

  28. Volkher- Thanks for the article! I knew Eugen Cicero (& his brother Adrian- Percussionist with SFB’s Bigband & Orchestra) from 1968- 1971, in Berlin, Germany. Berlin’s own Movie Starlet & Vocalist Evelyne Kunneke (daughter of Composer Edouard Kunneke) was wildly attracted to the pianist, who came to the Kunneke Flat at GiesebrechtStr. 5 several times a month to visit -& to play the late librettist’s piano. Nothing ever came of Evelyne’s crush, unfortunately, as Eugen preferred relationships with men. He was brilliant, indeed -though modest -and that quality may have contributed to the lack of Serious Recognition he deserved to mark his place and define his influence in the history of European Jazz. If you browse my Photos at Facebook, you will see a few images of Adrian with a small group of my friends.. including Adrian’s then “future x-wife,” Romanian Pop Star, Luminitza! Also: I’ve heard that the Kunneke Estate is preserved in a Berlin Museuem and is archived for study. Perhaps you may locate some references (at least) to Eugen Cicero among Evelyne’s Effects- especially the photos & letters. Best Wishes -Blue Brown! Ps: you can also find me at myspace.com/bluebrownmusic PpSs: I lived at the Kunneke Flat (located on the 2’nd floor of the building @ GiesebrechtStr 5 from: January of 1971, until I moved to Apostel-PaulusStr., sometime in the late spring of that year. Jazz Star Carmell Jones had lived there for a while before me. There were a couple of others Evelyne had taken in, as well.. including Monica Rettenbacher (x-wife /with child/ of Bassist Harry.. who was Bassist Hans Rettenbacher’s brother..)

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  29. Thank you very much for your comment. very interesting snippets of information (especially, for example, the Carmell Jones bit … I’m a big fan).

    I’ll have a look at your site one of these upcoming days.

    Thanks again for stopping by and adding to the information here.
    🙂

    Reply

  30. Hi there,

    10 years after your original post, here I am, slack-jawed in awe of Cicero. I was listening to a random classical-jazz mix on Spotify when Cicero’s Solfeggio in C minor caught my ear and didn’t let go. I am loving everything there is in this album so far, and am so glad to have found people who share my sentiments. This man was a genius and he deserves a wider audience!

    Reply

    1. Volkher Hofmann19/11/2016 at 10:03 am

      10 years? Has it really been that long ago? My God, I’m getting old. 😀

      I’m also still enjoying this music as much as I did when I first got hold of it and I give all of it a spin regularly. I’m also still amazed at his technical ability. Playing this kind of music with his kind of expertise just elevates it to a whole different level. He did fall prone to recording more “muzak”-like sessions after these releases, but even on those his brilliance shines through again and again.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
      Much appreciated.

      Reply

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