Winter & Winter

Winter & Winter is an independent record label based in Munich, which releases jazz, classical and contemporary music and generally follows a cross-border concept.

Winter & Winter was launched in 1995/96 by Stefan Winter, after he sold his first production company named JMT (Jazz Music Today) to Polydor K.K. in Japan. The JMT label was mainly dedicated to the New York jazz scene between 1985 and 1995; Winter & Winter set new benchmarks. Jazz, classical music, world music and AudioFilms (the German magazine „Der Spiegel“ has referred to these recordings as Cinema for Closed Eyes) are the musical fundament. Mariko Takahashi, who has co-defined the artistic concept and presentation since the beginning, took over the responsibility for world-wide distribution in 1998 and founded Winter & Winter GmbH in 2002 alongside Stefan Winter. The label does not limit itself to the realisation and release of music productions, but also launched its Film Edition series in 2003 with Nico Humbert’s and Werner Penzel’s cult film »Step across the Border«. The Literatur Edition series, which produces audio books, was added in 2007. The first release in this series was film director Werner Herzog’s diary »Vom Gehen im Eis«, read by the author himself.

Winter & Winter Music Edition is a pioneering force for a new cross-border musical style, which can hardly be categorized and has nothing in common with what is usually referred to as cross-over. As the first project of this kind Uri Caine’s »Primal Light« was realized, a special adaptation and new approach to the music of Gustav Mahler. The piece was premiered in 1995 at New York’s Knitting Factory and can be considered as the actual birth of Winter & Winter.

Winter & Winter produces music in an atypical way, seldom in recording studios. The music of Winter & Winter originates in the streets, in alleys and on squares, in abandoned churches, barns and backyards, sometimes in lofts, music halls and on the stages of great concert halls. Special locations with an incomparable atmosphere are selected for the recordings of the chosen subjects. The sounds of chimes from St. Mark’s Square in Venice waft through Wagner’s music (»Wagner e Venezia«), and the wheezing of the Orient Express’s old steam engine can be heard as the train departs for Constantinople. The unique acoustic quality of the Villa Medici in the Italian Brianza (Robert Schumann »Für meine Clara«) makes the most beautiful strings of period instruments resound. The outstanding location has the power of a good movie director and is as eminent as the performers themselves. Artists obsessed with music, gifted players, musicians with heart and soul: the contemporary composer Hans Abrahamsen, the virtuoso Teodoro Anzellotti, the Arditti String Quartet, the jazz drummer Jim Black and his band AlasNoAxis, the vocalist Theo Bleckmann, the Spanish baroque ensemble Forma Antiqva, the Suisse ensemble Freitagsakademie with Swedish soprano Susanne Rydén, the avant-garde composer and guitarist Fred Frith [ECHO prize winner], violist Vittorio Ghielmi, the jazz band Kneebody from Los Angeles, composer and pianist Uri Caine [three times ECHO prize winner], the period ensemble La Gaia Scienza around cellist Paolo Beschi, the New York jazz musician Paul Motian, cellist -and sound specialist for Werner Herzog film soundtracks Ernst Reijseger, the Schönberg Ensemble in collaboration with Mauricio Kagel and the famous actress and singer Barbara Sukowa [ECHO prize winner], and the Japanese composer and pianist Fumio Yasuda, to only name a few. With every artist a personal canon is created, project by project, often these individual canons overlap, sometimes AudioFilms result from the points of intersection. For example »Metropolis Shanghai«, with the Jewish group Brave Old World playing Viennese Schrammel music in the Chinese ghetto. Opening the Winter & Winter atlas of sounds is always a worthwhile experience.

The AudioFilm is a genre of its own. Mariko Takahashi and Stefan Winter create sound stories which sometimes tell fictitious stories (»Charmed with Verdi« with Fumio Yasuda, or »Au Bordel« with Noël Akchoté) and other times have a historical basis (»Tin Pan Alley« with Uri Caine, »Waldhaus Sils Maria« with Jürg Kienberger, or »Metropolis Shangahi« about the Jewish life in this “port of last resort”). Often these AudioFilms are travel diaries of sounds (»Cuadernos de La Habana«, »Hawai’i – Under the Rainbow« or »Carnival in Trinidad«).

Winter & Winter normally has one new release per month, with occasional CD Boxsets and special editions (for example the 75th birthday edition for Mauricio Kagel in 2006). Concentrating on a limited number of projects is crucial, as almost all of the releases are self-produced. This small music manufacturer also attaches a lot of importance to packaging and design. Its distinctive packaging, produced in a small workshop, made of coloured paper with elaborate embossing and booklets, is Winter & Winter’s trademark. Mariko Takahashi and Stefan Winter frequently call upon graphic artists like Günter Mattei from Munich, Ruri Fujita from Tokyo and Steve Byram from New York for the designing and artwork of the albums. And the artists Nobuyoshi Araki, Georg Baselitz, Yoshitomo Nara, Rinus Van de Velde and Jerry Zeniuk contribute exclusive works.

List of artists (selection):

Teodoro Anzellotti (accordion)

Hans Abrahamsen (composer)

Theo Bleckmann (vocals)

Jim Black (drums)

Uri Caine (piano, composer)

Forma Antiqva and Aarón Zapico

Mauricio Kagel (composer)

Paul Motian (drums)

Ernst Reijseger (cello, composer)

Fumio Yasuda (piano, composer)

Stefan Zeniuk & Gato Loco

Since July 2000 Winter & Winter exhibits works by the artists who are part of the label’s graphic design team. The showroom has all productions available for listening and purchasing.

2010 Winter & Winter launched a Coffee-Shop in our showroom (Coffee-Table am Viktoriaplatz) at Viktoriastrasse 28 in Munich to listen to our music, to read newspapers and magazines, to enjoy cappucino, tea and delicious little things to eat.