“When I improvise, the rich nuances of the Bechstein grand piano inspire me and the instrument’s warm voice makes me feel absolutely good.”
Johannes von Ballestrem
Johannes von Ballestrem is a traditional and modern jazz pianist living in Berlin. In keeping with his stylistic versatility, he regularly performs with various groups in Germany and around the world. He has played with such outstanding jazz musicians as Jim Black, Till Brönner, Greg Cohen, Kurt Elling, Eric Harland, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Norma Winstone.
After studying at the Jazz Institute Berlin and the HMT Leipzig under Wolfgang Köhler, Aaron Parks, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Michael Wollny, he was a member of the Bundesjazzorchester from 2011 to 2013, with whom he recorded several CDs and toured Europe and Africa. In 2014, he opened the Deutsche Kulturwoche festival in Benin with a solo recital on a Bechstein grand piano, and then performed several times with Beninese musicians. Two years later, he received a grant from the Berlin Senate to spend six weeks in New Orleans researching the roots and earliest forms of jazz.
In recent years, his work with flutist Mariana Zwarg has led him to focus on Brazilian jazz and to collaborate with great Brazilian musicians such as Fabio Gouvea, Hermeto Pascoal, and Itiberê Zwarg. Moreover, he began a collaboration with violinist Daniel Hope after taking part in the Hope@Home series.
Johannes von Ballestrem has performed with various bands at major festivals (Jazzfest Berlin, Elbjazz Hamburg, Pori Jazz Festival/Finland, Nišville/Serbia, St. Louis Jazz Festival/Senegal), as well as in famous clubs (Nardis Jazzclub/Istanbul, Sunset-Sunside/Paris, Casa da Musica/Porto and SESC Instrumental/São Paulo).
He also plays the guitar, notably on the album Denmark Street by the singer Friede Merz.
Photo: © Dovile Sermokas, Lukas Diller