Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Kampgen, Nicole, alto, soprano and baritone saxophone, vocals; b. September 22, 1963, Muelheim, Ruhr, Germany. She's been living in the United States since 1999. Nicole started out on her musical career as a folk/blues singer, playing guitar and flute before discovering jazz improvisation and switching to saxophone.
Studying classical saxophone, jazz saxophone, piano and jazz vocals in Berlin with Christof Griese, Mack Goldsbury, Walter Norris and Reggie Moore, she was awarded a scholarship for gifted musicians and received various grants for continued studies in the United States and Canada. She attended the 1992 Banff and the 1993 and '94 Sandpoint, Idaho jazz workshops with Joe Lovano, Anthony Braxton, Kenny Wheeler, George Garzone, David Baker, and Gunther Schuller, among others.
In the 15 years of professionally performing in Berlin, Nicole played in various ensembles, ranging from traditional big bands (C.I.O. and K.C. Big Band) to the ten-year association with the award winning 9-piece rock jazz formation Gatz Gatz, which has now evolved into an improvisers collective. In addition to horn section work with a number of funk and R&B bands, she is a member of violinist Billy Bang's B.O.B.B.I. (Bang's Original Big Band of Improvisation), while other projects include the all-female saxophone quartet Quadrilla, the jazz trio Blues and Roots and freelance work with various local jazz players and bands. Among the people she has worked with in Europe are Gary Wiggins, Tony Hurdle, Tina Wrase, Paul Brody, Carolyn Del Rosario, Fuasi Abdul Khaliq, Zam Johnson and Inka Janssen. In another branch of her career, Nicole performed in six musical theater productions culminating in the co-creation of Scanned Heads, a musical production company which wrote, produced and performed two original and innovative works, Wirklich wirklich (for Vagantenbuhne, Berlin and Black Box, Munich) and Goethe! (for Tribune, Berlin).
In 1995 Nicole began collaborating with bassist Ed Schuller in performing the music of the late Jim Pepper, Native American saxophonist and singer, whose original and powerful music melded Native song heritage with jazz harmony. Ed, who had played with Jim for many years, continued to preserve the music and kept it alive by launching a series of concerts and group settings, both in the U.S. and Europe. Their first tour together with saxophonist Chuck Florence, guitarist Craig Hall and drummer George Schuller was recorded at the Myrna Loy Theater in Helena, Montana and released on Saxophile Records. Nicole and Ed have since experimented with a number of formats from duo to quintet until settling on the current personnel of their band Da'Koda, featuring Mack Goldsbury, tenor; Michael Rodach, guitar, and Kenny Martin, drums, along with Nicole on alto and vocals and Ed on bass and vocals. Da'Koda has performed two highly acclaimed week-long mid-summer show runs in 2000 and 2001 at the A-Trane, Berlin.
In 1998 conductor / composer / scholar Gunther Schuller arranged and conducted Jim Pepper's material for orchestra and jazz band, Native singers and dancers. Initiated by Peter Wiessmueller of Tutu Records as remembrance of his friend Jim Pepper, this unique event featured the WDR Radio Orchestra, Kirk Lightsey (p), Bill Bickford (g), Nicolas Simeon (ts), Topo Gioia (perc), George Schuller (dr), Ed Schuller (b, voc), Pete Bender (voc), Caren Knight (voc) and Nicole Kampgen (as, voc).
Since coming to New York City in 2000, she has performed with Mat Maneri, Russ Lossing, Gary Valente, Perry Robinson, Ran Blake, Peter Apfelbaum and Joe Maneri, among others. She has also performed with Ed Schuller's quartet The Eleventh Hour, which focuses on original material by Ed.
Ed Schuller, The Eleventh Hour Band: Snake Dancing (1997); Chuck Florence: Remembering Jim Pepper (1999); Ron Blake Trio: Sonic Temples (2001); Jim Pepper Remembrance Band & WDR Radio Orchestra: Witchi Tai To (2002)