Uli was born in Munich in 1956 and grew up in a very music-loving family. His father regularly played records by Louis Armstrong and Joe “King” Oliver. On Sundays and in the 1960s a lot of jazz and gospel music was broadcasted on the radio, which Uli literally captivated the speakers. In those days, his older brother Johannes brought home a record from George Lewis, the legendary clarinettist from New Orleans. These recordings were the inspiration for Uli to learn to play the clarinet. He attended a musical high school and had a classical education on the clarinet and piano for nine years.
That’s how he fell in love with jazz music. At the age of 15, Uli became a permanent member of the Occamstreet Footwarmers, the house band of the legendary Munich jazz pub Allotria. The leader of this band and operator of the Allotrias, Hermann Kügler, was Uli`s mentor in those years. Soon after, Uli, along with his brother Johannes on piano and his friend Max Kirchmeier on drums, founded the Storyville Shakers, a band that had devoted itself entirely to the New Orleans Revival Jazz. With the Storyville Shakers, Uli has performed on many concert stages in Europe for over 40 years, to which he also regularly invited guest musicians from New Orleans. In 1979 the three young shakers travelled to New Orleans to experience and grasp the real sound of New Orleans. In the same year, the legendary pianist and singer Sing Miller from New Orleans were invited on a tour to Bavaria. In the following years, musicians from New Orleans continued touring with the Storyville Shakers, such as Sam Lee, Gerald French, Charly Gabriel, Leroy Jones, Walter Payton and others. Several CDs were recorded during these tours.
The New Orleans Sound
Because of his enthusiasm for this music, Uli deepened himself more and more in all possible facets of different interpreters. He was so impressed by the play of saxophonist Capn John Handy that he soon learned to play the alto saxophone, and Uli has been completely infected by the New Orleans sound, at least since his first trip to the Mississippi Delta over 40 years ago.
Under his own name “Uli Wunner`s Jazz Creole” he has been organizing tours with the trumpeter Leroy Jones from New Orleans for many years. In 2019, Leroy Jones received the Ascona Jazz Award at the Ascona Festival – Uli accompanied him with his band on several concerts and TV appearances.
Ende der 1990er Jahre gründete er zusammen mit seinem Kollegen und Freund Thomas L`Etienne die Formation Creole Clarinets. Der Austausch und die vielen musikalischen Erlebnisse mit Thomas beschreibt Uli als besonders wichtig für seine musikalisches Leben. Zusammen entdeckten sie die creolische Klarinettenmusik der Karibikinsel Martinique und schließlich begann Thomas sich mit der Samba und Choromusik Brasiliens zu beschäftigen. Uli folgte ihm nach Brasilien, wo sie in den vergangenen Jahren zusammen mit Musikern aus Rio de Janeiro mehrere Studioaufnahmen machten. Neben vielen Konzertauftritten auf den namhaften europäischen Jazzfestivals nahmen Uli und Thomas mit der Formation CreoleClarinets insgesamt 5 Cds auf.
In seiner Heimatstadt Freising gründete Uli zusammen mit der Sängerin Julia Schröter und anderen jungen Musikern aus Freising vor einigen Jahren das Ensemble Beleza, eine Formation, die neben Jazzklassikern sich der brasilianischen Samba- und Choromusik Brasiliens beschäftigt. Auch mit dieser Formation nahme Uli kürzlcih eine CD auf.
From Bavaria to the stages of the world
Uli Wunner has also been active as a guest musician for many years. He regularly plays with the band New Orleans Night Owls by the Belgian trumpeter Joris de Cock, the Maryland Jazzband Cologne and numerous other well-known New Orleans bands in Europe. As a guest musician, he accompanied the Maryland jazz band on several concert tours to New Orleans. In 2012, guest singer Big Al Carson from New Orleans recorded a life CD in the Mint in the famous French Quarter.
He has toured several times with New Orleans singer Lilian Boutte and has been giving concerts with legendary blues pianist Christian Willisohn for several years. He has been a guest at the famous Ascona Jazz Festival for 30 years, where he has performed with icons such as Shannon Paul, Gerald French, Lucien Barbarin, and many others.
Since his first stay in New Orleans in 1979, Uli has made regular pilgrimages to the mother city of jazz. He is a welcomed guest in the inner circle musicians from New Orleans. He had the chance to perform at some of the world-known clubs such as Sonesta Playhouse, Preservation Hall, Palm Court, Candlelight Lounge together with the bands from the city.
Despite his deep interest in jazz music, Uli did not make music his main profession. He worked as a doctorate in fisheries biology in the district of Upper Bavaria for 32 years and was involved in fish and water protection.
“Like one of us…”
However, his musical soul has been committed to music from the hometown of jazz since childhood. It is the archaic, unmistakable and authentic energy of African music culture that fascinates him so much and that in its special form in New Orleans always comes up in new facets. His musician friends from New Orleans confirm Uli’s love for their music and there is no better compliment than the legendary New Orleans drummer Gerald French, who after a session at the Sonesta Playhouse stated: “you sound great man, like one of us. … “-.