A highly regarded German drummer and percussionist, Günter Sommer aka Günter Baby Sommer is known for his extensive work in the field of avant-garde music and European free jazz. From the late '60s onward, Sommer developed a strong reputation as an inventive, forward-thinking performer, working with such luminaries as Wadada Leo Smith, Ulrich Gumpert, Peter Brötzmann, and others. He also issued his own expansive solo percussion albums like 1979's Hörmusik and trio efforts like 2011's Melting Game. Since the mid-'90s, he has also balanced his time between performing and teaching, working on the faculty of Dresden's Academy of Music Carl Maria von Weber.

Born in Dresden, Germany in 1943, Sommer became interested in music at a young age and eventually earned his degree studying at Dresden's Carl Maria Von Weber Academy of Music, where he graduated in 1966. During this period, he also found work playing with Klaus Lenz and vocalist Manfred Krug. From there, he moved into avant-garde and free jazz playing with saxophonist Friedhelm Schönfeld's trio, as well as stints with Ulrich Gumpert's jazz-rock outfit SOK. Also during the '70s, he contributed to Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky' Synopsis trio and Zentralquartett, and was a member of Gumpert's workshop band. As a leader, he debuted in 1979 with the solo percussion album Hörmusik. That same year, he also issued Touch the Earth, a trio album featuring trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and bassist Peter Kowald.

Sommer returned to his solo percussion work in 1983 with Hörmusik Zwei. He began working often with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, appearing on albums like 1981's Family and 1982's Pica Pica. He also reunited with Wadada Leo Smith, contributing to the trumpeter's 1985 album, If You Want the Kernels, You Have to Break the Shells. There were also well-regarded sessions with Cecil Taylor, Irene Schweizer, and Jazz Orchester der DDR. In 1988, he delivered his third solo effort, Hörmusik III: Sächsische Schatulle. Also during the '80s, Sommer expanded his reach, collaborating with writers like Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass. Since then, he has similarly collaborated on projects with Christa Wolf, Christoph Hein, and actor Friedrich-Wilhelm Junge.

In 1992, he showcased his long-running trio with bassist Didier Levallet and reed specialist Sylvain Kassap on Bib, a live album recorded during the Workshop Freie Musik in Berlin. The trio album Merseburger Begegnung, featuring clarinetist Theo Jörgensmann and organist Hans-Günther Wauer, followed two years later. There were other dates with Mario Schiano, Conrad Bauer, Cecil Taylor, and others. Beginning in 1995, Sommer has also taught as a member of the faculty at his alma mater, the Academy of Music Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden.

Since the 2000s, Sommer has remained quite active, regularly returning to his solo percussion projects and continuing his ongoing work with longtime associates like Wadada Leo Smith, Conrad Bauer, and Barre Phillips. In 2007, he paired with trumpeter Smith for the duo album Wisdom in Time. Two years later, he joined Ulrich Gumpert for Donnernde Leben, and returned to his trio work with 2011's Melting Game. In 2014, he delivered his own Dedications: Hörmusik IV. He then collaborated with pianist Uli Johannes Kieckbusch on 2017's Schwebende Riefen Bebende Tiefen. The following year, he paired with trumpeter Till Brönner for the adventurous duo session Baby's Party. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi

Günter Baby Sommer @ University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar
Günter Sommer ‎- Hörmusik (FULL ALBUM, free jazz, East Germany, 1979)
Conrad Bauer, Peter Kowald, Günter Sommer - Between Heaven And Earth (2003) [Full Album]
Leo Smith, Peter Kowald, Günter Sommer - 1981 album
Hans Günther Wauer & Günter Sommer - Gestörte Klangfläche
Elements - Günter Baby Sommer and Fabrizio Puglisi - Out now!
The White Night fest - Gunter Sommer - 6.1
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