b. 1978, Schweinfurt, Germany. A gifted pianist, Wollny has attracted considerable attention in his homeland during his still relatively short career. Influenced by darkly brooding concepts not only from music but also from literature, film and painting, his composing and playing have benefited from deep and careful study of the work of musicians, writers, filmmakers and painters. These have included musicians Richie Beirach, Björk, Jarvis Cocker, Peter Fulda, Keith Jarrett, Joachim Kühn, Chris Morris, Walter Quintus, Steve Reich and John Taylor, filmmakers Dario Argento, Luis Buñuel, David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais and painter Charlotte McGowan-Griffin. For example, Wollny chose on his 2007 recording Hexentanz to build musical analogies to gothic novels. Seeking and finding dark undertones to the themes he develops, his brooding music is not always immediately understood but requires unrestricted thought and emotional openness from his audiences. Wollny brings into his compositions and performances an acute awareness of classical music past and present, as well as the full range of jazz piano.
Wollny performs solo and also as leader of a trio with Eva Kruse (bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums). This trio, named [em], has attracted considerable attention in Germany and has also led to critical praise in Italy, Scandinavia, the UK and Eire. Among compositions played by [em] are ‘Another Mr Lizard’, ‘Bells’ and ‘Takashi’ by Wollny, ‘Schneefall’ and ‘Brizzle’ by Kruse, and ‘Phlegma Phighter’, ‘Gorilla Biscuits’ and ‘Funebre’ by Schaefer. Wollny has also played in groups led by trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and has recorded in duo with veteran German free jazz saxophonist Heinz Sauer, with whom, in addition to original works, he plays music by composers as diverse as Björk, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk and Gil Evans.
In 2007, Wollny won the Jazzpreis der Nürnberger Nachrichten and [em] was named as Most Promising International Newcomer Of The Year at the Ronnie Scott Jazz Awards. The trio was recorded live at the Vortex, London, in May 2007.