In 1997, Sedal Sardan took over an upcoming jazz club and turned it into one of Europe's legendary music venues. Today, jazz music luminaries from all over the world perform regularly at the Charlottenburg venue.
"I didn't know anything about jazz before," says Sedal Sardan, with a laugh. "I was listening to Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, that kind of stuff." But then came the revelatory night in Izmir. Sedal Sardan was out with friends and landed in the jazz club Be Bob. What he found there blew him away. Over the next few months, he learned everything there was to know about jazz – from old New Orleans jazz to the classics of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and modern forms.
That led him to discover Berlin jazz locale A-Trane, a club founded back in 1992. When Sedal Sardan, who had come to Berlin with his parents in 1974, took the place over in 1997, it wasn't much to look at. "But I don't like to give up," he says, "and something I had learned was that the more you grow, the bigger you get."
Today A-Trane's stage is shared by some of the world's finest jazz musicians – and the space is so intimate you can almost touch them. Everybody plays here - from local musicians to world-class stars. Big names such as Herbie Hancock, Till Brönner, and Wynton Marsalis have graced this stage. "The artists have to feel at home," says Sedal Sardan, sharing his business secret. "You can't try and force them – they have to come on their own."
The club's name is a play on words combining references to New York City's A train, which shuttled jazz musicians back and forth between Harlem and the downtown area, and the name of the most influential jazz virtuoso of the 20th century, John Coltrane. A-Trane made its home in a district famous for its role in the Berlin music scene. The quarter once housed Steve Club, GO-IN, and a whole army of bars and clubs that put the Berlin folk scene on the map. "I love Charlottenburg more than any other place," says Sedal Sardan.
"It has the best artists' scene in Berlin." Although much of that verve was swept out east after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the trend is beginning to reverse itself. The old West Side is back in style. And although a leading jazz magazine has named A-Trane as the best international concert spot six years running, Sedal Sardan has a different aim in mind: "I don't want it to be the best club, I want it to be the most interesting."
Author: Lutz Göllner