Featuring some of the finest avant-garde jazz players from Germany and beyond, the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble began life as a loose studio aggregation assembled for a youth-oriented German television show in 1975. Hoping for a contemporary balance between rock and jazz, producer Werner Schretzmeier called upon pianist Wolfgang Dauner, the former leader of Et Cetera, an avant-garde jazz group Schretzmeier had managed until their breakup in 1972. Initially recruiting musicians from his home base of Stuttgart (then a hotbed of avant-garde jazz), Dauner put together a rotating cast of musicians that were at first dubbed the Eleven and a Half Ensemble (after the program's airtime); this group featured guitarist Volker Kriegel (who shared writing and arranging duties with Dauner), drummer Jon Hiseman, trumpeter Ack Van Rooyen, and trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff…
Wolfgang Dauner has now been highly active on the scene for more than fifty years. Dauner hired top young musicians to be around him for the current upgrade to United 2.0. The second United generation, like the first one, is eagerly researching the crossing points between jazz, rock, funk and world music. Featuring some of the finest avant-garde jazz players from Germany and beyond the Ensemble began life in 1975. Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, initially recruiting musicians from his home base of Stuttgart (then a hotbed of avant-garde jazz), put together a rotating cast of musicians, and shared writing and arranging duties with guitarist Volker Kriegel. They recorded the first album under the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble name, Live im Schützenhaus, in 1977, to be released on the group's then founded Mood Records label. The album was a hit, eventually becoming the best-selling German jazz record of all times, and the Ensemble was awarded the "Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1978" for artist of the year, followed by another 14 albums plus a variety of international collaborations.
The Red Planet is a studio album by English keyboardist Rick Wakeman, released on June 2020 and featuring an alternative line-up of his backing band, The English Rock Ensemble. The Red Planet is Wakeman's first progressive rock album with his English Rock Ensemble since Out There (2003), another rock album of his with connections to space, the others being No Earthly Connection (1976) and 2000 A.D. Into the Future (1993). Wakeman said the album is different to his previous ones with a band, not only that its is instrumental but the diverse styles of music on it. He pointed out that the album is also dedicated to one planet, Mars. It features two longtime members of his backing band, The English Rock Ensemble: bassist Lee Pomeroy and guitarist Dave Colquhoun, with drummer Ash Soan.
Keyboard Legend Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble has released "The Red Planet" on June 19, 2020. The album features 8 newly composed pieces, especially for this project, and harks back to Wakeman's critically acclaimed debut album "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" where there were 6 heavy keyboard pieces based around a central subject matter. It is a serious return to "Wakeman Prog". Rick has blown the dust off his favourite analogue keyboards and along with his with the latest keyboards, has used the same formula he devised when making his legendary albums "The Six Wive's of Henry VII" and "Criminal Record".