States of Play


LINEUP 2020:

Shannon Barnett (AUS) – Trombone, Vocals
Valentin Garvie (ARG) – Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet
Hayden Chisholm (NZL) – Saxophone, Flute
Nicola Hein – E-Guitar
Dominik Mahnig (CH) – Drums, Percussion
Etienne Nillesen (NL) – Prepared Snare, Percussion
Philip Zoubek (AU) – Prepared Piano, Moog
Christian Ramond – Double bass
Sebastian Gramss – Double bass, Additional colours / Composition
Christian Lorenzen – Keyboards, Moog, Synth

“Gramss‘ compositions make repeated use of a primitive thrust, which is always accompanied by a compositional ingenuity, an occasionally staggering stylistic variation and the ability to seamlessly combine the most diverse temperaments and style influences.” (Enola)

NEWS: New album SUBSONIC (rent a dog) is out!


The “STATES OF PLAY” ensemble released their second album “SUBSONIC” on April 16. The line-up of the nonet is even more international and orchestral this time around – including Analog Synthesizers and the sound expansion through noise (improvised Foley Art).
The style of the group can be called “Melodic Avantgarde” (press) … – a contemporary, melodic aesthetic with vital roots in jazz – a concept in which composition, team play and open spaces create an ultracreative balance. With STATES OF PLAY, Sebastian Gramss has been pursuing the idea of radical sound morphing as an essential and style-forming component of the ensemble: Various concrete musical situations -> “States” (= sound states) are modified and de-constructed … abstracted and transformed …. and then put together into completely new concrete sound images: “Starting from known, familiar tonal starting points, we move towards an aesthetic expansion and transformation of sound situations – the result is an unheard music flow with fine-tuned emotional and intellectual balance …”


(Rent A Dog, 2021)
order CD or download from Bandcamp


Four human and four robotic musicians playing together.

A challenge: What happens when intuition, impulsiveness and emotionality meet algorithms, deep learning and programmed codes?

The HUMAN ROBOTIC ENSEMBLE attempts a dialogue at eye level. The
result is an encounter in which the boundaries between artificial intelligence
and human creativity blur. In which no distinction is made between what is felt, conceived, conceived by humans or analyzed, calculated and calculated by software. An encounter in which the joint audible result is clearly more than the sum of the individual parts.

The live interaction raises questions: How creative can robots be? How quickly do they “understand” and read the resulting musical situations? What can AI mean for our creativity
in the future? And: What does artificial intelligence actually sound like? In the interaction of man and machine, a joint piece of music full of autonomous creativity develops ¬- respectfully, attentively and with subtle depth.

Human Musicians:
Lotte Anker – Soprano Sax.
Nicola L. Hein – Guitar
Sebastian Gramss – Double Bass
Philip Zoubek – Piano

Robotic Musicians:
Helio (Logos Foundation)
Vitello (Logos Foundation)
Tubo (Logos Foundation)
Yamaha Disklavier

Software/ Composition: Nicola L. Hein
Concept/ Composition: Sebastian Gramss

Project Management: Hanna Behr
Robot Engineering: Godfried-Willem Raes (
Robot Support: Kristof Lauwers

Premiere: October 3rd, 2020, Kunststation St. Peter, Cologne

Supported by: Musikfonds, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, NRW Kultursekretariat, Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft NRW

OUT & ABOUT (2018/2019)

In STATES OF PLAY – Out & About, Cologne-based contrabassist Sebastian Gramss unites two congenial rhythm sections and a fine-tuned trio of wind instruments into a unique ensemble in a great act of sonorous synthesis. Orchestral moments á la Ellington and Mingus, Zappa-esque allusions and sonic avant-garde: the essential anatomy of music is broken down to its core elements and repeatedly reassembled in an explosive multiplicity. The result is a multidimensional and shifting music that evolves in an organic flow, continually forming new configurations.
read more…

States of Play live at moers festival LP

(limited edition, Rent A Dog, 2019)
order LP or download on Bandcamp

Out & About

(Rent A Dog, 2018)
order CD or download on Bandcamp

PARKOUR (2019)

PARKOUR is actually a sporty, artistic discipline where athletes, regardless of structural conditions and obstacles, are able to cross a city on a direct route. The bassist and bandleader Sebastian Gramss follows the same principle. He moves across the map through sound routes on which he samples ambient sounds and prepares them as playing material for jazz quintet and music robots. An acoustic site visit, which dissolves from postcard views and road traffic regulations and even opens up new, hidden perspectives on the native city of Cologne.
read more…

STATES OF PLAY – Enola (May, 2018)

“The audience is completely blown away by Sebastian Gramss ‘ States of Play, an international line up that emphasizes the discovery character of the festival. Of the nonet only clarinetist Rudi Mahall is known in our parts (relatively), but what a performance we get here. The ensemble is driven by a double rhythm section, which immediately gives the potential of a small nuclear power plant, but it is so much more than that. Gramss ‘ compositions make repeated use of a primitive thrust, which is always accompanied by a compositional ingenuity, an occasionally staggering stylistic variation and the ability to seamlessly combine the most diverse temperaments and style influences.
read more

Uwe Bräutigam, NRW Jazz.Net

“Ganz großes Kino, eines der besten Konzerte: Sebastian Gramss´schafft mit seinem projekt STATES OF PLAY eine geniale Balance von arrangiertem und freien Spiel.”

Jazzthetik 07/18: 5 Sterne *****

“Surreale Jazzvision, in der Platz bleibt für schöne Kompositionen und inspirierte Solisten – Gramss gehört zu den produktivsten Ideengebern im Jazz.”

Regioactive, Florian Endres

“States of Play beim Enjoy Jazz Festival: Bestes Konzert 2017.”

Klaus Denzer, Local Kompass

“Gramss setzte erneut einen Meilenstein in der Moers Festival Historie: States of Play verbindet Elemente alter und neuer Jazzstile und und wirkt sensationell modern.”

RNZ (Mannheim 2017)

“Futuristische Klangvision. Magische Klänge von größer Schönheit.”