States of Play



Shannon Barnett – Trombone, Vocals
Rudi Mahall – Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Valentin Garvie – Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet
Hayden Chisholm – Saxophone, Flute
Nicola Hein – E-Guitar
Dominik Mahnig – Drums, Percussion
Etienne Nillesen – Prepared Snare, Percussion
Philip Zoubek – Prepared Piano, Moog
Christian Ramond – Double bass
Sebastian Gramss – Double bass, Additional colours / Composition
Christian Lorenzen – Keyboards, Moog, Synth

„Magische Klänge von größter Schönheit“ (RNZ, Mannheim)
„Sensationell Modern“ – 5 Sterne ***** (Jazzthetik)
„Ganz großes Kino, eines der besten Konzerte des Moers Festival!“ (NRWJazz.Net)
„Bestes Konzert 2017“ (Enjoy Jazz Festival)

upcoming concerts:
Sa 13.04. Bremen / jazzahead! (Halle 7.1)
Fr 26.04. Dortmund / Domicil
Sa 15.06. Krefeld / Burg Linn (Jazz an einem Sommerabend)

NEWS: New album by STATES OF PLAY – URSHALL Repercussions (rent a dog) is out (Oct 2023)!
New album by METEORS – Message To The Outer Space (rent a dog) is out (May 2023)!
Listen, download, order on Bandcamp

States Of Play won Deutscher Jazzpreis – Radio Production of the year for it’s project Sonifikation / WDR3!


URSCHALL – Repercussions heißt das neue, mittlerweile 5. Album der Kölner Formation STATES OF PLAY. Erweitert zum 12-köpfigen „Pocket Orchestra“ schafft Sebastian Gramss mit seinem Ensemble das Parallelstück zu dem im Mai erschienen Sextett Album METEORS – Message to Outer Space.

Das Universum erstreckt sich über Milliarden von Lichtjahren. Die Entfernungen sind schier unfassbar – genauso unvorstellbar wie die dabei entstandenen Energiewellen und deren Klänge. Auch der Urknall – seit der Entstehung vor 13,8 Milliarden Jahren – klingt bis heute, als ein maximales Glissando / Ritardando nach.

URSCHALL – Repercussions spielt locker mit diesem kosmischen Assoziationsfeld und nimmt hier den Ausgangspunkt für eine vielseitige imaginäre Klangreise jenseits der bekannten Klang- und Musik-Genres. In unterschiedlichen Episoden entsteht eine universale „Suite Imaginaire“ – ein fiktiver, irdischer Widerhall von Zeit und Raum.

Aufgenommen als Co-Produktion mit dem Deutschlandfunk im resonanten Kammermusiksaal der Sendeanstalt in Köln begeben sich STATES OF PLAY über 2 durchgehende Plattenseiten 0 und 1 (auf CD zur Orientierung in 11 Tracks unterteilt) auf einen hypnotischen Trip zwischen Jazz & Neuer Music, Komposition & Improvisation.

URSCHALL Repercussions

(Rent A Dog, 2023)
order CD or download from Bandcamp


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


Meteors are the spin-off sextet of the larger STATES OF PLAY ensemble.
New Release – CD & Vinyl – coming out early 2023 (rent a dog)!
It’s a compact sextet line-up:
Shannon Barnett – Trombone / Vocals
Hayden Chisholm /// Wanja Slavin – Sax
Philip Zoubek – Piano / Synth
Christian Lorenzen – Keyboards / Moog / Synth
Sebastian Gramss – Double Bass / Composition
Dominik Mahnig – Drums
Stephan Vester – Klangregie / FX”


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 visit this website, an occasionally staggering stylistic variation and the ability to seamlessly combine the most diverse temperaments and style influences.
[read more=”read more” less=”read less”]The band only comes to rest a few times, but every time it leads to ecstatic reactions of the audience. They are after all treated to an ingenious collage of styles that sounds cinematic and theatrical and then quickly has to give way to thundering fractions, then goes towards electroacoustic improvisation and brass band madness à la X-Legged Sally (do you know them yet?). Exotica, free jazz and passages full of swing, straight from Harlem of the early thirties, are put together, then derailing with a broad smile, end up with a fast big city funk played with so much tension it is on the edge of exploding. It was a tightly conducted and impressively executed opulence and in addition a lesson in colouring outside of the lines that can clearly also impress a large audience.”

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.”