WDR Jazz prize

Portrait about Caris Hermes


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WDR BIG BAND feat. Caris Hermes - WDR Jazzpreis 2024 | Full Concert

Bassist, composer, sidewoman, bandleader.

For 15 years now, bassist Caris Hermes has been unleashing her luminous world of sound full of references, ramifications and sensitive moods. Everything seems possible for her in the field of tension between swing, groove, straight ahead and subtle modern jazz.

„I feel particularly at home – and also most comfortable – in modern jazz and straight ahead. That’s simply the music my heart beats for.“

Caris Herms has long since established herself as a highly esteemed, virtuoso sidewoman who impresses both her fellow musicians and the audience with her rhythmic and melodic diversity. In fact, her double bass has a voice all of its own: whether singing or humming sensitively, grooving soulfully or walking exuberantly, Caris Hermes celebrates the immense range of her instrument with delicate sophistication. Her ability to transform the complex musical visions of changing bandleaders makes her the preferred choice in her category in Germany.

WDR Jazzpreisträgerin Caris Hermes WDR3 (04:32 Minuten)

John Goldsby.

„I actually discovered my love of the double bass through John Goldsby. I studied double bass with him in my youth, and he’s the reason why I’m doing all this now in the first place.“

Caris Hermes studied at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. She completed her junior double bass studies there with John Goldsby (WDR Big Band) from 2008 to 2011.

„I traveled from Lippstadt to Essen-Werden, an hour and a half by train, for my junior degree course, for which my school gave me permission. In those years, John was a second father figure, he gave me so much positive input. Of course, he also criticized, but he always put a positive spin on his criticism so that I came out of every lesson happy. When teaching music, you are close to a person, it’s something very personal, and remaining open to criticism is no easy task. But John managed to do this so that I was always highly motivated.“

„During this time, we went through almost the entire history of jazz. John wrote three textbooks about it, so we worked a lot with sheet music. We went through Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Ray Brown, all the important bassists in the world, always staying close to Straight Ahead, which is John’s traditional field.“

Me and My Music SWR2 (26:16 Minuten)


Caris Hermes was a member of the NRW Youth Jazz Orchestra and played in several other large ensembles, the WDR Big Band, the HR Big Band and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. She was a member of the Pascal Bartoszak Quartet, the Charlotte Ilinger Quartet and the Jerry Lu Trio. She frequently plays with Paul Heller, for example in his series “Paul Heller
invites…” (formerly: Paul Heller’s Next Level Jazz) and in his ensembles “Little Bigband” and “Two Generations”.

She also played gigs with Hans Dekker and met Denis Gäbel, Roman Schwaller, Steffen Schorn, Ansgar Striepens, Robert Landfermann, Stefan Pfeifer, Stefan Schulze, Marko Lackner, Marcio Doctor, Luciano Biondini, Afra Mussawissade, Shannon Barnett, Anat Cohen, Joris Roelofs, John Rucco, Andy Haderer, Martin Sasse, Giovanni Falzone, Hr-Bigband, Fay Claassen, Jeff Cascaro, Gabriel Perez, Hubert Nuss, Joost van Schaik, Uli Beckerhoff and many others.

Caris Hermes


„During my time with John Goldsby, I was already at a workshop in Bielefeld, and that’s where I met Niklas Walter and Jakob Lüffe, so that was very early on. We then played together at the youth competition and went to the state youth jazz orchestra together. We soon got to know Pascal Bartoszak and also played a lot with him.“

Caris Hermes has received several awards, including the WDR Jazz Prize with the Jjo NRW (2013), the Hästens Jazzaward (2016), twice the Sparda Jazzaward (Pascal Bartoszak Quartet, 2015/Charlotte Illinger Quartett, 2017) and the Jazz@undesigned prize with Unit 5 (2018). Since 2011, she has appeared on ten studio albums by both young and established jazz greats. As a sidewoman, her live portfolio still includes more than 150 national and international shows every year.

„This finesse, this groove – I have always felt comfortable in the straight-ahead environment. To this day, this is the form of jazz that does something to me. I put my heart and soul into it and it shows me again and again what my heart beats for.“

Paul Heller & Martin Sasse.

Caris Hermes and Niklas Walter have formed the Two Generations Quartet with Paul Heller and Martin Sasse since 2018. The focus is on musical exchange and the diverse influences of two generations. The quartet is the result of many years of collaboration between Paul Heller and Martin Sasse, with Caris Hermes and Niklas Walter completing the quartet with two musicians from the younger generation. The joint artistic exchange leads to mutual inspiration and playfully masters cross-generational challenges.

„Martin Sasse and Paul Heller have always supported us, Niklas and me. They took us to a lot of concerts or rehearsals when someone else couldn’t make it. They are jazz greats and it was great when they took us with them. Then Paul and Martin probably thought, okay, let’s start a quartet. I think they like the way I play and that’s why they always made sure I was there.“

Caris Hermes im Porträt WDR3 (04:50 Minuten)

Album reaches
over 2,700,000

Debut album

Caris Hermes’ debut EP “Human” was released in 2018, at the same time she showed new facets as a quartet bandleader at the PENG Festival in Essen. Her ability to transform the complex musical visions of changing bandleaders has now predestined her to operate under her own name.

In September 2022, the album “Caris Hermes” was released on the new label JazzJazz Records as a seductive and complex sound journey: a beguiling, sometimes sparkling, sometimes balladically intimate masterpiece.

Caris Hermes in BBC Jazz World BBC with Linley Hamilton

„Corona has given me a lot of time to think about where I want to go and what I want to do in the future. Jens Bosch (JazzJazz label), Paul Heller and Martin Sasse had always encouraged me to do something of my own. When the Initiative Musik gave me the opportunity to get funding and thus keep my own contribution within reasonable limits, I applied. Everything happened very quickly after that. I had to arrange a studio date in a hurry, then a mixing date, because the album had to be mastered in a month so that it could be released to the press. So I had no choice but to take more time. Nevertheless, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve with the CD! This also meant that I wanted to give something back after all these years of support. So I chose fellow musicians who have been supporting me for years. Of course there should have been a lot more people involved, I had wanted John Goldsby for a duo, I had also asked Hans Dekker, but then unfortunately a lot of things got in the way.“

At the center of the CD is the trio Caris Hermes Billy Test and Niklas Walter. With Andy Haderer, Paul Heller, Stefan Pfeifer Galilea and Martin Sasse, experienced guests and long-time companions join them. Whether in a trio, quartet or quintet: everything seems possible for Caris Hermes in the field of tension between swing, groove, straight ahead and subtle modern jazz.

„I basically have a good sense of when I think something is round. I’ve written a few pieces myself, although I still see my current strengths more in composing ballads than in upbeat straight-ahead writing – even though I love this style so much! I asked Jerry Lu to contribute a piece, and Carla Köllner wrote a ¾ arrangement for my piece “Extraordinary People”. She also works for big bands and is simply good at arranging and composing. And Paul Heller and Martin Sasse even gave me a piece each!“


CD / Vinyl / Digital / Limited Edition

Caris Hermes

JazzJazz Records, 2022


Caris Hermes Group

… is a changing duo to sextet ensemble with the best musicians of the German jazz scene. Modern straight ahead jazz from Cologne. Caris Hermes celebrates the full range of her instrument with finesse and elegance.


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Paul Heller (sax), Andy Haderer (trp), Billy Test (p), Niklas Walter (dr), Caris Hermes (b)


  • Jury member “20th Bundesbegegnung JUGEND JAZZT 2024” in Dortmund

  • WDR Jazz Prize 2024 and four-day live tour with WDR Big Band feat. Maika Küster

  • Paul Heller invites Bart van Lier feat. Paul Heller Big Band @ Stadtgarten, Cologne (05.11.2023)

  • Germany-wide film release in over 40 cinemas of the documentary Jazzfieber – The Story Of German Jazz (07.09.2023)

  • Four-week research trip to the jazz scene in New York with meet & greet Ron Carter and Buster Williams, as well as jam sessions (04/2023)

  • Debut album Caris Hermes (09/2022, jazzjazz Records) reaches 2,000,000 streams and listings on Editorial Playlists (Women in Jazz, Late Night Jazz, Jazz Relax, Calming Jazz and Relaxing Jazz Piano) on Spotify.

  • Paquito d’Rivera & Paul Heller Allstar Bigband (Cologne/Wuppertal 2022)

  • Cologne Jazzweek with Caris Hermes Group (sold out, 2022) and additional concert at the Urania Theater (Cologne)

  • Cologne Jazzweek Special – In Conversation w/ Caris Hermes (2022)

  • hr – Big Band “Echoes of Ellington” (2021)

  • Podcast episode for King Georg Jazzcast “Die gute Unterhaltung” (2021)

  • One-year artist sponsorship from the European Center for Creative Economy (2019/20)

  • Paul Heller’s Next Level Jazz All Star Big Band feat. Joris Roelofs & John Ruocco (2019)

  • Jazz’n Chisinau International Festival with Paul Heller, Martin Sasse, Niklas Walter in Moldova (2019)

  • Paul Heller & Roman Schwaller CD release concert with Martin Sasse, Niklas Walter (2019)

  • Jazz@undesigned with Unit 5 (2018)

  • Silver World Choir Games in South Africa with gospel choir Rejoice (2018)

  • Moers Jazzfestival with FRÉ (2018)

  • Klavierfestival Ruhr with Jerry Lu Trio (2018)

  • PENG-Festival, Essen with Caris Hermes Quartet as bandleader (2018)

  • Paul Heller’s Next Level Jazz All Star Big Band feat. Anat Cohen (2018)

  • Jazz Ralley Düsseldorf with Charlotte Illinger (2017)

  • Sparda-Jazzaward with Charlotte Illinger (2017)

  • Bachelor of Jazz Performing Artist Folkwang Universität der Künste (2017)

  • Haestens Jazzaward with Charlotte Illinger (2016)

  • Sparda Jazz Award with Pascal Bartoszak Quartet (2015)

  • Lecturer of the Jazz Groove Bigband in Lima, Peru (2015)

  • Final of the Young German Jazz Award with Pascal Bartoszak Quartet (2015)

  • WDR-Big Band, Zimmer frei ab 18 (2014)

  • Next Level Jazz – Paul Heller’s Little Big Band (2014)

  • Three nominations Jazz Prize Folkwang (2014)

  • WDR Jazzpreis ® with Jjo NRW, twice JugendJazzt NRW, DEW 21-Förderpreis with Whole Step Quintet (2009-2013)

  • Tour USA with gospel choir Rejoice (2012)

  • Viersen Jazzfestival (2012)

  • Tour Europe with East West European Jazz Orchestra (2012)

  • Tour Senegal (2010) and United Arab Emirates (2011) with Landesjugend Jazzorchester NRW