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Downbeat (USA)

Jon Ross (July 2012)

Georg Breinschmid`s compositions on „Fire“ shine with a manic, fun brilliance. The disc contains material from two ensembles: a live café recording with violinist Roman Janoska and pianist Frantisek Janoska, and a studio duo with trumpeter Thomas Gansch. All of Breinschmid`s originals on the album have a free, zany spirit, but the tunes performed with the trio – like the opening track, „Schnörtzenbrekker“, which packs a big punch – may be the most fun, or the most alarming. This is an incredibly entertaining, high-energy album by a bassist who knows that being tongue-in-cheek doesn`t mean compromising a superb level of musicianship. (****)

Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog (USA)

Georg Breinschmid, firebrand contrabassist and bandleader, firebrand eclecticist extraordinaire, returns with a second offering of madcap doings, aptly titled Fire (Preiser Records 91203). It’s a full CD of live and studio outings by two of his ensembles, plus a bonus EP disk with assorted added material.

There used to be a category in the record business, long ago, called “novelty.” Now that isn’t quite what this is–it’s too musical, but there is a sense of humor and over-the-top exuberance to this music that makes it rather untypical.

Georg plays a LOT of contrabass here: slap bass swinging, arco thematics, and otherwise very extroverted bass wielding. There are two ensembles involved, as I mentioned above, both sans drums. Twelve Breinschmid originals are here, all over the place, as well as some dizzy-paced Humgarian folk tunes, middle-European ditties, polkas, watzes, sambas, all kinds of things.

Much of it has a hard-swinging, almost Hot Club sound (without the guitar), especially when Roman Janoska takes up the violin. The duos with trumpeter Thomas Gansch are opportunities for lots of playing, some humorous vocals, and an extension of Georg’s repertoire to a kind of archaic cabaret thing.

It’s not like anything else out there and it’s filled with lots of fun. Certainly Georg’s bass playing is of high interest but the whole program tickles with the unexpected, and manages to do so very musically. And when it’s serious about its jazz, it’s serious new swing.

Allaboutjazz.com (USA)

Raul d´Gama Rose

The North American cognoscenti are not so hip after all. Not many will have heard of the Vienna Art Orchestra and fewer still will know of its one-time bassist, the classically trained, Georg Breinschmid. Breinschmid is a maddeningly ingenious virtuoso musician, who, picking up where Frank Zappa and Victor Borga left off, is breaking down musical barriers faster than they can be put up and bringing more pure joy to the unexpurgated enjoyment of serious music than many musicians on the planet today..

There is ample evidence of this on his extraordinary Fire, shared with three other musicians bristling with talent. With Slovak/Hungarian Romani boy wonders, violinist Roman Janoska and his brother, pianist Frantisek Janoska, he forms a trio called Brein’s Café. With an equally madly talented trumpeter and vocalist, Thomas Gansch, he forms Duo Gansch/Breinschmid. These two small but potent ensembles share the musical credits on Fire. Both indulge in jaw-dropping pyrotechnics and even more exalted musicality.

Like the great Victor Borga, Breinschmid’s music is brimful with equal measures of serious, jaw-dropping virtuosity and humor. When he is happy, his bass bubbles over with ostinato chatter that provokes his colleagues into soaring flights of contrapuntal imagination. The bassist will then resort to unexpected harmolodic flights of fancy that mesmerize with unusual changes daubed with colorful root notes that enliven even the most mundane chords. Melodically, Breinschmid is an agent-provocateur, who stirs up the melody, giving his accompanists no choice but to discover shocking new inroads to musical excitation. He is lightning fast in his thinking and, like some Saxon god, occasionally throws musical thunderbolts at his melodists. For their part, the Janoska brothers and Thomas Gansch respond with speed, unfettered creativity and enviable imagination.

There is much here to cheer about. From the roistering “Rodeo” and the energetic “Little Samba” to the comedic narrative “Herbert Schnitzler,” the music is bristling with energy and invention. For the Romani brothers there is the wild musical sojourn, “Nóta/Csárdás,” which gives audiences a peek into the ancient and warm folk music that so entranced Béla Bartók, genius composer of the late 20th Century.

On Fire’s bonus, Breinschmid showcases longer versions of some songs that could not find a home elsewhere on the album, and shares some of the fun and enjoyment had in making the album. This is the second opportunity for serious fans of superlative music to appreciate an artist with raw genius for the drama of music and a love for musical theater, an artist who combines both with seamless beauty.

Blogcritics.org (USA)

Georg Breinschmid’s jazz CD, “Fire”, is not like anything I have ever heard before. Fire is an appropriate name for the CD, as the music gathers up waltzes, polkas, bits of traditional melodies, and vocals into one huge musical conflagration that may leave you feeling a bit dazed and breathless. Breinschmid is a classically trained double bassist who played for years with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Art Orchestra. Wanting to branch out into jazz, he joined a group called Brein’s Cafe in 2010, whose members appear with him on this CD. He is extremely well-known in Europe, I hear, and I can understand why. This music is just a bit insane, but in a really good way. Some of the songs are live and some are studio recordings, which just adds to the wild atmosphere of it all.The songs which have lyrics are in German, of course, but the booklet included provides the lyrics so that you know that these bouncy, happy, tunes, written and sung by Breinschmid and his Brein’s Cafe bandmate Thomas Gansch, actually are quite twisted.

“Herbert Schnitzler,” for instance, seems to be about a man who had a wild night out, and then wakes up and cannot remember what happened the night before. But it turns out, that’s not exactly what happened, after all.

“Jazz-Gstanzln” is the first-person narrative of a jazz musician who knows he is great but has to play a lot of stuff he doesn’t want to until he makes his money and finishes his studies. And, he’s also working as a waiter as well as in a supermarket.

“Die alte Engelmacherin” is a sentimental homage to an abortionist, while “Voodoo-Wienerlied” explains how a little voodoo in the evening can make it easy to make it through the slings and arrows of the day.

These are long pieces, and even if you don’t have the lyrics in front of you, they are fun to listen to, because Breinschmid and Gansch are obviously having so much fun.

The instrumental pieces here jump from the fiery, almost out of control polka that begins the CD to waltzes, sambas, avante-garde pieces, a couple of traditional Hungarian tunes, a sweet song for Breinschmid’s girlfriend (titled “Sweetie”), and a crazy operetta called, “Musette pour Elisabeth.”

Aside from the 14 songs on the CD, 12 of which are original, there is a bonus CD which offers two instrumentals, an alternate version of “Herbert Schnitzler,” and an outtake from the recording of “Die alte Engelmacherin.”

This CD is so unique that it is nearly impossible to describe, but I imagine if Mozart were writing jazz, this might be something like what he might do. You will just have to hear it, and you should definitely try Breinschmid’s Fire for yourself.


Georg is an absolute compositional (& playing) genius… he’s been reviewed quite a bit here, and the new release promotes the same humorous (though well-studied) approach to music (& life in general, I’d imagine)… as you groove to “Little Samba“, you’ll realize you’re being exposed to music that’s truly timeless! The other 13 tracks (+ a bonus 4-song CD) are filled with jazz variety and tasteful high-energy, through & through. All the way from polka through gypsy and improvised even… scope out the 5:49 “Herbert Schnitzler” if it’s Gasthaus fun you’re in search of – lol! If it’s tuneage with a bit more substance you’re after, you’ll love “Spring” (as did I – it’s actually my favorite piece on the CD). This is a colossal effort that completely merits my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, for jazz lovers of all stripes. “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98. Rotcod Zzaj


(George Harris)

If you want some fun and adventure in your jazz, here’s an iconoclastic guy that will appeal to your sense of swing and humor. Bassist/composer/singer Georg Brenschmid has put out another variety show of a disc (and bonus) here with a trio with Roman Janoska/violin and Frantisek Jaonoska/p as well as a duet with Thomas Gansch/tp. The music and moods are all over the map, such as a mad cap gypsy run on “Schnortzenbrekker” or something that sounds like the circus is in town on “Rodeo.” A couple pieces like “Herbert Schnitzler” evoke images of Munich cabarets circa the Weimar Republic, while a romantic Sibelius violin sonata is catured on “Nota/Csardas.” The band shows bop chops as well as on “Sweetie” and “Little Samba,” just to keep you hanging in there. They must be a kick live-any chance for a trip to the Best Coast?

Allaboutjazz.com (USA)

Larry Taylor

A mixture of outrageous humor and subtle beauty make up Fire, from Austrian bassist Georg Breinschmid. Such a conflicting opinion needs explaining.

The 14 mostly originals (plus a bonus disc of four additional tracks) combine live and studio recordings using two different groupings. There is Brein’s Café—a piano/violin/bass trio; and a duo with trumpeter Thomas Gansch. In some pieces they all get together.

There are silly vocals and shameless parodies of polkas and classics—think Shostakovich meets Spike Jones. On the other hand, there are lovely ballads, delightful up-tempo tunes and top musicians given time and space to improvise. They have been together awhile and know the routine, traveling regularly in Europe. Unfortunately, some verbal humor is lost to non-German speakers. The only American group to compare them with is The Bad Plus, in its most eccentric moments.

Born in Vienna in 1973, Breinschmid studied classical bass at Vienna University, and as a promising student often subbed in prestigious Viennese orchestras. After his classical start, he got into jazz, working with likes of saxophonists Archie Shepp, pianist Kenny Drew, Jr. and Biréli Lagrène. Though steeped in jazz, his music defies category—the keyword is fun.

First up, “Schnörtzenbrekker,” is a mood-setter, a raucous polka that sets off a party-like atmosphere. Tranquility sets in minutes later, however, with the rhythmic “Little Samba,” where violinist Roman Janoska’s violin pizzicato fuses with a bossa beat that also showcases Frantisek Janoska’s swirling keys. The extended “Suite 7” gives the trio ample solo space. The duo has fun with “jaBISTdudenndeppat,” a title referring to its various time signatures. Gansch’s free-form trumpet is spotlighted, and gives way to an improbable chorale on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Musical quotes show up throughout, from “Cheek to Cheek” to “Darktown Strutters Ball”; clearly, anything can happen. “Spring” is another peak, the piano and violin collaborating for a tension-packed climax. “Musette pour Elisabeth” takes on operetta, with apologies to Franz Lehar, replete with an agonizing mezzo hilariously lamenting her fate; Diva goes bonkers. The musicians, finally, have no respect. A special treat awaits in the bonus disc, with Fire igniting on the fiery “Wien bleibt Krk.” Like the whole work, it’s a “gas.”

hometheatersound.com (USA)

Rad Benett, March 2012

Georg Breinschmid: “Fire”

Breathtaking Virtuoso Playing from Brein’s Café

The word that best describes Georg Breinschmid’s music making is virtuosic. When you start casting around for other descriptives, there are so many musical styles in his work that no one word gives an accurate picture. Before playing the music he does now, Breinschmid played bass with classical orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, and he has brought some of his classical training to his new ventures. Jazz is the umbrella, and tumbling out from beneath it are elements of polka, waltz, musette, Wienerlied, czárdás, and samba.

Only a real virtuoso could pull this off so successfully, and Breinschmid makes his acoustic bass produce sounds I never thought possible. He tosses off rapid passages with the aplomb of a diva nailing a coloratura aria. He is working with two groups on this disc: one is Brein’s Café, a trio with Frantisek Janoska on piano and brother Roman Janoska on violin; the other is a duo with singer and trumpet player Thomas Gansch. Breinschmid can be really funny as in “Jazz-Gstanzln,” a song about a waiter wanting to play jazz: “I slice sausages up into decograms every day there and wistfully think about Chet Baker.” If you speak German, you’ll probably find these vocals even funnier. Translations are provided for the lyrics but not for all the spoken intros.

No translation is needed for the virtuoso instrumental pieces like “Schnörtzenbrekker” and “Nóta/Csárdás.” The latter has Roman Janoska fiddling like a fiend bent on breaking every speed record in the book. And you know, I think he does. There are mellow moments, too, such as “Sweetie,” written, the notes tell us, for Breinschmid’s girlfriend.

The recordings are exceptionally clean and well balanced, especially when you consider that most of them were made on location and live. Give this virtuosic and zany disc a listen. Oh, it also comes with a four-track bonus disc, so in keeping with the artist’s sense of humor, the spine lists it as 1 1/2 CDs. The thank-you notes credit Thomas Edison for “great lighting.”

Be sure to listen to: Track 6, “jaBISTdudenndeppat,” which tackles some pretty crazy time signatures like 25/16 and 15/8, contains a crazed reference to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony like you’ve never heard it. Irreverent? Maybe. Effective? Most definitely!


Classical contrabassist Georg Breinschmid one day decided that this jazz stuff sounded pretty damn good and gave up the enviable position of rotating between several prestigious grand orchestras to start playing with Charlie Mariano, Archie Shepp, Birelli Lagrene, Wolfgang Muthspiel, and a number of others. That was 1999, and he hasn’t looked back since. Nor has he needed to, actually, winning prize after prize while rising ever higher in the Euro scene. Considering that Fire is just as much about old country folk as jazz, polka, musette, and a dozen other styles, it’s not difficult to understand why the live portions of this 1-1/2 CD set (a 4-cut bonus disc accompanies the main gig) delighted the audiences so. Breinschmid also possesses a broad sense of humor in the many inversions and spoofs he adds to the compositions, not to mention sung portions, to come up with a number of intriguing mixtures as likely to feature interludes where, as he puts it, Shostakovitch meets Spike Jones as well as “a variety of mistakes…[and] sloppy entries” that nonetheless come off very well, dragging the audience along for a crossfooted jig or jazz waltz. The configurations are strictly duo (Duo Gansch/Breinschmid) and trio (Brein’s Cafe) but sound significantly larger due to the amazing virtuosities of all involved: the bassist himself, Frantisek Janoska (piano), Roman Janoska (caffeinated violin), and Thomas Gansch (trumpet). Catch both versions of Herbert Schnitzler, especially the bonus take, and you’ll hear snatches of Art Bears and Zappa in with all the sonorous, drunken, and clattery Euro-bric-a-brac. No less an authority than DownBeat magazine placed Breinschmid’s 2011 CD among the year’s best, and this one is unlikely to in any way disappoint those lofty arbiters again this year. Ya gotta, however, be able to let your hair down and swing in a boozily delighted ambiance because this ain’t Miles nor Ornette nor Tomasz but the sort of thing that would’ve had Stephane and Django rapt and laughing their asses off simultaneously. Oh, and to hark back a moment to the bassist’s old domain, even Bartok would’ve been lifting a beaker while snapping his fingers to the Gypsy refrains, pinching the derrieres of the barmaids until getting tossed out on his ear, wandering back to the hotel and muttering “Heh-heh-heh, that Breinschmid……!!!” (Mark S. Tucker)


This may be the most bizarre display of virtuosity captured in 1 and 1/2 Cd’s as you may ever hear. It may also be the most fun. Georg Breinschmid started his musical odyssey as a classical double-bass player and subsequently bailed out of the Vienna Philharmonic to seek fame and fortune as a jazz musician. While Breinschmid prodigious skills are without question, his unabashed joy of creating music is literally contagious. Fire is the follow up to the critically acclaimed Brein’s World from 2010. One of the most delightful aspects to this release has to be the musical sense of humor that is displayed from the cover art to the last note. I would hesitate to call Breinschmid the Austrian Weird Al, especially since Breinschmid writes his own material but in terms of a musical frame of reference it may be the closes ball park to give you an idea of what happens when you combine technical proficiency, artistic vision and a wicked sense of humor! “Schnortzenbrekker” is a blistering tune that kicks off this remarkable recording. A polka on steroids! Fire is the musical equivalent of jazz vaudeville as it is sprinkled with polka, waltz, samba and more sub genres then there is space to adequately list or explain here. “Little Samba” is just that, a vibrant Latin number that showcases pianist Frantisek Janoska and is as authentic a samba as one could imagine. “Herbert Schnitzler” is a collaborative songwriting ditty with Thomas Gansch and while the language barrier is obvious it poses no real concern as the tune is reminiscent of something straight out of a Mel Brooks classic film. “Sedlacek’s Mood” reinforces the all too familiar musical sense of humor that plagues many a fine jazz musician. Breinschmid came up with “Sedlacek’s Mood” as his own riff on tunes such as “Monk’s Mood” or “Dizzy’s Mood” so he decided to add another name to the mix and in this case a Czech/Bohemian one! An infectious Latin groove that shines a laser beam on the prolific and prodigious talents of one of the finest musicians you may have never heard of. Fire reinforces why Georg Breinschmid has long been considered one of the top bassists. While Brein’s World received recognition as one of the top releases for 2011 from Down Beat magazine, Fire should have little trouble duplicating that feat. Georg Breinschmid is an inexhaustible well full of creative waters that flow where ever the mood should strike! Fire proves jazz can be as entertaining and fun as it can be scholarly and serious. Pure entertainment that celebrates the unbridled joy of music making. You have to love what you do! (Brent Black, criticaljazz.com)


Georg Breinschmid presents FIRE! and that is just what happens when this recording is placed in the sound system. Breinschmid is a bassist, but not just a jazz bassist as he is extremely well known throughout Europe. This man served as a classical double bass musician with such orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic! On this recording he presents 12 of his original compositions, two Hungarian pieces, and more. The CD is a mix of studio and live recordings in which Breinschmid joins with ‘Brein’s Cafe’ members Frantisek, piano, Roman Janoska, violin, and Thomas Gansch, trumpet, vocals, and compositions. It is a wild ride with polkas, waltzes, sambas, musette, Wienerlied, csárdás, jazz and improvisations. It is like nothing you’ve ever heard – and that is part of what makes this album so infectious. Perhaps not for everyone’s taste, but for those who love creativity in jazz, try this terrific collection. (Grady Harp, amazon.com)

Georg Breinschmid – Fire (USA)

No matter the context in which Viennese bassist/vocalist Georg Breinschmid plays (gypsy jazz, pre-war cabaret pop, crazed polka, and lots more) he almost always brings irreverent humor to the fore, as he did on his previous outings, Brein’s World (2010) and Georg Breinschmid & Friends (2008). Breinschmid continues in the same comical vein on his latest foray, the two-CD release Fire, nearly 90 minutes of live and studio material performed with either his trio dubbed Brein’s Café (with Roman Janoska on violin and Frantisek Janoska on piano) or duets with long-time ally, trumpeter/vocalist Thomas Gansch.

The music is a mix of cheeky instrumentals and burlesquing vocal songs (all sung in German), but they all tend toward exuberance, so the language barrier (at least for those not familiar with German) does not get in the way of enjoyment. There are English lyrics in the 14-page insert booklet (which has a visual playfulness which matches the music), but cultural considerations mean that the lyrical wit is sometimes not necessarily conveyed or understandable.

Breinschmid has a firm classical background (stints with the Vienna Art Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic and others) but is also devoted to jazz, and both influences pigment the pieces, sometimes simultaneously. The opener, “Schnörtzenbrekker,” for example, is a heated madcap polka where violin, piano and bass skip frenetically from classical to Django Reinhardt-ish gypsy jazz. The vaudevillian atmosphere resumes on “Rodeo,” (a fast-paced trumpet/bass duet) which Breinschmid aptly designates “Shostakovich meets Spike Jones.” In other words (please pardon the poetic spice), there’s more Spike in the punch than Dmitri, which increases the expressive glee. [Or might it be “more Spike than Dimitris the eye?”…Ed.] More jazz is heard on “Little Samba,” a bright Latin cut where Frantisek Janoska and Breinschmid showcase their respective piano and double bass skills. Time signatures go all over the map on the oddly-titled “jaBISTdudenndeppat” (which Breinschmid states is a Viennese exclamation of surprise), where Gansch and Breinschmid move from 25/16 to 30/16, and then from 15/8 to 11/4. If that sounds a bit helter-skelter, the spoofing excerpt from Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is the kaleidoscopic feather which tops the cap on this eccentric endeavor.

Since satire or amusement is so prevalent, the serious or sober material stands out from the pack, which makes the trio performance on the jazz waltz “Spring” a positive highlight. Here, the Janoska’s and Breinschmid exhibit a traditional jazz approach with very effective results, particularly Frantisek’s scintillating keyboard and Roman’s warm violin, which echoes Stéphane Grappelli’s mannerisms. There is a similar feel to the lightly swinging girlfriend birthday tribute, “Sweetie,” but with more pronounced jocularity due to Gansch’s muted trumpet and a few juicy quotes from other more famous tunes. Another worthy jazz feature is the upbeat Czech/Bohemian trio jam, “Sedlaček’s Mood,” where fervent violin often takes center stage.

Instead of supplementing his album with bonus tracks, Breinschmid goes one step further than most musicians and supplies a half-hour bonus disc with four extras. Up first is a modern jazz piece, fittingly named “Post Bop,” a live trio presentation with passionate violin taking the lead, followed by an alternate version of the character sketch “Herbert Schnitzler” (the original is on the first disc). The unmistakable peak, though, is a lengthy rendition of the optimistic jazz work “Wien bleibt Krk“ (initially offered on Georg Breinschmid & Friends), which is a rare quartet appearance with Breinschmid, the Janoska’s and Gansch. The only shortcoming is the eight-minute vocal blooper collage, “Die alte Engelmacherin,” an interminable patchwork of outtakes, which conceivably is a lot funnier for anyone who understands German. All of Breinschmid’s releases, including Fire, will probably remain cult items at best: but for listeners whose musical tastes drift toward irreverence, there is plenty to appreciate.


Hrayr Attarian (USA)

Austrian bassist Georg Breinschmid’s Fire is a collection of live and studio recordings, in a variety of genres, all served with a healthy dose of refreshing irreverence and exuberant humor.

This in no way means that Breinschmid and his band mates are only about fun and games. On the contrary, their high quality musicianship and immense talents are evident throughout. For example, on “Suite 7” Breinschmid plays the complex melody with extreme agility while simultaneously keeping time on his bluesy bass. He becomes an entire rhythm section on the Spanish/Bohemian tinged “Sedlacek’s Mood” as he percussively plucks the bass. On the expansive and melancholic waltz, “Spring,” his contemplative, far reaching improvisation showcases his serious side, as well as that of violinist Roman Janoska and pianist Frantisek Janoska, members of his Brein’s Café trio.

Roman Janoska’s Paganini-like virtuosity is well matched with Frantisek Janoska’s raggedy pianism on gypsy jazz tunes like “Schnortzenberger,” a polka taken at break-neck speed. The aforementioned “Suite 7” features Roman Janoska navigating the peaks and valleys of the piece with the facility of an acrobat while Frantisek Janoska’s piano lines range from ragtime to stride. The sad, “Tsiganesque” violin floating over arco bass and flowing piano lines on “Nóta/Csárdás” is reminiscent of silent film soundtracks, especially as the tempo picks up.

Trumpeter Thomas Gansch joins Breinschmid for duo tracks featuring a variety of songs including the retro-swing “Rodeo” (with Gansch channeling a bit of Roy Eldridge complete with scatting), and the vaudevillian vocal duets of “jaBISTdudenndeppat” and “Herbert Schnitzler.” Gansch demonstrates his versatility on the inventive and free “Sweetie” and the theatrical “Musette pour Elizabeth,” which features all four musicians.

Georg @ Facebook

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