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Gansch & Breinschmid Live


Tim Willcox

It’s not often you pick up a copy of an album by two guys you’ve never heard of, playing in an unusual format,and have your mind blown. This live recording is full of discovery, beauty and humor (the two share a strong passion for Monty Python). Both Gansch and Breinschmid — virtuosos on their respective axes — dropped out of the University of Vienna’s classical program to dedicate themselves to jazz, and they have developed a comedy-meets-theater-meets-music routine. By the sounds of the applause, musical participation and laughter from the audience, they’ve hit upon a magical recipe.

Jazz musicians are notorious for taking themselves too seriously, creating an invisible wall between themselves and their audience. This duo does just the opposite here by bringing their audience into their strange little world, all the while not sacrificing an ounce of musicality.

The material ranges from the beautiful to the absurd. Nearly every imaginable style, from jazz to classical to blues, rock and parlor music, are covered. From the spacious ECM-like track simply titled “5/4,” which showcases the duo’s capacity for subtlety and seriousness, to the hilarious performance piece, “Klassik Gstanzln,” there’s something for everyone.

Breinschmidt is more than just a bassist. He’s an orchestra rolled into two hands, complete with percussion section. His work with the bow — he uses it for both textural shifts and percussive effects — is also astounding, something that you don’t hear that often in jazz (excepting Christian McBride). His unique ability to play both the role of bassist, chordal instrument and drummer gives the listener the impression that we are listening to a group much larger than a duo. He has an incredible control over harmonics and timbre, never plays an out-of-tune note (unless it’s on purpose), and has an uncanny time-feel.

Gansch’s control of the trumpet is also freakish; he’s brash, bright and wailing one second, soft, dark and supple the next. Aside from being an obvious classical virtuoso, he is equally at home playing in a Louis Armstrong style, mimicking Clark Terry, or skirting the avant-garde musings of Lester Bowie and Don Cherry. There’s also a strong Gypsy and Klezmer influence in his playing.

The duo’s use of vocals, sound-effects and whistling (yes, whistling), both as effect and as instruments, also adds to the possibilities. They are both quite competent singers with great intonation and intricate harmony-singing abilities. While the duo performs their act speaking German, they still manage to translate their joyous form of comedy perfectly to the non-German speaking listener. There’s really no way to aptly describe what they do in words, you just have to get the album and listen. If you have a sense of humor, you’ll definitely enjoy “Live at Wiener Konzerthaus.”



Brent Black

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the concert hall we find Gansch & Breinschmid Live at Wiener Konzerthaus. This dynamic duo featuring Thomas Gansch on trumpet and vocals and Georg Breinschmid on contrabass and vocals bailed on their classical studies to create a one of a kind mash up of of comedy, theatre and of course jazz. This is more of an experience then a traditional recording as tradition for Gansch & Breinschmid is slightly left of center as indicated by the Month Python inspired cover art.

Music and Monty Python makes for an incredibly entertaining evening but make no mistake that both Gansch & Breinschmid are serious musicians conquering the jazz and world music scene with an undeniable flair and outrageous presentation to engage the listener on levels they never imagined. Traditional jazz, world music, blues or pop oriented tunes, no sonic stone goes unturned with these two with the amazing feat of transferring this energy into a live performance captured on this incredible compact disc.

“5/4” is an intimate yet sweeping sound scape of percussive bass and melancholy trumpet. Each member can easily lay claim to virtuoso status with this ECM type performance. “Low n Green” pulls from a more blues infused Miles Davis vibe as Gansch turns in a magnificent solo performance thanks to the nuances of flavor brought forth by Breinschmid. A more humorous bent is brought forth with the closing medley of “Blue Danube / Can’t Buy Me Love / Something Stupid / Tea For Two. It what seems like the most eclectic reharm possible Gansch & Breinschmid create an organic warmth while having an incredibly good time doing so.

An absolutely delightful musical offering pulling from a myriad of influences for a righteous old world presentation of what can happen when two such talented individuals team up and simply check convention at the door.

The jazz equivalent of a musical box of chocolates. One never knows what they may get but you know after the first bite that it will indeed be tasty!


Tony Augarde

I have always loved humour in music, especially as it saves us from performing or listening to music with straight faces all the time. Thomas Gansch and Georg Breinschmid are Austrians who were both brought up as classical musicians but they simultaneoulsy decided to follow their passion for jazz and lunacy, joining the jazzy Vienna Art Orchestra. The orchestra seldom played encores, so Gansch and Breinschmid were asked to perform finales at concerts. These gradually accumulated until the duo decided to perform on their own, and this album is a joyful result. It captures their concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus in December 2012.

Their virtuosity and versatility enable both musicians to play in a variety of styles, encompassing jazz, blues, pop, world music and the classics. Thus the first track here includes Johann Strauss’s Thunder and Lightning as well as the bebop favourite Donna Lee and various other tunes. Thomas Gansch plays the trumpet with the stratospheric brilliance of Arturo Sandoval, while Georg Breinschmid plays the bass with frantic exuberance and great force.

Geilomat is one of their original compositions, on which they both solo inventively. Brienschmidt provides extremely effective backing by slapping the bass’s strings and tapping the body of the instrument. He is a one-man percussion section. You might expect 5/4 to resemble Take Five but it pursues its own very different course, with Gansch’s trumpet sounding pensive and then playful, and Breinschmidt’s bass hopping about in all directions.

Klassik Gstanzln is a jolly waltz in which the duo sing of their dispiriting experiences playing in a classical orchestra, with quotes from Wagner, Richard Strauss and others. Thankfully the German lyrics are translated on the sleeve, although the interpolated comments are not. This is my one problem with the album: that the announcements and ad libs are not translated for those of us who don’t understand much German.

jaBISTdudenndeppat is a straightforward jazz piece, although it is played hectically at several different tempi. At one point, one of the musicians sings a falsetto version of the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. Der Todis a piece about death performed in folk style. Again, comments in between verses which are uproarious (judging from the audience response) remain untranslated.

Sombrero is an instrumental with the air of a tango, including quotes from the classics. This number illustrates the duo’s apparently telepathic understanding of what each one is going to do. As Spike Jones found, such brilliant interplay also demands concentrated rehearsal.

Low n Green jazzes up the Prelude to act 3 of Lohengrin and plays about with it in many ways, continually varying the tempo and volume. It shows just what a fine jazz trumpeter Thomas Gansch is, outshining the likes of Miles Davis. I had to use my German dictionary to find out that Irgendwas means “anything” or “something or other”. It consists of what sounds like free improv interspersed with incomprehensible dialogue.

Kurt somehow references Kurt Cobain of rock group Nirvana. Herbert Schnitzlertells the enigmatic story of a man who can’t remember what he did the previous night, thanks to alcohol. It allows some audience participation. The concert ends with a cheeky medley which includes snatches of many more tunes than are listed. At nearly 14 minutes, it is a tour de force. Now can we please have a British tour of Gansch & Breinschmid?



Rad Bennet

Madcap Music for the Concert Hall

If you want to poke fun at music, it helps to be a virtuoso, a title that either Thomas Gansch or Georg Breinschmid can easily claim. Trumpeter Gansch and double-bass player Breinschmid met in 1997. Each had impressive credentials performing classical music; together they decided to quit that business and play what they wanted to play, which means just about everything. They are now well on their way to joining the ranks of such famous music spoofers as Spike Jones, Victor Borge, and Anna Russell. They’d be right at home at the Hoffnung Music Festival concerts as well.

Their trademark quirks include putting different music genres together and making them work. The disc’s opener, “Unter Donner und Lee,” for instance, is basically the “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss, Jr. But along the way you will hear the bebop tune “Donna Lee” and compositions by Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, not to mention Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia.” Gansch, in particular, loves to throw in famous horn and trumpet calls from works by the two classical Richards, Wagner and Strauss.

In fact, one whole piece is devoted to Wagner. It’s called “Low N Green,” and claims, tongue-in-cheek, to be the original prelude to the third act of Lohengrin, and a wild and mad piece it is. Gansch throws off the main theme at record speed, sending it into the stratosphere with audacious daring, then settles in to do some cozy jazzing-up of the secondary theme . . . then there’s . . . but wait, no, I should leave those things out so you will be surprised.

Sometimes the two zany performers sing, folk style, somewhat a la The Sound of Music, and one of the funniest cuts on this frothy disc is “Klassik Gstanzin” in which the two madcap musicians poke fun at their previous classical music engagements.

I’ve spent 40 years in the orchestra pit

I wish I could laugh there until my sides split

With wine, song and women (live ones, not cyber)

But instead all I see before me’s Carlos Kleiber

It’s not all that hilarious. Breinschmid has penned some slightly more serious tunes. But even in “Der Tod,” he can’t resist having some fun with the Grim Reaper.

Death comes for us all, he ignores none of us

In his eyes we are equal, be it Franz or Karl or Klaus

Death cannot be bribed; he’s not Austrian after all

The recorded sound is splendid, especially considering that it’s a live performance. The musical lines between trumpet and double bass are always clean and clear (when that’s the performers’ intention), and the very enthusiastic audience laughs at the right places and applauds enthusiastically at the end of each piece, but does not detract from the performers. Perhaps my only gripe here is that everything is in German. Translations have been thoughtfully provided for the songs, but there’s a lot of stage banter that the audience finds amusing but I missed completely, scarcely knowing more than half a dozen words of German. The performance is from the Wiener Konzerthaus so that audience got it all. It sounds like they had as much fun as the daredevil duo.

Be sure to listen to: The program notes say that “Irgendwas” means “Something” and that knowing this says it all. It’s comprised mostly of grotesque sound effects but has one of the most effect-closing tags I’ve ever heard.

It’s German, too, but you’ll get it.


George W. Harris

WEIRD & WONDERFUL: Gansch & Breinschmid Live

Is there life beyond jazz standards and “I Got Rhythm” changes? Here are some recent releases that push the boundaries so far that you might need a new GPS!

Thomas Gansch/tp and Georg Breinschmid/b are nothing if not fun. They’ve put out albums that have a heart similar to Spike Jones’. Great chops with a tongue planted firmly in cheek. Here, they are caught in a concert and are as entertaining as technically adroit. Material ranges from a mix of “Donna Lee” with a Strauss polka (“Unter Donner und Lee”) as well as some tricky time signatures on “Geilomat” and ”5/4”. Wagner even gets into the act on “Low N Green” (love the puns!) while the evening ends with a medley that goes from the Blue Danube to Something Stupid to a rousing “Tea For Two.” If they didn’t have impressive chops, the night could be a disaster, but they win you over with a mix of technique and guile that is reminiscent of Tom Lehrer.


THOMAS GANSCH/GEORG BREINSCHMID/Live at Wiener Konzerthaus:  These guys are hot shots in Europe but I never heard of them and didn’t knew what to expect.  A trumpet bass duo.  They dropped out of classical music at the same time and became pals because they both love Monty Python.  And they play like it.  When you have chops like Spike Jones, you can screw around like Spike Jones.  That’s the vibe here in a long range sense.  A lot of these odd pairing duos go pretty far on good intentions but these guys are a gas.  Doing something totally different and unexpected, they grew into an act because the mothership they were working for didn’t do encores so the band manager asked them to bring the house down for the nightly finale.  Worlds are turned on such thoughts.  Eventually, they went off on their own serving up musical madness that will blow your mind.  Killer stuff that really perks up jaded ears.


Mark S. Tucker

Well, Georg Breinschmid has concentrated on fellow traveler trumpet playing Thomas Gansch this time around—more properly: ‘yet another fellow traveler’, as Georg is far from unaccompanied in musical wit and acumen over there in Europe. Live is an offering completely of ear and funny-bone tickling duets from the two, and, right from the very first track, Unter Donner und Lee—a combination of Strauss’ Unter Donner und Blitz (Thunder & Lightning) and Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee—they’re cutting up, catting around, and righteously collaborating in subversively intelligent sonic jackanapery. It goes without saying that the virtuosity of the duet is of a very high order, even above the grin-inducing brainworks, so what you’re getting in this release is a very satisfying carnival that will drop your jaw and make you titter or howl in laughter simultaneously (and you can hear the audience doing the same).

It happened to me. A wreath of teeth appeared in my face, guffawing like a monkey as I read the title Low n Green and just knew it had to be a take on Wagner’s Lohengrin. Sure enough, it is, and of course, the cover photo of the two post-beatniks standing in coffins while waiting for a train kinda gives a signpost to the smirks and japery contained within, the disc a Bonzo Dog-ish smorgasbord of many many influences, steals, borrowings, bastardizations, interpretations, and originalities. These cut-ups even have a sense of humor about themselves (and about academic fakirs), as shown in their own Klassik Gstanzln:

Once I studied music and got my degree

Since then I’ve decided: Retirement’s for me

When playing, I play hooky—man, what can I say?

Thank goodness you can’t hear me play anyway

But then they get Monty Pythonish as the song progresses:

The viola soloist’s really a rotter

Our relationship’s always been dead in the water

And the Slovak who is sharing my music stand

Should take care I don’t kick him in the prostate gland!

However, it’s all encanted in German, so ya gotta read the 16-page insert booklet to let yourself in on the shenanigans. Doesn’t matter if you do or don’t, however, as the Wagner cut alone will have you rolling in the aisles, harking back to PDQ Bach, Anna Russell, and that tiny, tiny, TINY role call of musicians who can perpetrate this kind of delightful gambol without ever becoming slapstick or even faintly cliché. Yes, there’s a TON of trad, outside, and even Arcturian jazz here, but the real treasure is that it’s a non-stop exposition of exceedingly rare celerity inseparable from all the exquisite lampooning, satire, chicanery, and pure love of music no matter what form it takes.


Georg Breinschmid is no stranger to our pages, nor will he be to your stereo/IPod after you listen to the 13 monster tracks on this recording of live performance.  Tunes like the beautiful “5/4” are not “complicated” for listeners, but they are deep, and will touch the inner parts of you as no other music has ever done before – an amazing composition!  The jaunty (& fun) “Sombrero” is too cool for school – Gansch’s trumpet is perfectly matched against Georg’s contrabass on this one!  It was the intricate weave on “Low n Green” that captured my aural vote for favorite track… almost a conversation between the duo, right in front of the large audience.  I give Thomas & Georg a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 (if I used an “FQ” (fun quotient), they would get a perfect 5.00 on that, to be sure).


While I may not understand the Austrian Thomas Gansch and Georg Breinschmid speak throughout this live album, I can definitely understand the energy created with this very lively live recording simply called Live(Preiser).

Their style of jazz moves along at an animated pace, where it may come off like old comedic movies from the 1920′s or 1930′s, but both of them also get into a vibe that sounds like the kind of jazz one may expect to hear in the 1940′s and 1950′s. Gansch handles the trumpet while Breinschmid takes on a stand-up bass, and together they communicate individually but also as one organism. The challenge is to figure out when they are independent from one another and when they are individuals, because sometimes things are so frantic it’s hilarious and serious at the same time. If you’ve heard any of their works over the years, this is what it’s like to witness them amongst an audience. The album ends with a unique medley combining their roots (“Blue Danube Waltz”), The Beatles (“Can’t Buy Me Love”), and jazz (“Something Stupid” and “Tea For Two”), which maybe perhaps best defines what these two bright musicians are all about: anything goes if you allow it.


Thomas Gansch and Georg Breinschmid both have similar tastes: they both like music and British comedy group Monty Python. Perhaps that’s why they have become friends and associates since 1997. Both Austrian musicians have classic academic background, they both turned to Jazz later, they worked together at the famous Matthias Ruegg Vienna Art Orchestra. Together the trumpeter 
Gansch and double-bass player Breinschmid created a unique duo where jazz music and absurd humor interlace with one another in a really marvellous way. And the first concert album 2012 proves that.
You will be certainly surprised by the very first disc track. Having great classic and jazz background Thomas and Georg combined Johann Strauss’s Polka with a bebop tune of Charlie Parker Donna Lee in their composition Unter Donner und Lee, also adding some Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie to it. As a result it is a bright, spirited, tasty and convincing composition! Even more interesting is putting different genres together in the final track, where Johann Strauss The Blue Danube Waltz goes smoothly into Beatles Can’t buy me love, later on into Lady Madonna in order to turn to jazz Evergreen Something stupid and Tea for two then. Besides these two lambent compositions , the disc consists of 11 very different compositions. One can hear a virtuoso Geilomat, a funny song of unlucky musicians (Klassik Gstanzln), more serious tunes of Der Tod, jazz improvisations of Beethoven (jaBISTdudenndeppat), hard rock dedication to Kurt Cobain (Kurt) with Nirvana and also Wagner’s Lohengrin turned to Low n Green.
Gansch and Breinschmid are not only brilliant musicians, but excellent showmen too, making the audience laugh and enjoying it themselves as well. The performers sing in folk style, the way they communicate the audience reminds of the popular cabarets in Germany and Austria. Of course, everything is in German (but one can hear also Russian “Spasibo” after audience’s applauses, perhaps as a joke). So it would be hard to understand the wording for non-German speakers. Therefore, I would like to express our special thanks to Katja Seebohm for the perfect translation of the song wordings into English. 
The recorded disc is very interesting and unusual. And the album cover proves that Jazz is alive! And music humor of the Live im Wiener Konzerthaus certainly add bright colours to it.

Georg @ Facebook

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