Artist Portrait: Georg Breinschmid
If you’re looking for the most influential and important jazz-musician within the Austrian music world, then at the top of the list you would find the name, Georg Breinschmid. A glance over the résumé of projects with which the compose and contrabassist has been involved makes it clear: here is a musician who is not afraid to push his own limits and one who generates his own playing field of musical expression.
Breinschmid prefers to be somewhere in between a multitude of musical styles, and has found success here, being awarded the prestigious Hans Koller Prize in bot 2002 (together with Arkady Schilkoper) and in 2003 for the album, Muave with Alegre Correa. He isn’t prone to repeating himself, and prefers to continually strive towards something new without fear of losing his already garnered popularity. Driven by his curiosity and bravery, Breinschmid generates something always unfamiliar yet singular musical mixture of styles between jazz, classical, world music and free improvisation, although his path towards jazz specifically was not a direct one.
Georg Breinschmid studied classical Contrabass at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria. Directly following his graduation he was already engaged with the highest echelon of classical orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphony, as well as other chamber music ensembles (Amadeus Ensemble, Kontrapunkte and Die Reihe) and the Lowe-Austrian “Sound-Artist Orchestra”. Over time though, Breinschmid was pulled ever-more in the direction of jazz, where he saw more potential for his own musical evolution and growth. In his owns words,”I always had more of a natural tendency or inclination towards jazz than I did to certain types of classical music, which even today I haven’t yet really found an emotional outlet for.”
His decision was made, and he turned his back on the classical orchestra path he was on to pursue the next level of his career as a freelance jazz musician. In no time at all he had a reputation as one of the most diverse and versed bassists in the international jazz scene. He joined forces with legends such as Archie Shepp, Charlie Mariano, Kenny Drew Jr., Biréli Lagrène, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Triology, Megablast, and Harry Sokal to name a few. Additionally, between 1999-2006, Breinschmid had a fixed placement in the Vienna Art Orchestra.
In all of his musical endeavors and wherever he is engaged, Breinschmid shows himself to be a flexible and chameleon-like musician who easily fits a multitude of projects. Both his albums and his projects show an immense openness and adaptability; whether it be the art of improvisation with his longstanding colleague Thomas Gansch, or his most acclaimed album “Wien bleibt Krk” which plumbs the depths of Balkan folks-music, to the project “Liszt Café” with the Janoska brothers, following in the great composer’s footsteps. Whatever Breinschmid undertakes, he always seems to be a few steps ahead of the pack.
The love of experimentation as well as his unquenchable curiosity for the new, gives wings to this contrabassist and composer to reach the highest levels of creative inspired output. With his talent to always develop himself and reinvent his music, we can expect to hear more from this artist for years to come.
Kulturzeitschrift (März 2012)
Musically brilliant and bold – the Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg follows unusual paths with the help of Georg Breinschmid
The double bass player Georg Breinschmid has shown his many facets to audiences in Vorarlberg on numerous occasions in the past. This time, however, the unconventional musician went one step further and collaborated with the Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg (SOV). Under the motto “Brein’s Café”, the brothers Roman and Frantisek Jánoska, Georg Breinschmid and the SOV delivered a performance that thrilled the audience at the Bregenz Festival House with its humour and exciting musical variety. Guido Mancusi had his work cut out for him at the conductor’s podium.
In the past, Michael Löbl, the manager of the Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg, has often opted for unconventional collaborations with chamber music ensembles that shift between various styles. These were usually entertaining crossover concerts that made a superficial musical impression and in some cases even seemed pretentious. So I was critical at first when I heard the idea of “Brein’s Café”. Based on my knowledge of Breinschmid’s qualities, I was excited to see how the double bass player and his friends would work with a traditional symphony orchestra and what form the collaboration would take.
The art of the orchestra arrangement
What impressed me most about Brein’s Café together with the SOV was that the double bassist knew that he needed help from someone with the ability to write sophisticated arrangements for a large orchestra. Michael Radanovics took Georg Breinschmid’s ideas and turned them into a very creative finished product. He wrote pieces peppered with cross references, exaggerations, shrill and also harmonious passages, accentuating the musical humour and wittiness as well as the dadaist traits of the music to the fullest.
In an ironic, subtle way, Georg Breinschmid launched an attack on traditional concert programmes. This irony was reflected in the music, for example in the “Musette pour Elisabeth”, in which he twisted the characteristics of the theme in an original way. In “Brein’s Knights”, the trio of Breinschmid, Roman Jánoska (violin) and Frantisek Jánoska (piano) set a crazy pace that was sped up and carried on by the orchestra with a number of accentuations.
At the latest by this point, the spell had been broken and the orchestra became a self-confident partner in Brein’s Café. The song “Balkandrom” was the highlight of the evening. In his pieces, Georg Breinschmid alludes to various traditional styles of music. He has a particular fondness for the flowery themes of the classical repertoire, which he inserts in significant places throughout the music in an original manner. This is just one of the ways that he kept listeners on their toes and offered the finest in entertainment. The orchestra’s individual sections were refined, with the brass section, for example, in the shape of a big band and the rhythm group as an equal partner to the trio of the Jánoskas and Breinschmid.
With their skilful playing and confident performance, the brothers Roman and Frantisek Jánoska accompanied Georg Breinschmid excellently. Guido Mancusi pulled the strings at the conductor’s podium, and he was very precise with the orchestra’s difficult entries. He came across as friendly and had a great sense of humour, at one point even giving the audience an impromptu song.
Personality and intellect
As in other programmes, Georg Breinschmid poked fun at contemporary music styles that have broken away from traditional harmony and techniques of playing. In “Komisches Wienerlied”, he broached the issue of the desire for harmony and criticised the pseudointellectual response to contemporary music. Unfortunately, he also made use of clichés and prejudices himself, especially by simply settling for superficial musical remarks. Nevertheless, the performance was good for a laugh. And if he was going to do it, then he should have done it right: The well-placed show-stopper with Cage’s 4’33” of silence should have lasted longer. But these are merely side notes.
Georg Breinschmid can do (pretty much) whatever he wants on the stage because he never takes himself too seriously. He is also a skilled musician who does not care a lick about conventions and incorporates cabaret and dadaist influences into his music in a richly varied, ingenious way.
In the first part of the programme, an interpretation of the “Jazz Suite No. 2” by Dmitri Shostakovich was played as a sort of preparation for Brein’s Café. With exuberance and a harmonious relationship between the sections, the SOV played the music rousingly, offering a stirringly profound performance. (Silvia Thurner)
Neue am Sonntag (A)
A grey-haired woman jumps up to applaud. In the cloakroom and on the street, people cannot stop talking about what they have just heard and experienced. This concert was quite the bombshell. Georg Breinschmid was fascinating and impressive. But the Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg, conducted by Guido Mancusi, also captivated listeners with its passion for making music and precision. A concert to look back on fondly.
After the intermission, Georg Breinschmid took the stage in a hat and scarf accompanied by two zany fellows in suits and ties. Together with the double bass player, the brothers Roman (violin) and Frantisek Jánoska (piano) formed a skilled trio.
“Wien bleibt Krk” then proved to be a kaleidoscope of innuendos and musical jokes. Breinschmid’s fascinating virtuosity competed with his seemingly inexhaustible creativity. The fact that at the end Mancusi and Breinschmid teamed up for a scat song, that a Wienerlied was delivered in a Schönberg-style orchestra score with Berg’s violin concerto and with a Webern miniature orchestra shrunk to a pizzicato note, that the ensemble suddenly paused in the style of John Cage’s “4’33”: All these things flashed with the same ingeniousness that characterises the double bassist’s ability to elicit melody, harmony and percussive effects from his instrument at the same time. Enthusiastic applause.
Vorarlberger Nachrichten (A)
A Buster Keaton on the bass
The musicians of the Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg play their grand classical/romantic repertoire year in and year out – and then a double bass player from Vienna comes along with his trio Brein’s Café and turns everything upside down. Together, they played Balkan jazz, cross-border melodies and ethnic music – to the great pleasure of the audience at the third subscription concert on Thursday at the sold-out Montforthaus.
Formerly a philharmonic double bassist, Georg Breinschmid abandoned his job in favour of more musical freedom and has already played as a guest in various formations at the Spielboden Dornbirn. The fact that this man who clearly has a Monty Python sense of humour has now decided to collaborate with the people from the symphony orchestra for one whole evening and in this way to push the narrow boundaries of classical music demands respect. He has also devised a stoic persona, a kind of Buster Keaton on the skilfully played double bass, with a hat and plenty of sly wordplays in his narration as well as humour in his music. He shares this with the brothers Roman und Frantisek Jánoska (known from The Philharmonics) on violin and piano, two gifted musicians like Breinschmid, brimming with spontaneous improvisation and playfulness. Breinschmid’s 11-part medley with the telling title “Wien bleibt Krk” abounds with a wide array of bizarre gags, parodies and quotes that are presented by the trio and then taken up and carried on by the orchestra in rousing arrangements by Michael Radanovics.
An example of this is the fast-paced “Balkandrom”, in which the orchestra not only manages the impressive feat of keeping up, but seems about ready to burst with excitement. In “5/4” and “Without me”, however, Breinschmid shows that he has what it takes to go beyond all the joking and write great, refined jazz numbers.
The conductor of the evening, the Vienna-based Italian conductor Guido Mancusi, who made his debut at the SOV’s podium, is the resiliently elegant linchpin in this dialogue between the soloists and the orchestra, confident at every turn, and he even proves to be an impressive singer in the Wienerlied featuring a scat interlude.
Die Presse (A)
8 July 2009 – Leo Bachinger – About Brein’s Café at Porgy & Bess (Vienna)
Between musical worlds
Musician Georg Breinschmid has joined forces with the brothers Frantisek and Roman Janakos to form Brein’s Café. The trio kicked up a musical whirlwind at Porgy & Bess during the Jazz Fest Wien.
Georg Breinschmid does not appear to be a serious musician – he looks like he is enjoying his work way too much for that. Breinschmid paid a visit to Porgy & Bess during the Jazz Fest Wien to show off his most recent, extremely promising project. They offer up a spicy blend of violin and piano, arranged around Breinschmid’s unique brand of bass playing.
The composer and bassist allows humorous homages to emerge through the tiniest of details in his work, turning his music into a critical parody. But he does not slide into the realm of simple mockery: He places accents with a purpose, produces new tones through varied tempi and disrupts harmonies with dissonance.
He humorously deconstructs works by Mozart, Schubert and Strauss before the eyes of his audience, but he does not demolish them with a sledgehammer – Breinschmid’s tool of choice is a silk glove.
As almost a side note, he assimilates influences from gypsy music and the Wienerlied, and the result is a passionate voyage through various musical worlds. At the heart of all this is always Breinschmid on the bass. Building on this foundation, Frantisek plays his heart out on the piano, but it is the highly gifted Roman Janakos who truly comes alive on the violin. The latter plays at “Porgy” like a madman, climbing boldly across the scales. Along with his brother, Roman Janakos performs a wild dance through Breinschmid’s compositions. Breinschmid acts as the ensemble leader, guiding the impetuous brothers through his works with a steady hand. He gives plenty of freedom to Roman and Frantisek Janakoks, and they know how to use it.
A big surprise is in store during the second part: The celebrated violinist Roby Lakatos’ appearance acts as a sort of panacea. To the audience’s surprise, he treats himself and listeners to a tête-à-tête with the three musicians. And the surprise guest has a huge impact on Brein’s Café.
In particular, front man Breinschmid outdoes himself, delivering a racy, wild ride through a few of his compositions together with Lakatos. Roman Jakanos also reaches new heights in his playing, not only keeping up with grand master Lakatos but also losing himself completely in the music. Brein’s Café becomes a definitive musical whirlwind – and delivers a breathless Porgy & Bess into their well earned summer break starting at the beginning of next week.
NB: We left the different spellings of the name “Janoska” – which is actually not extremely complicated – like they were published in this review: Janakos, Janakoks, Jakanos. Not bad …
(German daily newspaper)
April 26th 2010 – About the performance of „Who Is Ivica Strauß?“ in Fellbach
Can an Austrian trio be allowed to play around with the German national anthem on such a festive evening? The melody line did some bizarre twists and turns, and Georg Breinschmid (bass), Sebastian Gürtler (violin) and Tommaso Huber (accordion) presented this piece to us as an arrdangement by Ivica Straus, a seemingly forgotten third brother of Johann Strauss – to the apparent delight of most of the audience’s 300 guests, including many of its guests of honor. The trio presented the popular melody – historically correct – as the Austrian Emperor’s hymn, thankfully without its lyrics. Those three hilarious guys from Vienna also blamed it on the imaginary Ivica Strauss when they had their fun with quotes from waltzes or operettas by adding humoristic details or by spicing them up with Jazz. Many waltzes and the ‘Ledermaus’, the presumed precursor of the popular and similarly named Strauss-operetta were fast and expertly played, with a hint of Gypsy-Jazz. The wonderfully disrespectful trio performed the main part of their set at the end of the program. They were universally acclaimed and as the audience’s rhythmic applause urged them to play an encore, they delivered a splendid parody on Vienna and its violins.
27 September 2009 – Silvia Thurner – About the proFILE Festival, Spielboden Dornbirn
Georg Breinschmid is musically confident and clever, intelligent, obsessed, versatile, funny… At the proFILE Jazz Festival at the Spielboden in Dornbirn, he provided entertainment of the best kind and impressed the audience.
When double bass player Georg Breinschmid is on stage, you know you are in for a show. During the proFILE Jazz Festival 2009, this musician, who is remarkable in many respects, played in three groups at the Spielboden in Dornbirn. His musical versatility paired with his humour and a sometimes Dadaist programme was impressive, not just because of the expressiveness of his compositions but also because of the musician’s confident manner.
His delight in playing and his deep understanding of his double bass were palpable during the entire concert evening.
Unusual sound experiences with communicative compositions
In the formation classXXX, Georg Breinschmid played alongside saxophonist Daniel Schnyder, with Thomas Dobler on the vibraphone and Susanne Paul on cello. All of his compositions seemed like they were mainly describing states of being or were poetic songs that gave the musicians room for their own creations. Thus the unusual combination of the rather “metallic” sounds of the saxophone and the vibraphone on one hand and the deep string instruments on the other formed delightful constellations. In five-four time, for example, the tone was set by the sound fields, in which the melodic lines rang out in episodes full of embellishments and variations. Every note was savoured to its fullest. The clownish lines in “Musette pour Elisabeth” were amusing. The varying speeds with stops in between resulted in a humorous, communicative sort of music. As a special treat, Breinschmid added original details, transitions, flourishes and especially closing gestures, which the double bass player presented in an enjoyable way. “La petite valse” is the name of the piece that Georg Breinschmid composed for his fellow musician Thomas Dobler, in which the vibraphonist had the chance to showcase the variety of his mallet technique. The structure of the piece was exciting, at first gradually becoming concrete and then strikingly intensified with densely interwoven rhythmic overlaps.
Dadaist stories in the musical chamber of absurdity
In the second set, Breinschmid’s fondness for Dadaism became fully apparent, and the audience was entertained by a bizarre musical cabaret. The most impressive thing was the overture to the operetta “Die Ledermaus”, performed by Sebastian Gürtler on violin, Tommaso Huber on accordion and Georg Breinschmid on double bass. Embedded in the absurd “life story” of Ivica Strauss, who was exiled to Montenegro by the Strauß waltz dynasty, the musicians swept the audience away on their journey. Along the way, they toyed with idioms from classical music, ranging from exaggerated bridges and a completely excessive habit of using quavering transitions to overdrawn cadences. They packed waltz themes into polka formats and other rhythms patchwork style and made use of harmonic relationships, which serve to emphasise the tension between the key relationships at the end of many classical works. The special aspect of this piece was the joke built into the music. In addition, Georg Breinschmid made clear to the audience what his opinion is of writing and talking about music – that it is useless. But we mustn’t take the musician seriously here, because he doesn’t care a whit about obvious allusions, attacking contemporary music and modern dance, music agents and musicologists alike. I must admit that as a musicologist and a fan of contemporary music, I felt somewhat singled out in his attack. It’s a shame that his critical distance to new musical forms of expression had to come out in the form of rather superficial allusions instead of emerging from the music on its own, like in the first piece. The musicians continued with their rousing black humour in the “Todespolka”, featuring elements of surprise. Absurd confrontations between various music styles served to challenge the ascribing of emotions here, and a number of grotesque twists and turns kept the audience enthralled. The fact that Georg Breinschmid can also laugh at himself was illustrated by the “Durchlauferhitzer” in the style of a Wienerlied.
Commemorating a role model
The “Hommage to Charles Mingus” came at the end of the entertaining concert evening. Once again, Breinschmid’s compositions in the style of his role model Charles Mingus came across as well thought out and impressed the audience with their imaginative stringency. (…) Also impressive was trombonist Johannes Herrlich, who followed Georg Breinschmid’s highly stimulating lead in an earthy way and with musical flair. Christian Salfellner’s performance was just as striking on the drums. After a good hundred and fifty minutes of playing time, Georg Breinschmid seemed just as motivated and musically ingenious as at the beginning. The idea of the proFILE Festival got audiences excited once again. As a concertgoer, I was impressed by the versatility of the programme, whose concept gave musicians a good opportunity to show off their talents from a variety of musical perspectives.
Jazz ‘n’ More
August 2009 – About classXXX at the Alpentöne-Festival, Altdorf (CH)
High-class playing was offered up by the New York-Swiss saxophonist Daniel Schnyder and the Viennese double bassist Georg Breinschmid’s classXXX. The programme was entitled “Tell’s Last Shot” and was a smorgasbord of ländler in 7/8 time, Big Apple jazz and classically complex crossover pieces that were a pleasure to listen to because they radiated lightness and changed gears out of curiosity on their way through the no man’s land of an undefined Alpine music.
25 May 2009 – With Beni Schmid and Diknu Schneeberger in Bruchsal (I)
Musette, melancholy and masterful improvisation
The Beni Schmid trio plays a skilful mix of classical and jazz
Even Bach’s Partita in E major (BWV 1006) takes on a certain undertone, a sort of gypsy swing. When the violinist Benjamin Schmid comes on stage and nonchalantly shifts between various stylistic periods, then breaks through all barriers and shows that baroque and jazz are not that different after all because they both thrive on improvisation and focus on rhythm – at the latest, this is the point when you realise that there’s something more going on here than at other chamber concerts. Something that goes beyond lively interpretations and dialogues between musicians – because the Beni Schmid jazz trio enters into a dialogue with the past at the same time.
It was a treat that finished off this year’s concert series in the Bruchsal Palace: Three Viennese musicians following in the footsteps of the violinist Fritz Kreisler, who lent a personal touch to each individual work through improvisation. And these footsteps ultimately lead to Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, the legendary musicians who combined jazz, the waltz and gypsy music in the 1930s to create the unmistakable sound sensation of “Gypsy Swing”.
Besides Benjamin Schmid (who shared the stage with Grappelli before the latter’s death), the equally adept double bassist Georg Breinschmid also adds finesse: He composes for the trio and started his musical career at the Vienna State Opera and with the Vienna Philharmonic. The highly talented guitarist Diknu Schneeberger, who is a mere 19 years old, rounds off the ensemble.
Three string instruments (which are amplified electronically when necessary) and one minimal foundation result in a delicate, airy sound that can be pointed in any direction at any time – for example, during the reflections on Bach, where the trio plays with the baroque material, first pushing it along wildly, then giving it a harmonious tone and polishing it with extended glissandi.
Sometimes the violin wails or screeches, and then tumbles into virtuous cascades, alongside the feline grace that Georg Breinschmid embodies as he moves along his double bass. He offers up spontaneous gestures in between, and again and again he pulls attention back to his refined rhythmic figures.
Breinschmid is responsible for pieces such as “Musette pour Elisabeth” and “Quartier Latin”, which possess a wonderful feeling of coffee house charm and French savoir-vivre: soft, sometimes melancholy, with light, feathery rhythms. The trio moves in this smooth, round flow the entire evening; the only things interrupting it every now and then are effects such as a hard impromptu or extroverted rhythms. In “Prélude, Allegro & Surprise” (according to Fritz Kreisler), the familiar shines through; excerpts from classical music that cautiously approach at first and then scurry out of reach again and again – to ultimately be revealed: That’s right, it’s Mendelssohn’s violin concerto.
The three end the evening with an homage to the duo Reinhardt/Grappelli, whose repertoire also included evergreens such as “Night and Day” and “Honeysuckle Rose”. Once again the eloquent whirring about, this musing tone in violin and guitar: The audience is impressed and receives as an encore an exhilarating Viennese Heurigen-Lied for the journey home.
12 July 2009 – About “Out of Africa” at the Wolkenturm Grafenegg (A), with the Lower Austrian Tonkünstler Orchestra, Daniel Schnyder and others
(…) The concert was full of arrangements and compositions by the Swiss-born Daniel Schnyder. (…) In Horace Silver’s “Peace”, three pieces by Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand), Schnyder’s “Reflexions” and Ramon “Mongo” Santamaria’s “Afro Blue”, professional instrumentation, complex rhythms and wonderful solos came together to create pure listening pleasure. In particular, Schnyder himself on the saxophone and Georg Breinschmid on the double bass offered up fantastic solo performances.
Schaffhauser Nachrichten (CH)
July 2009 – About pago libre’s “Blackmail” in Hallau
(…) Georg Breinschmid, also an Austrian, is a prime double bass player and is teeming with musical ideas. (…)
Appenzeller Volksfreund (CH)
7 July 2009 – About classXXX at the Kunsthalle Ziegelhütte in Appenzell
Music with a waggish sense of humour and skill – The quartet classXXX impressed the audience with its art on a warm summer evening
The seventh concert in the cycle at the Kunsthalle Ziegelhütte left nothing to be desired for friends of European jazz. The quartet classXXX impressed audiences with its virtuosity and its obvious enthusiasm. Four musician friends who, according to their own accounts, became “socialised through classical music”, have the power to make a big impact on the jazz scene. Daniel Schnyder, Georg Breinschmid, Daniel Pezzotti and Thomas Dobler – the latter distantly related to the “Hornsepp” dynasty – showed themselves to be masters of their trade. None of them has completely strayed from the “path of virtue”. The four musicians are just as comfortable among the ranks of a classical orchestra as they are on the freer (and also glossier) jazz stage, where they are liberated from the tight corset forcing them to follow written notes and where abstract strokes burning with an inner fire are celebrated.
Daniel Schnyder, no stranger to the Ziegelhütte, fascinated the audience with two saxophones, which he used alternately. His enthusiasm for playing and his body language added yet another level of amazement. When he leans forward, you know you’re in for a treat: He works almost ceaselessly with diaphragm support to elicit tones from the instrument that those less familiar with concerts would consider nearly impossible.
It is also hard to miss Georg Breinschmid’s unmistakable expertise on the double bass, which he used solely as a plucked bass at many points. With two fingers preventively reinforced with plasters, he delivered proof of his unparalleled dexterity. He plays his instrument as if it were a piano, with fast runs and accents always placed where he wants to create something new or emphasise a particular passage.
Between the two lively/versatile virtuosos, the cellist Daniel Pezzotti almost seemed like a humble exception. Although he also delivered unexpectedly playful variations with plucking fingers, it was often his resolute bow stroke that created a certain degree of calm and order.
“A real concert has to have a fugue,” announces Daniel Schnyder, “and it can’t be missing a waltz, because it just won’t work without a Viennese!” This is how he paved the way for vibraphone player Thomas Dobler’s “petite valse”, which he intoned unbelievably soulfully, almost spherically, using four mallets. The cello added its gentle strokes before the lively ones barged in and began the unavoidable rotating movement.
The highlights of the concert were a musette “with a hint of Viennese”, whose cumbersome conclusion incorporated a great deal of mockery. The four musicians pretended that they could not agree on the final chord.
Several attempts and carefree grins lent the piece a lightness that matched the audience’s relaxed mood on this summer evening.
June 2009 – About classXXX in Muri/CH
classXXX is a new music project by three Swiss musicians and one Austrian. The band plays self-composed music, mostly by Daniel Schnyder and Georg Breinschmid. They combine elements of classical music with jazz, giving them a new, original and also bold style. Listeners were surprised by the versatility of the eight compositions that were played. The quartet’s repertoire ranges from medieval-style music to waltzes and mobile phone ring tones. But they also treated the audience to a new arrangement by Daniel Schnyder based on Vivaldi’s opera “La Griselda”.
While most of the pieces they played were of a rather fleet-footed, friendly nature, they ended their concert with an ominous encore, showing once more how versatile this motley modern jazz band is. Even concertgoers with less musical acumen recognised the incomparable skill of the artists in the agility of the vibraphone player and the fast fingers of the bassist.
classXXX does not play the kind of jazz that everyone is familiar with, but opens listeners up to a new, somewhat special sort of jazz. The band impressed listeners not only with its musical merits but also with comedy and theatrical feats. Every piece was introduced with a brief announcement, mostly in Austrian German. These did not always seem credible because they were often full of irony. It was impressive how much they were able to grab the audience with their theatrics.
The four artists’ virtuosic solos managed to surprise the audience every time. Georg Breinschmid not only proved his skill on the bass, but also amazed the audience with a brief, improvised vocal interlude. The cello and bass were transformed suddenly from string and plucked instruments to percussion instruments. The varied use of the instruments allowed the artists to add new flavours to their music over and over again. The vibraphone player also added rhythmic elements to the music, making the use of drums unnecessary. classXXX managed to create versatile music using few instruments and without many technical requirements.
The musicians were in their element and abandoned themselves completely to the music. But the band members were not the only ones who were feeling the music. The audience, which was a bit stiff at the beginning, warmed up quickly and people were bobbing their heads to the music. The candlelit ambience in the hall only intensified the atmosphere.
The initiators of “Musig im Ochsen” were once again able to introduce people to novel, rather unfamiliar music.
June 2009 – About classXXX in Herrliberg
When the unconventional quartet classXXX plays jazz, listeners should be prepared for anything. (…) Anyone who was not at the Herrliberger Kulturschiene last Saturday missed something spectacular. Where else on the Goldküste can you find a saxophone played together with a cello, a vibraphone and a double bass? The quartet classXXX plays jazz. But the four musicians come from the world of classical music. (…) The jazzified Vivaldi played by classXXX sounds just as amusing and refreshing as the landler in 7/8 time, a “musical Balkanisation of Switzerland”, as Schnyder calls it. Shortly afterwards, Rossini suddenly burst into tears on the stairway after an encounter with the great Beethoven. (…) Breinschmid also used to be an orchestra musician – he played for the Vienna Philharmonic for two years, until he’d had enough of that scene. And has he allowed his experiences there to influence his humorous, dance-like compositions?
In any case, mobile phone ring tones pop up in the middle of his pieces. (…) Rehearsals also seem to have left their mark on him. “Let’s repeat bar 156 again,” says the Viennese musician, who intonates his temperamental bass lines very precisely. The audience watches his every move. “The double bassist plays his instrument as relaxed as if he had a guitar in his hand,” says a Herrliberg local council member. He is clearly impressed by the concert, and for good reason: Not least thanks to their classical training, the troupe plays Schnyder and Breinschmid’s technically demanding compositions precisely and skilfully.
When the notes fall on the floor, they simply improvise for a while until all the notes are back in place. A world emerges that is full of curiosities where breaking the rules of music is the norm. A concertgoer rightly says, “It is outstanding music that can rarely be heard in this form. It deserves a larger audience.
8 May 2009 – Peter Uehling – Review of Daniel Schnyder’s “Sundiata Keita”, Berliner Philharmonie, with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
… What to do with the kinetic energy that pumps through one’s veins upon hearing the opening song, Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”? Applause, jubilation – these are certainly good ways to channel some of this energy. And during calmer songs such as Duke Ellington’s “Memoires – In a Sentimental Mood”, one can contemplatively reflect upon the brilliant embellishments added by Schnyder on tenor saxophone or the virtuosity of double bassist Georg Breinschmid. (…) The RSB literally tries to forget the philharmonic culture for an evening – but when Breinschmid comes in with his absurdly precise and coolly driving plucked notes after eight bars, the difference between the cultures becomes very clear.
7 Mai 2009 – Jürgen Otten – Review of Daniel Schnyder’s “Sundiata Keita”, Berliner Philharmonie, with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
… The Philharmonie shook; a mood that was ripe for partying filled the air (…) Alongside the orchestra, which was conducted by Järvi with a sense of rhythmic verve, and the two talented jazz veterans Georg Breinschmid (has anyone ever heard such lusciously soft double bass before?) and Michael Wimberly (drums), Schnyder played through his piece with extended solos and treated the audience to variations and paraphrases for orchestra of songs by Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Abdullah Ibrahim, John Coltrane and the old great, Duke Ellington.
Der Bund, Bern
28 April 2009 – Michael Matter – Concert with Daniel Schnyder (sax)
… The Camerata Bern, along with drummer Thomas Dobler and double bassist Georg Breinschmid, provided such a grooving sound that one couldn’t help but feel the urge to dance. Breinschmid’s solo, a daring improvisation that even had a Beatles quotation weaved into it, was particularly rousing. …
Kronen Zeitung, Vienna
1 February 2009 – Verena Kienast – 3-day showcase at Porgy & Bess
Porgy & Bess: For three days, the spotlight was on Austrian double bassist and composer Georg Breinschmid, who invited some of his musician friends to join him on stage. Breinschmid, who was born in 1973, was a member of the Tonkünstler Orchestra from 1994 to 1996, and was then a member of the Vienna Philharmonic until 1998, has dedicated himself to jazz for the last ten years – including performances with the Vienna Art Orchestra and Zipflo Weinrich.
On Friday, the second day of the showcase at Porgy & Bess, Breinschmid had it in for classical music, but in the very best of ways. And things got very, very odd. From waves of medieval rhythm to baroque burlesque all the way to highly “modified” Walz elements with a melancholy finale in F minor. And all this was interspersed with future classics from Breinschmid’s own catalogue. (…) And Breinschmid’s tempo only increased with the entrance of the second set of partners.
Classical violinist Beni Schmid, accordion master Stian Carstensen and guitar prodigy Diknu Schneeberger, winner of the Hans Koller award in 2006, provided dangerous bouts of funk – with the fast tempo of blues, a sense of Hungarian temperament, the charm of a French musette and fine, swinging violin. As if derailed in drunken mirth, the Viennese soul smiled, full of insidiousness …
20 October 2008 – Clemens Panagl – Review of “Bach:Reflected” with Beni Schmid
… With the likes of pianist Miklos Skuta, bassist Georg Breinschmid and the 18-year-old guitar prodigy Diknu Schneeberger, the classical and jazz virtuoso had put together a team of players that was extremely well-suited for the humorous reinterpretation of Bach’s violin concertos, sonatas and preludes. (…) Breinschmid, once a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and now Austria’s most sought-after jazz bassist, provided the right pulse on an evening that bridged the gaps between not only Bach and jazz, but also H.I.F. Biber and bossa nova.
25 April 2008 – Heidemarie Klabacher – Concert with Beni Schmid and Diknu Schneeberger
Georg Breinschmid seems to command all soundscapes with his double bass, from the ethereal celesta-like flageolet to the profound drone of the combined sub-bass instruments. Added to that is breathtaking technique, an uplifting and at the same time sinking sound – and an ironic wink.
Neue Vorarlberger Tageszeitung
Dec. 29, 2007
Georg Breinschmid is regarded as one of the best double bass players worldwide.
Programme booklet Dec. 2007
“Charles Mingus was a gigantic force of nature, not easily categorized” – that’s how Georg Breinschmid enthuses about one of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, the virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, charismatic bandleader, versatile composer, active political and social critic, and writer of jazz history Charles Mingus. Since 1999, ex- Vienna Philharmonic bass player Georg Breinschmid has enriched innumerable jazz projects not only with his unbelievable virtuosity, his infinite creativity but also with a certain sense of humour. People who have seen him and listened to him on stage will most probably praise him with similar superlatives like those he bestowed on Mingus. He also creates unparalleled virtuoso fireworks on his double bass, no matter if with Pago Libre, Christian Muthspiel, with Thomas Gansch or with the Vienna Art Orchestra, with Agnes Heginger or Beni Schmid.
This sextet consisting of outstanding musicians from Vienna and Graz gives rise not only to the hope for a fine evening with Mingus compositions but for more: a true homage to the manifold aspects of the scintillating Mingus personality.
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
Oct. 2, 2007 – Sven Thielmann – Concert Christian Muthspiel Trio Philharmonic Hall Essen (“Against the Wind – The Music of Pepl & Pirchner”)
Spectacular were the enchanting melodies Georg Breinschmid, formerly member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, snatched from his double bass with nimble fingers.
Concert on May 22nd 2007 – „Mussorgsky Dis-Covered“ with Pago Libre & Elisabeth Kulman in Nowy Sacz (Poland)
On Tuesday the international ensemble Pago Libre (with musician from Austria, Russia, Ireland and Switzerland) presented highly inventive versions of works by Modest Mussorgsky. Songs and popular tunes from symphonic pieces of this 19th century composer were presented in arrangements originating in jazz. By combining the closely knit expressiveness of Mussorgsky´s pieces with the emotionality inherent in jazz a unique atmosphere was created which carried away the audience. A major factor was Elisabeth Kulman, a powerhouse of energy, whose wonderful mezzo voice seems to be especially suited for Mussorgsky. She disposes of a masterful “classical” voice but was also able to make a contribution in jazz improvisation. This classical – jazzy Mussorgsky was sincere, fresh and as deeply moving as the original.
The masterful performance of Austrian Jazz bassist Georg Breinschmid, who could easily replace an orchestra, was especially acclaimed.
Concert on April 16, 2007 with Pago Libre at „Leerer Beutel“ Regensburg
Since Georg Breinschmid joined this drumless jazz chamber jazz ensemble it has widened its musical scope considerably. In his compositions traces of Viennese waltzes and musicial traditions from the Danube Monarchy as well as from Balkan folklore leave their mark. They are shaken up by the jazz idiom and put back on its feet albeit dizzy. Through that process they gain a modernity and liveliness which is diametrically opposed to anything stilted.
Double bill Duo Heginger/ Breinschmid and hommage to Charles Mingus – Salzburg Jazzherbst 2006
While Breinschmid brought down the house through his melodious as well as forceful playing Heginger created through her expressive singing style and her versatility an edifice of sounds and lyrics where jazz and rock mingled, sometimes with funny results, at times reminiscent of German New Wave (“Love in der U-Bahn”) and 80s style pop in the manner of Sting/ Police (“Murder by Numbers”).
The second set was dedicated to the compositions of Charles Mingus, more specifically to his 1962 album “Tijuana Moods”. Cheered on by Georg Breinschmid in the role as band leader the sextet managed to tackle the breakneck tempos and complex rhythmic changes of Mingus´ pieces and lure the audience into an – acoustic – border region between Southern California and Mexico.
Breinschmid who puts Mingus among the most important innovators in jazz with some justification has chosen a handful of big names in Austrian jazz to bring to life these compositions in all their versatility and innovative power. What a pity that these Austrian musicians do not get the proper respect they would clearly deserve by a wider audience.
February 2, 2006 – Double bill Heginger/Breinschmid and Hommage to Charles Mingus, Salzburger Jazzherbst 2006
Georg Breinschmid had a dual capacity on Tuesday: first his bizarre as well as virtuoso performance with Agnes Heginger, then his spectacular homage to Charles Mingus.
“Murder by Numbers” leads into a breathtaking dialogue of Breinschmid and Heginger who shoot off their musical gags mixing all the genres. Fast polkas are followed by Viennese songs in their own fantasy language with the audience barely coming up for air. In case your appetite for the absurd is insatiable: the audience picks a text from a pulp novel at random and the duet turn that into music. Highly amusing!
The second set which can only be called great is wholly dedicated to Charles Mingus. “Tijuana Moods” and “Meditations” are worked into closely knit suites by Georg Breinschmid and his band, always with a twinkle in their eyes. Always on the highest musical level.
November 2nd, 2006 – Program „From Fritz to Django“ with Beni Schmid, Stian Carstensen and Georg Breinschmid, Salzburger Jazzherbst 2006
A cancellation at short notice, frantic phone calls with their inherent element of improvisation and the Norwegian accordionist steps in for Lagrene to complete the trio with Benjamin Schmid and bassist Georg Breinschmid!
Carstensen´s accordion turned out to be a major asset, contributing a third tone colour of this unplugged formation, and the three of them moved effortlessly through the repertoire of works by Fritz Kreisler, Kurt Weill and Django Reinhardt as if there had never been a different plan – perhaps there was no time to make new arrangements …
Schmid excelled not only through his technical virtuosity but through the living, breathing interplay with his partners: Carstensen, “plucking” Schmid´s motifs out of the air and developing them further, Breinschmid, a jazz convert who originally played with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra added the mighty pulse and swing incorporating the soul of the music. The trio that came about by pure accident turned out to be a wonderful piece of luck.