How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
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.
The cartoonish cover art and colorful packaging comes with an informative booklet in both German and English. There is also a bonus CD of additional material which includes the more jazz oriented "Wein bleibt Krk," the freer "Post Bop," an alternate take of "Herbert Schnitzler," and eight minutes of studio outtakes.
Although clearly not for all tastes, Fire is a highly enjoyable album that delivers the jazzy sounds of a bygone era with a smile.
Track Listing: CD1: Schnörtzenbrekker; Rodeo; Little Samba; Herbert Schnitzler; Suite 7; jaBISTdudenndeppat; Spring; Jazz-Gstazln; Nóta/Csárdás; Sweetie; Sedlaček’s Mood; Die alte Engelmacherin; Musette pour Elisabeth; Voodoo-Wienerlied. CD2: Post Bop; Herbert Schnitzler (alternate version); Wein bleibt Krk; Die alte Engelmacherin (outtakes).
Personnel: Georg Breinschmid: acoustic bass, compositions, vocals; Roman Janoska: violin; Frantisek Janoska: piano; Thomas Gansch: trumpet, compositions, vocals.