Label: JazzSick Records
Musicians: Elisabeth Lohninger - voice; Axel Fischbacher - guitar; Walter Fischbacher - piano; Johannes Weidenmuller - bass; Ulf Stricker - drums.
|Elisabeth Lohninger Band|
Christmas In July
Featuring: Axel & Walter Fischbacher
Austrian born Lohninger has been singing since the age of six, has studied classical music, jazz, and has gone on to finish her studies with a Masters degree in music, English Language and Literature. Her illustrious career encompasses singing folk songs, in jazz clubs, and at major international jazz festivals (Texaco Jazz Festival; Chopin & Friends Festival/NYC; Jazz Festival Seeon/Germany). Her singing style is described as "creative", "versatile", "hypnotic", "inspiring", and "flawless." She has co-produced and performed songs for TV shows like "The Precinct", "Alias", and "One Life to Live." She is currently a faculty member of the renowned New School Jazz Department, NYC.
The band that Lohninger has assembled for this date is a powerhouse group of major European jazz scene players; well trained; well connected; conflated for a well balanced, highly entertaining Christmas jazz program, and driven by their passion for music.
Pianist Walter Fischbacher, a native of Austria, studied classical and jazz piano in Vienna, at Mannes College and The New School Jazz, NYC. He has worked with master saxophonists George Garzone, Chico Freeman & Frank Foster; Trumpeter/Flugelhornist Ingrid Jensen; composer/guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel; Swiss singer-songwriter-acrtess Corin Curschellas, and many others.
Guitarist Axel Fischbacher (no relation to Walter), born in Germany, studied at the Robert Schumann Conservtory in Dusseldorf; the Academy of Music Rhineland in Cologne; and the Banff Center of the Arts/Canada. He has been privately tutored by contemporary fusion-jazz-funk guitar icons, John Scofield, and John Abercrombie. During the 80's Fischbacher was the guitarist in the Christoph Speidel Group.
Bassist Johannes Weidenmuller was born in Heidelburg, Germany. He played in the esteemed pianist/bandleader Henry "Hank" Jones trio; was a member of the great Latin percussionist Ray Barretto New World Spirit; spent time with guitarist John Abercrombie Quartet; and gigged with the irrepressible tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. He also worked with other jazz legends, Eddie Henderson, Randy Brecker, Toots Thielemans, George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Clifford Jordan and several others. Weidenmuller has been on the faculty of The New School Jazz and The Mannes College of Music, NYC, since the 1990s. He brings tremendous versatility and experience to the band.
Ulf Strickler, another German native, occupies the drummers stool. He studied drumming at a Dutch Conservatory, The Arnheim Institute of Arts under the tutelage of Rene Creevers and Joop Van Erven. He has enjoyed important professional associations with the highly acclaimed jazz fusion drummer Dave Weckl; the outstanding, cutting-edge Cuban percussionist, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez; Austrian drummer/multi-instrumentalist/composer Thomas Lang; British progressive rock drummer/percussionist Gavin Harrison; and Texas born jazz fusion drummer Kirk Covington. Strickler is a drummer's drummer who can project unbridled power, or subtle nuance on demand. He endows the band with rhythmic versatility, passionate energy and exotic rhythmic flavors.
Lohninger casts her sultry gaze toward Brazil (Os Meninos Da Manguiera) and gives an early hint of her talent as a multi-lingual 'voice' with an arresting interpretive ability. The impressive drumming power of Ulf Stricker is felt as he takes the swaying Brazilian rhythms up through a searing seek and burn to end the track. Lohninger then demonstrates that she is quite capable and comfortable displaying her captivating pensive side (In Notte Placida) as she coats her voice with the amative colors of the mellifluous Italian language, allowing the gentleness of the piano and guitar to underscore her simple expression of reverence and joy. In the final moments of the piece, is mirrored a study in contrasts, as Fischbacher's deliberately pensive piano artfully steps around scattered micro dots of kinetic energy escaping from Strickler's busy drums.
There is a distinct feeling of high spiritedness and release as the melding of voices and the Latin fusion rock of Axel Fischbacher's guitar combine with Lohninhger's passionate vocal in 'espanol' to flavor Mexico's (Potpourri De Navidad). This joyous song echoes north into the wide expanse of the American continent to join (Mary's Boy Child) in simple, sparse surroundings, being comforted with deferential warmth flowing from Lohninger's clear, simple, delicate lyric, Walter Fischbacher's pious piano and the quiet energy rising out of the Scofield/Abercrombie influenced guitar fret of Axel Fischbacher.
Jazz colors many music genres. It perennially brings a message of peace, harmony, goodwill to all men, and women. France, but more particularly the city of Paris, enjoys a special relationship with jazz, having provided a place of respite, reinvention, and rediscovery for jazz and jazz musicians, especially during tough challenging times, and it is in French that Lohninger is at her jazziest as her band breaks out the most bopish selection on the CD, one that shines like the famous 'lights' of the City (Petit Papa Noel), beautifully arranged by Lohninger and Walter Fischbacher: sumptuously, unabashedly, seasoning its uptempo, joyful lyric with Charlie Parker's classic jazz composition, "Confirmation," staying true to the code, in a way that "Yardbird", a mortal who knew a thing or two about joyful feelings, would have cajoled, "Give this one all the stars you've got."
The guitar and piano draw Lohninger's voice into an effortless jazz stroll, (Glans Over Sjo Och Strand) that has the invigorating lightness of an early winter morning breeze, while Axel Fischbacher's stylish and gently clipped Wes Montgomery guitar chords create a warm, delightful mood, that maintains the jazz feel at a tempo set to the fancy of the pristine air; then as seamlessly and delicately as a breeze moves from tree to tree, Lohninger turns to a traditional Christmas song with another of her signature arrangements (Advent) from her native Austria; a tune that is perfect for the deft keyboard wizardry of Walter Fischbacher and the now, elongated, lamenting guitar sound of Axel Fischbacher.
If there is a moment in song on the CD, that can be described as sensually disarming, then it must be found in Lohninger's soothing Japanese interpretation of Tatsurou Yamashita's alluring (Christmas Eve). It simply draws the ear into a realm which, Fischbacher's guitar and then the bass of Johannes Weidenmuller conspire to make, helplessly bewitching, deliciously unforgettable, and serves to set up the perfect mood for Lohninger's Danish rendition (Den Yndigste Rose), giving currency to the "creative," "versatile," "inspiring," "flawless" portraiture of her artistic cachet. This placid mood is deepened further with the traditional song, (Vom Himmel Hoch O Englein Kommit). It is beautifully arranged for Lohninger's exquisite voice, sung in unblemished German, and reaches a depth of absolute spirituality heard nowhere else on the CD.
The Cd's finale comes from Austria: (Stille Nacht), exalted, soulful, Christmas-morning bright, bathed in funky holiday blues spilling out the Eric "Slow Hand" Clapton guitar-like canon, suffused by the accomplished Fischbacher; backed by the gospel preaching piano of Walter Fischbacher; anchored in the fresh Yuletide air by the steady, locked in bass of Johannes Weidenmuller; given an infectious, irresistible Ulf Stricker drumbeat; and sanctified with the spirit by the chocolate-rich, illustrious voice of Elisabeth Lohninger. It ends the date as it began, with a definitive rhythmic statement.
The Elisabeth Lohniner Band's "Christmas in July," is a wonderful CD with wide musical appeal that will add cheer to the festive season for all ages, but its charming Christmas songs, from countries all around the world, are also perfect holiday entertainment for children; to connect them to the joy of a season that all children love in their hearts, irrespective of native language, through the universal medium of blissful tidings, and good will to all: Jazz.
Track Listing: Giant Chestnutz/Christmas Song/USA; Os Meninos Da Mangueira/Brazil; In Notte Placida/Italy; Potpourri De Navidad/Mexico; Mary's Boy Child/USA; Petit Papa Noel/France; Glans Over Sjo Och Stand/Sweden; Advent/Austria; Christmas Eve/Japan; Den Yndigeste Rose/Denmark; Vom Himmel Hoch O Englein Kommit/Germany; Stille Nacht/Austria.
Recorded at Lofish Studios, NYC.
Engineers: MP Kuo, Christopher Gilroy
Mixing/Mastering: Walter Fischbacher
Produced by Fischbacher/Lohninger/Fischbacher
Ulf Stricker plays DW drums, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads and Agner drumsticks exclusively.