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Michael Janisch

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Biography of Michael Janisch

Freelance Jazz/Improvising Musician, Acoustic and Electric Bassist, Composer, Bandleader, and owner of indie label Whirlwind Recordings Ltd.

Michael Janisch is a prominent newcomer on the international jazz scene, whose talents as both a freelance bassist and bandleader have been described as dynamic, driven, and enthusiastic. A native of the United States currently living in London, he is a relentless performer, whose musicianship and virtuosity on his instruments have made him one of the most in-demand young musicians in the UK and beyond. Described as “always hip, melodic, and bouncey” by The Times of London, Janisch is “a muscular, fluent player with an irresistible pulse and virtuosic soloing technique,” (JazzWise). The Guardian has dubbed him “one of the UK’s most exciting new improvisers.” ..

Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Michael has, at the age of 31, accumulated an impressive and diverse resume. “A brilliantly imaginative player,” (JazzWise), he has shared the stage with many of jazz’s legends and contemporary visionaries, such as Shirley Horn, Quincy Jones, Dianne Reeves, Gary Burton, Hal Crook, Kurt Rosenwinkel, George Garzone, Mark Turner, Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Donny McCaslin, Joel Frahm, Joe Locke, Aaron Goldberg, Vincent Herring, Walter Smith III, Mike Moreno, Will Vinson, Darren Barrett, Kendrick Scott, Ambrose Akinmusire, Jochen Rueckert, Jason Palmer, Patrick Cornelius, Jaleel Shaw, Jeremy Pelt, Warren Wolf, etc. He has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals, including Carnegie Hall, The Blue Note, The Hollywood Bowl, The Monterey Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz, and The North Sea Jazz Festival.

Since his arrival in London in 2005 (where he now resides), Michael has worked with many of the UK’s leading internationally renown jazz artists, “adding a little muscle” (JazzReview.com) to the bands of Jason Rebello, Gary Husband, Sir John Dankworth, Jean Toussaint, Phil Robson, Tim Garland, Julian Joseph, Martin Taylor, Tommy Smith, Julian Arguellis, Christine Tobin, Dennis Rollins, Nigel Hitchcock, Martin France, and Gerard Presencer, as well as rising stars Soweto Kinch, Jim Hart, Paul Towndrow, Alex Garnett, Robert Mitchell, Paul Booth and Gwilym Simcock. In addition to his work in the jazz world, Janisch has performed with such diverse stars from Annie Lennox to Kevin Spacey to Cat Stevens, and has appeared on the Michael Parkinson Show, MTV Europe, The Brit Awards, Strictly Come Dancing, and various BBC programs and documentaries. Moreover, he currently teaches at both the Royal Academy of Music and The Trinity College, two of Europe’s finest institutions of music. In 2007, Janisch was awarded “Young Jazz Musician of the Year” by the Worhipful Company of Musicians. .. But it is Michael’s rapidly blossoming career as a bandleader, however, that has garnered the young bassist the most international attention. He has established a strong reputation as a guiding light for creating world-class collaborations between musicians in the US and the UK. John Fordham, one of the UK’s leading jazz critics, affirms that “the London-based American bassist Michael Janisch, whose virtuosity has put him in the UK’s top jazz flight since his arrival in 2005, is having an impact beyond his hard-driving bass playing, with his high profile matching of American and British talent.” (Jazz UK). His groups have headlined to sell-out crowds up and down the country, from Ronnie Scott’s in the heart of Soho to the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 2008, his critically acclaimed TransAtlantic Collective embarked on an extensive UK tour, performing in over 30 venues across England, Scotland, and Wales, and headlining London’s famous Southbank Centre Purcell Room as one of the London Jazz Festival’s featured acts. His groups perform regularly across Mainland Continental Europe and his native US as well.

2009 shaped up to be Michael’s most impressive year yet. In January, he recorded a full program of mainly original music with 9 world-class American and British musicians at the renown Systems Two recording studio in Brooklyn, New York. These musicians are some of the guiding lights of their generation, including tenor saxophonists Walter Smith III and Paul Booth, vibraphonist Jim Hart, guitarists Mike Moreno and Phil Robson, alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, trumpeter Jason Palmer, pianist Aaron Goldberg, and drummer Johnathan Blake. This project was subsequently released worldwide on January 26, 2010 as Janisch’s debut album “Purpose Built” on his own newly minted “Whirlwind Recordings Ltd.” label. In celebration of the record’s launch, Janisch toured the UK in over 20 cities with an all-star quintet of international musicians in Aug/Sept. (Jason Palmer trumpet, Paul Booth tenor sax, Jim Hart vibes, and Clarence Penn drums) performing the music from this exciting new release. Already garnishing world wide acclaim from the international jazz press, this entire project has proven to be the bassist’s most creative and ambitious musical adventure to date, showcasing music that cuts a wide swath from the broad stylistic continuum of jazz history, and in addition representing the diverse range of the bassist's musical influences outside the improvised realm.

Alongside his solo and sideman career, Janisch has also become a curator of a unique monthly creative jazz residency at the Pizza Express Club in London, England. Here, he programs internationally renown musicians from outside the UK who are rarely scene or heard in London at the club, many times mixing them with the cream of UK talent, creating interesting and new collaborations. His efforts have been lauded in the press as a unique and important addition to the UK Jazz scene. Some of the artists he has invited to perform include Perico Sambeat, The TransAtlantic Collective, Seamus Blake, George Garzone, Jason Palmer, Jeff Ballard, Joel Frahm, and this May of 2010 Janisch presents the legendary Lee Konitz, who will record a live album for his Whirlwind Recordings Ltd label. Biography written by John Cables

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