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Michael Janisch is an electric & double bassist, composer, bandleader, producer, promoter, professor of music and record label owner originally from the USA now based in London, England. His multitude of talents across the music industry have seen him become one of the most active and in-demand musicians of his generation as well as a lynchpin figure between US & European artists.
As a bassist he’s known for his versatility, energy and passion for playing time and groove with authenticity and dedication, no matter the context. As a keen improviser he has been described as ‘virtuosic and emphatic’ (The Guardian) and Bass Musician Magazine asserts “Janisch is one of the few bass players out there who plays both electric and upright with equal facility, passion and musicality.” In addition to performing, Michael is a Professor of Double Bass at the Trinity Conservatoire of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London, and regularly performs masterclasses at universities and festivals around the world.
As a composer and bandleader, Janisch has released four critically-acclaimed albums to date: The TransAtlantic Collective’s Traveling Song (co-led with Patrick Cornelius) in 2008, Purpose Built (debut solo album) in 2010, Banned in London (co-led with Aruan Ortiz and named one of the ‘Best Albums of 2013 in Downbeat Magazine) and First Meeting: Live in London, Volume 1 (co-led with Lee Konitz, Dan Tepfer & Jeff Williams). His debut solo album established his international reputation as one of the premier bassist-bandleaders-composers working in contemporary improvised music, and drew together his sure-footed bass work (both electric and acoustic), original compositions, and arranging skills along with some characteristically strong performances from a gun-slinging group of new stars from both sides of the Atlantic, including Jim Hart, Walter Smith III, Mike Moreno, Jason Palmer, Paul Booth, Aaron Goldberg, Phil Robson and Johnathan Blake. Jazz Times Magazine called it “the complete package” while Jazz Journal noted it was a “perfect blend of tradition and modernity” and was received with high critical acclaim by fans, press, musicians and fellow bassists, while making a number of ‘best of the year’ critics’ lists. Purpose Built was also the impetus for the creation of Janisch’s new record label, Whirlwind Recordings.
Since the formation of his record label, Michael has become known and in-demand for his skills as a producer and to date has produced over 50 sessions. As a seasoned performer, session musician, bandleader and record label owner who understands both the artistic and business elements of releasing music in today’s world, Janisch brings a unique set of skills to any project, whether just producing a session on recording day or helping an artist conceive an idea for a project and seeing it all the way to the release date. As a promoter, Janisch has curated dozens of critically acclaimed live events, tours and festivals with some of the most potent names in the creative music world, performing at major venues and festivals on five continents. London Jazz states “Contributions like Janisch’s – both as bassist and as producer – to the musical life of our great city are beyond price.”
On the horizon, Janisch will be releasing a new solo project that mixes a live performance of acoustic instruments with post production electronic enhancements titled ‘Paradigm Shift’ which will be available sometime in 2015.
Michael has performed or recorded with (selected list): Gary Burton, Quincy Jones, George Garzone, Roy Hargrove, Joe Locke, Phil Robson, Mark Turner, Shirley Horn, Dianne Reeves, Tim Warfield, John Taylor, Joe Lovano, Jaleel Shaw, Perico Sambeat, Tommy Smith, Hal Crook, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Vincent Herring, Evan Parker, Clarence Penn, Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Donny McCaslin, Walter Smith III, Sir John Dankworth, Stan Sulzman, Ingrid Jenson, Leon Parker, Mike Moreno, Gwilym Simcock, Jason Palmer, Will Vinson, Christine Tobin, John Taylor, Ambrose Akinmusire, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Patrick Cornelius, Ralph Alessi, Jeff Ballard, Jeremy Pelt, Jason Rebello, Logan Richardson, Tim Garland, Aruan Ortiz, Alex Garnett, Jon Irabagon, Gary Husband, Greg Osby, Aaron Parks, Martin Taylor, Kurt Elling and Richard Galliano.
Session Bassist Highlights (selected list): The Hollywood Bowl, MTV, Michael Parkinson Show, David Letterman Show, BBC Documentaries, Strictly Come Dancing, The Brit Awards, Paramount Studios L.A., The O2, Avatar, Angel, and Abbey Road Studios.
“Awesomely virtuosic double bass”
“Michael Janisch is a commanding bassist, who brings a sinewy thrust to the ensemble with masterful agility.”
“Janisch leads his quintet on a rip-roaring ride, doling out heavy grooves, tasty walking lines and melody by the bucketful. Like all good bassists, he knows when to sit back and let the lead instruments have their spot.”
Bass Guitar Magazine
“Janisch is one of the few bass players out there who plays both electric and upright with equal facility, passion and musicality.”
Bass Musician Magazine
“The bassist Michael Janisch, outstanding throughout in partnership with the drummer Jeff Williams, is featured at length on “Bilbao Song”, showing himself to be one of a new breed of player (along with Thomas Morgan and Larry Grenadier) whose renunciation of the desire to play faster, higher and ever more intricate lines acts to the great benefit of the music.”
The Blue Moment
“Janisch seizes the instrument with a blend of speed and energy as if he wants to be melody, harmony and rhythm all at once.”
“A bassist everyone with ears seems to want.”
The Buffalo News
“Janisch himself is a tower of strength, as he always is, providing the harmonic core, some of the most melodic bass playing in jazz.”
Bebop Spoken Here
“Michael Janisch has created the music of “now”—that is music in the immediacy of the present. Mr. Janisch is articulate in his muscular opening and what follows his challenge to dig deep is as mighty a response to his consonant and dissonant overture. Of course, this is the Michael Janisch that is heard throughout the record, pushing the drummer and the pianist to throw down gauntlets to the other soloists.”
Latin Jazz Network
“One of the most inventive cross-border bandleaders to have recently arrived on the scene.”
“Exceptional creativity, brilliant musicianship and compositional intensity are what bassist/composer Michael Janisch is all about, [Purpose Built] is the complete package.”
“Impressive from beginning to end, Purpose Built goes a long way to building a sturdy foundation from which Janisch will undoubtedly carve out a long career in jazz. Excellent musicianship, intelligent compositions and an authoritative approach to the music, makes this recording an unquestionable success. Hopefully there is more where Purpose Built came from, because intelligent, full-bodied music like this is what jazz needs to succeed in this new century.”
All About Jazz
“Contributions like Janisch’s – both as bassist and as producer – to the musical life of our great city are beyond price.”
“American bassist Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind label is fast becoming a major player.”