1. Unter Donner und Lee
4. Klassik Gstanzln
6. Der Tod
8. Ansage / Announcement
9. Low n Green
12. Herbert Schnitzler
13. Blue Danube / Can't Buy Me Love / Something Stupid / Tea for Two
Thomas Gansch - Trumpet, vocals
Georg Breinschmid - Bass, vocals
I have always loved humour in music, especially as it saves us from performing or listening to music with straight faces all the time. Thomas Gansch and Georg Breinschmid are Austrians who were both brought up as classical musicians but they simultaneoulsy decided to follow their passion for jazz and lunacy, joining the jazzy Vienna Art Orchestra. The orchestra seldom played encores, so Gansch and Breinschmid were asked to perform finales at concerts. These gradually accumulated until the duo decided to perform on their own, and this album is a joyful result. It captures their concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus in December 2012.
Their virtuosity and versatility enable both musicians to play in a variety of styles, encompassing jazz, blues, pop, world music and the classics. Thus the first track here includes Johann Strauss's Thunder and Lightning as well as the bebop favourite Donna Lee and various other tunes. Thomas Gansch plays the trumpet with the stratospheric brilliance of Arturo Sandoval, while Georg Breinschmid plays the bass with frantic exuberance and great force.
Geilomat is one of their original compositions, on which they both solo inventively. Brienschmidt provides extremely effective backing by slapping the bass's strings and tapping the body of the instrument. He is a one-man percussion section. You might expect 5/4 to resemble Take Five but it pursues its own very different course, with Gansch's trumpet sounding pensive and then playful, and Breinschmidt's bass hopping about in all directions.
Klassik Gstanzln is a jolly waltz in which the duo sing of their dispiriting experiences playing in a classical orchestra, with quotes from Wagner, Richard Strauss and others. Thankfully the German lyrics are translated on the sleeve, although the interpolated comments are not. This is my one problem with the album: that the announcements and ad libs are not translated for those of us who don't understand much German.
jaBISTdudenndeppat is a straightforward jazz piece, although it is played hectically at several different tempi. At one point, one of the musicians sings a falsetto version of the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Choral Symphony. Der Tod is a piece about death performed in folk style. Again, comments in between verses which are uproarious (judging from the audience response) remain untranslated.
Sombrero is an instrumental with the air of a tango, including quotes from the classics. This number illustrates the duo's apparently telepathic understanding of what each one is going to do. As Spike Jones found, such brilliant interplay also demands concentrated rehearsal.
Low n Green jazzes up the Prelude to act 3 of Lohengrin and plays about with it in many ways, continually varying the tempo and volume. It shows just what a fine jazz trumpeter Thomas Gansch is, outshining the likes of Miles Davis. I had to use my German dictionary to find out that Irgendwas means "anything" or "something or other". It consists of what sounds like free improv interspersed with incomprehensible dialogue.
Kurt somehow references Kurt Cobain of rock group Nirvana. Herbert Schnitzler tells the enigmatic story of a man who can't remember what he did the previous night, thanks to alcohol. It allows some audience participation. The concert ends with a cheeky medley which includes snatches of many more tunes than are listed. At nearly 14 minutes, it is a tour de force. Now can we please have a British tour of Gansch & Breinschmid?