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Yes, this man is insane

Georg Breinschmid - Brein's World
(Preisser Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: March 18, 2011
Georg Breinschmid

Review by Brad Walseth

At times goofy, at times inventive, full of classical music references, waltzing Old Viennese songs, gypsy music, jazz, blues, folk and even rap, this immense double CD release from bassist Georg Breinshmid is a maddening, yet ultimately rewarding journey through the mind of the Austrian classical/jazz double bassist.

With bizarre artwork and liner notes running in all directions in at least two languages (not to mention a running time totaling more than 150 minutes), the recording is a reviewer's nightmare. I admit that after hearing the first two tracks, which are performed with his Alpine folk music trio Brein's Cafe, I wasn't sure what I was hearing and put what I thought was another gypsy jazz recording aside. The opening track ("7/8 Landler") sounds like a slap happy Slam Stewart meeting Django and Stephane's Hot Club, in 7, mind you, while "Musette #2" would make Johann Strauss proud. Things get nutty on "Jacaranda" - a duet with trumpeter Thomas Gansch with a bit of a New Orleans flavor and excellent improvisation. As he shows here and throughout, the bassist was a highly-trained classical musician before jumping in to jazz with his technique fully intact.

But just when you are getting somewhat settled, Breinschmid sets down his bass and sings in German in a childlike duet with pianist Frantisek Janoska, which espouses the joys of computers and email, I think (I'm really not making this up). This strange landscape continues with the funky (with celtic fiddle and impressive bass solo) "Brein's Knights," the Brazilian-flavored "Quartier Latin," Franz Liszt's "Liebestraum," and another track with Brein singing and whistling along to accordion and mandolin on a truly wacky song about being an airplane terrorist who uses his bathroom supplies (shampoo and lotion) to kill ("Flugzeugderorist"). But all is not unserious, "Intermezzo" again finds the bassist in a jazzy duet with Gansch on flugelhorn, while "5/4" and "Bach 11/16" are lovely classical-influenced pieces. The rapping, shrieking, belching and kazoo of Erni M on "Tschukkn Belle" should by now come as no surprise and we aren't even finished with the first disc - there is another full blown waltz and a track with Brein whistling to a plucked chordal accompaniment on a bass guitar. Are you getting the idea yet?

Yes the man is insane, but in a good way. The second CD is more of the same, with the the lovely "Without Me" (with Thomas Vobler on vibes and Daniel Schnyder's soprano sax), the silly voice rap on the groove heavy "Schnucki von Heanois" (about an unstoppable stalker girlfriend) that will have you in stitches, the '60s-flavored "Oldtime Hit" (that will have you doing the frug or watusi), a 5/4 blues ("Blues Five") and plenty more silly singing, whistling, funky grooves and old school waltzes and gypsy touches to keep a listener quite amused. And watch for the false ending on the last song that leads to some crude commentary that ends this crazy recording well.

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