Frank Herzberg

Primary Instrument: Bass

Frank Herzberg

Bassist Frank Herzberg - born in East Berlin - began playing drums at the age of 7. Influenced strongly by his older brother, the bassist Hartmut Herzberg, he switched to the instrument which captured his heart.

He became a violin maker in Markneukirchen - one of Germanys centres of instrument making and started in 1990 to study double bass at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin with Kammervirtuose Gerd Reinke.

Frank won a scholarship to study at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he was lucky to take classes with Charlie Banacos and Hal Crook in Jazz Improvisation and graduated from Berklee with the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition and Performance....
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Instrumental CD of the Month Frank Herzberg Trio: “Handmade” (FH) 2011

Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced & Engineered by Frank Herzberg Recorded on November 26 & 27, 2010 Total Time 57:17

Arguably the best jazz album of the year, “Handmade” was conceived, engineered & self-produced by the great São Paulo-based German bassist Frank Herzberg. Everything is impressive: the original material, the arrangements, the bright sound quality, the pristine mastering. And, specially, the soulful performances by this cohesive trio of giants: Herzberg on acoustic bass, Alexandre Zamith on acoustic piano & Rhodes, and Zé Eduardo Nazário on drums.

“Handmade” transcends any categorization. It's better and more creative than anything currently marketed as ”contemporary jazz” in the USA and Europe. It's better and more creative than anything labeled as “instrumental Brazilian music” (argh!) or “Brazilian jazz.” It defies limits, because this is music created by blessed souls, not simple musicians. They deliver a spiritual message through music, and they talk an universal language. There's a bit of Brazil, there's a lot of jazz, but above all there's originality everywhere. It's really a massive and challenging set, completely unpredictable, combining density and intensity in the highest possible level.

The expressiviness of Herzberg's use of the arco bass in the opening track, “Don't Talk Crazy,” is just the first strong feeling the listener shall be prepared to experience. In the same tune, Nazário's extraordinary solo displays his stature as one of the world's top jazz drummers, in the same level of Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette and Chris Dave. The leader is a virtuoso, but he never shows off, remembering me of Richard Davis and Buster Williams. The keyboardist is a young master, Brazil's equivalent to Robert Glasper.

“A Xepa,” composed by Nazário back in 1976, when he was a member of Hermeto Pascoal's band, reflects a time when Brazilian music was evolving so much that I believed it could conquer the world through Hermeto, Airto, Egberto Gismonti, Sivuca & Co. It's rhythmically a “baião,” with its melody played by Zamith on Rhodes, and Nazário's performance evokes memories of one of his idols, our late friend Dom Um Romão.

“Mil Saudades,” a haunting ballad, follows, with the leader using both arco and pizzicato. The interaction between Herzberg and Zamith is amazing, specially during a written section before the bass and piano improvisations. A very subtle samba-jazz comes to the surface, completing the trip. Zamith's “Lorca” seems more quiet in the beginning, but the mood changes as Herzberg's stunning arco work takes the tune to another dimension.

Zamith returns to the Rhodes on the funky-flavoured “Too Much, Charlie.” The crystalline sound of Nazário's cymbals and hi-hat is schocking, combined with a killer bass-drum pulsation. And he starts the next track, appropriately titled ”The Drums,” in a trance. That's the first of four movements of a suite for jazz trio. Then comes “The Bass,” on which the leader displays his tremendous dexterity (amplified by a fat & warm bass sound), followed by “The Piano,” a lyrical voyage with Nazário's brushwork in an intimate dialogue with Zamith's long lines a la Chick Corea. The eagles land on “The Trio,” defined by Herzberg as an “up-tempo minor blues.” That's what comes closer to “mainstream jazz” in the album, once again allowing Nazário the chance to showcase his versatilty and complete command of the drumset. But words are not enough to describe the cathartic experience this CD provides. Try for yourself.

ARNALDO DESOUTEIRO __________________________________________________

Artist: Frank Herzberg Trio Title: Handmade

German born, Brazil-based instrumentalist, composer and bandleader Frank Herzberg has built a career on dynamic change, flexibility, and being one of the best in the world on his instrument: the double bass. Working professionally since 1987, Herzberg has shown a distinct talent for classical, jazz and Broadway style musicals. Herzberg shines as part of an ensemble, and doubly so when he is out in front. After years of working in the background, Herzberg began his Frank Herzberg Trio in 2004. Their latest effort, Handmade, shows a distinctive style and ear for themes, while allowing the three members freedom to explore their own individual musical ideas in a shared, communal setting.

Handmade is a breath of fresh air. Frank Herzberg and company pay homage to classic jazz while allowing their occasional progressive desires some reign to play. The result is a high energy jazz exploration occasionally tempered by a delicious melancholy. This is not supper club jazz by any stretch. Handmade can play in the background, but will quickly become the center of attention. Even on the rare occasion where The Frank Herzberg Trio gets a bit bogged down, they do so in interesting fashion, with enough talent and panache to pull through relatively unscathed. Handmade is an impressive effort, and very quietly, one of the better new jazz offering of 2011.

Review by: Wildy Haskell Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5) __________________________________________________

Artist: Frank Herzberg Trio Album: Handmade

Frank Herzberg is a Brazilian-based jazz bassist and Handmade is his adventurous, straight ahead jazz album. His trio also includes piano/Rhodes player Alexandre Zamith and drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario. Anyone that enjoys serious jazz, and seriously pleasurable jazz, will find plenty to like about this new CD.

After listening to Handmade, one is left with the overwhelming impression that the Frank Herzberg Trio is one well oiled music machine. Herzberg really knows how to strike a balance between smart compositional skills and inspired playing. There is also so much musical variety running throughout this CD. It’s the sort of album you would give to a friend that believes all jazz sounds the same. This is by no means stuffy and egg-headed, as some modern jazz can seem to be. Instead, it’s a delightful collection of original compositions, performed by three players that sometimes seem to be three parts of the same person. Jazz just doesn’t get any better than this.

Review By: Dan MacIntosh Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)

  • Handmade

    Self Produced

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Primary Instrument:

Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students

Frank Herzberg has offered a jazz improvisation course for professional musicians and music teachers in São Paulo Brazil since 1997. His unique method is based on two simple ideas: History and Repetition. History... After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and after private improvisation classes with Hal Crook, Bruce Gertz, Ed Tomassi and the legendary Charlie Banacos, Frank found himself with one urgent question: What to study first? With a shelf full of methods, transcriptions, and handwritten notes about improvisation, it was a difficult task to organize a systematic method of study. But one day Frank looked closely at a poster hanging on his practise room wall that depicts a family tree of musicians from the various eras of jazz history: Blues, Swing, Bebop, Cool, Hardbop, Fusion. This poster gave Frank an idea how to organize both his own studies and his improvisation lessons. His consideration was: •How have King Oliver, Louis Amstrong and Sidney Bechet improvised? • In what ways did the music change during the swing era? • What did Charlie Parker contribute? •What did Coltrane and Miles contribute? Following this line of reasoning, Frank organized his music study into five basic ideas: 1) blues; 2) diatonic scales; 3) chromatic approach techniques; 4) modal concepts; 5) octave - divisions (Giant Steps, inside-outside). As jazz improvisation has developed from simple to complex, Frank organized his study method to follow the music's history and to study the concepts in the sequential order that evolved as the music changed. Repetition... The Japanese KUMON method is designed to teach math and reading efficiently, and it emphasizes repetition. In normal schools, children practice mathematical calculations around 400 to 500 times. With the KUMON method, the student will practise these calculations around 15,000 times. The sheer number of repetitions insures that a student no longer has to calculate, but will simply have memorized the answer. Improvisation requires a similar approach. Excellent technique, based upon much repetition, enables the player to free himself from numbers-notes-fingering-etc., and lets him concentrate on creative ideas, listen to his fellow musicians, and respond in spontaneous ways. Frank's course works only on five basic ideas, but in all keys, phrasing, tempos and over all chord changes. Frank gives his students an individual practise plan, which combines technical exercises with creative playing and enables each student to develop his own concepts over time.

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Featured recording “Handmade”

Self Produced (2012)
Download jazz mp3 “Don't Talk Crazy” by Frank Herzberg

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