Born: February 2, 1979 Primary Instrument: Bass
Acclaimed freelance bassist, composer, bandleader, producer, record label owner and educator Michael Janisch is a journeyman artist entering a new creative chapter in his career, one that finds him drawing together his technical prowess as a formidable instrumentalist with his emotional side as a composer of notable originality.
Covering a broad spectrum of traditional, contemporary, improvised and popular music, Janisch’s resume has brought an authenticity, excitement and searching drive to his playing that draws deep from the well of past masters yet possesses a dynamic grasp and committed focus to trends in contemporary rhythm, harmony and groove. Audiences and musicians alike know him for his warm, powerful bass sounds, virtuosic yet unorthodox technique, engaging improvisations, and a very open yet supportive approach towards ensemble playing.
Janisch's interesting path to a life as a musician began in the American Midwest (State of Wisconsin), where at the age of five he began playing classical piano and then electric bass aged ten in his school's many different organized bands, excelling highly at both. By high school, however, he was not only the most promising musician in his area, but was equally gifted in both American Football and Track and Field, becoming the captain of both squads during his senior year. At age 17, Janisch took a hiatus from music altogether and accepted a sports scholarship from the University of Minnesota at Mankato, where he was immersed in Division II sports and a History major until a severe injury sidelined him in his third year. It was this injury that saw Janisch return to music. At age 20, Janisch took up the acoustic bass and after a year and a half at La Crosse, WI University's Music Program, he accepted a tuition scholarship from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and became one of the top bassists of his graduating class. After completing his degree, Janisch moved to New York City and after a year and a half immersed in the music scene there, Janisch relocated to London, England, where he is now based and has become a first call creative and session bassist on the European scene, as well as a lynchpin figure between US and European artists.
Since making London his home in 2005, Janisch has been seen and heard working across the globe with the who’s who of internationally renown creative music visionaries, as well as his own increasingly potent bands. When not touring, he is a Professor of Double Bass & Ensembles at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College in London.
In 2010, Janisch released his debut solo album 'Purpose Built' which drew together his sure-footed bass work (both electric and acoustic), original compositions and some characteristically strong performances from a gun-slinging group of new stars from both sides of the Atlantic. JazzTimes called it ‘the complete package’ while Jazz Journal noted it was a ‘perfect blend of tradition and modernity’ and was received internationally with high critical acclaim by fans, press, musicians and fellow bassists alike, while making a number of ‘Best of 2010’ critics lists. 'Purpose Built' also was the impetus for the creation of Janisch's new record label, Whirlwind Recordings Ltd.
In NOV of 2012, Janisch released his third album as a leader alongside Cuban Pianist Aruan Ortiz featuring Greg Osby, Raynald Colum, and Rudy Royston, called BANNED IN LONDON, and further on the horizon he's releasing an album with the iconic Lee Konitz recorded live at his acclaimed Pizza Express Residency, as well as a new program of original material titled ‘Paradigm Shift.' These albums are set for release in 2013.
Michael has had the privilege to perform with: Gary Burton, Quincy Jones, George Garzone, Roy Hargrove, Joe Locke, Phil Robson, Mark Turner, Kristjan Randalu, 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, Leon Parker, Mike Moreno, Gwilym Simcock, Jason Palmer, Will Vinson, Christine Tobin, 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. ______________________________
As a session bassist, Michael's highlight performances have included: The Hollywood Bowl, MTV, Michael Parkinson Show, David Letterman Show, BBC, Strictly Come Dancing, The Brit Awards, Paramount Studios L.A., The O2, Avatar, Angel, and Abbey Road Studios.
_____________________________ Selected Quotes:
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
one of the most inventive cross-border bandleaders to have recently arrived on the scene John Fordham, The Guardian
“Janisch seizes the instrument with a blend of speed and energy as if he wants to be melody, harmony and rhythm all at once.” — The Telegraph (UK)
”A bassist everyone with ears seems to want” – The Buffalo News
Contributions like Janisch's - both as bassist and as producer - to the musical life of our great city are beyond price London Jazz:
Awards:For 'Purpose Built' (Debut Album):
Best Debut Albums List (Critics Poll) 2010, The Village Voice
Best Albums List of 2010, Blues & Soul Magazine
Best Debut Albums List of 2010, Bass Musician Magazine
Best Albums List of 2010, Jazz Mann
Best Jazz Album of 2010, BBC Radio (NI)
Exceptional creativity, brilliant musicianship and compositional intensity are what bassist/composer Michael Janisch is all about JazzTimes
powerful, Charles Mingus-informed playing —All About Jazz
Seeing Michael Janisch play jazz bass is a tonic in itself. He doesn’t tickle or stroke the instrument, like so many European players, he masters it, the notes always dead centre in pitch, round in tone, and prefaced with a ’thunk’ that has the force of a drum-stroke. —The Telegraph
brilliantly imaginative player, a force of nature —JazzWise
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
One of the UK's most exciting new Improvisers with percussive, Mingus-like power —The Guardian
...Janisch seizes the instrument with a blend of speed and energy as if he wants to be melody, harmony and rhythm all at once. — The Telegraph (UK)
...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. —John Fordham, Jazz UK
“always hip, melodic, and bouncy” —The Times of London
Michael Janisch was a powerful, driving presence all night, but his speed, fluency, imagination and dextrous mastery of such a hulking instrument was really remarkable — The Left Lion, Nottingham
Michael Janisch Leader Discography
2008: The TransAtlantic Collective (Co-Leader)
Patrick Cornelius, Alto Saxophone
Quentin Collins, Trumpet
Kristjan Randalu, Piano
Michael Janisch, Double Bass
Paul Wiltgen, Drums
2010: Purpose Built (Debut Solo Album)
Jason Palmer, Trumpet
Paul Booth, Tenor Saxophone
Walter Smith III, Tenor Saxophone
Patrick Cornelius, Alto Saxophone
Mike Moreno, Guitar
Phil Robson, Guitar
Aaron Goldberg, Piano
Jim Hart, Vibraphone
Michael Janisch, Electric & Double Bass
Johnathan Blake, Drums
2013: BANNED IN LONDON (Co-Leader)
Featuring The Aruan Ortiz & Michael Janisch Quintet:
Aruan Ortiz, Piano
Michael Janisch, Double Bass
Greg Osby, Saxophone
Raynald Colom, Trumpet
Rudy Royston, Drums
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Michael Janisch is as dedicated to music education as he is to performance and composition. He currently works as a visiting Jazz Acoustic Bass and Ensembles Instructor at The Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, Middlesex University, and The Guildhall School of Music. He has given many workshops, masterclasses and private lessons extensivetly across the UK, Mainland Europe, his native United States, Singapore and Indonesia. Over the last decade, many of Michael's students have become professional bassists, or have went on to study at institutions such as the Berklee College of Music in Boston, the New School in NYC, The Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall and Trinity Colleges in London. Michael is available for workshops, masterclasses, or individual lessons while on tour (schedule permitting), for ALL instrumentalists (not just bassists) or in his studio based in Southwest London, just south of Wimbledon. He specializes in acoustic and electric bass technique, fundamentals, jazz and improvised music. Lessons are generally 2 hours in length. 'One-off' lessons are welcomed as well (i.e. if you are in the London area for a week, and want a one-time lesson). Areas of focus in the private lessons involve: Bass/Jazz History, and the study of key players sound development, and other related issues technique exercises for electric and acoustic bass arco technique for the acoustic bass, as well as 'thumb' position studies developing stamina, posture, and other physical issues associated with playing the bass, plus exercises aimed at injury prevention developing improvised walking bass lines for jazz jazz harmony, scale studies sight reading, with focus aimed at developing the ability to read music and play music at the same time(some people 'read' great, but they are not 'making music' while their head is in the chart...) concentrated work on groove, time, and developing a strong consistant pulse, for all instrumentalists composition playing free, rubato, and other ideas for being expressive odd meters and ways to internalize them Ear Training Exercises Improvising topics such as rhythmic variation, harmonic sophistication, idea and motive development, flow, staying in the moment, developing one's own ideas and language, etc., plus many other issues that arrise at the lesson.
Michael Janisch's workshops focus on topics including musical entrepreneurship, ensemble performance, composition, improvisation, group interaction, and rhythm section guidance.