Britain-based jazz musician Michael Janisch is a bassist, composer, educator, and label owner. A native of Ellsworth, Wisconsin, Janisch studied piano and bass while growing up. Initially though, he focused on a sports career, studying history at Minnesota State University, Mankato, which he attended for three years on a football scholarship. However, after an injury put his football career on hold, Janisch refocused his studies on playing music, ultimately earning his bachelor's degree in double bass performance and music business from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After a brief stint in New York City, Janisch moved to Britain with his English wife. It was there that he formed the band the TransAtlantic Collective with saxophonist Patrick Cornelius. In 2008, they released the album Traveling Song. Also around this time, Janisch formed his own record label, Whirlwind Records. In 2010, he released his debut solo album, Purpose Built. That was followed two years later by his collaboration with Cuban-born pianist Aruán Ortiz, Banned in London. In 2014, Janisch appeared on the live Lee Konitz album First Meeting: Live in London, Vol. 1, also released on Whirlwind Records. Along with performing, Janisch holds the position of Professor of Jazz Bass at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London. ~ Matt Collar
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Purpose Built (feat. Aaron Goldberg, Jason Palmer, Jim Hart Quartet, Johnathan Blake, Mike Moreno, Patrick Cornelius, Paul Booth, Phil Robson & Walter Smith III)
Contemporary Jazz - Released August 11, 2013 | Whirlwind Recordings
Michael Janisch's recording debut as a leader quickly separates him from the flood of similar releases by young players for several reasons. Equally skilled on acoustic and electric bass, he is joined by a rotating supporting cast for his stimulating originals and fresh interpretations of familiar songs, while he shows surprising strength as a composer as well. His setting of "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" blends Latin influences in a very loose adaptation, with pianist Aaron Goldberg playing off of the main melody as Janisch and drummer Johnathan Blake provide invigorating accompaniment that is never predictable. Miles Davis' 1940s bop vehicle "Milestones" has a lighter tone, with guitarist Phil Robson taking the place of the piano, while the leader, alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, and Robson shine with their respective solos. Billy Strayhorn's final work, the piercing ballad "Blood Count," proves especially haunting due to the dramatic spacious introduction that sets it up, with Goldberg's sparse, dark chords gradually working into the familiar theme, with Blake's ominous percussion gradually gaining focus as well, while Janisch plays conservatively. The leader switches to electric bass for John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice," a surprising duet with Blake, carried off with skill. Among Janisch's eight originals, several stand out. The infectious post-bop "Precisely Now" utilizes the twin tenors of Paul Booth and Walter Smith III with vibist Jim Hart joining Janisch and Blake. The intricate "Pukl-n-Pappo" is a demanding, twisting theme mastered by trumpeter Jason Palmer and guitarist Mike Moreno with Blake and the leader. The driving sextet piece "Beep" is dedicated to the composer's father, a breezy affair with invigorating solos by Cornelius, Palmer, Hart, and Smith. Michael Janisch shows a lot of promise with this solid debut effort. ~ Ken Dryden
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