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, (the result of meeting his English wife), 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 2010, Janisch became a father for the first time to his daughter Eliza, and this new chapter provided him the inspiration for writing a program of deeply personal music for his next album project, aptly titled ‘Paradigm Shift’. In May of 2011, Janisch toured Europe for two weeks with a quintet of NYC/London based musicians, premiering the ‘Paradigm Shift’ Suite– 25 minutes worth of new music developed from a series of eight hour long improvisational sessions with just Janisch and his Acoustic Bass. The tour culminated in a live recording at London’s famed Pizza Express Jazz Club. A highly personal statement, ‘Paradigm Shift’ will be released worldwide in early 2013. Finding a new personalized approach to music is key to Janisch’s current way of thinking, writing and playing. It’s this methodology that also fuels his burgeoning work as an educator, label boss and bandleader, and finds him moving his refined yet energized vision of contemporary improvised music into new and exciting territory. Michael has had the privilege to perform with: Gary Burton, George Garzone, Joe Locke, Phil Robson, Mark Turner, Kristjan Randalu, Shirley Horn, Quincy Jones, Dianne Reeves, Tim Warfield, John Taylor, Joe Lovano, Perico Sambeat, Tommy Smith, Hal Crook, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Roy Hargrove, Vincent Herring, Evan Parker, Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Donny McCaslin, Sir John Dankworth, Stan Sulzman, Leon Parker, Walter Smith III, Mike Moreno, Gwilym Simcock, Will Vinson, Christine Tobin, Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Palmer, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Patrick Cornelius, Ralph Alessi, Jeff Ballard, Jaleel Shaw, Jeremy Pelt, Jason Rebello, Logan Richardson, Tim Garland, Clarence Penn, Aruan Ortiz, Alex Garnett, Jon Irabagon, Gary Husband, Greg Osby, Aaron Parks, & Martin Taylor. As a session bassist, Michael has appeared on/at: 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.
“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
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. He specializes in acoustic and electric bass technique, fundamentals, jazz and improvised music.