…where no big band has gone before!’
Founded in 1998 by Austrian fellow saxophonist / bandleader Sigi Feigl the JBBG – Jazz Bigband Graz under leadership of German saxophonist Heinrich von Kalnein and Austrian trumpeter Horst Michael Schaffer became one of the strongest and most unique voices on the European bigband map. The members of the band comprise of some of Central Europe’s best musicians, its players coming from Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Slovenia.
After well acclaimed CD’s with former Vanguard Orchestra member/ trombonist Ed Neumeister (2000) and composer/ trombonist Bob Brookmeyer (2002) (both on the German-based Mons label) in 2004 they released ‚A Life Affair’ (Universal Music Austria) and “Joys & Desires” (2005 – Intuition Records) featuring the compositional work of drummer John Hollenbeck as well as singer Theo Bleckmann. With this program among others they performed at the IAJE conference in New York as well as the North Sea festival in Rotterdam/NL.
In 2008 they reached a broader audience after releasing their own production ‚Electric Poetry Lo-Fi Cookies’ blending a unique contemporary bigband concept with the musical world of electronica, sampling and groove and ambiences. They started touring heavily the European festival and clubscene. A saturday night mainstage gig at the German ‚jazz ahead’-Festival in Bremen lead to a critically acclaimed festival appearance in the following year at the ‚Jazz Baltica’ festival as well as to a festival tour in Poland. Bigband-icon Maria Schneider wrote: “… far and away the most interesting thing in there… spectacularly done! Fantastic music, incredible production, evocative, beautiful and so creative. …Thank you for creating such a wonderful thing!“
In cooperation with German ZDF and 3SAT, which filmed the Jazz Baltica performance, they produced the critically acclaimed DVD ‚Live @ Jazz Baltica’.
In 2010 among others they toured Romania and developed their follow-up program ‚Urban Folktales’, which was premiered in November that year at the prestigious Berlin JazzFest.
In 2012 ‚Urban Folktales’ was released by the prestigious German ACT – label. Among others it features French guitarist Nguyên Lê, New York-based singer Theo Bleckmann, Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola and Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella.
In 2016 they release their latest album ‚True Stories’, which again captivates by a mesmerizing blend of jazz, pop, minimal and even classical music.
Since 2019 the JBBG – Jazz Bigband Graz is under the experienced leadership of Horst-Michael Schaffer only. Their next production “The Space Between Us” is scheduled for fall / winter 2023.
As ‚All Music Guide’ put it correctly: „… one of the most forward-thinking enterprises in recent jazz.“
John Heitzmann (Natango Music)