Hommage à Grappelli
Beni Schmid, violin
Georg Breinschmid, bass · Edi Köhldorfer, guitar
Biréli Lagrène, acoustic guitar · Ernst Reijseger, cello
As a classical violinist, Benjamin Schmid has an outstanding reputation throughout the world. His last CD – a live recording of the Korngold Violin Concerto made at the 2004 Salzburg Festival – was celebrated as an archetype
of modern virtuosity.
Simultaneously, however, the violinist pursues a second career in a radically
opposite musical sphere: Benjamin Schmid becomes jazz violinist Beni Schmid and improvises in the style of the legendary Stéphane Grappelli with his band BeniSchmidObsession. In this constellation he is accompanied by no less than guitarist Biréli Lagrène. The ensemble‘s accompanying two guitars, bass and cello indubitably call to mind the legendary Quintette du Hot Club de France, which caused an uproar in the 1930s with Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt at its head.
Beni Schmid Violin
Georg Breinschmid Bass
Edi Köhldorfer Git
(02, 05, 10, .., .4) Biréli Lagrène Ac. Git
(0., 02, 03, 05, 10, .., .4) Ernst Reijseger Cello
Benjamin Schmid on Stéphane Grapelli
I was eight years old when I received my first Stéphane Grappelli LP, and twelve when I first heard the master live at the Burghausen Jazz Festival. There was no end to my enthusiasm about his elegant, soaring, swinging violin sound and perfect
intonation – as well as his spontaneity, which all the musicians obviously had so much fun with.
Five years later, my dream came true: Stéphane Grappelli presented me the First Prize for “Improvisation and Jazz” at the “Concours Menuhin” and invited me in following years to appear
with him at concerts in cities such as Paris, Vienna, and lastly to the opening concert of the Salzburg Festival in 1994. Grappelli was just like his playing: charming, sensitive, funny, impeccable and with the highest demands on quality. Without a doubt, this was one of the most important encounters
of my life. At some point, Grappelli was no longer there. The dream grew in me to dedicate a concert program to his fine, eternal music. It was clear that his music was just as fascinating as ever to me – despite my involvement with many other jazz projects over the years.
Benjamin Schmid on the compositions
I consider the meeting of the two giants Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt in the 1930s to be one of music history’s magical moments: the result of these gypsy, jazz and classical roots was a brilliant, uniquely European jazz idiom that can really be called classic today. We meticulously researched
many of these pieces to find out more about their arrangements, original solos, accompanying
riffs or harmonies because we believe this music is so beautiful and so powerful that it can still move people today.
When such musicians like Django heir Biréli Lagrène, who has an unbelievable talent for this genre, or the charismatic cellist Ernst Reijseger join in everything comes together rapidly and becomes so much more than just a copy – which of course must go without saying for improvised music. I would especially like to thank Georg Breinschmid and Edi Köhldorfer, who have accompanied me along this path for many years and whose wonderful
playing continually inspires me anew.
“The effortlessness of his playing, his fine, elegant tone immediately created a marvelous atmosphere. …
Schmid proved himself to be the master of subtle tones, but the group developed such an intense
groove that the hall was gradually transformed
into a swinging, seething jazz club. …
An amazing concert, a swinging highlight, the finest jazz imaginable…”
Augsburger Allgemeine, May 2005
“Violinist Benjamin Schmid plays so light-fingered and super-virtuosically – like violin superstar Jean-Luc Ponty at his best.”
Tages-Anzeiger Zurich, January 2005