Wolfgang Mitschke - Latin in New York


Bavarian-born Wolfgang Mitschke is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. 

In addition to his legal training, as a teenager he learned to play drums, gaining experience in concert venues, clubs and radio recordings with different jazz groups in southern Germany as well as in Northrhine-Westfalia. 

He has appeared with the jazz singer and drummer Grady Tate (USA), and with the trumpet player Patrik Rickman from the Lionel Hampton Big Band (USA), together with a number of popular German jazz players. 

Wolfgang is a self-taught keyboard player and his first CD "Journey to Sydney" in 1999 showcased his talents on keys. His second CD "Sundance" from 2001 showed how he could combine his keyboard and drum talents.  So what about his third CD? 

Jobim’s No More Blues opens this set and it’s a vibrant, uptempo number with masses of percussion and a lovely acoustic piano.  The same piano leads on the strutting I Love You.  This Cole Porter tune starts to suffer midway through because of the mechanical-sounding backing.  It’s a pity because the soloing is daring. 

Mitschke’s own Latin in New York is a much more sexy affair with a smoky electric piano.  I’d have been happy for it to be even smokier – this is a slow, moody affair and I like it a lot.  Dancing shoes on for There is No Greater Love.  Despite the modern instrumentation, this sounds lovely and old-fashioned.  Anyone who went to good organ demonstrations in the 1970’s will warm to the way this tune swings and always goes where you expect.  So sweet. 

Another original composition, From Sydney to Berlin, is a mid-tempo number with acoustic piano out front.  By now, I’ve realised that all of the backing is synthesised, including the “background guitar”.  Similarly, the “funk-bass” on Shakatak’s Streetwalkin’ is a keyboard – that doesn’t stop it sounding great on this short, groove-laden but surprisingly grand song.  One song I wish could be longer… 

Mitschke gets the same great sound on Funky Lines for Anja.  He’s touring this year and I hope he plays this – the bass sound, the electric piano and some superb brass samples make this a jazz dancer to listen out for.  There’s a nice jazzy disco feel to Mitschke’s Tribute to George Duke.  Good, solid early-80’s beat, nice flute sound and a deep bass.  Dukey would like this I’m sure – even though it doesn’t sound like anything he’s done.  This one grows on you! 

There’s a nice Incognito feel on Acid Jazz Vibes.  The vibraphone sound is very authentic and the bouncy drum track works very well.  The background synthesiser wash is very brit-funk too.  This track will get a lot of radio play once the smart DJ’s get hold of it.  Maysa Leak’s vocal is all that’s missing. 

The Flute Intermezzo is quite gorgeous and I’ll admit I don’t know how Wolfgang gets that breathy woodwind sound.  What matters is that he gets it.  Lovely.  Stella by Starlight, a real jazz standard, is rendered in foot-tapping fashion.  The flying samba rhythm is infectious and the electric piano sounds smooth and – well – just right. 

The closer Sundance is recorded with a jazz club ambience and was originally released in 2001.  It’s got the energy of a live performance too, though I don’t think it’s live.  It’s layered beautifully – the racing drum track stays solid while a Lonnie Liston Smith-style backing synth wash leaves enough space for energetic electric piano soloing.  This rocks – any jazz crowd would be on their feet! 

If you thought you could imagine how funky a German jazz musician could be, you should hear this album.  Like always, I wish I could hear how a musician as good as Wolfgang Mitschke sounds when they play with a band.  For those of you who are lucky enough to live in a town where he is going to play this year, I’d say buy this album, get to know the songs, then shout very loudly when he comes on stage!


TMK Records – cat no. TMK 017358 – Producer Wolfgang Mitschke