Austrian Music Highlights: September 2023

Photo of Max Nagl Trio (c) Johannes Novohradsky
Max Nagl Trio (c) Johannes Novohradsky

September! That peculiar month where, with a little effort, you can pretend it’s still August. The evenings are darker, but people are still sitting outside the cafés without the benefit of heat lamps or slightly ratty-looking fleece blankets. And Austrian music rolls on: this month’s Austrian Music Highlights features late festivals and a bouquet of releases, so let’s get down to it…

Festive Fall

For those of you pining for the festival season just passed, we’ve got good news: it’s…not really over yet. Check this out:

The Musiktheatertage Wien, a festival featuring cutting-edge music theater works from Austria and elsewhere (think converted industrial spaces, abstract staging, lots of references to AI) are currently in progress, running from September 13 – 23. Over 30 productions of 8 separate pieces, multiple venues throughout Vienna – a veritable feast for the eyes and ears (and possibly other senses as well).

Also happening this week, from September 20 – 23, is the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Europe’s premiere platform for pop culture and international talent. In addition to the ever-popular Austrian Heartbeats Showcase on the 20th, Austrian talent like UCHE YARA, Bipolar Feminin and Bibiza will be performing at venues throughout the (possibly self-designated) Venice of the north.

Those two are on very short notice, so here’s something to mark in the calendar: from October 5 – 10, the Nuremberg Pop Festival and Conference will be taking place. It’s open to the public, with shows happening all over the city’s charming medieval center – including domestic acts like Cari Cari, FARCE, and SALÒ. Oh, and if you’re interested in rubbing shoulders and talking shop with Austrian Music Export and other music biz people, RSVP here for the Austrian and Bavarian Networking Brunch on Saturday, October 7th!

Cari Cari (c) Andreas Jakwerth
Cari Cari (c) Andreas Jakwerth

New releases: Jazz is a many-splendored thing

We deal with various genres of music around here, and when two leaders in one of those genres have high-profile releases coming up, it’s a big deal. That’s the case this month with Austrian jazz – that all-inclusive music that’s both perennially underground and has its fingerprints all over your favorite flavor of pop music.

Out of the workshop…

The story of the JazzWerkstatt Wien is too long to relate here (though we wrote up a short version in this article not too long ago) – suffice it to say that the collective, founded in 2004, helped usher in a new, highly creative era in Austrian jazz. In advance of their 20th anniversary in 2024, the JWW is releasing a trio of new records in the coming month:

Fuzz Noir was one of the early bands to arise out of the JazzWerkstatt milieu; these days, they can legit be referred to as an Austrian jazz supergroup. This week, the quartet of Ahmad Schiftner, Peter Rom, Raphael Preuschl, and Herbert Pirker is back with its first new record in over a decade: Dekadenz officially drops on September 22nd, with release concerts happening on the 21st at Porgy & Bess and the 23rd at Höfefest St. Pölten. We’re trying to stay cool, but we are very excited.

Just a week later, on September 29th, Graz saxophonist Florian Supancic releases Isolation, his debut album as a leader – an introspective opus in nine parts, featuring (among others) Meretrio‘s Emiliano Sampaio on guitar.

And finally, on October 27th, the Max Nagl Trio will release its third album, Fauteil. With his longtime comrades Clemens Wenger and Herbert Pirker, Nagl presents an album of intimate miniatures, recorded with a tiny-house-sized instrumentation (including upright piano and a scaled-down drum kit) – a departure from their previous two albums, which were heavy on electronics and tended more toward sound and fury Spoiler alert: we’ve heard this one already, and it’s a small masterpiece.

…and into the kitchen

Lukas Kranzelbinder‘s Shake Stew has cut a wide swath through the European jazz scene and beyond with their high-octane performances and high-profile collaborations. A new release from the band is always an event, and the new album Lila – coming out on October 13th as a limited-edition purple 180g vinyl LP, no less – promises to be no less. It features tracks produced by Bilderbuch and Sharktank producer Marco Kleebauer, as well as contributions from spoken word artist Precious Nnebedum; a stretched-out EU release tour will be taking them through December.

Another taste of Shake Stew? Happy to oblige:

Video: Shake Stew feat. Miriam Afredis – “So He Spoke”, live at Konzerthaus Wien

Keep a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip, and we’ll see you next month. – Philip Yaeger