Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Comedy and Music of Hans Groiner

Niche genre: Jazz piano comedy

The ability to look inwardly and poke fun at yourself or your craft, I think, is vital in order to stay sane and to keep from becoming deathly serious with your work. ("All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy...") After watching the antics of his character, Hans Groiner, it is clear to me that pianist Larry Goldings possesses this aptitude for humor.

Austrian pianist, Hans Groiner

Hans, in my mind, is the Victor Borge of jazz piano. He misinterprets and oversimplifies musical concepts with such conviction and seriousness that you might almost believe he isn't joking, until you are reminded by his ridiculous wig that this all must be a charade. Which it is, of course—a hilarious charade. For your entrance into the world of Hans Groiner, his jazz piano lesson is the best place to start:

Monk Expertise

Hans is a self-proclaimed expert on the music of Thelonious Monk (although he thinks Monk could have made some better note-choices in his music.) He flattens out all chromaticism from Monk's compositions, and in so doing, in his mind, improves the music a great deal. "[Monk's] note were very--some of them--very, uh, wrong-sounding and dissonant." Although Hans freely admits to disliking Monk's music, he could see "potential" in the music. Check it out:

Hans Groiner at Work - Live at Smalls

Seeing Hans talk to a camera in a YouTube music lesson or documentary is hilarious, but seeing him in action, performing his own concert at a legitimate jazz club constitutes another level of humor. This hilarious performance features Groiner on the accordion/piano, Jeff Ballard on drums,  and Joe Martin on bass. (Pretty good band mates for little old Hans!) The performance is split into three parts; here's the first part:

What's your favorite Hans Groiner quote/song?
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