Hans Theessink Band "Bridges "
2004, Blue Groove SACD BG-1520, produced by Hans Theessink
BRIDGES is a hybrid SACD - sounds great on good equipment! I recorded this CD with my new band in a church in Tuscany. The church Monte Antico has beautiful acoustics and we did not use any digital reverbs and effects on this recording. It was a great experience to live and work together for a couple of weeks. I still sense that special vibe when listening back to the Bridges album. Enjoy, Hans Theessink
A VINTAGE WINE IMPROVES WITH TIME!
An, admittedly, unusual comparison with Hans Theessink, but nevertheless absolutely appropriate. As Austria's no. 1 blues export, in fact one of the most important Blues and Roots musicians worldwide, he has amazed audiences and his fans for years by delivering ever greater quality and listening pleasure on CD as well as in concert. After all, during his career of 35 years he has played, as he says himself, "something between 6,000 and 7,000 concerts in all settings possible". His CDs are guaranteed award winners. The tribute project to Derroll Adams, "Banjoman", with Arlo Guthrie and Donovan among others, was just nominated for a Grammy in the US!
His songs, the majority of which were written by himself, as well as the diversity of his sidemen emphasize the creativity of this great musical personality. Only recently he formed a new band with very experienced musicians whose first concert took place in August of 2001 in Waidhofen a.d. Ybbs. Many widely acclaimed concerts followed. The band waited to release their first CD as they wanted to "work things out with each other" first.
THE HANS THEESSINK BAND
With the beautiful surroundings of Tuscany, near Monte Antico, and inspired by good red wines, Hans Theessink and his new band retreated last summer to the acoustically outstanding premises of an old church, set up as a cultural center. For Hans this proved a "real source of strength" to record the new album.
Thomas Löffler, Theessink's technician and recording manager, arrived with a truckload of technical equipment and turned the church into a huge recording studio. Hans' new band started to settle in. Harry Stampfer, who still plays the drums in Wolfgang Ambros' band, took along his drums and several percussion instruments. Roland Guggenbichler, frequently on the road with Willi Resetarits (a.k.a. Kurt Ostbahn) brought not only a piano, a Wurlitzer Electric Piano and an accordion, but also a classical Hammond B3 organ. Erich Buchebner, travelling in the past with the well-known Austrian group STS and also a member of the Ostbahn-combo who on the side runs a highly esteemed recording studio, added his electric and upright bass to the mix. Hans Theessink himself showed up with a vast amount of guitars, banjos, mandolines, mandocellos and several mouthorgans.
Also in Tuscany were the three members of the Zimbabwean choir Insingizi. Hans met the vocal group in 1997 at the event "Let's spend the night together" at the Orpheum in Graz. Since then both parties have enjoyed working together time and again. With "Zambezi", one of the titles on the new CD, he dedicated a song to them. Hans Theessink: "I love their "earthy" way of singing and their wonderful choreography. They add the African touch, which fits in beautifully with the sound of the band and gives the music a new dimension. The audience is also very enthusiastic about their voices and dance segments during the concerts".
------(BluesArt Studio, A, Dec.2005)
Hans Theessink / Bridges / Blue Groove SACD BG-1520
In life we all involuntarily make comparisons. Whether we are actually consciously aware of them, or not, well, that is another matter entirely.
Which brings me to Hans’ latest recording; a formidable piece of work which sounds as if it was recorded in a South African township with vocal duties shared between Chris Rea and Paul Simon. But, I am wrong for it was actually recorded in an old church in the Tuscany hills of Monte Antico; whose whole surrounding ambience has created an inspiringly peaceful, soul touching selection of thought provoking moral, social and economic themed songs . Prompting us, to possibly? re-consider our opinions and options concerning the world today.
Hans’s stunningly relaxed baritone voice melds with the feather light touch he and his band; Erich Buchebner; upright and electric bass, Harry Stampfer; drums and percussion, Roland Guggenbichler; keyboards, have created in collaboration with The Zimbabwean vocal trio Insingizi , they have imbued the songs with a greater depth of spirituality which accentuates the intention of the message .
The enjoyable, intermixing of musical cultures achieves calming, satisfying nuances; which in turn draw the listener in to investigate closer the challenging lyrics of the subject matter.
Overall, this album through its strength, charm and enticing manner manages to soften the message but not dilute it in any way at all. Is there such a thing as easy listening political blues? If not, I think we may have found something very close. Mucho Impressto! Brian Harman (BluesArt Studio, A, Dec.2005)
------Mike Hotz, Radio Adelaide 101.5 FM, Australia
For the Hans Theesink CD "Bridges" – no other superlative will suffice except "Superb". I have several of Hans' other CD’s ("Call Me", "Lifeline", etc) but this is one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in some time. The quality of musicianship, the quality of recording production, the voices, the songs, and the use of Insingizi combine to an end product worthy of inclusion in any discerning music lover’s collection. Mike Hotz(Radio Adelaide 101.5 FM and Triple B, 89.1 FM in the Barossa Valley)
------BLUES MATTERS! (UK) issue 22 (Sept/Oct 2004)
HANS THEESSINK BAND: Bridges, Blue Groove SACD BG 1520. 15 tracks. 76:59 mins.
Paul Jones recently played a track from this most excellent album. The Dutch born Austrian based Blues singer and guitarist lays a blend of such calm and exciting Blues on ya man…he knows his trade, live he connects with his audience and takes them with him, almost controlling them as he performs as they listen attentively or join in when he wants them. This album takes him further on up that road to Blues master. The songs here are almost all self penned [bar three] and were recorded in an old church in Tuscany. Hans crosses borders, steps between genres and, as the title says, he builds 'Bridges' between them for us all to enjoy. He is one of those consummate musicians that will draw fans from all over to his music. It struck me that there were elements of Paul Simon in the songwriting, some Ry Cooder in the playing, some Afro feel in there, plenty of delta drenched sounds with hints of Gospel too and then just plain old simple damn good song writing….hell that's one potent cocktail!! There's a bonus track at the end running 7:42 [but no title given] which I loved. If you do not know this name then you must check it out, if you do then you know you must get this album. A fine piece of work to add to his list of fine albums…Caleb, BLUES MATTERS! (UK) issue 22 (Sept/Oct 2004)
------getrhythm (UK, September 2004)
Hans Theessink, Bridges, by Little Nemo
Hans has been around since the 70s and has developed his love of the blues to the highest standard. “Bridges” was recorded at an old church in Tuscany with the band using the natural timbers of the building to bring warmth and authenticity to the recording. One thing Hans knows for sure, a good groove. Get the groove right and you really have no problems and there aren’t any here. No matter how strong your feelings may be about the blues being a music that belongs in its natural black setting, you would have to be a hard man or woman not to be seduced by this.
------BLUES IN BRITAIN (UK, October 2004)
Hans Theessink Band - Bridges, Blue Groove BG-1520
This release is something of an international affair: Dutchman Hans Theessink takes his Austrian band down to Tuscany to record in an Italian church with guests from Zimbabwe and the USA. In fact the album’s title “Bridges” pertains to making links with other cultures and othe types of music, so if you want a pure blues album, look elsewhere (but not until you have checked out this one first).
Hans wrote all the songs himself, except for his take on Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”, plus arrangements of the traditional “Moses” and “Mbube” (or maybe you know it as “Wimoweh / The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) by Solomon Linda. The opening track “Behind The Sun” is like a second cousin to Muddy’s “Louisiana Blues” and features some solid slide work from Hans. Apart from guitar on the album he also adds banjo, harmonica, mandolin and mandola. The basic band of bass, drums and keyboards features some rock solid players who are very sympathetic to the material presented here. The afore mentioned Zimbabweans are the vocal group Insingizi who add backing vocals to several tracks, as well as singing lead on “Mbube”. “What Will The Children Play?” is a reflection of the sad state of the world in many parts and features Linda Tillery & The Cultural Heritage Choir from California (who have also provided backing vocals for Eric Bibb).
The resulting CD is very sound and worthy of investigation, especially if you like your blues spiced up with a few international influences, which I certainly do.
Rating 8 – Michael Prince
------Sing Out (USA) Vol.49 no.3 Fall 2005
HANS THEESSINK - Bridges, Blue Groove 1520
Hans Theessink has been a one-man European blues and roots music institution for over three decades. His sonorously warm baritone voice and unmistakable, country blues influenced guitar work are in demand around the globe (he’s constantly touring) not only because of the obvious emotional input he invests in his open, naturalistic sound, but for the variety of his material, much of it self-penned. On his latest, self-produced CD, recorded in an old Tuscan church, Theessink is joined by three accomplished Austrian sidemen on drums, bass and keyboards and Insingizi, a terrific trio of Zimbabwean singers.
Aside from inspiring covers of Curtis Mayfield’s signature “People Get Ready” and Solomon Linda’s “Mbube” all the songs are Theessink originals. Immediate eye-wideners are the reflective social commentaries “Odyssey” and an overwhelming “What Will The Children Play” (where Linda Tillery and her surging Cutural Heritage Choir guest), the African-tinged “Zambezi” and a pair of stark inventive blues – the mandolin-driven “Believe The Devil Took Her Hand” and un untitled, foot-tapping, B3 organ transfused bonus track.
Bridges is highly recommended because Theessink’s “big ears”. He borrows deftly from everything he’s been exposed to over the years and is still refining his ecumenical, propulsive style. His finger-picking skills alone are full of fresh ideas atop a geometrical clarity that indicates long hours of practice. (GvonT, Sing Out (USA) Vol.49 no.3 Fall 2005)