2006 was a great year for Henrik Schwarz. Besides earning universal acclaim for his DJ- Kicks mix on !K7, the Berlin-based producer and remixer also confirmed his growing reputation as one of Germany’s most respected DJs, bringing his lifelong love of jazz and soul to the forefront of the deep house scene. And now he is poised to impress an even wider global audience with his magnificent new album, simply entitled ‘Live’.
There are no rules to Henrik’s elegantly crafted brand of soulful techno and melodic house. The ‘Live’ album showcases the wide variety of his classic original tracks, rearranged and reborn for an international club audience – from the hypnotic Afrofunk gallop of ‘Kalimba Dance’ to the infectious acid jitters of ‘Jimis’, and from the bluesy scat-jazz of ‘Leave My Head Alone Brain’ to the trippy piano ripples of ‘Imagination Limitation’.
The album also features remixes of some legendary voices, including funk giant James Brown and born-again torch singer Boy George, as well as rising stars like the haunting Norwegian Sami folk siren Mari Boine. All woven together into one grand, dynamic, mesmerising musical journey.
Recorded in clubs across the globe, then sequenced in Berlin, ‘Live’ is a testament to Henrik’s growing fame as a highly esteemed live act on both sides of the Atlantic. He records his sets for future inspiration, as they often contain spontaneous improvisations and audience reactions that help shape his future musical direction.
"I mostly play outside Germany, around the world," Henrik says. "That’s where the CD was recorded, different takes from around the world that I wanted to bring together on one album. In some way I have the feeling that if you record something live in Tokyo, you can capture some of that energy on a disc. So I tried to bring some of the energy of Tokyo, but also the energy of Berlin, Chicago, Manchester, Darmstadt, Madrid, Istanbul, Porto – and London, of course. I don’t know how it works but somehow it is all melted together."
Growing up in the far South of Germany, Henrik’s early musical heroes were jazz masters like Herbie Hancock, Eddie Harris and Sun Ra. When he came to embrace dance music, he brought the same level of passion and craftsmanship to his DJ career. As the ‘Live’ album demonstrates, one of his unique skills is in fusing together the freedom of jazz, the emotional charge of soul and the relentless energy of techno. Inspired by the example of Detroit techno icon Jeff Mills, Henrik found a connection between all of them.
"The acid jazz era was really big for me, then suddenly there came this much bigger movement of techno and house," Henrik recalls. "I was listening to all this machine music and I didn’t get it at all in the beginning. There wasn’t any human element, I couldn’t feel anything out of it ‚Äì until I heard Jeff Mills play. The way he was DJing, and also the selection he played, was pure jazz to my ears. That was the moment I thought: Oh yeah! That’s exactly what I want to do."
Henrik pays tribute to some of his musical heroes on the ‘Live’ album, opening with a timeless blast of Sun Ra’s spiritual jazz serenade ‘Lullaby For Realville’. "For me, Sun Ra might be the biggest musician of all time," he says. "Everything he does is all about energy, in a very abstract way. It took me 15 years to be able to listen to him. And then suddenly at some point I just had the right record from him, because there are so many, and it just made me slip into his universe. He’s a huge influence now."