Self Released

Michael Arbenz – Piano, Compositions

Last year Michael Arbenz blessed us with his solo piano tribute to Duke Ellington, REFLECTIONS OF D.  CLASSICISM A POINT OF VIEW, his newest solo piano album, which is different, and, it’s just as good as his take on Ellington.

Arbenz studied classical piano but he is equally at home in the jazz world.  He’s been playing jazz with his twin brother Florian Arbenz since they were teenagers.  Michael is probably best known for his work with Vein, a piano trio with brother Florian on drums.

CLASSICISM A POINT OF VIEW was written by Arbenz with inspirational help from some very famous classical composers

VEIN PLAYS RAVEL and OUR ROOTS were two Vein albums that gave classical music a jazz makeover.  When Arbenz was developing the music for CLASSICISM A POINT OF VIEW he wanted a more subtle way to combine jazz and classical music. He thought that a piano solo setting would be much closer to the classical world than a trio setting with bass and drums.

The starting points for the seven songs in CLASSICISM A POINT OF VIEW are well-known classical pieces. Arbenz prefaced each piece with “A Point Of View”;a gentlemanly way of saying, here’s my jazz interpretation of this classical masterpiece.

Brilliant Moon’ is a look at Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”.Michaels right hand is sticking to the beauty of Debussy’s melody, while his left is pushing a rolling boogie rhythm.  Debussy wrote this in 1890. I’d like to imagine him looking on, leaning in, and tapping his foot in time.

Toward the end of Brilliant Moon it sounds like a different-sounding piano was dragged into the studio.  Michael told me that he used an acoustic piano throughout, but he added overdub techniques and some electronic effects. It’s not overdone.  He said he wanted to extend the sound of the acoustic piano and to obtain more depth and extended sound esthetics.

Bach’s Prelude in C-Major BMV 846 from the Well Tempered Clavier becomes Where It Springs Into Being. Classical music tends to stick to specific tempos. I didn’t doubt that after listening to three enjoyable classical Spotify versions.  Arbenz’s version is a symphony on an 88- key piano.  The left hand is pulling behind the beat, and then it pushes forward.  Dynamics are all over the place.  It’s operatic, and it swings.

I don’t think there’s a more popular lullaby than Brahms ‘Lullaby’.For some it’s the first piece of classical music they’ve ever heard. Arbenz leaves the melody pretty much alone, but he weaves the tempo in and out and around like a something blowing around on a playground on a beautiful spring day that shouldn’t have been dropped in the first place.


The Vein trio is on pause.  Michael told me that he and Florian are working on music plans for the future. I like that.