David Helbock

David Helbock, born in Feldkirch in 1984, began playing the piano at the age of six and ranks today among the best and most successful pianists of his generation. During his time at the Musikgymnasium in Feldkirch, David Helbock commenced piano studies with professor Ferenc Bognar at the Feldkirch Conservatory, where he finished 2005 with an "excellent" degree in performance.

In addition, since 2000 he has studied with the well-known New York jazz pianist Peter Madsen, with whom he is playing in the band "Mistura" and also in Peter´s Ensemble "CIA" (Collective of Improvising Artists). In 2006 David Helbock also studied with Thierry Lang at the University of Arts in Bern. David Helbock played tours and recordings with different projects in countries like the USA, Mexico, Russia, Kasachstan, Kirgistan, Kenya, Senegal, Indonesia, Argentina, Chile and all over Europe. Since the start of his musical career David Helbock is also very active as a composer.

In spite of his young age David Helbock has already released several CDs as a „Leader“ on different european record companies. In 2006 he won the competition of the biggest german speaking jazz magazine "Jazzthing" called "Next Generation" with the Helbock-Dietrich-Vogel Trio (short: HDV Trio). With the HDV Trio David Helbock also won the international competition „New Generation 06“ in Straubing, Germany, where they were able to win against more than 60 other european bands. In 2007 David Helbock was invited to the world biggest Jazz-Piano-Solo competition in Montreux and won the 2nd prize. In the year 2011 David Helbock was awarded the biggest austrian prize - the "Outstanding Artist Award"

In 2009 the band "David Helbock ́s Random/Control" was founded, a trio with a very unique instrumentation, which released their first CD on the berlin label "Traumton" in 2010. Helbock released a second CD on Traumton titled "Diagonal" with the violinplayer Simon Frick in 2011 and in 2012 a new CD for solo piano about Prince songs, titled “Purple”. Both CDs were recorded on a C. Bechstein concert grand piano D 282.

Photos: © Stefanie Marcus

David Helbock improvises on songs by Prince

David Helbock improvises on songs by Prince

Anyone who went to a party anywhere in the world in the late 1980s has heard his songs: Prince Rogers Nelson – born in Minneapolis in 1958 – was the king of pop music back then, and was also favoured in intellectual circles. Jazz pianist David Helbock – born in Koblach, Austria, in 1984 – discovered Prince’s music much later and has now dedicated an entire piano solo album to the star.

His CD titled Purple has turned out to be a beautiful homage to Prince. Helbock succeeds with a balancing act between closeness to and distance from the original songs as he reduces each of them to a single instrument: a Bechstein concert grand piano. Driving beats (Kiss, Delirious) are interspersed with quiescent passages (Purple Rain). One minute the Bechstein grand chirps like a cembalo, and the next it unfurls its full blaze of colour. Direct comparison of Helbock’s versions to the originals is a sheer pleasure, as this classically trained jazz pianist strips down Prince’s songs without distorting them. Moreover, Diamonds and Pearls pervades the album like a leitmotif: Helbock plucks — or rather hammers — Prince’s simple theme (D-E-G-H-G) on strings, uses it as short meditative introduction or snappy transition to the next song, and finally plays it harmoniously at the very end of the CD. Fascinating.

Martin Offik (recording, mixing) and Wolfgang Loos (mastering) made superb contributions to this production from the Berlin label Traumton. Truly dreamy sounds!

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