Hans Draskowitsch

Hans Draskowitsch is a well-known studio musician from the German state of Baden- Wuerttemberg. He published his first album in 2003, selling more than 5,000 copies.

In the Stuttgart / Pforzheim / Karlsruhe area he is well-known for his work with cover bands and in the meantime, he has also made his mark as an independent businessman.

As a professional musician, he has been known in Baden-Wuertemberg’s music scene for many years.

With his new album, he wishes to build on his success to date.

As managing director of his own recording studio:
In 2000, he became managing director of his own recording studio in Bietigheim, where he made recordings together with the band Pur, Reinhard May etc.

As live musician in various bands:
For many years, he also successfully teamed up with various cover bands, such as Route 66, Holztrio, Cover Up, regularly playing to audiences of 4,000 - 7,000 concert-goers.

Hans Draskowitsch – Spirit of the night

His saxophone sings. “I want to inspire people with my saxophone playing so much that they don’t miss the singing voice”, says Hans Draskowitsch. With his new album “Spirit of the night” the Pforzheim musician has managed to do just this. The artist, who names Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Dave Sanborn as his role models, has developed his very own personal sound on the instrument.

It all began with a colourful melodica that his father gave him when he was just three years old. When his parents noticed that he was able to replay the melodies from the radio, they enrolled him for music lessons. After the melodica came the accordion and conventional piano lessons. Until the youngster realised: “I need an instrument that I can have more physical contact with, not only with my fingers, but also with my mouth”. So he joined the wind band, where he had the opportunity to play expensive instruments such as the saxophone and the clarinet. But it was not long before he had had his fill of the popular music that dominated the repertoire. And so he saved up enough money from his apprentice pay to buy the Selmer Mark VII saxophone that he still plays today.

Renowned formations such as the Erwin Lehn Big Band welcomed the young talent. On the other hand, as a young man he had to deal with the jealousy of his older colleagues, who begrudged him the opportunity of playing solo so early in life.

At the age of 17 he began to write his own compositions. Inspired by Genesis and Gentle Giant he formed the band Tonic, which signed up with the small but powerful Peak Label and packaged texts by the English poet William Blake into concert rock music. The result was so compelling that the group received first prize as the best band in Baden-Württemberg directly from the hands of Lothar Späth and later won the beyerdynamic competition ahead of 1000 other bands. The prize included a recording contract with the Jeton Label.

Sometime later, Hans Draskowitsch moved on. In the meantime, he had settled down to family life, had established his own company and no longer wanted to go on extensive tours. So he established his own state-of-the-art recording studio that very soon attracted colleagues such as Pur, Reinhard Mey and Caterina Valente. Thanks to his studio he regularly socialised with musicians who needed a good saxophonist. Thus in 1991 under the name of Mr. Witsch, together with the guitarist Tony Carey he supported the British musician Chris Norman on his album “Interchange”.
The studio experiment ended in a disaster of debt. But Mr. Witsch was not ready to give up music. So for many years he filled concert halls with audiences of up to 7000 as saxophonist in a successful cover band. And on holiday he once also travelled through Turkey with a Funk & Soul repertoire and a singer who sang texts in Turkish.

After selling 5000 copies of his first CD ten years ago, distributing it himself, he is now giving it another try.

He recorded the album “Spirit of the night” together with the Spanish guitarist Christiano, bassist Tobias Mürle and drummer Claus Müller. There are also three pianists on the team: Frank Ramsayer, Holger Engel and Erich Jentschmann.

The album demonstrates that the saxophone virtuoso is at home in many genres. He wrote some of the compositions himself, usually first on the piano or the guitar. The title song “Spirit of the night” with its temperamental, but at the same time languid elegance was inspired by the impressions he accumulated in the many nights he spent performing in Latin music clubs, between Spanish guitarists and flamenco dancers. “The saxophone is not really the most popular instrument in Latin music”, he explains, “but every time I joined in, the audience went crazy.” What tantalised him most was the fiery duel between the saxophone and the guitar, whipping each other into a frenzy. “I composed a refrain for the piece to give the players a rest. Then the song comes back full throttle.”

The solemn, wistful “Wengen Blues” and the more buoyant “Wengen Blues 07” are a tribute to his good friend Erich Jentschmann, with whom he regularly plays legendary sessions and who delivers a brilliant performance on the piano here. Jentschmann, who is Swiss, is a businessman like Draskowitsch. He financed his studies for three years working every evening as a bar pianist. “He had no time to spend the money he earned and as a result was able to set up his own company. Now he only plays the piano as a hobby. I’m fascinated by how well he plays.”
Hans Draskowitsch wrote the song “Spirit of the times” with a mental picture from his youth in mind: “I was 14. My mates from the big band always went for a drink after rehearsal. I wasn’t allowed to go with them. But none of them wanted to drive me home. I felt trapped, but at the same time forlorn. Until one day, I grabbed my saxophone and the clarinet and walked all the way home on my own in the dark.” The euphoric end to the song sounds like a liberation.

It was inevitable that at some point the 56-year old would cover Gerry Rafferty‘s song “Baker Street”. The 1978 hit was extremely important for his musical development, Hans Draskowitsch explains. “The rich saxophone sound right at the start was something of a revelation for me, because it brought the saxophone to the forefront and as such revolutionised the pop industry. My recording of the song is slightly brisker and I have tried to subtly translate the vocals into the instrument language of the saxophone.”

His wonderfully lyrical version of the 1988 ballad “One more try” is a tribute to the great singer George Michael. “I am so sorry that he is no longer with us. I saw it as a challenge to interpret the feeling of the original version with my saxophone so that it sounds neither boring nor tacky.”

Ray Charles’ 1960’s interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael’s classic piece “Georgia on my mind” has always fascinated him. Not only Charles’ power of expression, but also the role the song played in Charles’ fight against racial discrimination in the USA bowled him over. “I take my hat off to him for his part in this struggle,” says Hans Draskowitsch.

In his light but appropriately melancholy version of Eric Clapton’s classic “Wonderful Tonight”, the Swabian saxophonist really gets to the heart of this love song’s ambivalence. The piece is also a token of admiration for the composer and blues musician Eric Clapton. Hans Draskowitsch often ends his concerts with this great emotional finale and is rewarded with a sea of candles from the audience.

“My music is hand-crafted and sincere”, he says. As a father of four children, he wants to reach as many generations as possible with his music and pass on to them something that he reckons he came by without any effort on his part. “My talent is a gift, for which I am extremely grateful.”

(Christiane Rebmann, journalist at the SWR, DLR, Gruner+Jahr)