Biography

Raphael Wressnig, based in Austria but frequently on the road, is not your ordinary B-3 organ player. He’s actually one of a kind: a young master of the imposing, large instrument who is expansive in his breadth of expertise. He’s technically fluent in the blues, in jazz, in soul, and in funk, and he concocts exciting mixed-genre music from his fervid imagination. Versatile Wressnig doesn’t flaunt his virtuosic talent for the sake of spectacle but rather backs up his every movement on the keyboards, the drawbar and the bass pedal boards with a fierce emotional commitment.

Influenced by royal predecessors like Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Booker T. Jones and Joe Zawinul, Wressnig has taken his music around the world: the entire European Union, Russia, the Middle East, Asia, parts of Africa, the Caribbean, North and South America. This self-effacing musician, a native of Graz in southeast Austria, has recorded at least 20 feature albums and appeared as a guest on about 50 others. He has grabbed the attention of an international claque of critics and has been honored with a nomination as "Best Organ Player of the Year" at the DownBeat Critics Poll  in 2013, 2015, 2016 & 2017.

A fine composer with a gift for searching out splendid classic material to rearrange, Wressnig confidently brings out the inherent pyrotechnic power and mightiness of the large B-3 console. Yet he’s also comfortable with slowing down the pace and lowering the heat in order to achieve colorful passages of quieter music. Not unlike a musician born and bred in New Orleans, the B-3 player possesses special knowledge about conjuring “groove.” As his many fans know so well, this surging or swinging rhythmic “vibe” is vastly important to the success of Wressnig’s sui generis music.

In the 2010’s, Wressnig has solidified his standing as a solo artist. The sheer force of his artistic development has been a wonder to behold, whether encountered on albums or, better yet, at concerts. Live performances are particularly memorable for the happy collision of wild entertainment and focused artistry.

In January of 2014 the B-3 groove master made a trip to New Orleans, literally and spiritually, to cook some Gumbo. Soul Gumbo, that is. For spice, he brought along loyal partners Alex Schultz on guitar and sax-extraordinaire Craig Handy. To bring the heat, he called on one of the funkiest drummers around, New Orleans' own, Stanton Moore. Wressnig's exciting music – a special hybrid of soul, funk, r&b, blues and jazz – benefits from the expert, soulful playing of Crescent City dignitaries Walter “Wolfman” Washington, The Meter’s George Porter, Jr. and Eric Bloom. Piano-man and soulful troubadour Jon Cleary was a special guest, as well as bayou-blues man Larry Garner from Baton Rouge and Midwestern testifier Tad Robinson.

For the 2016 studio album “The Soul Connection”, Raphael Wressnig travelled to São Paulo, Brazil, and joined forces with blues guitar boss Igor Prado. They cook up a gumbo stew of soul, old-school R&B and funk featuring vocal legends Wee Willie Walker, David Hudson and Leon Beal. Self-recorded, -produced, -mixed and -mastered, the album is a wonderful outcome of a simple connection. Wressnig is in the lineage of Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff, organists who first built the foundation on that special blend of jazz, blues and funk. Igor Prado’s “Way Down South” album was nominated as “Best New Artist Album” by the 37th Blues Music Awards, and he is considered one of the most exciting guitarists in the blues world. Both Wressnig and Prado display an absolute mastery of their instruments, but also a deep love for and knowledge of all the musical genres; yet they take it out and add their own view and spin to the music.

“Captured Live” is a live album released in 2016: a nine-song exercise in musical ecstasy thanks to Wressnig and his co-conspirators – The Soul Gift Band and special guest Deitra Farr. Wressnig is justifiably proud of his central role in performing what he calls “heavy organ soul & funk”. The beautiful instrument, the B-3 organ, is replacing the singer, its sound carrying the band and playing the leads.

“The Soul Connection, Deluxe Edition” includes the studio album “The Soul Connection” and the fiery live album “Captured Live”. Raphael Wressnig celebrates 20 years on stage releasing this powerful package, yet he proves that there is more to come!

Detailed Bio


Wressnig’s ascent to status as a prominent B-3 player on the international blues, jazz, and roots-music scenes has made for an interesting life journey. Raphael was born on the 14th of October 1979 in Graz (Austria). Self-taught on both piano and organ starting at age 16, he was immediately drawn into blues , jazz and funk and has never looked back. Developing a highly personal style, Raphael soon founded “Raphael Wressnig’s Organic Trio” which resulted in their debut album “Manic Organic” in 2002. He started a 4 year, 6 record association with the Austrian guitarist and songwriter “Sir” Oliver Mally. Blues great Larry Garner from Baton Rouge, Louisiana asked Raphael to join his band – a collaboration that has lasted many years. Over the years Raphael has toured and played with some of the best known and respected blues players in the world including: Tad Robinson, Finis Tasby, Deitra Farr, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Sugaray Rayford, Igor Prado, Zora Young, Kirk Fletcher, George Porter, Jr. (The Meters), “Wee” Willie Walker (Muscle Shoals, Stax), “Monster” Mike Welch, “Paris Slim” Frank Goldwasser, Phil Guy, Ian Siegal, Louisiana Red, Billy Flynn, Matt Skoller, Sugar Blue (Grammy Award-winner, Rolling Stones, “Miss You”), David Hudson, James Armstrong, John Mooney, Steve Bell, Steve James, Jai Malano, Sharrie Williams and Doug McLeod. He has also played with some of the finest jazz players on the scene: Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez (Grammy Award-winner, Carols Santanta, McCoy Tyner), Craig Handy (Mingus Dynasty, Roy Haynes Band, “Bill Cosby Show Theme”), Johnny Vidacovich, Stanton Moore (Galactic), The New Mastersounds, Eddie Roberts, Nigel Hall (Lettuce, John Scofield), Jon Cleary, Jim Mullen (Average White Band), Pete York (Spencer Davis Group, “Super-Drumming”, Helge Schneider Jon Lord Blues Band), Wolfgang Muthspiel, Harry Sokal (Depart), Thomas Gansch (Mnozil Brass), Mansur Scott, . He has also shared the stage with many top-notch artists: Los Lobos (cult band from L.A.), Dave Gonzalez (The Paladins), Billy Paul (Grammy Award-winning soul singer, “Me and Mrs. Jones”), Tony Monaco (jazz organ master from Ohio), Sonny Rhodes, Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch, Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Darrell Nullish, Larry McCray, Rick Estrin, Kid Anderson, Johnnie Moeller, Boney Fields, Curtis Salgado, Nick Moss, Junior Watson, Georgie Fame, Gene Taylor, Otis Grand, Ronnie “Baker” Brookes among others.

During the last couple of years Raphael Wressnig has focused primarily on playing in the organ trio or organ combo formats. His group “Raphael Wressnig’s Organic Trio” with Georg Jantscher on guitar and Lukas Knöfler on drums is recognized as one of the most creative organ trios on the European scene today and are also touted as one of the hardest grooving bands in Austria. Concerto magazine picked their album “In Between” as “Best jazz album of the year” in 2004. They continued reshaping the classic organ trio sound taking it in new directions with the album “Boom Bello!” that was released in 2006 featuring Alex Schultz, “Sax” Gordon and Luis Ribeiro. Raphael’s collaboration with veteran guitarist Alex Schultz, has resulted in countless tours both as smooth trio or as hard driving blues group. The group also includes legendary blues singer Finis Tasby from Dallas, Texas. Raphael equally leads the hard-rocking R&B combo “R&B Explosion” with 6-time W.C. Handy award nominee saxophonist “Sax” Gordon Beadle. In 2006 Raphael released the album: “Mosquito Bite”. This CD was the result of a long time and on-going collaboration with the young, celebrated guitar player Enrico Crivellaro which combines vintage and modern, jazz and blues. In 2007 Raphael Wressnig became member of one of today’s the most exceptional blues projects: “Women Of Chicago Blues” – the three powerhouse Chicago blues divas Deitra Farr, Zora Young and Grana Louise plus the all-star Chicago group the “Ladies Men” with Chicago guitar ace Billy Flynn, Kenny “Beedy Eye” Smith (today’s top traditional blues drummer, son of the legendary Muddy Waters drummer Willie “Big Eye” Smith), Felton Crews on Bass (Miles Davis, “Man With A Horn” album, Ramsey Lewis, Otis Clay, Otis Rush, Charlie Musselwhite) and Raphael Wressnig on the B-3 and keys.

Raphael Wressnig won the Concerto Poll “Best jazz artist of the year” in 2007. In 2008 he released two albums: “Cut A Little Deeper On The Funk” and “(Don’t Be) Afraid To Groove”. In 2010 he released the powerful recording  “Party Factor” that features saxophonists Craig Handy, Harry Sokal, “Sax” Gordon. In 2011 “True Blue” was released. This recording is a melange of jazz, blues and gospel and brings it all home to the smoky Hammond heyday of the sixties and pays tribute to Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff and Groove Holmes. The recording features the fabulous Scottish guitarist Jim Mullen. In 2011 Wressnig started to record another great album with guitar ace Alex Schultz. This album features the legendary singers Deitra Farr and Tad Robinson, guitar player Kirk Fletcher (Fabulous Thunderbirds) and “Sax” Gordon and Eric Bloom from the neo-soul-funk groups Soulive and Lettuce. “Soul Gift” offers jewels from the soul-jazz bag, takes on soul classics, funky bombs & greasy blues!

In January 2014 Raphael Wressnig recorded “Soul Gumbo” in New Orleans and later on in 2014 he started touring with “Raphael Wressnig & Soul Gumbo”. Sax-extraordinaire Craig Handy, soulful guitarist Alex Schultz, as well as the master of New Orleans style drumming Johnny Vidacovich (Astral Project, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Mose Allison, John Scofield, Ray Anderson, Randy Crawford & Joe Sample) joined Wressnig to create a musical hybrid of jazz, R&B, soul and funk!

Raphael Wressnig tours extensively throughout the world with his various projects and is in demand by many top of the blues and soul-jazz artists throughout : Europe, Scandinavia, North Africa, Asia, Middle East, USA, Mexico and the Caribbean. Raphael has played the most renowned clubs such as New Morning/Paris, Lionel Hampton Club/Paris, Zinco Jazz Club/Mexico City, Continental Club/Austin, Buddy Guy's Legends/Chicago, Bourbon Street Music Club/Sao Paulo, Blue Note/Bienne, Quasimodo/Berlin, Stadtgarten/Köln, Moods/Zürich, Babylon/Istanbul, A-Trane/Berlin, Birdland/Vienna, Porgy & Bess/Vienna, Drop Inn/Cogenhagen, Le Jam/Montepellier, Crossroads/Antwerpen and many others. He has played the top festival stages including Bagneux Blues Festival (FR), Veneto Jazz Festival (IT), Bluesfestival Cordoba (ES), Poretta Soul Festival (IT), Dubai Jazz Festival (AE), Santiago Jazz Festival (CL), Fortaleza Jazz Festival (BR), Mississippi Delta Blues Festival (BR), Jazzfest Wiesen (AT), Handzame Dilirium Festival (BE), Jazzfestival Abu Dhabi (AE), Jazz A Juan Les Pins (FR), Puerto Escondido Music Festival (MX), Piazza Blues Festival (CH), Passions Festival Cognac (FR), Jazz in Catharge (TN), Efes Pilsen Blues Festival (TR), Abruzzo nel Blues (IT), Eddie Lang Jazz Festival (IT), Burnley International Blues Festival (GB), Great British R&B Festival Colne (GB), Terre de Blues Festival Guadelupe (GP), Sang a Klang (LUX), Jazzfest Wien (AT), Jazzfest Saalfelden (AT), Jazz sur les Pommiers (FR), Efes Blues Festival Moscow (RU), Efes Blues Festival St. Petersburg (RU), Jazz & others Bozen (IT), Jazz & Blues Festival Rapperswil (CH), Liburnia Jazz (HR) and many, many more. He has opened for some of biggest names in the music business such as Chucho Valdes (five-time Grammy Award-winner and Cuba’s premier pianist), Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck, David Sandborn, Ed Motta, Sonny Landreth, Mavis Staples, Al Jarreau, Al Foster, Manu Katche, Dianne Reeves, Van Morrison, Randy Brecker, Lucky Peterson, Robben Ford, Roy Hargrove, Dr. John, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, James Blunt, Marcus Miller, Keith Jarrett and countless others.Wressnig has been nominated for a number of prestigious awards. He was a finalist for Austria’s top jazz prize, named after the late saxophonist Hans Koller, and a blues award in France. His albums have been praised in the international music press, a few turning up on “best of the year” lists.