Gregor Schaefer is a bassist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, based in Amsterdam. He plays acoustic jazz, many world music styles, theater music and pop music. As a double bass player he has a big sound, strong rhythm and smooth lyricism, making him a remarkable performer of jazz and world music.
He studied double bass at the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (Netherlands). In addition to swing and bebop he started playing Eastern European folklore and crossover music with the band Csókolom, touring internationally. That was the start of a long journey through many styles.
Since then Gregor has always had projects where he explores a world music style in great depth. For many years this was jewish klezmer music. He studied the origins and development of that style so deeply that he even gave lectures about the subject.
He discovered the ud, the Turkish/Arab fretless lute, in the late 1990s and started using it for concerts and recordings. He also performed and recorded on the bassetto/bassetl (small bowed bass tuned in fifths), cello (regular / bass-cello) and mandura (modified mandolin).
Currently, Gregor is a member of several bands in the Dutch jazz and world music scene. See details about his current Groups & Projects. He is also a freelancer for jazz, world music and theater music projects.
He has performed in Europe, Australia and the USA. His playing can be heard on some 30 CDs. For examples of his playing, visit the Audio Portfolio page. Some of his compositions can be heard here.
- In 2017 Shtetl Band Amsterdam collaborated with master klezmer violinist Steven Greenman at the Klezmer Festival Fürth. They were later joined by Joel Rubin and Veretski Pass (Cookie Segelstein, Josh Horowith and Stu Brotman)..
- In 2015 Gregor published a book with his original klezmer compositions. This book 'Village Dance' is now available worldwide, for C, B-flat or bass clef instruments.
- For the Cellofestival Dordrecht 2013 he composed 'Qalafat', an oriental composition in 28/8 meter, for cello quartet. It was performed by an excellent quartet led by Marien van Staalen.
- In 2012 Gregor was featured in the Dutch TV-program 'De Weg Naar Klezmer' (The Road To Klezmer), a production of the Joodse Omroep. He was interviewed about his collection of historical klezmer 78 rpms records and the philosophy behind the group sound of Shtetl Band Amsterdam.
- In 2011 Shtetl Band Amsterdam started a series of concerts of Yiddish songs and klezmer music with Shura Lipovsky.
- The CD 'The Klezmer Village' by Shtetl Band Amsterdam, for which Gregor is also the artistic director, was called "a major event in the klezmer world" by Dr. Walter 'Zev' Feldman, pioneering performer and outstanding academic of klezmer music since the mid-1970's.
- In 2010 Shtetl Band Amsterdam started a series of klezmer concerts with master clarinet player Christian Dawid.
- In 2010 Gregor played ud together with the Gregorian Choir Schola Cantorum Amsterdam, in a concert at the Nederlands Gregoriaans Festival.
- In the fall of 2009 Gregor played live music for silent movies, with the ensemble The Sprockets led by accomplished composer and pianist Maud Nelissen. He also played concerts of newly composed music with the jazz quartet of trombone player Akki Haak.
- In 2009 Shtetl Band Amsterdam performed a concert together with the Moroccan chaabi group Ismailia, in the Amsterdam Jewish Museum (Joods Historisch Museum).
- The debut CD 'The Bride's Waltz - New & Old Music for the Klezmer Violin' by Shtetl Band Amsterdam, for which Gregor is the artistic director, was released in 2008. It was extremely well received by the international klezmer music scene.
- In 2008 he played live in the popular Dutch TV program De Wereld Draait Door with Mazzeltov & Ronlinha Kross.
- In 2006 he performed with the group Mazzeltov & Ronlinha Kross at the Grote Zaal of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. It was a wonderful evening, superb playing, good atmosphere, excellent sound, for a full house. The concert was recorded and broadcast by the Dutch Concertzender.
- In 2005 the CD 'Mishpoge' by Mazzeltov was nominated for the Edison Award (that's the Dutch version of the Grammy Awards). During the summer he played frequent guest appearances with Niki Jacobs' Nikitov (Yiddish songs).
- In 2004 he performed in Berlin, Weimar and New York, plus at many main stages in The Netherlands: The Concertgebouw, Panama (all in Amsterdam), RASA (Utrecht).
Recorded CD with Stefka: Latin American songs, combined with poems by Pablo Neruda and Frederico Garcia Lorca set to original music. Playing the ud, he recorded a duet with classical cellist Harro Ruijsenaars.
- In 2002 and 2003, he performed at important stages in The Netherlands: Concertgebouw, Carré, Melkweg, Paradiso, Tuschinski (all in Amsterdam), Frits Philips Zaal (Eindhoven), Terra Festival (Alkmaar), Tivoli (Utrecht), Festival Mundial (Tilburg).
- In 1999 and 2001 he toured Australia, playing at major festivals, such as Womad in Adelaide and Port Fairy, and at many jazz and world music venues.
- In the summer of 2000 he participated in the Musicians Without Borders project, playing goodwill concerts in Macedonia and Bosnia and meeting local musicians. A big event that they organized in cooperation with local peace group CIVIL was the first multi-ethnic concert ever being held in Skopje, Macedonia's capital.
- With the group Csókolom, he recorded two CD's with Hungarian and balkan music for the Arhoolie label, famous for its releases of American roots music. The first CD was recorded in 1998 in the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. During one single 3 hour session 14 tunes were recorded directly to stereo tape.
- In 1995 he performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival with the Big Band of the Royal Conservatory from Den Haag. The music being played was originally composed and arranged in the 1930's and 1940's by alto saxophonist, trumpeter, arranger and bandleader Benny Carter (1907-2003). It turned out that Benny Carter was in the audience and immediately after the concert he came especially to Gregor to congratulate him with his sound and playing.
In many years of being active as a professional musician, Gregor Schaefer has had the pleasure to perform and record with the following wonderful artists.
- World Music: Kálmán Balogh (cimbalom), Slobodan Trkulja (balkanjazz wind instruments), Kamal Hors (ud and vocals), Anass Habib (oriental singing), Modar Salameh (oriental percussion), Jamil Al Asadi (Arab qanun and violin), Latif Saad Al Obaidi (Arab percussion and ud), Gharib (Syrian singer/ud-player), Sjahin During (world percussion), Merima Kljuco (accordion), Santiago Cimadevilla (bandoneon), Dario Polonara (bandoneon), Pablo Fagundez (guitar), Marcelo Costas (tango arranger and director), Laura Hassler & Musicians Without Borders, Monique Lansdorp (balkan violin), Robert Bába (balkan violin), Adam Good (guitar and ud), Praful (sax and flute), Bart Lelivelt (accordion) & Anneke Frankenberg (violin) & Charivari Trio, Roelof Rosendal (balkan percussion), Anti von Klewitz (violin) & Csókolom, Crispijn Oomes (violin) & Hajnali, Rene Gosse (balkan percussion).
- Klezmer and Yiddish Song: Josh Horowitz (tsimbl&accordion), Cookie Segelstein (violin), Steven Greenman (violin), Joel Rubin (clarinet), Christian Dawid (clarinet), Alex Kontorovich (clarinet), Shura Lipovsky (vocals), Marcel Salomon (clarinet), Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Niki Jacobs (vocals), Sanne Möricke (accordion), Bert Vos (violin), Roberto Haliffi (percussion), Lucette van den Berg (vocals), Rolinha Kross (vocals), Georg Brinkmann (clarinet), Emuk Kungl (accordion), Vanessa Vromans (violin), Gottfrid van Eck (clarinet), Michel Marang (clarinet), Peter van Os (accordion).
- Jazz: Fay (Fee) Claassen, John Ruocco, Kristina Fuchs, Hermine Deurloo, Jarmo Hoogendijk, Tom Beek, Martijn Vink, Peter Beets, Simon Rigter, Joost van Schaik, Stefan Kruger, Sanna van Vliet, Juraj Stanik, Marco Kegel, Wim Kegel, Tilmar Junius, Michael Varekamp, Erik Kooger, Jan van Duikeren, Raymond Nijenhuis, Joshua Samson, Christof May, Paul Stark, Hartog Eysman, Wolf Martini, Friedmar Hitzer, Christian Kappe, Michael Erian.
- Gipsy Jazz / Jazz Manouche / Hot Club Swing: Lollo Meier, Robin Nolan, Tim Kliphuis, Reinier Voet & Jan Brouwer & Pigalle44, Jan Limberger, Dave Kelbie, Hadi Mouallem, Jelle van Tongeren, Andre Donni, John Friedrichs, John Ligthart, Tolga Emilio During, Rino van Hooijdonk.
- Theater & Film: Maud Nelissen & The Sprockets, Merlijn Twaalfhoven, Brigitte van Hagen, Job van Gorkum, Mazzeltov, Walter Roozendaal, Herma van Piekeren, Martine Zeeman, De Meerminnen, Nicolaas Duin, Maurits Fondse, Vincenzo Castellana, Jarno van Es, Bas Gaakeer.
- Classical & Crossover Music: Harro Ruijsenaars (cello), Hannes Minnaar (piano and organ), Hanka Clout (clarinet), Jiska ter Bals (violin), Robert Cekov (violin), Magda van der Kooi (flute), Chieko Donker Duyvis (cello).
- Dance: Floortje Rous & Dance Connects, Ronja White, Irina Hüfner, Maartje Man, Kim Doeleman, Marley Braaf, Mati Elias, Catherine Cormon, Esther Willems & Zarowe.
Gregor Schaefer studied with these teachers:
- Bass - Jazz: Ernst Glerum, Hein van de Geyn, Frans van der Hoeven, Jacques Schols, Onno Gerritse.
- Bass - World Music: Stu Brotman (USA/klezmer), Mark Rubin (USA/klezmer), Robert Door (Hungary/Okros Ensemble), Dan Turcitu (Romania/Mahala Gipsy).
- Bass - Classical: Roelof Meijer, Ernst Glerum, Quirijn van Regteren Altena.
- Cello: Eva van de Poll, Susanne Paul (Berlin).
- Ud: Fouad Bennis (Morocco/NL), Ali Achkouder (Syria/NL), Bassam Saba (Lebanon/New York City), Roelof Rosendal (NL).
- Mandolin: Paul van Vlodrop.