pago libre

arkady shilkloper (RUS) - horn, flugel- & alphorn
tscho theissing (A) - violin, voice
john wolf brennan (IRL/CH) - piano
tom götze (A) - bass

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PAGO LIBRE joins together four brilliant virtuoso musicians in a great quartet:

    ARKADY SHILKLOPER from Moscow is acknowledged to be one of the world’s best jazz horn players, and his performances on the alphorn are unrivalled. As composer, he combines classic and folk elements with funky grooves.

    Austrian composer and arranger TSCHO THEISSING spans a broad musical spectrum, from chansons and operetta through jazz to experimental music forms. As violinist, he has developed a unique expressive style.

    Irish-Swiss JOHN WOLF BRENNAN is an internationally successful pianist and composer. His distinct and miraculous melodies have become a professional trademark, together with his unheard-of sounds from – and within – the piano.

    TOM GÖTZE is one of the most versatile and virtuoso bass players in the international jazz scene. He enriches PAGO LIBRE’s repertoire with humourous compositions, many of which are inspired by the Dresden tradition.


All four have enhanced their profound classical music vocabulary by inventingcountless new possibilities of musical expression. The powerful drive of jazz, the catching dance rhythms of folk music and the boundless imagination of improvisation stand side by side with a sonoric sensibility shaped by classical chamber music.

PAGO LIBRE blends all these elements to a unique quintessence, which effortlessly finds its way into the hearts of the audience. Their music is complex, without being complicated. It has many facets, while still maintaining an unmistakable profile. The characteristic PAGO LIBRE sound plays a big role – a sound that has developed during nearly twenty years of interaction in this unusual line-up. It is this very special sound that imparts sheer magic to listeners and critics alike.

During live performances, two things stand out: the witty playfulness, and the sheer joy of playing together, spreading out infectiously into the public.

Never less than fascinating - All Music Guide, New York
Ein mitreissendes Vergnügen - Jazzthetik, Germany
Una gioia per leorecchie
- musicbOOm, Italy
Un combo soudé, lumineux, frisant la haute voltige - Improjazz, France
pago libre übertrifft jede Erwartung! - Stereo, Munich
Furioso europeo - wahnwitzig intelligent - Die Weltwoche, Zurich
Outstanding masters of New Jazz - Itogi/Newsweek, Moscow
Kammer-Explosion - Der Standard, Vienna
Eine Offenbarung - NZZ, Zurich
Great drive, strong performance ... pago libre is a rich pleasure. Highly recommended
- Cadence, New York


A brief history of pago libre

A drums-less avant-garde jazz quartet, Pago Libre allies the wild side of the Ganelin Trio with a European touch of contemporary composition and a Mediterranean jazz feel. That is to say the group presents adventurous jazz using an unusual instrumentation: violin, piano, bass and horn - certainly a rarity. Composition and improvisation play equal roles, so do humour and emotion. The group has award-winning albums out on Splasc(h), Leo and TCB.

Contrary to popular belief, "Pago Libre" is not an Italian expression, but an acronym of the founding members’ names: Italian bassist Daniele PAtumi, native American violinist Steve GOodman, Swedish trumpeter Lars LIndvall, and Irish-Swiss pianist John Wolf BREnnan. The quartet first got together in 1989. Shortly after, Goodman left and was replaced by Austrian violinist Tscho Theissing. In October 1994, Russian French horn player Arkady Shilkloper (replacing Lindvall) became the fourth member. (François Couture, ALL MUSIC GUIDE, USA)

This line-up has remained stable for more than 8 years, and Pago Libre has played many concerts all over Europe, in Russia and China. The revamped quartet recorded an eponymous CD for Bellaphon/L+R in 1996 (reissued in 2002 by Leo Records) and a live album, "Wake Up Call - live in Italy", released by Leo in 1999. It took another two years for its follow-up "Cinémagique" (TCB) to see the light of day. The latest live recording, "phoenix" (2003), was again released by Leo Records. Starting with the quartet’s first tour through Canada and the Jazz Festival Mulhouse in France in summer 2003, Austrian award-winning bass virtuoso Georg Breinschmid replaced Daniele Patumi, leaving John Wolf Brennan as the only founding member. However, as the acronym "Breithei Shibre" does not seem to sound very appealing, the band decided to continue their work as "PAGO LIBRE".

For the years 2006 - 2009, pago libre has been granted the High Priority Jazz Promotion by Pro Helvetia, Arts Council of Switzerland.

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Tscho Theissing John Wolf Brennan Georg Breinschmid Arkady Shilkloper