Heinrich von Kalnein




Since more than 25 years the German-born saxophonist / flutist Heinrich von Kalnein is one of the most high-profile jazz artists of the European jazz scene. As leader of his own ensembles as well as sideman he may be heard on more than 40 CD’s / LP’s. 

After graduating with honors from the University of Music Graz, Austria in 1987 he continued his studies with renowned saxophonist / educator David Liebman and Oliver Lake among others. He developed a very distinct musical profile by taking his melodic concept and jazz roots into the realm of worldbeat, free improv and electronic music. 

In the 1990ies he toured extensively all over Europe with his own HvK GROUP as well as with his Indo-Jazz Worldmusic Project ‚Free Winds’ (feat. Shakti’s Selvaganesh Vinayakram). With the latter group he also toured India and Sri Lanka. 

With JBBG – JAZZ BIGBAND GRAZ, which he is (co-) leading since 2003, he performed with the vocal groups ‚Take Six’‚ ‚The New York Voices’ as well as with singers Jon Hendricks, Diane Shur and Kurt Elling. With their CD ‚Joys & Desires’ (2005) featuring the work of drummer John Hollenbeck and vocalist Theo Bleckmann they got critical acclaim worldwide, which led to performances at the 2006 IAJE–conference in New York as well as the Northsea Jazzfestival. With their 2008 production ‘Electric Poetry & Lo-Fi Cookies’ blending the worlds of electronic music and jazz they developed a sound of their very own performing all over Europe. Their CD ‚Urban Folktales’ was released by the prestigious German label ACT records in 2012. Their latest CD ‚True Stories’ was released in March 2016 on his own label Natango Music. 

In 2008 he founded his trio KAHIBA featuring Swiss drummer / electronic musician Gregor Hilbe and Austrian accordionist / pianist Christian Bakanic. With this band he released four highly acclaimed CD’s. In 2016 the brilliant young Turkish pianist Anıl Bilgen replaced Christian Bakanic. 

In 2016 he co-founded a new quartet together with German guitarist Axel Fischbacher featuring bassist Charles Sammons and drummer Ralf Gessler. 

In 2018 he started a collaboration with the Brazilian MERETRIO (Emiliano Sampaio, Gustavo Boni, Luis André de Oliveira). Their new CD “Passagem” will be out in 2019. 

In 2012 he founded his own label NATANGO MUSIC. In 2018 he released his 7th production KAHIBA “The Neuroscience of Music”. 

Additionally he worked as a musical producer and bandmember of the Vienna Art Orchestra. 

Currently he is living in Graz, Austria and holds a position as a professor for saxophone and jazz flute at the renowned Jazz Institute of the University of Music Graz (KUG). 


Julian Arguelles, Iain Ballamy, Django Bates, Kevin Brady, Wayne Brasel, Carla Bley, Bob Brookmeyer, Jay Clayton, Wayne Darling, Gil Evans, Heiner Goebbels, Jerry Granelli, Ronan Guilfoyle, Doug Hammond, the Peter Herbolzheimer Bigband, Marc Johnson, Sheila Jordan, Nguyên Lê, Rene Lussier, Charlie Mariano, Bob Mintzer, Phil Minton, Glen Moore, Wolfgang & Christian Muthspiel, Simon Nabatov, Ed Neumeister, Marc Ribot, Paquito d’Rivera, Steve Swallow, Dave Taylor and the ORF Radiosymphonieorchester (Austrian National Public Radio symphony) among others. 


Jazzfest Berlin (GER), Jazzfest Bonn (GER), Bolzano (I), Bremen (GER) jazzahead, Hofheim (GER), Snow Jazz Gastein (A), Gdynia (PL), Guimaraes (P), Graz (A), Hamburg (GER) Elbjazz, Lisboa (P), Madrid (E), Magdeburg (GER), Maribor (Slo), New Delhi (IND), IAJE Conference 2006 New York (USA), Ploiesti (Ro), Saalfelden (A), Salzau (GER) Jazz Baltica, Salzburg Jazzherbst (A), Sibiu (Ro), St.Ingbert (GER), St. Petersburg (RUS), Strasbourg (F), Usti Nad Labem (CZ), Trencin (SK), Vienne (F), Warsaw (PL), Weilheim (GER), Wien (A), Wiesbaden (GER), Wiesen (A) and Wroclaw (PL). 


„One of the most accomplished saxophonists of the Austrian scene, Heinrich von Kalnein knows how to produce both high impact jazz and masterful lines with a lyrical feel. Highly recommended! …” 

Ljubisa Tosic – DER STANDARD (A) 

„…Jazz definitely can’t sound more world-embracing, modern and organic. A feast for the ears… Kalnein is a master of catchy cadences; his imagination produces ear worm potential of the finest quality…highest entertainment and musical arrangements, which make you dive into a sound cosmos.”–CONCERTO (A) 

„There’s a drive and melodic beauty to the music of Kahiba that makes this European trio simply infectious…. and it’s a hit. …The group’s ability to be in the pocket and take the music outside, too, creates surprise after surprise. Overall, this is an album that’s satisfying and intriguing. I love this trio.“ Frank Alkyer – DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE Online 08.10.2014 – Editor’s Pick about KAHIBA’s „The Sixth Sense“. 

“… far and away the most interesting thing in there… spectacularly done! Fantastic music, incredible production, evocative, beautiful and so creative. The package was beautiful too! Thank you for creating such a wonderful thing.“ – 

Composer Maria Schneider about JBBG’s CD „Electric Poetry“. 

„The familiar big-band sound is recreated with verve and subtlety in this album from one of the liviest of the new European jazz collectives. They are immersed in a fascinatingly eclectic world, involving electronic sounds and a truly global range of guest artists, including French/Vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê, Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola and Guinean singer Hadja Koujaté. Global fusions can often be flavourless; this one isn’t. 

Ivan Hewett – Daily Telegraph (GB) 19/05/2012 about JBBG’s CD „Urban Folktales“.