Otahal was born on August 18, 1960 in Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria
where he currently lives. He became interested in boogie-woogie in 1975
after hearing VINCE WEBER's first record and started teaching himself
to play the piano in the same year. His attempts to play Vince Weber tunes
by ear with absolutely no knowledge of technique surprised everybody.
Just two years later, at age 17, he gave his first performance in Vienna's
Jazzland, together with MARTIN PYRKER and JOACHIM PALDEN, amazing his
audience by playing the classic pieces of Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson,
and Meade Lux Lewis with complete ease.
Although he has undoubtedly been one of the world's top boogie-woogie
piano players for over two decades, he never limited himself to just one
particular style. Having finished school, he studied classical piano and
graduated in 1987 as a fully qualified concert pianist. For his classical
performances he preferred the works of BEETHOVEN, CHOPIN and LISZT. On
the side he developed a solid feel for jazz piano, as well as gospel,
blues, Ragtime and stride. In 1986 CARL KAYE, who recruited him for his
newly founded western swing band "ROUTE 66", introduced him
to the country music scene. Since then Hannes Otahal has become the most
sought after country pianist in Austria.
1996 he joined the "MOJO BLUES BAND" and toured Europe with
them for one and a half years. During this period he also appeared as
one of the "Stars of Boogie-Woogie" in Vienna's "Konzerthaus",
played solo concerts in Vienna's "Bösendorfer-Saal", appeared
with VINCE WEBER at the Jazz-Festival in Sargans (Switzerland), and jammed
night after night with AXEL ZWINGENBERGER and the great jazz pianist RAY
BRYANT during a tour that took them across Europe for several weeks.
Although you won't hear him play boogie-woogie that often in public any
more, he is still a "key player" who has been working quite
successfully in the background. Hannes is
also largely responsible for the high standards in the Austrian boogie-woogie
scene today, because almost all of the younger generation of boogie-woogie
pianists in this country have been his students.
As he withdrew from the soloist scene, the numerous well known bands he
was appearing with were given more and more priority. The first to mention
is the "Mojo Blues Band". He can be heard on their CD "20
Years In The Blues Jungle", as well as on the first 3 CDs of "Girly
And The Blue Caps", one of the best 50s formations in Austria, or
on all 10 CDs of the well known Country Band "Route 66" to name
just a few. For many years he was a member of "New West", a 3-time winner
of Austria's "County Band Of The Year" award, and he can be heard
on their first CD "Simply The West" which was voted CD of the
Year 2005 by the Austrian Country Music Federation. He accompanies American
guest stars as a member of the "Phantoms Of The Opry", which
produces live CDs year after year and held the title of "County Band
Of The Year" in 2000.
addition to his regular Bands, he sat in with the "Legendary Daltons",
Manfried Chromy's "Texas Schrammeln" and the "Arizona Eagles"
Blues, Country, Western-Swing, Jazz, Gospel, Stride, and Salsa... all
played with complete authenticity! Still, the roots of this multitalented
pianist lie unmistakably in classic boogie-woogie. It's the music he taught
himself to play long before he began his education as a classical pianist.
That explains the ease with which he interprets a musical style that is
usually only authentically reproduced by absolute specialists.
Today his playing is not only expressive and creative, but also enhanced
with just the right amount of humor. Not only that, he plays the most
difficult works of classic Boogie pianists with a stylistic authenticity
and the virtuosity he acquired through his study of classical piano literature.