The Sixties – Cultic Rock in Vienna
Karl Ratzer was born 1950 in Vienna, which had just seen the End of World War II. His family had suffered a lot from the Nazi-regime due to their ethnic descent of the Roma, a subgroup of the Romani people (also known as “Gypsies”) and this was also a handicap in the post-war Austria. Karl was therefore not in a position to be aided, but his musical talent appeared very soon. He got his first guitar from his mother at age 12 and started to play with the help of some Pictures. At age 15, he had his own Band, the “Slaves” and toured through Germany and Switzerland. Later formations were Charles Ryders Corporation, C-Department und Gipsy Love. When he left Vienna in 1972, to move to the USA, he was a local Rock-hero, celebrated by his fans.
America - Bluesy & Funky
He was able to establish in the Musical Scene quite fast. He went on tour with the Soul band “High Voltage“, which became famous as „Rufus & Chaka Khan“ later on. This was the beginning of an intensive learning process and Karl Ratzer learnt the music fast. Funk, Soul, Jazz and above all Blues, played in different styles from the South to NYC. Instead of studying at Universities, he developed his proficiency playing in the Clubs. He moved to NYC in 1977 and had a band with Jeremy Steig, Dan Wall, Eddie Gomez, Joe Chambers and Ray Mantilla. The first recording of this band was released 1978 by Vanguard. Genre: Blues, Funk / Soul, Jazz. During his years in the States, Karl developed besides his impressing guitar technique a competence in style. His guitar sounds always genuine, whether he plays Rock, Blues or Jazz.
Jazz, Jazz, Jazz ....
Karl came back to Europe 1979 with an excellent band comprising of Jon Burr, Jimmy Madison, Phil Markowitz . 1980 he had a European tour with Chet Baker and stayed finally in Vienna. He became a driving force to the Viennese Jazz scene, starting many different projects , for example, his own Club, the “Camarillo” as well as working with local and international stars. During these years he started to teach in schools and seminars and to develop a method for guitar players of different maturity grades. From 1999 to 2003 he worked as Professor at the University of Graz. Since 2004 he is teaching at the Vienna Music Institute and the Vienna Conservatory. This period of Life can be characterized by quoting Karl Ratzer "I am not only playing guitar anymore, I am making music"
The times of experimenting and winging it all the time are gone. Karl is now concentrating on a few, assorted projects. He wants to use his knowledge and experience assembling the elements precisely in those projects. His compositions are getting more complexly arranged and enriched by horn sections. This is the framework for his selective guitar playing and his touching vocals. Ratzer can build on a lot of experience and applies it to Live Gigs, Productions, Workshops, Tuitions and others. Moreover, he is open for new musical directions and challenges, as proven by his recently acquired Baritone guitar.