Monika Herzig Acoustic Project
Gig Seeker Pro

Monika Herzig Acoustic Project

Bloomington, Indiana, United States | INDIE | AFM

Bloomington, Indiana, United States | INDIE | AFM
Band Jazz Adult Contemporary




"Review of "In Your Own Sweet Voice - A Tribute to Women Composers""

Musicianship – 10 out of 10
Each musician that contributes to this project is phenomenal in his/her own right! The Monika Herzig Acoustic Project is top-notch musically! Tom Clark is incredible on both flute and tenor sax. His melodies and improvisations are wonderful! In similar fashion, the rhythm section of Frank Smith (bass) and Steve Davis (drums) are spot-on. Davis’ drumming skills are incredible, and are highlighted by the fact that this is an excellent recording! You can hear every rimshot, brush stroke and cymbal strike perfectly. Smith’s bass work is locked on to Davis’ drumming, and his solo work is great as well!

Left to the end are guitarist Peter Kienle and Monika Herzig herself. Kienle’s work on (You’re So Vain) and (It’s Too Late) is excellent, as he combines single and multiple notes for a fresh, jazzy take on these modern classics. Monika’s piano playing is also awesome on several different levels! She drives the tunes, and serves as the central figure in the band! Honestly, I’d love to hear a recording that features her piano playing alone! She does an incredible job! I hate to seem like I’m gushing, but I really don’t have much other choice. This recording highlights five great instrumentalists, and is an incredible display of musical magic! As an example, check out Carole King’s classic (You’ve Got A Friend)! The best instrumental rendition I’ve ever heard, bar none!

Songwriting – 10 out of 10

As a musician, I am constantly amazed at the creativity that I see when songwriters put together such incredible songs – even more so with Jazz! Those who aren’t fans feel that Jazz compositions are merely jumbles of notes with no rhyme or reason – improvisations by musicians possessed of some spirit, whether good or evil. The mantra that we fear or shy away from things that we don’t understand is never truer than when someone is trying to make sense of music that doesn’t have a beginning, end or middle to them!

Understanding that there is logic, rhyme AND reason involved in composing Jazz music is not much less comforting to people like me, who know music, but not at the Jedi level of most Jazz musicians! Monika’s tunes blow me away, and the songs that she might consider ‘knockaround’ songs are incredible to me! I would love to be involved in writing music that is as beautiful, challenging, and interesting as this! Of particular note to me are the songs (Just Something Fun) and (Spring Fever). All of her original pieces are great – these two are the standouts!

I’m impressed, and I think that Monika Herzig is an amazing composer/arranger/musician! What else is there to say?

Sound Quality/Professionalism – 10 out of 10

Excellent, and to be honest, there isn’t anything else that can be said. Each instrument sounds great, and the mix is perfect! There is no sense in being long-winded about it. This is one of the best sounding and most professional CDs I have heard all year!

Packaging – 10 out of 10

On each of Monika Herzig’s CDs, she utilizes photos to their best advantage in creating attractive packaging. This one is no different, as floral backgrounds contribute Nature’s own beauty to the effort! You also can’t go wrong with artwork from your kids! Be sure to check out Melody’s drawing of ‘Mommy’s Band’!

Of great interest to me was the information in the liner notes regarding each song. Because this is a project dedicated to women composers, Monika’s thoughts on each piece, and background information on the composer that was being honored in that particular track is vital. I had heard the names of some of the composers, but didn’t know about others. I think you will find this information interesting as well! Excellent job!

Favorite Tracks
Spring Fever
Melody Has a Friend/You’ve Got a Friend
Just Something Fun
Memories of Petra
Once Upon a Summer Day

Overall Rating – 10 out of 10

I can’t think of a jazz CD that I’ve listened to in the past that I enjoyed more than this one! I love the classic Jazz combos, and in my estimation, the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project is definitely able to hold their own against any of the greats, past or present!

Lovers of great jazz deserve to have In Your Own Sweet Voice! I love the way that Monika does her albums. She is totally unpretentious, even allowing her daughter to do the art work and sing along with the band! Honestly, I think that if Melody is able to pick anything up from Mommy, we’ll be looking at the next great Jazz prodigy. She is being brought up in an environment where music is fun, and music is a way of expressing yourself. Who knows what the future holds for her!

Get your own copy, and begin enjoying excellent Jazz music as soon as possible! The fact that these folks play music just a few hours from my home makes a road trip pretty darn tempting! Who wants to join me?—Mark Lush,, 7/30/05 *Listen to the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project on MWB Radio!

"Q&A with Monika Herzig"

June 10, 2007

Q&A Monika Herzig
Jazz pianist

When people see Monika Herzig taking care of pre-performance chores on the stages of area nightclubs, she does her best not to flinch in response to a common question."Are you going to sing for us tonight?"
"No," she replies, sending a subtle message that a woman's role in jazz isn't restricted to singing.
Herzig, who teaches music classes at Indiana University in Bloomington, plays keyboards. The native of Germany emerged on the Indiana music scene in the 1990s as a member of jazz-rock fusion group Beeblebrox. In recent years, she has played piano while leading the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project.
On Friday, Herzig will launch the ninth edition of the Indy Jazz Fest by playing first on a bill designated as "Women in Jazz" night.
What do you think about Indy Jazz Fest devoting a night of its program to women in jazz?
If you look at instrumentalists in jazz, women are a really small minority. I think it's still less than 15 percent. You have a lot of female vocalists and you see vocalist-led bands, but instrumentalists make up a small group.
One obvious reason is that venues where jazz originally was played weren't places where women should go by themselves. It took a while for that to change, and women weren't encouraged to pick up some of the instruments.
I think it's good to showcase great performers as role models and encourage more involvement.
"Take Five" by Dave Brubeck was the first jazz song you learned as a teenager in Germany. What cultivated your interest in that style of music?
After learning piano and church organ for so many years, you get in a routine of learning one new piece after another. I wanted to do more with it and come up with my own things. So I got more interested in the improvisational aspect of music, and jazz obviously is a good way to learn that.
American jazz and blues musicians often say they love performing in Europe because the audiences appreciate music and treat musicians so well. But you grew up in Europe and came to America to be a jazz musician?
It's true. There's a lot of appreciation of jazz as an art form in Europe. I teach music business classes and we look at spending on the arts from country to country.
It's amazing. In the United States, it's about $8 per person. In Germany, it's about 10 times that. There are a lot more resources dedicated to supporting the arts. On the other hand, it's harder to find gigs and be a day-to-day musician there.
It's nice to go over there to do tours, but it would be hard to find the situations we have here: We play every Saturday at Rick's Boatyard Café, and we play every Monday at the Chatterbox.
Since the disbanding of Beeblebrox and the emergence of your acoustic group, are you perceived differently as a musician?
I think so. If you do one type of jazz, everybody categorizes you. "OK, this is the person who does the fusion jazz. She can't play traditional jazz." That fusion stamp pretty much has gone away.
Jazz musicians are pretty opinionated people. There's a joke: How many traditional jazz musicians do you need to change a light bulb? Ten. One to change the light bulb, and nine to complain about the electricity.
There's a big divide that goes to Wynton Marsalis' back-to-the-roots movement in the 1980s. But I think it's dissipating because there are elements of jazz in a lot of electronic and hip-hop music. You can get some new styles.
I guess we missed the mark with Beeblebrox. We were just in the middle when it was really unpopular to do that.
What's your involvement with Junior Achievement and young musicians?
Shirley Judkins started this outreach program for Junior Achievement called "JAzz Works." We do a jam session once a month, and we do workshops.
Nnenna Freelon and Jamey Aebersold have come in. It's not just for kids. It's actually for everyone who wants to come in and learn and play.
Do you have a general philosophy when it comes to educating?
What I really like to do is give people insights to the inner workings of jazz. There seems to be such a myth about it. You know, "It's the music where everybody goes off and you don't know what's going on."
I'm sort of on a mission to make it approachable. People can realize that it has some basic rules like a game of Monopoly.
If you follow the rules, then you know how it works. Or, in principle, it's like making a pizza. You pick a crust, which is your song. Then everybody gets to put some different toppings on.
Who are some of your favorite performers?
I'm really happy because Chick Corea is coming to Indy Jazz Fest. You know I'm going to be there Sunday night. He's one of my idols, and I love people like Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans -- that nice harmonic touch and clear melodic line type of approach.
In terms of Indiana Avenue greats Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard and J.J. Johnson, are people as aware of these musicians as they should be?
No. Some people have heard the names, but these are icons in jazz history. In my Indianapolis jazz class, I try to raise awareness of the history that's right here.
You're planning to write a book about David Baker, who has taught music at Indiana University since 1966. For people who don't know Dr. Baker, why is his story an important one to tell?
If you look at the program here (at IU) and all the things he does, I would say pretty much anyone that plays jazz has studied here, studied with somebody who studied here, or studied through his books. Most people have encountered his teachings.

“What I really like to do is give people insights to the inner workings of jazz. There seems to be such a myth about it. You know, ‘it’s the music where everybody goes off and you don’t know what’s going on.’” Monika Herzing - Michelle Pemberton / The Star
Age: 42.

Hometown: Albstadt, Germany.

Education: Teachers' College of Weingarten (Germany); master's degree from the University of Alabama; doctorate from Indiana University.

Selected discography: "What Have You Gone and Done?," Monika Herzig Acoustic Project; "In Your Own Sweet Voice: A Tribute to Women Composers," Monika Herzig Acoustic Project; "Realbrox," Beeblebrox.

Family: Husband, Peter Kienle; daughters Melody and Jasmin.


• Monday: 7:30 p.m. at the IT Building on the IUPUI campus, 535 W. Michigan St. $5. Herzig will join drummer Jack Gilfoy, bass player Frank Smith and violinist Carolyn Dutton.

• Friday: 6:30 p.m. in Military Park. $30 at the gate; advance tickets available. Herzig will perform during "Women in Jazz" night at the ninth edition of the Indy Jazz Fest. Pianist Hiromi; violinist Regina Carter; and Sherrie Maricle and the 16-member Diva Jazz Orchestra, featuring vocalists Nnenna Freelon and Rachael Price, also will perform. For more information about Indy Jazz Fest, visit

- Indianapolis Star

"Originals highlight Jazz Band's Selections"

By Jay Harvey
February 12, 2005

Pianist Monika Herzig has been well-established around town for the past decade, usually in groups with her husband, guitarist Peter Kienle. But from Rick's Cafe Boatyard to the Chatterbox Tavern, it's typically in the sort of nightclub setting jazz knows best.

A church social hall might make some jazz musicians a bit uneasy, but Herzig and her band seemed right at home Friday night in the Fellowship Hall of North United Methodist Church. With Jack Helsley filling in on bass for Frank Smith, the quartet was completed by the astute drumming of Lawrence Clark III and offered a variety of originals and standards in two sets.

Originals highlighted each part of the program, with the rolling, percussion-driven "Evening Mood" paralleling the boisterous "One for the Box." The latter tune, written in honor of the Chatterbox vibe, was puckishly renamed "One for North United Methodist Church" in a concert finale to flatter the host.

As an arranger, Herzig has an original take on such familiar tunes as the Hammerstein-Kern "The Song Is You" to the Beatles' "Hey Jude." Her reharmonizations and rhythmic tweakings presented new facets of familiar songs without sounding far-fetched, although her imagination failed her somewhat in the repetitive coda of the latter.

More straightforward, and revealing of both Herzig's and Kienle's fondness for melody (which they've perpetuated in the name of their older daughter), were treatments of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" and the Beatles' "And I Love Her."

Thematic statements tended to position guitar and keyboard (an electric piano in this performance) in close alliance, so it was a refreshing change to hear Herzig wax both wistful and bluesy with, at first, only discreet bass-drum support in "Georgia on My Mind."

Herzig's "Spring Fever" set a busy keyboard part to a rumba rhythm before giving way to the gathering storm of Clark's drums against a clangorous vamp in the piano. Another sort of excitement was generated by "A Blue Guitarist on the Porch," featuring a fervent, octave-based Kienle solo and one of the evening's several Helsley turns in the spotlight that seemed to tell a story so well.

Call Star reporter Jay Harvey at (317) 444-6402.

- Indy Star

"Monika Herzig Acoustic Project: In Your Own Sweet Voice - A Tribute to Women Composers"

Monika Herzig Acoustic Project: In Your Own Sweet Voice - A Tribute To Women Composers
Genre: Jazz
Label: ACME

Always one to try expanding my musical horizons, I opted to give jazz an opportunity by spinning the latest from the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project. As the title implies, this is a tribute to female composers, with some original material mixed in as well.

The album begins with an original composition, "Spring Fever," a rather upbeat, almost salsa tune. Tom Clark's flute playing on this one is straight out front and spectacular. Very rarely do I hear the flute in contemporary music and this was a real treat. "Katy's Melting Song" brings out the flute again, although this time in a more subdued manner, allowing Monika's piano skills to shine brightly. Monika's piano virtuosity again shows itself in "Once Upon A Summer Day," a lively go getter that also shows off the sax mastery of Tom Clark and a surprise drum solo courtesy of Steve Davis.

Song 5 brings us to the only vocals on this entire disc. Monika's daughter Melody does a short piece of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend," before the band moves into a fine arrangement of the same piece for track 6. The rearrangement of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was instantly recognizable but about half way through the song had been changed up enough that I forgot it was the same song, then around came full circle. "Dancing In November," mellow and flowing, contrasts nicely with "Just Something Fun," a lively number full of ivory tickling and saxophone blasts. The album ends on a solemn note with "Memories Of Petra," the final tribute, in honor of Monika's lifelong friend.

Every note from this CD flows effortlessly. Nothing is forced. I was totally awed by the fine musicianship throughout. All of the players are at the top of their game. The recording quality is absolutely stellar. The exceptionally clean mix gives every instrument its own life and allows every nuance to shine. Jazz lovers will find this a welcome addition to their collection, and those with a budding interest in jazz should find the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project a fine introduction.
Added: January 1st 2006
Reviewer: Thomas Garner
- Garage Radio

"Melody With Harmony"

I will admit up front that jazz musicians intimidate me! I have played different instruments through the years, but I’ve primarily played bass guitar. There are some incredible jazz bassists out there, and I may be able to imitate them, but I haven’t been very successful at duplicating their work! Jazz musicians are very accomplished people; in my estimation, they comprise the membership of the MENSA chapter for musicians! Perhaps I am blowing things a bit out of proportion; however, these feelings do color the way that I review a jazz album! How can I be critical of musical geniuses? How can my words lend anything to the success of their project?

With my feelings all out in the open, I progress, though hesitantly. Melody with Harmony is a collection of jazz recordings (mostly original) recorded by Monika Herzig, along with a very accomplished group of musicians from the Bloomington, IN area. A lot of great music comes out of Bloomington, and this is nothing new where that is concerned. The music on this release is not experimental in any way, nor is it eclectic or, for lack of a better word, “strange”. Monika’s compositions seem to follow the traditional route of jazz forbears. In fact, we perhaps see her influences in the songs she chooses to remake (“The Song is You”, Kern/Hammerstein, and “Yardbird Suite”, Charlie Parker, in particular). Her own compositions shine as well, and they accomplish what every good song accomplishes: they communicate the feeling that she had when the song was composed. For example, “Melody’s Adventures” is a song dedicated to her daughter; as you listen, you have the feel of a small child frolicking in an open field! She dedicates “Evening Mood” to one of her friends who possesses a happy party spirit; this feeling also comes out in the song. In fact, each song seems to communicate a particular feel, and the voices of the instruments more than make up for the absence of vocals! As you listen with heightened awareness for the feel of each song (made possible by the great liner notes that Monika includes with the CD), you find that you understand, in part, the place that the composer was in when she wrote the songs. Honestly, it makes the experience a richer, more fulfilling experience. I would recommend that you read the comments included as you listen!

Monika is also very transparent about her feelings as a mother (evident because of the liner notes, the cover art on the CD and the songs themselves) and about the way that having children affects her as an artist. I think that it is very refreshing to see a person who is very happy as a mother, and as a person who doesn’t see family getting in the way of accomplish great things as a musician. In fact, she feels that this is her best work to date! Her love of family is apparent, as she includes her daughter as a guest vocalist on the track “Melody’s Adventures”, and on several hidden songs at the end of the CD! Look out world! Monika is shaping the next generation of jazz musicians! If this recording is any indication, we are in for quite an experience in a few years!

Be sure to include the work of Monika Herzig in your jazz collection! Your life will be richer because of it!--Mark Lush,, 6/19/03 *Listen to The Monika Herzig Acoustic Project on MWB RADIO!


"Monika Herzig Gets Down"

Admittedly, I’m at a loss here. Those of you who are jazz connoisseurs, bear with me. This is not my forte. The extent of my jazz knowledge is what I’ve gleaned from assorted Dave Grusin and Spyro Gyra songs and the bits I’ve caught between segments on NPR. But from what I’ve heard so far, Monika Herzig plays some serious jazz tunes. This woman can absolutely bring it.

The piano intro and melody on “Groovin’ High” is just so much fun. It plays like it wants to be a precocious ditty in a Broadway play, as if the song’s singer would be feverishly excusing away or explaining to a loved one. It is restrained, clocking in at under two minutes, and the pace of the song’s frenetic piano heightens the feel. Herzig is a solid musician with some chops; her flourishes on the keys come from nowhere and compliment the guitar sound well.

“Spring Fever” seems equally playful. There’s a nice rhumba beat underlying the song. I like the flute that plays over the top of the piano, lilting back and forth with one another. The percussion is mostly ride cymbal to add a slight edge. Both instruments hang back considerably to let Herzig shine doing what she does best: finessing, caressing, and stressing those keys to their limit. A few well-timed drum rolls and we ride back out to the refrain to let the flute back in to the mix. The song is very well-arranged.

What I like about the music Herzig produces is that it seems so organic. It’s not trying to be flashy; it just is, it can’t help it. It’s not trying to be coy and mischievous; it is. Herzig sounds like she coaxes her sound, and doesn’t force it. What the listener is left with is an rubber-band ball of jazz: fun, tight, unpredictable, and playful as all hell.
- Northeast In-Tune Current Issue: VOL. 2 - NO. 4 April 15th – May 14th, 2006

"Peace on Earth"

In 1987, the pedagogical institute in Weingarten, Germany awarded a scholarship for a one-year exchange program at the University of Alabama to one of their students, jazz pianist Monika Herzig. Together with her partner and guitarist Peter Kienle, she arrived in the States on a one-way ticket, with one suitcase of belongings and one guitar in August 1988.

Since then she has completed her Doctorate in Music Education and Jazz Studies at Indiana University, where she is now a faculty member. As a touring jazz artist, she has performed at many prestigious jazz clubs and festivals, such as the Indy Jazz Fest, Cleveland’s Nighttown, Louisville’s Jazz Factory, the W.C.Handy Festival, Jazz in July in Bloomington and Cincinnati, Columbus’ Jazz & Rib Fest, to name just a few. Groups under her leadership have toured Germany, opened for acts such as Tower of Power, Sting, the Dixie Dregs, Yes, and more.

Her Christmas celebration CD is the latest in a series of highly regarded recordings she has made under her own name.

A rock-blues shuffle version of ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ opens this seasonal set and fortunately it gives Monika some space to stretch out on the piano. This will wake you up – I guarantee. ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth’ is more what I was hoping for, and it’s a jazz trio piece that I suspect is closer to what Monika is all about.

At this time of year ‘The Coventry Carol’ is one of the pieces I like to hear most. I’ve never heard it like this – a jazz trio at speed and augmented by five horns, including a tuba! It’s grown on me and I know I’ll be playing this version in future years. One of Monika’s original compositions ‘Children Sleep Softly’ is a vocal with a dreamy violin played in the lower registers and it really is like a lullaby, played in a soothing ¾ time signature.

The gospel number ‘This Little Light Of Mine’ receives a lovely treatment with Tom Clark’s righteous tenor sax work, underpinned again by a jazz trio doing only what the song needs – no showboating. Fans of John Lennon will be delighted to hear a new version of ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’. The song is instrumental for most of its 7minutes but gets very sentimental when the chorus of children chimes in at the end. Ah, it’s Christmas folks!

‘Give Peace Every Chance’ is the second original composition here. Carolyn Dutton’s plaintive violin takes the melody and the song unfolds slowly, delivering some beautiful piano soloing along the way. I like this song a lot and I feel I’m going to get to like it even more… Monika’s playful side is to the fore on her ‘Ballad for a Snowman’, which is the sort a vocal jazz tune I can imagine Cleo Laine singing – it’s got that off-the-beat feel and you expect a scat at any second. Marlin McKay – nice trumpet solo! Nate Sutton – nice trombone solo!!

We all know ‘O Christmas Tree’ and although Monika takes it down some unfamiliar avenues melodically, it’s still the same song we know and brings the same cosy mulled wine glow. For the ultimate in heart-warming listening, the classic ‘Christmas Time is Here’ is hard to beat and when it’s rendered by one woman and one piano, it’s probably impossible to beat. Ahh.

A sultry middle-Eastern feel comes to ‘Silent Night’ and, after a moment’s thought, that is completely appropriate. The brushes patter across the cymbals while the violin and piano alternate solos. The melody is recognisable somewhere in there but this is a mood piece – and I’m loving it. Tom Clark picks up the soprano sax to lead the third original composition ‘Ode to a New Year’. This is another very atmospheric piece and Kenny Phelps’ drum work is quietly superb, shifting tempos, rising and falling. Why don’t we know this trio better? They really have it going on. The closer ‘The Schneebrunzer/Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ is for the (very) young people in your house.

If you read the CD sleeve while you play this album you’ll feel that you’ve been invited to a family Christmas party. This is a very personal take on Christmas music and it rewards repeated plays – that isn’t something you can say about much of what you will hear over the holiday period. Monika Herzig is a new name for me. I urge fans of jazz in a more traditional vein to find out more at

Owl Studios – OWL00134 Producer – Monika Herzig

- reviewed by Chris Mann/


"Melody Without Words"
"Melody with Harmony"
"In Your Own Sweet Voice - A Tribute to Women Composers"
"What Have You Gone and Done?"
"Imagine - Indiana in Music and Words"
"Peace on Earth"
"Come With Me"

to stream samples of any CDs please visit

Also a complete and updated calendar of performances is at



In 1987, the pedagogical institute in Weingarten, Germany awarded a scholarship for a one-year exchange program at the University of Alabama to one of their students, jazz pianist Monika Herzig. Together with her partner and guitarist Peter Kienle, she arrived in the States on a one-way ticket, with one suitcase of belongings and one guitar in August 1988.

Since then she has completed her Doctorate in Music Education and Jazz Studies at Indiana University, where she is now a faculty member. Her book “David Baker – A Legacy in Music” was released November 2011 on IU Press. As a touring jazz artist, she has performed at many prestigious jazz clubs and festivals, such as the Indy Jazz Fest, Cleveland’s Nighttown, Louisville’s Jazz Factory, the W.C.Handy Festival, Jazz in July in Bloomington and Cincinnati, Columbus’ Jazz & Rib Fest, to name just a few. Groups under her leadership have toured Germany, Italy, Japan, opened for acts such as Tower of Power, Sting, the Dixie Dregs, Yes, and more.

Recently, Herzig has been signed to the Owl Studios label and released the holiday CD “Peace on Earth”, followed by a CD/ DVD combo entitled “Come With Me” on March 8, 2011. Her previous releases have received rave reviews. Thomas Garner from writes, “I was totally awed by the fine musicianship throughout”. As a recipient of the 1994 Down Beat Magazine Award for her composition “Let’s Fool One” and with several Big Band Arrangements published with the University of Northern Colorado Press, Herzig has also gathered international recognition for her writing skills.

The current repertoire of the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project includes originals and arrangements of standard repertoire, such as John Lennon’s Imagine, Cole Porter’s Night and Day, or Hoagy Carmichael’s Georgia. The Monika Herzig Trio can be heard every Saturday at Rick’s Cafe Boatyard at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis. For current tour listings and sound samples/ videos visit

Distinctive originals and well-chosen standards reveal Herzig's warmhearted, reflective side and her cleverly playful nature.
Nancy Ann Lee
Jazz Times contributor and co-editor of MusicHound Jazz: The Essential Album Guide

“A lovely example of a thoroughly schooled, thoroughly modern jazz pianist.”
Cherilee Wadsworth Walker, Eastern Illinois University

The lady can get down and play! John W. Patterson, AAJ Fusion/ Progressive Editor