Led by guitarist Jan Zehrfeld, Germany's dynamic electrified Panzerballett play their own jazz and heavy metal hybrid. Influenced by a broad range of artists from Iron Maiden and Meshuggah to Herbie Hancock and Weather Report, Panzerballett are known for their cheeky, genre-bending sense of humor and musical virtuosity. Formed in 2004, the group is largely the creation of Zehrfeld, a classically trained jazz musician and educator who studied at both the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Richard Strauss Conservatory Munich. Prior to founding Panzerballett, Zehrfeld taught music, played in various rock and jazz bands, and worked as a studio musician.
The group debuted in 2005 with the self-titled Panzerballett, and then built interest playing numerous live shows, including spots at the 15th National Youth Jazz Festival in Leipzig and the Burg Herzberg Festival. Live at Backstage Munich, a concert DVD detailing the festival performances, appeared in 2007. A year later they returned with their sophomore album, Starke Stücke, which featured originals alongside heavy covers of well-known songs like "Birdland," "Pink Panther," "Smoke on the Water," and more.
The group's 2009 effort, Hart Genossen von ABBA bis Zappa, showcased a similarly inspired mix of ABBA and Frank Zappa songs, as wells as other covers and originals. Well received, it reached number 25 on the German jazz charts. Three years later they delivered Tank Goodness, featuring guest appearances by trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Mattias "IA" Eklundh, and others. After a second concert DVD, they followed up with 2015's Breaking Brain. In 2017 they released their first ever holiday-themed album, X-Mas Death Jazz. ~ Matt Collar