Janus is a two-faced, Roman god peering simultaneously into the past and into the future - drummer, composer and producer Karl Jannuska has felt his dualistic presence in every step of his life.
Born and raised in the Canadian prairies (Brandon, Manitoba) to American citizens with Eastern European roots, Karl has called Paris his home for over twenty years. As one of the most in-demand drummers in France, Karl completes his musical identity with his songwriting, which has been described as “an enchanting crossroads between cosmic pop and hypnotic jazz”.
When Karl was four years old he started drumming on pots and pans. After a few years of classical snare drum lessons he made his way to the drum set, playing along to ZZ Top cassettes. As a teenager he was taken under the wing of older, local jazz musicians and was gigging several nights per week – mainly in jazz groups but his first professional recording was with a reggae / world music band called Global Village Trucking Company.
In 1993, at the age of seventeen, Karl moved to Montreal where he obtained a Bachelor of Music degree with High Distinction in Jazz Performance from McGill University. In the middle of his degree, Karl spent a semester at the University of New Orleans where he, ironically, took a break from music and focused on the arts and science elective courses required for his degree. After soaking in the sounds of New Orleans, Karl returned to Montreal with newfound enthusiasm to complete his studies.
Receiving funding from the Canada and Quebec Arts councils in 1999, Karl spent a year in Brooklyn where he studied with drummer Tom Rainey. Love brought him to Paris a year later.
Karl has recorded seven albums and an EP under his own name: Liberating Vines (2004) was awarded an Opus award for “Jazz / World Music Album of the Year”; Thinking in Colours (2009) includes his composition “House of 100 Faces” that earned him a CBC Etoiles Galaxie prize from the Montreal Jazz Festival for “Most Original Composition”; Streaming (2010) debuted his eight-year collaboration with Canadian vocalist Sienna Dahlen; The Halfway Tree (2012) was awarded a SACEM grant for self-produced albums and received a CHOC rating in Jazz Magazine; Midseason (2016) with music and lyrics entirely penned by Karl, this album features vocalist Denzal Sinclaire in addition to Sienna; On The Brighter Side (2018) classified as “ethereal indie jazz”, marked the beginning of a new collaboration with French vocalist Cynthia Abraham. Two-time runner-up in the International Songwriting Competition, Karl released the EP, Featherweight in 2021 that he produced featuring the Swedish vocalist Sofie Sörman singing five of Karl’s original songs. Duality, Karl’s latest album, was released in March of 2022.
Since 2016 Karl’s albums have been released on the Shed Music label – a collective that Karl co-founded with Christophe Panzani, Pierre Perchaud and Tony Paeleman - members of his close-knit musical family who also form the band, The Watershed.
As a drummer, Karl can be heard on over 100 records and he has performed concerts in more than 30 countries sharing the stage and/or recording with musicians including Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Lionel Loueke, Hugh Coltman, Mark Turner, Christine and Ingrid Jensen, Enrico Pieranunzi, Stephane Belmondo, Ben Monder, Emile Parisien, Leif Vollebekk, Randy Brecker, Joel Miller, Ben Wendel, Laurent Coq, François Bourassa, Kevin Hays, David Linx, Peter Bernstein, Brad Turner, Franck Amsallem, Sheila Jordan, Seamus Blake, Chuck Israels, Sam Yahel, Michel Donato, and Kurt Rosenwinkel.
Karl can also be heard as a member of the bands of Toine Thys, Olivier Bogé, Meta, Matthis Pascaud, Nicolas Moreaux, Michael Felberbaum, Thomas Savy, Cobra Fantastic, Pierre de Bethmann and Christophe Dal Sasso with whom he won a 2020 Victoires du Jazz award for “Group of the Year”.
When he is not performing music Karl enjoys teaching it and has shared his knowledge at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, the Centre des Musiques Didier Lockwood, the Conservatoire National de Belgique and he has been a member of the teaching faculty at the French festivals Jazz in Marciac and Jazz à Vienne.