With Javier Vercher (tenor saxophone), Afrika Mkhize (piano), Ayanda Sikade (drums), and Bänz Oester (bass).
A high-voltage connection between North and South
That one can successfully venture into jazz nirvana on the basis of a catchy melody, was proven by John Coltrone’s magical metamorphoses of the musical hit, „My Favorite Things“, in a particularly remarkable way. (Coltrane recorded the piece for the first time in 1960 and kept it in his repertoire nearly up to his death seven years later).
The Swiss-South African band The Rainmakers, formed around the internationally acclaimed bassist Bänz Oester, recorded their debut album at Jazz Club Bird’s Eye in Basel (CH) in 2012. On their latest, and second live album, they follow in the footsteps of Coltrane. Their use of the legendary Jacques Brel chanson „Amsterdam“, and the evergreen Swiss hit „Dr Schacher Seppli“, is breathtaking. The five remaining numbers are only slightly less spectacular. The Rainmakers are therefore undoubtedly a typical live band, and that is why it makes sense that they did not lock themselves up in a studio to record their second CD – a lion in the wild is much more majestic than one in the zoo.
This splendid band succeeds in quasi squaring the circle, namely the symbiosis of ecstatic soberness and feel-good happiness. No wonder that audiences in Willisau cheered wildly in response (even some critics discreetly sung their praises). That this memorable concert recording now exists under the title „Ukuzinikela“, is a genuine godsend. The name of the nostalgic pop piece with which the concert fades out, might be understood as a kind of promise: “ Nach em Räge schint Sunne » (After the rain, the sun will shine). Or put differently, these rainmakers conjure up the sun in our hearts and souls – that they refrain from top-heavy concepts, is a matter of honour.
According to Keith Jarrett, Willisau is „one of the best places for music across the globe.“ Not only have countless African-American jazz luminaries performed in Willisau, but just about every legendary personality from the South African jazz scene, among them Abdullah Ibrahim, Dudu Pukwana, Johnny Dyani, Louis Moholo, Makaya Nthsoko and Chris McGregor. During apartheid many prominent South African musicians fled into exile. The new generation, however, is based in their ancestral homeland, but maintain an active exchange with jazz scenes beyond its borders, to the North.
The Rainmakers are a prime example of this fruitful exchange between North and South. The bandleader and bassist, Bänz Oester, and Ganesh Geymeier on tenor sax, come from Switzerland; the pianist Afrika Mkhize and drummer Ayanda Sikade count among the new continent-hopping talents from South Africa. The four of them form a close-knit, inseparable unit. In other words, we are dealing with a formation in which individual strengths are not showcased in egocentric fashion, but are transformed into a collective energy.
Oester, who cherishes a long-standing fascination with the rich musical culture of Africa, puts it this way: „I want to communicate on equal footing with the other musicians. For that a certain attitude, which does not tolerate hierarchical thinking, is necessary. My objective is to break boundaries. I don’t dictate anything to anyone – the music is conjointly developed.“ Namely along a high-voltage connection between North and South.
For further informations visit: rainmakers.info
Bandleader Bänz Oester has been active in the swiss and international scene of jazz and improvised music since the early eighties as a member of numerous projects on his own or as part of copllective groups. Currently he is playing with his Quartet The Rainmakers, with the WHO-Trio including Gerry Hemingway and Michel Wintsch, in Duo with Vocal artist Andreas Schaerer, and as sideman with Donat Fisch Trio/Quartet, Marcus Wyatt Quartet and others.
Javier Vercher is born in Madrid and currently living in Valencia. After classical clarinet studies he went to study at the Berklee College in Boston. Back in Spain he won the Tete Montoliu Best Breakthrough Award in 2007. He has published a series of CDs under his name. Collaborations on stage and in studio with Larry Grenadier, Lionel Loueke, Billy Hart, Jorge Rossy, Bob Moses, Robert Glasper and many others.
South African pianist Afrika Mkhize is living in Johannesburg. He has made himself a big reputation with his distinctive piano-playing, as a versatile producer and as musical director in Miriam Makebas Band.
Drummer Ayanda Sikade is also living in Johannesburg, he is playing with many famous South-African musicians such as Feya Faku, Bheki Mseleku, Robbie Jansen, Barney Rachabane, Darius Brubeck and many others. He was also member of legendary saxophonist Zim Ngqawana’s band.