On their many travels, the Rabitsch and Pawlik Quartet have made friends and caught vibes all over the globe. They have been to the continent and played in Capetown before, but tonight the multicultural voyage welcomes these travellers from Austria for the first time at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown.
Michaela Rabitsch, singer and trumpetists in the quartet introduces the songs that she and her husband Robert Pawlik wrote as reflections, odes and celebrations of their many cross-cultural encounters. Called a modern day Chet Baker the quartet kicks off with Sunday Afternoon. A warm jazzy voice and a distinct horn sound get us immediately in full swing and Pawlik’s first guitar solo is just the beginning of the sound of a craftsman that is well in tune with the different styles you can play on a guitar. This promises to be a fantastic journey.
The next song takes us to a city in the South of Spain, with its flamenco and dance. Malaga is an ode to that city, with its warm Mediterranean soundscape painted by Pawlik on a clean Fender Telecaster, a 5 string acoustic bass (Stefan Bartus is just warming up, wait until he is in full groove) and the muted trumpet of Rabitsch.
But the quartet has travelled even deeper to the South. African Song is a new song that appeared on their latest album Voyages. Tchoembadabadamba, rock guitar and a pumping drum & bass (Bartus’ speed on the bass is incredible) and were a celebrating the beauty that is Africa.
From the south we travel back to the East of Europe, the gipsy swing tunes of Varna at the Black Sea in Bulgaria are as enchanting as sitting around the fire and the caravans of the travelling people. You do not want to stop listening.
Township vibes and African beats remind of Cape Jazz. Africa is Pawlik’s embrace of South African jazz. And what is jazz without a groove? Gimme the Groove swings, grooves, scats and welcomes a many “yeah” from the crowd.
Rhapsody is a tribute to a Serbian all-star orchestra that blows you away with energetic Balkan swing. The music does not seem to be well known among the audience but man what an energy. For some reason, most of the younger jazz lovers are getting out to see other shows. But this is good, we are staying longer.
Fast and energetic, but also cool and low the quartet convinces of its mastery of different vibes. Moods talks about winter sun and summer wind, lazy winter days and the energy of spring. The band’s seasoned sound captures it all.
This search for beauty and particular sounds is celebrated in Unique, because of the unique sound of Pawlik. A beautiful evocation and dreamy song is The Long End.
The quartet even played on festivals in India and got enamored with the sound of the tabla. Raboraga is a tribute to a tabla player they befriended in India. The musicians steam down with the very chilled Around Midnight (not a cover) smooth jazz with deep vocals that sooth the heart.
With the walking bass in Walk in the Sun and Seven Ways to Fez we travel from New York to Morocco and leave with fond memories of our journey and a desire to see new places and come home in a colourful soundscape of distinctive sounds and a varied landscape of vibes. Our guides on our voyage know their trade.