Bänz Öster & The Rainmakers Live in Willisau – Ukuzinikela

Live Concerts

Last year I clearly haven’t been attending enough live concerts. I have the clear intention of changing this for 2016.

During a recent trip to Hamburg, a friend of mine took me to see a Jazz artist I must admit I hadn’t heard of before, the Swiss bass player Bänz Öster, at the relatively recently established Cascadas Jazz Club in downtown Hamburg.

I had checked out a quick Youtube excerpt of this artist, but was pretty unsure to what I would be expecting. Well, I was very positively surprised.

Bänz Öster and The Rainmakers

Let me write first of all about the other three musicians. Obviously, Jazz is these days a rather international affair, but this was truly an interesting mixture. We had Ganesh Geymeyer on saxophone. He is Swiss as well, but coming from the French speaking part around Lake Geneva.

And then we go to a completely different continent, that at least in my mind wasn’t strongly linked to Jazz, Africa. I was obviously proven wrong. We had a great drum experience from Ayanda Sikade. But the true hero of the evening for me was Afrika Mkhize on piano. This really encouraged me to find out more about the South African Jazz scene.

So what did we get from this quartet? Exciting, interesting and melodic Jazz that often reminded me of Coltrane’s quartet recordings in his best days, but didn’t rely on standards, during the concerts we mostly got recent compositions, many of them written by the musicians themselves.

After such a great evening, I obviously had to immediately buy their new CD which was just released and was available at the concert.

Bänz Öster & The Rainmakers Live in Willisau – Ukuzinikela (Enja 2016)

Bänz Öster & The Rainmakers Live In Willis Ukuzinikela Afrika Mkhize Ganesh Geymeier Amanda Sikade Enja 2016

This live album, in spite of having quite a different track list than the live concert I saw in Hamburg (it was released just now, but already recorded in 2014), truly replicates the pleasure I had listening to these four musicians.

As this is a live concert, the musicians really take their time, the tracks are often more than 10 minutes giving ample solo time. My favorite track of this album is Hungersnot (famine), which after a long two minute intro where Bänz and Geymeyer play unisono, turns into a fascinating groove, thanks especially due to the miracles that Mkhize does on the piano. I’ve said it before, I’m a big fan of him now, he has amazing technical capabilities (the speed is incredible), but he doesn’t have to overdo it, it just flows naturally.

Overall, a live album that is absolutely worth discovering!

Here is a kind of “making of” video for the album:


My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz)