Javier Vercher, Saxophone Tenor
Afrika Mkhize, Piano
Ayanda Sikade, Drums / Percussions
Bänz Oester, Bass
The Rainmakers continue a tradition that relatively few formations claim today. We immediately think of the so-called spiritual jazz, whose heyday stretched from the mid-1960s to the middle of the following decade. They give us this ‘old religion’, not as superstitious bigotry, but in terms of what binds us back, a precious sense of human belonging, brotherhood and sisterhood.
Most jazz musicians today focus their research on complex and elaborate structures, be it rhythmic, harmonic or melodic. Many current productions can therefore be perceived as a demonstration of discipline and work to which body and mind can be subjected in order to achieve a result: speed, precision, control, etc. The Rainmakers’ music breaks this trend. Of course, individual virtuosity and creativity are in the foreground (the four members of the quartet are all masters of improvisation and have a phenomenal power of expression), but this music also tells of the pursuit of freedom, revolt and rebellion against systems of control and against oppression in the world general, as well as the need for transcendence and humanity. Through their interplay, the musicians tirelessly affirm their spiritual aspirations and their need to free themselves from all forms of constraints. In doing so they continue a tradition that relatively few formations can claim today (except perhaps in South Africa, and so the presence of Afrika Mkhize and Ayanda Sikade in the quartet is undoubtedly crucial). One immediately thinks of John Coltrane’s 4tet, but also of the other apostles of so-called spiritual jazz, whose heyday stretched from the mid-1960s to the middle of the following decade. This music is strikingly relevant today. At a time when control algorithms are becoming more efficient and machines are reaching and even surpassing the physical and mental capabilities of humans, the offer of Bänz Oester,