Mauro Pawlowski (and I hope I’m correctly spelling his name …) is a one-of-a-kind wild fellow who could easily make a carrier as one man show. Instead, he likes surrounding himself with musicians and approaching a vast diversity of styles in his unique original manner, which seems to be exactly not doing similar things. He likes experimenting with different forms of music and groups. I know and completely respect him from dEUS. I went once to see him with his nieuwZwart Trio and I completely loved it. I went to see him with Gruppo di Pawlowski and I was both completely shocked and entertained. And this Tuesday I went for a total different performance, a concert on his latest release, ‘Insatiable’. The complete title of the record — Hamster Axis of the One Click Panther & Mauro Pawlowski – Play The Peter Houben Songbook – Insatiable — reveals a bit the plot. Mauro Pawlowski comes on stage with Hamster Axis, a jazz quintet from Antwerp, to play a collection of songs by the Belgian singer-songwriter Peter Houben.
The opening song set out the ambience. It started, as did almost all of them, with a saxophone intro. An alto (Lander Van den Noortgate) and a tenor saxophone (Andrew Claes) built together the introduction. A nosy sounding battle which grew beautifully into melody. The theme is taken over by the piano (Bram Weijters) and then developed under double bass (Janos Bruneel) and drums (Frederik Meulyzer). A completely jazz instrumental, as Mauro stays aside just watching for the moment, a prelude for stories to come. Because each song to follow was a story, an urban fairy-tale or an anecdote, an entire world built à la Frank Zappa, full of irony and humor in lyrics and sonorities.
‘This Vibration is not just a Movement of Particles in the Air’ was a beautiful song, full of harmony and fading out in piano drops. This one and ‘The Good Lord Created Hyenas and I Can Scratch My Balls’ come from the debut album of Peter Houben under his current alias Benny Zen The Recording Artist. The original lyrics are kept entirely, the music arrangements are obviously jazz and Mauro is performing like a crooner who occasionally looses it in the hit of the moment, to the audience’s delight. ‘Insatiable’ starts, as expected already, with the saxophones and continues in playful jazzy rhythms to reveal a story about sixteen lesbians in a Jacuzzi. ‘I’m sick and I’m proud’ continues on the same note and ends in total anarchy. For a change, ‘Pinetrees Do Not Lose Their Fur’ starts with double bass improvisation which creates a warm melancholic ambience, romanced with sax waves, but spice up with Mauro’s voice singing about rabbits, rain drops and asleep volcanoes. The effect gathered by combining classical ambient jazz with such lyrics is exquisitely amusing.
As jazz is closely associated with the notion of improvisation, Mauro breaks the show towards the end for a moment of stand-up comedy about a love story, in Dutch but also in English so that even his friends from Hawaii or Burundi could understand it. The end of the concert was more melancholic and with blues accents. Mauro even retreated towards the back of the stage, leaving the floor only to the very young and talented jazz musicians. After one encore, they ended this beautiful and very interesting performance, receving high ovations from the audience.
An impressive show with inspired musicianship on all parts and with a great balance between craftsmanship and energy. A 100% Belgian product that definitely will bring many people back to the catalogue of Peter Houben, put Hamster Axis of the One Click Panther band’s carrier on fast forward and uplift the believe in Pawlowski’s creativity.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives. But also an important cause of tinnitus and hearing loss. If you’re a constant concertgoer, consider investing 150 euro in your health and go for a pair or custom made earplugs. That’s right, the kind all cool musicians have. Once lost, the hearing does not come back. Search for a provider in your city right now.
FURTHER INFO: Full set of photos (JP Daniels): http://www.concertmonkey.be/photos/mauro-pawlowski-ancienne-belgique-bru… Album review on KeysandChords Mauro Pawlowski sings Houben on youtube:
Small Zoo feat. Mauro Pawlowski – INSATIABLE
Small Zoo feat. Mauro Pawlowski – LIFT YOUR LOAD
Small Zoo feat. Mauro Pawlowski – PINE TREES
You can also read this review on Concert Monkey. Press accreditation from Concert Monkey.