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John Shand’s 4 star review for ‘Spiel’ by Grabowsky and Schauble

“It’s the endings that signal the singular rapport. Starting an improvisation is relatively straightforward: it merely requires an idea. But in the telepathic ability to end the pieces simultaneously (with no editing), you hear the long history of music-making shared by pianist Paul Grabowsky and drummer Niko Schauble. And they get plenty of practice, because this album consists of no less than 17 improvisations held to around five minutes or less. When one starts a piece the other latches on instantly, making concrete what was a flicker of the imagination. Those flickers range across a huge gamut of music, from hurtling shards of abstraction to slow-grind grooves. While many pieces teem with ideas and their consequent notes, one of the most striking is the deathly minimalist Zone of Avoidance, where the sounds suddenly loom out of a silence that seems wrapped in a fog. Elsewhere there is humour, drama, confrontation and fun – the usual gamut of a verbal chat, in fact, rendered in music by two friends on two instruments. Schauble also looked after the recording, achieving a floor-shaking bass drum sound.”

John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald  25.03.16

Banquet of Secrets premieres in Melbourne to audience and critical acclaim.

imageMy new music theatre project, with libretto by Steve Vizard, premiered on March 1 at the Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. Directed by Roger Hodgman, it depicts a dinner held yearly by four old friends from University days. At this particular dinner, one of the four challenges the group to each share a secret kept from the others down the years. The cast, themselves old friends in real life, totally embraced the work and delivered memorable and moving performances. Soprano Antoinette Halloran, Mezzo Dimity Shepherd and tenors Kanen Breen and David Rogers-Smith are well-known to Australian lovers of opera and music theatre. Fine musicians all, and great actors, they have an opportunity in this piece to show the full range of their phenomenal skills. The band were no slouches, either, with clarinettist David Griffiths, violinist Liz Sellars, cellist Svetlana Bogoslavjevic and percussionist Peter Neville joining me onstage. I found the experience of leading the piece from the piano challenging, and very rewarding. The next season will be in Brisbane, opening on April 7 for three performances.
Steve and I are looking at our next project; there are quite a few ideas. Let’s see what happens.

‘Solo’ reviewed by John Shand

Paul Grabowsky
You sense a depth here from the opening notes. Paul Grabowsky has never recorded a solo piano album before and you hear the resolve to make the opportunity count. His harmonic extrapolations on the delicate Angel are so rich and surprising it is like turning the pages of an illuminated medieval book to be startled first by the gold leaf and then the silver. Most of the compositions are his own, the two exceptions including a ‘Round Midnight to re-assert its witching-hour connotations as he improvises with fragments of the melody. Imagination alone will take the listener only so far, however, and again it is the depth of heart being poured into the music that makes this version so exceptional. Grabowsky has always been blessed with the touch to make a piano truly sing, and when combined with a good Steinway and superb recording quality, each note throughout this album seems to glisten as it wings from speaker to ear. JOHN SHAND

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6×3 Reissue reviewed in SMH

John Shand writes:

This was among the great Australian bands. If it was not the first to dare to dream non-American musical dreams – that had been happening for three decades before this was recorded in 1988 – it did convey a unique sense of space and of how time unfolded in space. Rhythmic forms materialised and dematerialised in ways that stopped the material, penned by pianist Paul Grabowsky, being a slave to idiom. Returning to Melbourne after living in Munich, Grabowsky found ideal collaborators in bassist Gary Costello and drummer Allan Browne. Both could give the time a suspended feel, even while maintaining a pulse. Browne had an impossibly deft touch and positively radiated empathy, and Costello had a sound as snug as a pub with an open fire in winter, a keen sense of understatement, and the melodic ingenuity to provide spontaneous counterpoints to Grabowsky’s dazzling inventions. These were not the harsh neon dazzle of ego, but the oneiric shimmer of one whose imagination opened up the music rather than closing it down. An indispensable re-release.
4 1/2 stars

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‘6×3’ Reissue now available!

In 1988, I took part in a  recording with the late, great bassist Gary Costello, and the legendary Allan Browne on drums. This trio, which played for the first time in 1983, went on to record ‘When Words Fail’ in 1995, as well as ‘Angel’ with the wonderful Melbourne vocalist Shelley Scown the following year. These recordings document a really wonderful collaboration between musicians who had acquired a deep communication and empathy. Our concerts were exhilarating, and for me unforgettable. It is wonderful that Gats in Japan kept asking for the rerelease, and that my long term musical partner Philip Mortlock has seen fit to release ‘6×3’ as the first of a series of rereleases of my back catalogue on his Origin label. Now available in Japan and Australia…..