Vitja Pauwels six times on stage during BRAND!
Today's musicians are not easily labeled. We might call him a jazz guitarist for the sake of convenience, but Vitja Pauwels might not be so convinced of that himself. Not if you consider him a musician who fits neatly into a clear-cut tradition. Pauwels grew up with pop, rock and classical music, but gradually absorbed various influences that all leave their traces in his style, which sometimes flows nicely, but just as easily dares to wander into experiments that go against the grain. This is why he pops up in various projects and why he will surprise you again and again.
Vitja Pauwels solo
On his first solo album Day At Half Speed, Pauwels brought together various elements: the unspoiled, pure, melancholy and charming, as well as the artificial interventions, the technology that regularly wormed its way into the foreground. Roots music and futurism don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In Pauwels' case, they feel complementary just as often, with the tension between tradition and experimentation increasingly coming to the surface.
You will hear guitarist Vitja Pauwels no less than six times during BRAND! (Profound Observer, Naima Joris Band, Lara Rosseel Orchestra, BOMBATAZ, Vitja Pauwels solo & het Carte Blanche project met Marc Ribot) which immediately says enough about his versatility and omnipresence.
The first of his own projects is BOMBATAZ from Brussels, a quartet that like no other focuses on music as an inexhaustible source of inspiration. On the one hand you can see it as a form of advanced collage art, with catchy funk, bouncy synthpop and playful jazz that fused together lead to an irresistible cocktail, but on the other hand there is also too much unity in it to be dismissed as a gimmick. The music is delivered with a broad grin that cannot hide the fact that these guys mean business.
Pauwels is surrounded by eager adventurers for whom crossing borders is irrelevant. And what if you completely ignore those boundaries? Hendrik Lasure and Casper Van De Velde are making a name for themselves with schntzl, the An Pierlé Quartet and projects that are expanding their playing area. The fact that Ruben De Maesschalck is just as idiosyncratic can be demonstrated by comparing the two bands he plays with at BRAND: the bouncy mix of BOMBATAZ vs. the slow trance of aki. Anything goes for BOMBATAZ, a musical amusement park for four inspired musicians who elevate their multilingual madness to an Olympic discipline.
Carte Blanche project feat. Marc Ribot
When asked about his dream project, guitarist Vitja Pauwels immediately thought of Marc Ribot, one of the only artists he would consider an idol. The fact that this guitarist slaloms between names and genres with equal virtuosity and originality must be part of the explanation. Pauwels has a soft spot for the better Americana, for jazz that colors outside the lines, for free improvisation with a personal touch, for artists who remain themselves in all surroundings. This all comes together in Ribot's music, which combines blues, Cuban music, big-city jazz, polkas, furious rock, chamber music and so much more in an instantly recognizable style that flows in an angular way, bites sardonically and always impresses with its unique timbre.
For Pauwels, the main question is what he will aim for with such a cannon in the band: will he write compositions that break new ground for the entire band, or will he let Ribot shine in a setting that once made him a fan? There is no doubt that the concert of this unique quintet will make an impression, because with extra folks like Frederik Leroux (guitar, banjo), Laurens Dierickx (Hammond organ) and Casper Van De Velde (drums), the potential is nearly endless. Brace yourself for a concert in which the guitar strings take center stage, but surprises will be lurking around the corner, because if Pauwels' track has proven anything so far, it's that he guarantees time and again that surprising nod, that unexpected stumble that reminds you that nothing is always what it seems.