Torrio! ‘There are three of us and anything goes’

There is something celebratory about the name Torrio! – exclamation mark and all – and the truth is that theres a lot to celebrate, when Paul Grabowsky, Mirko Guerrini and Niko Schauble come together. Because behind the Torrio! is the moniker of a true supergroup, a trio comprised of three giants of Australian improvised music. Torrio! have an album out – one recorded in one of the most important European musical landmarks, Rome’s Casa del Jazz – and they are launching it with a concert at Melbourne Recital Centre. Which is a perfect opportunity for a chat with the trio’s drummer, Niko Schauble.

How did Torrio! Come to be?
Niko Schauble: We performed a song, ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ at the benefit concert for Bernie McGann, on the 1st of September 2013 at Bennetts Lane. Gerry Koster, who was in the audience, invited us to record at the ABC studios, which we did in February the following year. Right from the first performance we all knew that this trio was something special and precious.

So, how has Bernie McGann influenced your?
NS: Commitment and authenticity in the artistic approach and conduct, and kindness and openness with your fellow musicians – that’s what I remember about the times I played with Bernie

How did you choose a name for the band?
NS: It comes from the expressive way we were announced in Japan; trio became ‘Torrio!’ The starkly simple mathematical expression leaves all possibilities open, which is what I feel is happening when we play together: There are three of us and anything goes.

Where is your bass player?
NS: Haha… Paul’s left hand and my right foot?

How would you describe the dynamics of trio?
NS: Every input is welcome. Every output is celebrated. There is no leader. The direction becomes clear through the performance.

Why did you record at Casa del Jazz?
NS: A stroke of organisational genius by Mirko.


What was the best part of this experience?
NS: Too many ‘best’ parts… Being together with (and encountering new) musical soulmates; recording music of the ‘now’ right next to walls that had been built 2000 years ago (guess it felt ‘now’ to the labourers); so much more…

How has this affected the outcome?
NS: There is a calmness and contentment about this album for me. Decades of playing and endeavour have started to settle and the outlines of musical goals are becoming more apparent. A culmination in so many ways.

What should anyone expect from your performance at the Melbourne Recital Centre?
NS: An intimate and personal experience in one of the best sounding venues for music in Australia.

What does jazz mean to you?
NS: Vagueness and blurred images, which can be good and intriguing, too, but I prefer to use the term improvised music.

Which tune best describes your current state of mind?
NS: Looking at the names of the tracks it could be ‘Once in a while’, but as far as my own state of musical being is concerned I think ‘Somewhere, Sometime’ is a marker in (my) time. Here I find myself being wholly content being ‘the canvass upon which the music evolves. Maybe this is also possible because at other times I also am be the brush (or paint roller?)

See/ hear Torrio! live at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Thursday 31 August.