Gypsy tinge to strings

Good MIx

Gypsy tinge to strings

Playing to a highly appreciative audience was Harri Stojka and his Gypsy Swing Ensemble from Austria.

The quartet consisted of  Harri  and Claudius Jelinekon on the guitar, Heimo Wiederhofer on the drums and Karl Sayer on the double bass. Harri Stojka is known as one of Austria's greatest jazz musicians with ‘musical roots that run deep’.
Coming from a Roma Gypsy family that ‘surrounded him with rhythm and harmony before he could even talk’, Harri plays the Spanish or classical guitar with a skill and intensity that captures the audience from the word go. Ably supported by his group, each one a virtuoso in his own right, the gypsy swing sound was a new and fresh experience for Bangalore’s jazz lovers.

The concert started with a warm up piece, one of their own compositions followed by a heady mix of American and European jazz standards. Known for their passion and sentiment, the music that the gypsy ensemble played was redolent with feeling and emotions with strong vibrant elements of flamenco music as well brought to life by the sheer mastery over their instruments.

Harri spoke eloquently about the painful history of the Roma under Nazi oppression and his great affection for his father, who is currently undergoing a health crisis, playing ‘Song for daddy’, a touching melody he specially composed in his honour.
The programme included major tributes to Django Reinhardt, one of the best known gypsy guitarists of all times. They played Nuages (French for Clouds)  and one of Reinhardt’s best known compositions. The first half of the concert ended with an American standard All of me, a Russian piece Dark Eyes and another Reinhardt composition. The second half of the programme was an exciting mix of familiar pieces like Avalon, Sweet Sue and Sunny – a pop song that has become a jazz standard. Veering off towards another type of music, the group played a composition based on a Hindustani raga that was simply superb. “We have roots and links with Rajasthan,” they explained.

The audience were delighted by the whole performance calling the group back for encores. “As a guitar teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed this new kind of sound that was brilliant as well as joyful. Harri Stojka and his band of extremely talented musicians are true artists and entertainers and it was a real privilege to witness this concert,” said Felix Anto, a member of the audience.
DHNS

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