If something inside of you is touched by the sounds of gypsy jazz, then you must listen to this release. Austrian born, Harri Stojka is as authentic as it gets. Surrounded by a musical family, Harri started to play the guitar professionally at age 6. Harri is now 47 years old and has played with the likes of Carlos Santana, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin, Mike Stern, Birelli Lagrene, and others.
About, A Tribute to Swing, Stojka says, "I love old fashioned jazz music. I have always been fascinated with jazz music from the 1930s and 1940s". Harri's treatment of melody is wonderfully sincere, and his playing is liberating. Stojka's interpretation of 'Nuits De Saint-Germain-Des-Pres' and 'Nuages' reminds us why we love Django. Harri’s gypsy jazz guitar, made by Joseph Di Mauro of Paris in 1987, has a beautiful voice that fits perfectly into these arrangements.
Harri’s band provides a solid backing for this music. The rhythm guitar of Claudius Jelinek provides the chordal accompaniment to Harri’s ripping melodies. Ivan Ruiz Machado on bass, along with Heimo Wiederhofer on drums lay down a really swinging groove that separates this band from so many others in this genre. And it would be criminal to overlook the sweetness of Eva Berky's violin work. 'Nuages' is her showcase, BRAVO Eva.
'Swanee River', 'Limehouse Blues', 'Undecided, and 'Sweet Sue' provides an education in swing. The band’s ability to weave rhythmically between blistering solos and soulful melodies is no small accomplishment. Cuts like ‘J’attendrai’, ‘Avalon’, ‘Bei mir bist Du scheen’, and ‘ Schee is’ so a Ringlspu’ are wonderful reminders of the time that inspires Stojka. In his own words, "...a fantastic journey back to a time when jazz was most intense, purest, greatest, at least for me!". Stojka’s treatment of Sidney Bechet’s ‘Petite Fleur' will bring a tear to your eyes.
On 'A Song For My Daddy', Stojka displays his musical prowess as author. This original song has become my favorite piece in the collection. It allows you to take a trip to the very center of Harri's heart and soul, in this manifestation of a son’s love for his father.
Harri Stojka's new release A Tribute to Swing on the independent label Geco/Tonwaren Records offers jazz enthusiasts a rare glimpse of a musical lifestyle. Vienna journalist, Walter Richard Langer, commented; "Just like jazz, their (the Rom and Sinti gypsies) music was characterized by improvisation, straightforward and unfiltered expression and a cry for freedom and human dignity that could hardly go unheeded".
A Tribute to Swing is a musical treat for all jazz lovers. Those of you, considering yourselves to be ‘Django-heads’, will not be let down with this display of musicianship.