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A Tribute to Gypsy Swing

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Album Review

Here we go again — another European guitar-playing Django-phile takes a crack at the revered Belgian gypsy's style and repertoire. Harri Stojka, it turns out, is the genuine article himself — a Roma gypsy from Vienna — and the long-haired guitarist spent much time in the bebop and jazz-rock vineyards before reaching back to Django Reinhardt-vintage swing. If there's a big difference, it is that Stojka does not try to re-create the Reinhardt sound molecule-for-molecule. While retaining the string-bending nuances of Reinhardt, Stojka's touch is sharper, steelier, more muscular, and he is not above adding a corny quote like "shave and a haircut, two bits." On "Swanee River" and "J'Attendrai," he even includes a banjo in the chonking rhythm section, which sends the sound back to the '20s at least. Moreover, the band is recorded with a more abrasive sound quality than most Reinhardt disciples receive. Stojka touches the usual Reinhardt bases like "Avalon," "Nuages," and "Limehouse Blues," yet he also takes on non-Django material from the period such as "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" and "Petite Fleur." Of course, Stojka has a violin foil (Eva Berky), but only on four tracks, and the rhythm is augmented by the hyper-brushed snare drum of Heimo Wiederhofer. You could say that this album is the logical result of having arrived at Reinhardt after passing through the energy field of John McLaughlin — and as such, Reinhardt purists should tread here with caution. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

A Tribute to Gypsy Swing, Harri Stojka
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