Harri Stojka Gipsysoul: Garude Apsa (2005)
Singers Ivona Ferencova (whose voice can bite) and Matilda Leko (softer-toned) can sound very Slavic singing together. On Stojka's "Pundrav" Leko sounds much more Western, but the tune resembles "All the Things You Are," still within the gypsy idiom rather than any "world" melange. The notes duly emphasise that Brahms, Bartok, and Haydn (the master harmonist) all drew on gypsy sources. Like some other instruments, Geri Schuller's piano isn't audible everywhere, but he produces brilliant echoes of Twentieth Century European concert music, a brilliant juxtaposition accompanying the pure, ancient folk song "Sapeski Gile."
There's also much rhythmic variety and percussion that at times is very witty. Stojka's amazing multi-note guitar is recognisable throughout, his solos never jazz but pure Roma, pre-Django Reinhardt, marked by those rhythmic-harmonic transformations his recordings generated within jazz. The bassist is Cuban, but other than for a few oddly funky bars toward the end of "Kore Sam," this disc represents a complete and complex integration into Roma idiom of everything any musician brought with them into this set. "Tschirikli" ("Bird") emphasises the dedication of this recording to the sixtieth anniversary of 1945 and the end of the worst of many successive persecutions and killings of gypsies and Jews.
Garude Apsa is a vocal record with intensely poignant songs in Romani, translated in the visually striking foldout with such genuinely poetic lines as those which call the lost love "the wind on a white horse." The music keeps coming back to dance, swing, soul, witty clatter. The accordionist brilliantly mimics the rippling-ripping force of Stojka's guitar on one track. There's a lot of variety of mood as well as instrumentation.
The notes insist that gypsies were the first true Europeans, but the music stays Roma, a version of good rather than bad European: strongly idiomatic and spiritually unconfined. That's a fair description of Stojka's jazz playing, too. An unlisted sixteenth track on my copy begins with several minutes' silence. Then, accompanied only by some smaller, ancient relative of Stojka's guitar, a woman delivers a direct, complex, ancient folk song. Amen? Hallelujah!
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Track Listing: Prolog/Garude Apsa; Dschav Dramenca; Sapeski Gili; Tschirikli: Ser o Kham; Tschelori; Romale, Romale; Hijav; Pundray o Jilo; Rupuni; Paramisi; Kore Sam; Paschal Ma; Romanschago; Garude Apsa/Reprise; (unlisted folksong).
Personnel: Harri Stojka: guitar, e-sitar; Ivana Ferencova: vocal; Matilda Leko: vocal; Heimo Wiedehofer: snare drum; Ivan Ruiz Machado: double bass; Meton Meto: percussion; Geri Schuller: piano, arrangements. Guests: Karl Hodina: accordion (9, 10, 15); Rudi Mille: keyboards (6,9,14,15); Krzysztof Dobrek: accordion (6, 7, 8, 13); Aliosha Biz (violin (6,7,9,11-13,15): Victor Kopatchinsky: cembalom (1,6,7,16); Walter Voglmayr: fujara (3,4); Eva Samer: violin (14); Claudius Jelinek: rhythm guitar (6, 10, 15); Attila Pasztor: cello (9,11,12,15).
Record Label: Geco Tonwaren
Style: Fringes of Jazz