Friday (24 August) saw some familiar faces at the Stadtgarten with local bands Meoneo and BonnIndo followed by the CD release party of the Marion & Sobo Band with their brand new disc.
The evening also saw my camera’s memory card break-down. Thankfully I already knew the music of Meoneo, and Sabine Büttner was on hand with a camera to capture them. By the time I hustled up a replacement card BonnIndo were in full swing and the perfect end to a Summer evening was just a Gypsy Swing melody away…
Claudia Huismann and Werner Krotz-Vogel – aka Meoneo – have been regular visitors to Bonn Folk Club for many years now and it’s good to see them brightening up Bonn’s outdoor stages with their colorful clothes and just as colourful Jazz sound. I remember them intrepidly being ‘sunny’ in front of Bonn Guildhall at last year’s rain-soaked ‘Stadtmusik’ day so they certainly deserved a sunny evening this time around. The onstage chemistry between Werner, a virtuoso jazz guitarist, and Claudia ‘s voice is always a pleasure to hear.
Like Meoneo before them, BonnIndo have also been a popular act at Stadtmusik Tag (under the auspices of the Viertel-bar in Bottlerplatz). The group is a Bonn based German/Indonesian mix of and the music is similarly mixed. I love the serene smiles of the gentlemen on Djembe and Dundun (percussion) who always sit towards the back, but seem a perfect counter-point to the lively ladies and gentlemen stage front.
As the said instrument description shows, this is not your average bass, drum and lead guitar combo. It’s the instrumentation for Indonesian Dangdut Music. You will have to look that up probably unless you are from Jakarta, but I can safely say that in the capable hands of BonnIndo it has everyone up, dancing and smiling – even some of those many picnickers on the grass verge!
It only seems like a few months ago that I was attending the CD release of Migrateurs at Fabrik 45, but it was actually more than two years ago now. This evening too, there is a new CD fresh from the presses for Marion Lenfant-Preus & Alexander Sobocinski to present, and a cracker it is too! But how do the new numbers from ‘Marion & Sobo Band – Esprit Manouche’ fare live? They have as their band top class local musicians onstage to provide a perfect musical backdrop. Guitarist Jonas Vogelsang has indeed already appeared on this very stage in 2018, as part of Radius (on 4 August). Frank Brempel on violin is also a familiar face and very capable musician. Stefan Berger on double bass was new to me, but fitted in both visually and musically. Over on drums… There was no drummer, and none was needed with the solid double bass of Berger and the confident guitar of Sobo keeping time.
I’ve seen Marion and Sobo perform in the past on stages of all sizes, and even when just as a duo on a big stage, they seem to very quickly get everyone listening on their side. They certainly had no trouble doing so with the band behind them tonight. Sobo even managed to get the people far away on the Alten Zoll who were, from the stage, just distant figures in the dark, to switch on their cellphone torches and wave to us. A row of ghostly figures and dim, waving lights, was his reward.
If you are new to this immensely talented duo, then a quick introduction: Franco-American Marion Lenfant-Preus has a vocal style (and a shoe style) that is reminiscent of the wonderful Zaz. She even shares some of the same songs. I’ve never heard Zaz sing in Macedonian though (and Marion’s repertoire covers French, German, English, Spanish, Portugese, Rumanian… amongst others). Always note/pitch perfect, and with a smile to close out the songs. Alexaxander Sobocinski hails from Poland, and is as fine a player of Gypsy Jazz Swing as anyone I’ve seen or heard. He can really punch out the notes and rhythms when needed (Rock-Gypsy-Swing-Guitar?)
Ah, yes, and Gypsy Jazz Swing happens to be at the centre of the band’s new Disc. ‘Esprit Manouche’ is the title, relating to the Gypsy Jazz style championed most famously by ‘Django’ Rheinhardt. Much of the albums material gets an airing live tonight too, from the opening ‘Sucht uns lieber morgen’ that is as good a piece to illustrate the Marion & Sobo style as any: It starts with that lively Gypsy guitar rhythm, before switching, Zara Leander like, to dramatic violin backing and German lyrics of sadness and longing. A bit too stop/start for dancing, but there are plenty of opportunities for that later. The Institut Francais Bonn was certainly on to a safe bet when they chose this band for the evening.
A particular favourite was the eerily evocative and multi-lingual ‘Agua’ (water<9 from the new disc, which, not surprisingly sold like hot-cakes afterwards. There were sure fire, familiar winners, to dance the audience home came at set end – with the traditional Albanian folksong ‘Lule Lule’ and, I’m pleased to say, one of my favourite Zaz numbers ‘Je Veux‘. From up on the Alten Zoll embankment those winking-cellphone holding figures could easily have mistaken the lively young lady on the distant stage for another lively young lady.