Absinto Orkestra – what are they playing?

Seven-quarter rhythm with orchestra and the soloist Joscho Stephan

What are they playing, Klezmer or Balkan? Joachim Schappert and Stefan Ölke assure them that they have heard the question so many times and never been able to answer it. "Somehow" their own thing developed, say the two guitarists, who played together before the founding of the Absinto Orkestras, even before the "Balkan wedding band wave" with fanfare Ciocarlia as one of their most prominent representatives flooded the dancefloor. In fact, the band originated from a theatre project at the RüsselsheimEr Stadttheater, making music for the play "Vogel's Wedding".

Unplugging to the frenzy

Absinto Orkestra fused klezmer tones with Balkanbeat, Russian folk tunes, Santana, Hendrix, Zarah Leander and Star Trek jingle into a fiery amalgam. Without the gypsy jazz guitarist Joscho Stephan, the playful ensemble might never have found its way to the Hürther Jazzkeller.

"Especially in the Rhine-Main area, we make our audience chuckle, to frenzy," Stefan Olke explained on stage. Joscho Stephan still wanted a project that could certainly be implemented in Hürth. The best conditions for this seemed to be in the courtyard of the old school, namely with the bar of Absinthe at the main counter and Karl-Heinz and Isolde from the Jazzclub, who burned on the specially furnished beer counter to empty a barrel of Kölsch.

Jazz club always demands new things

After his own feeling "40, 50, 60 performances" in the Jazzkeller, the jazz club always asked for something new from him, since he had now brought along the Absintos with which he has been playing since 2012, Joscho Stephan recommended the band. Around 250 had followed his recommendation on open air. They experienced the violinist Johannes Reinig, the Russian double bassist Pavel Klimashevsky, the soprano saxophonist Francois Heun and the guitarists and singers Stefan Olke and Joachim Schappert as a playful ensemble with a whole bunch of refreshing, as well as danceable musical ideas.

Joscho Stephan had defined his role as a "solo guitarist" with a wink before the concert, who had no idea how to count the "seven-quarter rhythm" so widespread in Balkan music, the main thing the others knew.


And as a guitarist from the school of Django Reinhardt, he would of course play a solo, namely his composition "Nuage". Joscho Stephan pulled out all the stops of a master guitarist in his Gypsyswing insert. He let the dreamy piece grow up as gripping as it was gentle, and still screwed down the bass strings of his instrument to unimaginable depths during the game, so that it remained mucky, even after the last, delicate tones had faded away.

Just don't cry out of love

The Absinto Orkestra was all the more harsh at times with wild chants, swirling sound duels between violin and saxophone, saxophone and percussion guitars or excursions into Macedonian folk music with "Jovano Jovanke". In the "Star Trek" film trailor they play in the freely improvised game to the vastness of the universe, in the "Absint Teckno" they show how electronically violin, bass or mandolin can sound. The musicians also made a real friendship with their audience with a sweet version of "Just don't cry out of love", which many sang along with full throat.

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