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Harmonius Wail - Gypsy Swing

Gypsy Swing

Harmonious Wail

Naxos World 76056-2

Naxos of America, Inc.
416 Mary Lindsay Polk Drive, Suite 509
Franklin, TN 37067

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Guntram Gudowius

Not to be confused with the music of the Gipsy Kings who are rooted in Spanish and Flamenco styles, Harmonious Wail draws from the rich influence of the European gypsy musicians, most notably Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli who from the 1930s on created and developed what came to be known as Gypsy Swing.

First pleasant surprise when starting the CD is that it clocks in with the announcement of 76 minutes of music, finally someone using the capacity of the medium, thanks! And from the first notes that jump from the strings you realize that they will be short and most delightful! Consisting mostly of guitars, mandolin, violin, voice and the occasional accordion and percussion, Harmonious Wail delivers these mostly traditional songs and instrumentals with fresh energy that gets your fingers snapping and toes tapping! Each instrument is played masterfully precise and with obvious joy. The band is tight throughout the tempo changes and it shows that they have already had fifteen years of playing together. So, whether the instruments are sounding off with parallel harmonious runs, back and forth "conversation", lead or solo features, they are hot! Influences from Eastern European, Samba, Bossa Nova and Bluegrass music can be detected and contribute to color, texture and richness of the listening experience.

And then there is the voice of Maggie, which is featured on roughly half the songs, very expressive from crooning to wailing to unison scats with the strings. When she sings Moscow Nights - the opener of the album - first in English and then in Russian, it's like taking the trip and waiting for the Cossacks to appear. The Sheik of Araby is the only track where (some of) the other members add their voices, and they do sing fine harmonies.

I first was introduced to Gypsy Swing by a record of the Schnuckenack Reinhardt Quintet of the late 60s which had this exciting rhythm and I'm glad that Harmonious Wail is bringing this music in such fine quality to the living rooms, coffee houses and festival audiences. I bet they are a blast on stage. Do yourself (or others) a favour and expose yourself and them!

The Musicians:

Sims Delaney-Potthoff - producer, mandolin, tenor guitar
Maggie Delaney-Potthoff - vocals, cardboard box
Tom Waselchuk - guitar
Henry Boehm - double bass
Randy Hoecherl - violin
Brian Erickson - accordion
Todd Steward - drums, congas

Track List:

  • Moscow Nights
  • Two Guitars/Gypsy Campfire
  • I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
  • Valse Samois (Sims Delaney-Potthoff)
  • Some Of These Days
  • Czardas
  • St. Louis Blues
  • The Basso
  • Rose Room
  • Dark Eyes
  • Limehouse Blues
  • Swing Gitan
  • Chanson Pour Henri (Sims Delaney-Potthoff)
  • Sheik of Araby
  • Bossa Dorado (Dorado Schmidt)
  • After You've Gone
  • Minor Swing (Django Reinhardt)
  • Ballgame
All songs traditional except where noted
Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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