Solists of Django Feszt 2021 #2 – Andris Makk (Valami Swing)

Although manouche swing is result of real teamwork, being a genre based on improvisation and virtuosity, inevitably, its protagonists are the solists. Just think about Django and Grappelli.

In this series we’d like to introduce the solists of the festival. Today we talked to Andris Makk, guitarist to Valami Swing, who lives his daily life almost like a manouche and to whom jamming at the campsite with a great campfire is one of the most natural things there is.

DF: What does jazz manouche teach you?

Andris Makk: I would start with what jazz teaches me. There is a way to play freely within certain boundaries. Then you can do whatever you want. Manouche jazz teaches me to improvise melodically, which is not an easy thing to do.

DF: To musicians just getting familiar with this music, what would you recommend?

AM: The most obvious: listen to Django a lot 😀 They have to strum a lot downwards to make the guitar sound real loud when playing. We don’t normally plug the guitars into amplifiers so they have hit the chords hard and the easiest for this to be done is downwards. And a thick pick, that’s important too.

DF: If you could play with someone, anyone, who would that be? What should we listen to by them?

AM: Angelo Debarre. If someone would come over to my place and ask what is this manouche, after Django, I would put on his music. He strums with the same technique like any other manouche but… his is just really good. There is a really good recording that I found years ago… they play three tunes. It’s funny, we play the last one, Yugoslav suite quite a lot ever since. Angelo Debarre recorded it sometime ago too. In this video this is credited as „Hora lautaresca” and we didn’t really look into this much before. Then after a concert a Romanian listener told us that this is Romanian folk music, some music for dancing. Eventually we found the original too, it’s called „Hora lui Buica”. This song is another great example of how apparent folk music is in jazz manouche.

DF: Thanks, see you soon!