István Gyárfás – SOLISTS OF DJANGO FESZT 2021 #4

Although manouche jazz 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.
István Gyárfás doesn’t consider himself a manouche guitarist but the playfulness, the humour and tasteful approach of his playing, not to forget his long-time collaboration with legendary violinist Csaba Deseő makes him an honorary manouche in our eyes. He will perform at Django Feszt as a guest of the Roby Lakatos Ensemble.

DF: What did jazz manouche teach you?

István Gyárfás: When I first heard Django as a kid I didn’t associate it with manouche jazz for a long while. In our circle it wasn’t called manouche, just „django”. My first really deep impression was, and it still is to this day, that such a big, great „heart”, as a great deal of emotion had been „wrapped” into this music which, well, as an adult now, I attribute to the sensation that the gypsy is a man with a big heart. And all this is paired with such musicality, with such an „ear” and technique within these contemporary manouche performers that it explains why this style is bound to exist and survive.

The other, which struck me hard when I was young, is that a band without drums could swing so well. This is one of the reasons why I like that sound when a good manouche band can play. Later with Csaba (Csaba Deseő, legendary Hungarian jazz and rock violinist) we made an album called Tale which, in fact, doesn’t have to do much with manouche and still, he wrote a dedication to the album that included something like „violin and guitar – two good friends”. And I found it really appealing. It was as they were meant to each other. And so if two solists who make these instruments sound can collaborate, can play together, then miracle happens.

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

IGY: With our students, we always listen and listen. Then, obviously, we write as well and the absolute prettiest or most emblematic recordings we try to transcribe. One can’t neglect a piece like Nuages or Minor Swing, if one’s heart doesn’t beat faster hearing these than they don’t like this music enough.

DF:  If you could play with someone, anyone, who would that be?

IGY: Hahaha…! a concert of Roby’s comes to my mind. It happened a good couple of years ago at MÜPA (Művészetek Palotája – Palace of Arts, Budapest). It overcame me, he brought us his gypsy roots and paired them with the freedom of jazz and the complexity of classical music with such elegance that I stood there with eyes stuck wide open, jaws dropped. I just wanted to say with this that I am really happy to be playing with him 🙂