time before Europeans discovered Jazz there was already music existent
in Europe which is in many aspects comparable to Jazz: the Music of the
Rom and the Sinti.
This music was also characterized by improvisation, an unrestricted honest
expression and also with a deep yearning for freedom and human dignity.
The" Rom and Sinti" lived (and partly they still do) in a sociological
situation similar to American Blacks. This might be an explanation for
their affinity for Jazz as well as their inborn musicality especially
their talent for string instruments. But it needed the genius of "
Django Reinhardt " to make Jazz lovers aware that gipsy musical traditions
and the "Spirit of Jazz " gave birth to a new, highly explosive
and deeply moving blend of music.
Django Reinhardt's premature death in 1953 did not spell an end to this
new blend of music, there were and there are many Rom- and Sinti-Jazzer.
One of them is the famous guitarrist "Harri Stojka" who is known
far beyond Austria.
At the age of six (1963) the Viennese Harri Stojka - a descendant of the
Lovara-Rom-Dynasty from the Bagareschtschi tribe - started to play the
guitar. His professional carreer started with the group Jano + Harri Stojka
in the Arena. Shortly after young Harri became a bassist in the Karl Ratzer
band "Gipy Love" and then again a guitarrist for Peter Wolfs
"Objektiv Truth Orchestra. After dissolution of this band he formed
his first "Harri Stojka Express" in 1973. During this time he
played among others for Richard Schönherz, Andre Heller, Erika Pluhar,
Oliva Molin, Peter Schleicher,"Novaks Kapelle", Terry Bozzio
and Patrick O'Hearn.
One cornerstone of his career became the Open Air Festival in the Viennese
Prater Stadion (1981) where the "Harri Stojka Express" was the
only Austrian participant besides international stars like Jimmy Cliff,
Eric Burden, Van Morrison and Carlos Santana. Soon thereafter Harri Stojka
received an offer to take part in the "Guitar-Summit" in Montreux
where he performed next to Larry Coryell, Bireli Lagrene and Harry Pepl.
This performance got highly acclaimed by crititics and collegues. The
LP "Live at Montreux" is an impressive proof of this event which
turned out to be one of the key experiences in the career of Harri Stojka.
Since then Harri Stojka has always been one of the most preeminent Austrian
Jazz musicians. The Austrian Music critic Walter Richard Langer wrote
once about Harri Stojka: "Lots of Bluesfeeling combined with a sublime
mastership of the guitar which is presented with a fascinating playful
easyness". Experiencing and creating fun and joy through playing
music ist the philosophy of Harri Stojka. Though having already produced
many records, live concerts are his top priority as the interaction with
the audience stimulates his artistic output. Harri Stojka is a musician
who is constantly reinventing himself and he is open to all new trends
in music. His versatility permits him to work on different projects like
Mainstream, Fusion up to Gipsy-Pop.
Current projects: Express (Bebop to Modern Jazz), Gitancoeur (Ethno-Jazz
to Gipsy-Pop) the CD of this Project was nominated for the Austrian Music
Award "Amadeus", Gitancour for children (a journey to Rom told
with music) is a kids program, Readings with his father from the book
"Papierene Kinder", Innerestadt (Rock pur), Gipsysoul (Acustic
Jazz and Gipsy-Traditionals), Guitar workshops.