It is important to acknowledge the genius of Tcha Limberger in the context of his being a musical – perhaps, an all-around – polymath and here are two albums that highlight this aspect of the artist in the grand manner. The first is a recording ‘Live’ in Foix, where he is heard playing violin in the so-called “Gypsy-Jazz” style – here in a not-so-oblique homage to the legendary Stéphane Grappelli – and in the second, Tatavla, he breaks fresh ground – again on violin – by letting loose on his violin and venturing fearlessly into the realm of Greek “wine song” played in the traditional Byzantine style reminiscent of 19th and 20th century Constantinople (now Istanbul) and the unique “Tatavla” celebrations.
Tcha Limberger is often heard on guitar, an instrument he plays brilliantly, holding his own with the likes of the great manouche master, Fapy Lafertin as well as the legendary Waso Grünholz and Mozes Rosenberg, a Sinti music virtuoso who joins Mr. Limberger on the ‘Live’ performance. But Mr. Limberger plays violin, exclusively on both recordings and sings on a couple of charts in his own inimitable smoky voice as he pours his heart out, bringing the music and lyrics alive in elemental fashion. This is true not only on the “Gypsy-Jazz” recording, but also on the Greek one as well where he sings both artfully as well as passionately as if he is Greek in body and soul.
Tcha Limberger Trio: ‘Live’ in Foix
Although this album finds Mr. Limberger primarily on violin which he plays with enormous skill, supplying the requisite emotional density and his playing is fluid and beautifully controlled and exemplary throughout, he does sing on two tracks, scatting (“I Surrender Dear”) and singing expressivo wordlessly executing a succession of breathtaking passaggio phrases on “Someday You’ll Be Sorry”, while executing diabolical double, triple and quadruple stops on “Flamingo”. The album showcases the water-colours of Django Reinhardt’s “Clair De Lune” and a memorable version of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love”.
Mozes Rosenberg’s appearance on this recording adds enormous heft to the music and the guitarist plays with great virtuosity and character. His articulation is pure and in his extraordinary use of dynamics the absent characters in the music’s narratives live and breathe as if they suddenly appeared in front of you. Among the absolute high points on the disc is the bridge on “Avalon” where Mr. Limberger and the guitarist combine in a series of Paganini-like inversions.
The core of this group also includes Mr. Limberger’s life-long musical partners – Dave Kelbie, a rhythm guitarist of such astonishing power and skill, and so flawless a sense of time that he obviates, as always, the need of a drummer. The other musical cohort is Sébastien Giradot, a supremely lyrical contrabassist who also adds light and shade to the music as a painter daubs a canvas with colour. Together, the four musicians succeed in making this an album to die for.
Track list – 1: My Blue Heaven; 2: Avalon; 3: Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure; 4: I Surrender Dear; 5: Moonglow; 6: Topsy; 7: Flamingo; 8: Someday You’ll Be Sorry; 9: Some of These Days; 10: Clair De Lune; 11: What Is This Thing Called Love
Personnel – Tcha Limberger: violin and vocals; Mozes Rosenberg: guitar; Dave Kelbie: rhythm guitar; Sébastien Giradot: contrabass
Released – 2017
Label – lejazzetal Records
Runtime – 1:01:22
Trio Tatavla: Tatavla
This, first and foremost, is a labour of both love and scholarship. As he has done with his traditional Transylvanian, Romanian and Gypsy recordings, Tcha Limberger combines a career as a violinist with that of an academic, specialising here in the music of Byzantine era Constantinople (Istanbul) Greek “Tatavla” celebratory music. And here the violinist becomes the pivot of an extraordinary trio that also includes Dimos Vougioukas on accordion and Benjamin Clement on guitar. The traditional repertoire played by the Trio Tatavla brings vivid local colour, a bright and emotional landscape and is magically combined with greater freedom and enriched harmonic experimentation.
All this while styling essentially true to tradition in rhythms such as karsilama and syrto. Moreover, the three musicians engage each instrument in remarkable melodic shaping and also in complexity of accompaniment. Each and every complex piece is exquisitely shaped allowing the musicians to be rhapsodically introspective and eloquent throughout.
In Tatavla music the heraldic and celebratory combines with the natural world which is frequently present and ever enigmatic. Nature here is not domesticated and anthropomorphised; it’s wild and strange and beautiful. Contours, tones, shiftings of sound are pieced together with a logic that’s rigorous, yet at the same time delirious. The cycle of songs, featuring Tcha Limberger’s violin and voice at the core features thrilling extended techniques on the accordion by Mr. Vougioukas and sublime textural layering by Mr. Clement’s guitar. Together with Mr. Limberger, the three musicians’ performances are brilliantly committed and utterly compelling.
Track list – 1: Foties (Dance from Mytilini – trad); 2: Manes tis kalinihtias (Amane/Lament song – trad); 3: Megaritikos karsilamas (Karsilama dances from Megara – trad); 4: Memetis (Song from Smyrni/Izmir – trad); 5: Pergamos ((Zeibekiko dance from Pergamos – trad) & Aidinikos (Dance from Aidini – trad); 6: Ematha pos paizeis zaria & Hasapiko (Hasapiko dance from Constantinople – trad); 7: Vale me stin agkalia sou; 8: Antikrystos horos (Opposite dance – trad); 9: Smyrni me ta perichora; 10: Aptalikos from Mytilini (Trad); 11: Harmandalis zeibekiko (Zeibekiko dance from Lesbos Island – trad); 12: Romanian cantec, Manes tis augis (Amane/Lament song – trad) & Romanian hora
Personnel – Dimos Vougioukas: accordion; Tcha Limberger: violin and vocals; Benjamin Clement: guitar
Released – 2017
Label – lejazzetal Records
Runtime – 55:24
Tcha Limberger Trio with Mozes Rosenberg