Marion and Sobo Band – Gomera

Release: 25.04.2024

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Gypsy swing, also known as hot jazz or jazz manouche, is celebrating a powerful comeback. Many groups and guitarists are currently revitalising it. The Marion & Sobo Band can lay claim to not only marrying the only European jazz style coined by Django Reinhardt in the 1930s with other genres in an enchanting and compelling way, but also freeing it from its instrumental cage and transferring it to chanson and vocal jazz.

On their last album “Histoires”, Marion Lenfant-Preus, Alexander “Sobo” Sobocinski and their fellow musicians already brought these new colours to life in rousing musical stories and brought “the sound of Django Reinhardt into the present in a poppier way than ever before”, as Jazzthing magazine wrote. On their new album “Gomera”, the palette is even more colourful. As the title suggests, it is dedicated to the scenically and culturally diverse Canary Island, where the two have spent many winters since 2016 and collected many song ideas. They both love nature and hiking, they incorporate the emotions and feelings of their travels from Cuba to Colombia – and often to the Canary Islands – into their music and lyrics and curiously seek a different view of the world. What could be more inspiring than the overwhelming landscapes of the volcanic island of Gomera? “For the first time, actually, there is a common thread running through one of our albums: nature,” says Marion. Right from the start, “Epina Swing” is about the island’s mountains, the strong winds blowing in from the Atlantic and bending the trees – all wrapped up in the story of a painter who searches for the colours of nature on her hikes. In “Promesse”, the luminous starry sky plays a leading role, in which a boy lying in the sand searches for answers. “Playa de Vueltas” describes the tranquillity that the sea can radiate.

As colourful as the tools of nature have made Gomera, Marion and Sobo’s homage to the island is just as musically diverse. Onomatopoeic vocalises and scat passages lend the typical


hot style of “Epina Swing” a special touch, Brazilian flair surrounds “Promesse”, “Moon” peeks into fusion jazz and “Opa Cupa” takes us into the sound world of the Balkans. Marion and Sobo’s versions of the swing standard “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and the classic Cuban bolero “Veinte Años” prove just how amazingly different music created in the same era can be, while also demonstrating how modern such evergreens can sound thanks to creative imagination. In any case, it is a central concern and a great merit of the Marion & Sobo Band to transform the familiar into the new, to bring tradition into the present. The best example of this is “Amour Supreme”, the story of a man lost in life who reads French poetry in the evening to free himself from the chains of everyday life. Sobo plays a gypsy jazz guitar here with the “steamer” introduced by Django Reinhardt for more volume, but at the same time the song breaks with the gypsy swing sound and repertoire: framed in a chanson style, Marion quotes passages of poetry in fast, rap-like chanting.

Languages are a general theme in Marion’s feather-light, yet powerful and incredibly variable vocals anyway. In the songs on “Gomera”, she sings in French, English, Spanish, Romani and German. In “Les Listes”, flamenco rumba meets French lyrics. And Django Reinhardt’s “Les Yeux Noirs (Dark Eyes)” is deliberately bilingual. Of course, the biographies of the protagonists are also condensed in the polyphony of the Marion & Sobo band.

Marion Lenfant-Preus has an American father and a French mother and thus grew up in France with the best of both worlds, with Ella Fitzgerald’s scat and jazz singing and the harmonies and melodies of US jazz as well as Django Reinhardt’s percussive guitar sound and its ingredients of European classical music, Jewish klezmer and Balkan music. Alexander “Sobo” Sobocinski grew up in Poland and began playing guitar at the age of 15, initially influenced by the fusion bands of the seventies. During his studies in the Netherlands, he discovered his passion for gypsy jazz and focussed more on the acoustic guitar.

They have both travelled a lot and tried out a lot. They have been an inseparable creative team ever since they got to know each other playfully, so to speak, at a jam session in Bonn in 2010. Violinist Frank Brempel and double bassist Stefan Berger also joined them during sessions at “Café Göttlich”, and together with guitarist Jonas Vogelsang they now form the perfectly matched Marion & Sobo Band. With their third album “Gomera”, the band proves once and for all that handmade, acoustic music can not only be delicate, contemplative and colourful, but also highly energetic and powerful, even without drums. And thus creates a new gypsy jazz that embraces the world.




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