Juraj Schweigert & The Groove Time – Spin-Off
songs – 11 time – 51:31
Oh Divine creativity where hath thou been? In the hands of the Slovak harmonica player-singer Juraj Schweigert and his band…Duh! They blend elements of jazz, funk, reggae, bluegrass and who knows what else to deliver a enchanting musical journey. Juraj provides the vocals with all the songs written by himself. the over all musicality is first rate, but it is his command and creativity on the diatonic harmonica that takes the music to another level. His playing is very reminiscent of the Cuban born Canadian resident Carlos del Junco, with blues elements but with more of a diverse approach incorporating various musical influences. Having a deeply soulful and yearning voice emoting on his well crafted songs doesn’t hurt one bit. Add to that sturdy support from a crop of hand picked top of the line backing players. He employs a virtual cornucopia of musical styles including, blues, funk, soul, jazz, reggae, bluegrass to create a diverse and fanciful palate.
The uncanny resemblance to the harmonica styling’s of Carlos del Junco are most evident on the five instrumentals where his creative use of melody is given its’ full airing. I don’t know if this is intentional or by coincidence, but whatever the case, the more of this sound the better for us listeners. The title cut “Spin-Off” is one that joyfully bounces around. His harmonica interacts with banjo and fiddle on “Straight Back” giving off a Gypsy Jazz meets Bluegrass summit meeting feeling. A herky-jerky jazz groove is seen on “Gruvgrass” that owes a debt to many of jazz guitarist Bill Frissell’s performances. “Miss Chief” sets the scene for intrigue on the streets of Paris and evolves into a spy movie motif with the help of vibraphone courtesy of drummer Juraj Rasi.
That is not to take away from the vocal songs. Juraj’s spirited vocalizing is on a par with his harmonica skills. Due to his slight accent an occasional unintelligible word slips by, but no biggie. Harmonica is on most of these tunes as well. The funky “Nobody’s Talkin'” is an energetic lead off track featuring Matej Stubniak’s thumping bass part. “Every Four Seconds” is backed by a reggae beat. The female backing vocals are a bit intrusive as they sound like they were taken from a Doublemint Gum TV commercial.
Zsolt Szitasi’s intense guitar on “Stay With Me” and elsewhere is another highlight of the proceedings. del Junco-like harmonica and mellow guitar stylin’s permeate “She’s Right”. The funk returns helped along by a nifty electric bass riff and horns on “Shoelaced”. The funk continues to back up the smooth and cool vocalizing on “Fix Me Up”.
There is much here to enjoy for the harmonica fan or any lover of creative and well executed music. It’s all here-engaging melodies, inventive harmonica, guitar, organ great singing and well written songs. This is the type of musical experience where something new and interesting jumps up at you with each repeated listening. I could go on and on, but prove me right and snatch this gem up.