Thursday March 5Th. 03 to the Renfrew Ferry at Broomielaw with wee brother Brendan and nephew Steven; (both accomplished guitarists) to see a German gypsy jazz guitarist called Joscho Stephan. Many years ago the great guitar maestro Andre Segovia was introduced to the then 11 year old classical guitarist whom we know today as John Williams, the boy played and the great man declared “he has been touched by the hand of God” hyperbole? Of course it was but; tonight I got an inkling in to why people say such things. Along with some friends I have enjoyed this type of music for many years, my first interest was stimulated by my great friend Davie Spiers (Guitarist as well) who; many years ago took me to a concert by Stephan Grapelli and the Diz Disley Trio, this left me spellbound and I have been a big fan ever since. Grapelli was of course the jazz violinist who partnered the legendary Django Reinhardt in the “Hot Club of France” we saw Grapelli many times more as he played into his eighties, a great musician and true legend. Davie's dad John (Jazz Man & Pianist) had me in stitches once when; after listening to some pop group or other said "Reinhardt could make better f*****g music falling down stairs drunk with his guitar while wearing boxing gloves" a truly epic rant.
Joscho Stephan is the embodiment of that music and he does it more than justice. Over the years I have seen many fantastic guitar players play this exciting music, Disley, Denny Wright and Scotland’s own Martin Taylor to name a few and although I’m not an expert I have to say this guy in terms of Gypsy Swing Jazz is the best I’ve heard.
As we entered the hall my brother Brendan growled softly to me “that’s the b*****d there” as this unassuming young man assisted setting up the stage, a rare and heartfelt compliment from a lifelong player (Brendan) consumed by good natured envy; he was of course having a laugh but he was in awe of the young man. Joscho has reached the ripe old age of 25/26 and he is astonishing; he plays with a trio consisting of a brilliant base called Max Schaaf and a superb rythmn guitarist called Gunter who looks as though he could quite easily double as a bouncer but happens in fact to be his dad, Mr. Stephan.
The group had a stall with them selling CD’s and I reckon everyone who was there tried to buy one, they sold out; I got one which I’ve been playing since it’s superb. We had a front line table 2 yards from Joscho and sat bewildered by his talent and the apparent ease with which he mastered the most incredibly difficult pieces of fast flowing Jazz; the reaction from the Guitar buffs in the audience was sometimes spontaneous laughter at his virtuoso playing which he joined in with, we were in the presence of greatness, hyperbole right?
He is touring just now and I would urge anyone who likes Jazz or indeed just music and watching the best to try to catch him or; watch out for his name, you can ‘Google’ him or 'You Tube’ him and be prepared to be astonished, Joscho Stephan, remember the name