Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The WASO Quartet - Part 2

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester has collected info about the legendary Gypsy swing ensemble WASO and shares the story in two parts. Below follows the second part, the first part is available here 

WASO Further in the Eighties

By now WASO frequently was a welcome guest in the jazz scene of the Benelux and France although Fapy sometimes also was invited to play in England. There he joined other musicians and occasionally performed with Koen. NOTE: It is a fact  that the British were always very fond of Django’s and Stéphane’s performances and that their swing style is appreciated up to the present day.
WASO Quartet (courtesy
In 1983, two special events are worthwhile to be reported.
LP - WASO, Gipsy Swing Vol. 5 (info, click here)
Due to WASO’s continuing successes “Munich Records” made again studio recordings in March, which shortly afterwards, were issued on the album  Gipsy Swing Vol. 5 

This record includes 13 tracks and it is striking that again a great variety in the repertoire is shown. Django themes, French ‘chansons’ and compositions of Koen and Fapy, all of these can be found on this fine long play record. Just a few examples: Sweet chorus, Waso, (composed by Koen) Django’s tiger, Minor swing and Fapy’s composition Aurore !

Again recordings which belong to the gems of my collection.

Hot Club de France  - Holland

The spring of 1983 had seen the birth of a Django society in the Netherlands. On my ininitiative and in close cooperation with some jazz friends I founded such a society in order to keep the Hot Club Music alive.

At the end of that particular year, my society invited WASO for a club concert in Utrecht. I had heard them before in the city-theatre of Haarlem and was most impressed. Here was an opportunity to show this ensemble to the members of our society with - among them - many guitarists. During an unforgettable evening concert we could experience one set where Fapy was playing violin while Koen took his guitar for accompaniment and solos..- A rare photo shows their unique performances that particular night (10 November 1983).
WASO in live performance (Utrecht, 1983)
After a few more years playing in the usual line-up, the end of this formation was now approaching. Towards  the end of 1985 a change within the quartet would follow. Fapy, who then had some health problems, considered to leave the formation. He was thinking of a new career and had received a few offers. So early 1986 the WASO line-up fell apart after abtout 11 years of existence.

I happened to be present at their very last concert which took place in a jazz café in the town of Haarlem. In a cosy ‘ambiance’ the four musicians - for the very last time - created a gypsy swing in which those present could taste the unforgettable sounds of the  past. As far as I remember this must have been early 1986. My story ends here.

For those who never were aware of this extraordinary Gypsy Jazz formation, I would strongly recommend to listen tracks  on the Internet, or  try to obtain some of their vinly albums or cds. You will enjoy listening to one of the best Django groups Europe has had.

Koen’s WASO quartet would continue with different musicians, thereby often performing with great jazzmen and producing more jazz albums (more info, here). Since 2003 the latest formation (WASO 7) includes several of Koen’s children (all experienced in gypsy swing, jazz and French chansons).
Young Koen and Fapy, 1969 (courtesy
Some caracteristics on the leading WASO men (1975 – 1986)

Fapy Lafertin, 1984
Fapy Lafertin (born in March 1950). Growing up in a very musical environment  this talented Romani son concentrated on all kinds of instruments, but in particular the guitar. As he once told me, he studied very seriously to get control over this string instrument and he indeed managed to master the Django technique completely, however, always adding to his improvisations his own interpretation.

Fapy can be considered as the guitarist who comes the nearest to Django. He produces a beautiful liquid tone in charming melodies and has a strong but fluid rhythm. He can play ten instruments, among which also the guitarra (Fado guitar).

Apart from WASO he played with great jazzmen in the UK and USA and formed several own formations, which is illustrated by lots of cds.. He is a highly respected  jazz improvisator.
Koen de Cauter, 1983
Koen de Cauter  (born in 1950). Was already as a boy fascinated by music, especially Flamenco guitar. Became a pupil of masters such as Manitas de Plata and Manolo Sanlucar. Very interested in gypsy  music he started (at early age) to play with Fapy Lafertin, Vivi Limberger and many others.

Became a singer and multi-instrumentalist, capable to play (next to guitar): banjo, violin, clarinet, soprano- alto- and tenor sax. Is active in gypsy swing, jazz eg. New Orleans and also Musette. Performs with his children in a family band and is moreover an  excellent interpreter of George BrassensHe can be considered as one of the best Belgian artists.
Koen and Fapy (courtesy
February 2016 – with thanks to my Belgian friend Jef Van Gool for very useful information

Georg Lankester


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