TCHA LIMBERGER & FRIENDS at Casa Lourdes Sessions

For most of us, at an early age, being lulled into sleep by a bedtime story or a lullaby will do just fine. But in Bruges the two-year-old Tcha Limberger would not drop off until his mother had put on an LP (remember LPs?) of his favourite flamenco music.

He first performed his own version of flamenco at the age of six without speaking or understanding a word of Spanish. Being blind and growing up with this early obsession in a musical household where his mother was from the Manouche Sinti gypsy clan, it was clear which path his life would follow – gypsy jazz. Think Stéphane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt, plus a lot more influences and ingredients, and you’ll get the picture.

The influence of Limberger’s travels and studies, especially in Eastern Europe, was evident in his concert last night as part of Sandro Bruti’s Casa Lourdes Sessions held in the wonderful Lourdeskerk in windy Scheveningen by the sea.

In only the second event under this banner Mr Bruti has, it seems, hit on a winning formula with last night’s audience being at least double that of the first Session back in November. The evening starts quite early when at six o’clock the audience arrives, finds a table and settles down to some Italian anti-pasta and Sandro’s special home-made rich tomato soup before the concert begins.

Tcha Limberger learned many instruments and languages in order to establish his repertoire which easily and seamlessly ranges from flamenco to Duke Ellington and from Transylvanian gypsy music to the Hot Club de France. His violin playing is extraordinary and his vocals are engaging but his singing is particularly strong when performing flamenco or Arab influenced songs. He works with a variety of other musicians but last night the trio consisted of Tcha on violin alongside two acoustic guitars. This was truly an unplugged set, so much so that there was a little imbalance, especially with Tcha’s vocals and his introductions which were sometimes hard to hear.

Between sets we were again spoiled with coffee and a small piece of delicious Italian cake corretto. Although the vast, wooden-vaulted hall of the Lourdeskerk lacks the intimacy and smoky ambiance of a Left Bank jazz club or a Barcelona tablao, Casa Lourdes Sessions have a warm and friendly atmosphere with people at tables either listening intently to the excellent music or replenishing their plates with morsels of salami or cheese at the buffet.

They are destined to become regular events alongside Casa Bruti and other events Sandro promotes in Scheveningen. I shall certainly be looking out for the next one and I would recommend you do too.   Michael Hasted   8th March 2020