Guitarist Häns’che Weiss died June 2 following a long illness. The German Sinto [a Romani people of Central Europe] musician was a significant interpreter of so-called “gypsy jazz,” the style of music developed and first brought to a worldwide audience in the 1930s by the great Django Reinhardt (1910-1953).
Weiss was born into a West Berlin Sinti family in 1951 and began playing the guitar at an early age. Prior to the Second World War, his father, Gono, had been a versatile musician who mastered the violin, guitar, accordion and zither. Häns’che assimilated older pop music, from operetta to swing, but like the rest of the young people of his day grew up with the music of the Shadows, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Motown and modern jazz.
Häns’che Weiss was one of those Sinti who could reach out and win people over with his open, friendly heart and soul. This attitude greatly influenced his music. He built cultural bridges, which proved to be much more stable than the half-hearted promises of former “leftist” politicians who yesterday organized “multicultural” festivals and today brutally deport Roma.