Andrej Toplišek’s new Oberkrainer and Jazz creations – “Tradicija in umetnost” and “Hometown suite”

Andrej Toplišek’s first independent Oberkrainer album after his time with Okrogli Muzikantje (Runden Oberkrainer) was a LP called “Postkarte aus Slowenien” which he released in 2019. I wrote about it then (linked here), simply because it was the first time in years that I’ve been so excited about a new album in the Narodnozabavna and Oberkrain genre, not to mention it being the first Oberkrainer vinyl with new material since the last pressings around 1990.

The only reason I’m writing about his new albums this time, is the same. He’s created something new and exciting, and I hope that by talking about it, a few more Oberkrainer fans can enjoy something new and interesting, which they may want to listen to again and again.

If you want to purchase this albums (CDs or vinyl), please contact him on his socials (in English, Slovene or German), and he’ll send them anywhere.

“Tradicija in umetnost” (Tradition and art) stays true to Oberkrainer style, but goes beyond its boundaries through its compositions, arrangements, vocals and energy.

The instrumental line-up consists of professional and accomplished musicians who have all been influential in the Oberkrainer genre over the last 20+ years: Mario Stranger, Thomas Hammerl, Mike Orešar, Nejc Merc and Andrej. The vocalists also make this a unique project: Mojca Bitenc Križaj (Mitja Kvintet), Aleksandra Križan (Veseli Begunjčani), Bojan Lugarič (Slovenski Zvoki), Avgust Skaza (Štajerskih 7, Štirje kovači), and Maša But (well known jazz vocalist).

My favourite tracks are: side A – Narodnozabavna Suita (Oberkrainer Suite – a new version of Andrej’s Narodnozabavna Suita that he recorded with his jazz trio (watch it here), this time arranged for the Oberkrainer quintett), side C1 – Tvoj tat (Andrej’s vocal solo), side C2 – Sladko sanjaj mali princ (Mojca’s vocal solo), and side D3 – Zvon želja (Maša But’s solo). I could go on, but I’d like to sum it up like this: this album stretches Oberkrainer beyond its boundaries.

Hometown Suite is a different project altogether – each song was specifically written for each attraction of Andrej’s hometown of Rogaška Slatina in Slovenia that he holds close to his heart. It is not an Oberkrainer style album, rather it is a performance by his jazz ensemble, Andrej Toplišek Quartett. However, he doesn’t intend for it to be only a ‘jazz album’ or only for jazz listeners – actually, he asks people to listen to it with the intent of experiencing the different attractions of Rogaška Slatina for which each song was written, for example “Myth & Nostalgia” (the legend of Rogaška Slatina talks of Pegasus, striking the ground to discover the richest in magnesium natural mineral water in the world), “Bellevue” (a scenic viewpoint) or “Galleries, Museums and Kunsthaus”. Andrej says, if the album makes his listeners want to visit Rogaška Slatina, then his goal is achieved.

Mojca Bitenc Križaj performing Zvon Želja with Andrej’s Septett in 2020
Andrej’s Quartett in 2021
Andrej’s solo performance for a 12 hour Narodnozabavna marathon during lockdowns in 2020

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