Artist Profiles: Serge Camps

Serge Camps is descended from a family of French and Ukrainian musicians, was raised like a Gypsy touring Europe with his parents, and is fluent in both French and Russian. For the past 45 years he has worked as a performer, composer, arranger and studio musician with the great gypsy vocalists and musicians in the most prestigious venues of the world. The 1996 formation of Opus 4 represents the flowering of his accumulation of experience as both a guitarist and singer.

At the age of 14 he started to play guitar. By the age of 15 he was hired as a bass player in Russian cabaret located in Paris and called “La Grande S?verine”. There he met Mark de Loutchek who created the “Balalaika Ensemble”.

An historical moment occurred in 1967 when Serge had the singular honor of recording the one and only CD featuring Yul Brynner the actor, on The Gypsy And I album by Vanguard. This recording has become a popular artifact among Russians, although rarely mentioned in the American discographies of the King of Siam. Undiscouraged, he continued to produce recordings with scores of other notable artists. Fortunately, many of Serge?s other recordings have met with much greater critical acclaim and popularity than his early attempt with the famous Hollywood and Broadway star.

Starting in 1968, for the next 20 years Balalaika Ensemble, toured with the Russian singer Ivan Rebroff. Serge performed with Rebroff in famous theaters like, Carnegie and Royal Albert Halls.

From 1985 to 1990, Serge and his father opened and managed the Parisian cabaret “La Roue Fleurie”. It became the hangout for the gypsies from Paris. It was here that he began became the mentor to a younger generation of musicians such as Raphael Fays and Angelo Debarre. In fact, Debarre credited his interest in Hungarian gypsy music to his many appearances with Serge at La Roue Fleurie. In 1989 Jon Larsen from Hot Club Records, brought together Debarre, Serge Camps and Frank Anastasio in Norway to produce the CD ‘Gypsy Guitars‘ – A showcase CD for the incredible variety of the Gypsy repertory and then the CD, Angelo Is Back in Town. In addition to his performances with Opus 4, he has performed sat Ravinia and the prestigious New York and Northwest DjangoFests.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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