Tag Archives: Gypsy music

Artist Profiles: István Balogh

István Balogh ‘Pacala’ was born in Nagyecsed, a village in North-Eastern Hungary where Gypsy children dance and play music from their childhood. The Hungarian Gypsy community agrees that the best Gypsy dancers come from this region (Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg County). Pacala, who is said to be the best ‘oral bass’ performer in Hungary started his career in the famous Romany group, ‘Romanyi Rota’ and later joined ‘Romano Kokalo’ as well. He played on numerous Gypsy music albums and performed throughout Europe and the world. He joined Etnorom ensemble in 2006.

He plays the ‘milk jug’, which is a traditional percussion instrument of the Romany people, darbuka, cajon, and performs the traditional Gypsy ‘oral bass’. ‘Oral bass’ is performed mostly by men – by creating rhythms with the mouth with a special technique. From concert to concert Pacala attracts the audience with his unique personality: being an authentic, highly intensive artist with a great sense of ‘Gypsy humor’, he adds a special color to our performances.

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Artist Profiles: Kálmán Balogh & Gypsy Jazz

Kálmán Balogh & Gypsy Jazz

Kálmán Balogh is one of the leading Hungarian cimbalom players, descending from a famous dynasty of Hungarian Gypsy musicians. His virtuosity is matched only by his understanding and respect of his heritage. A graduate of Ferenc Listz Academy of Music of Budapest, he has completed many successful tours throughout the world with various ensembles, including three tours in North America.

The cimbalom, a sort of oversized autoharp or duclcimer played with mallets like a vibraphone, possesses piano like percussive abilities to drive a band rhythmically or take the melodic lead. In Kálmán Balogh’s expert hands, the cimbalom can do both simultaneously. His mastery of this unique and rare Hungarian folk instrument has mesmerized audiences.

Kálmán Balogh & Gypsy Jazz is the dynamic merging of music from the old and new worlds. Balogh continues a fabled European musical tradition harking back to the collaboration of masters like gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli, connecting the ancient folk music traditions of Central and Eastern Europe with the chord progressions and swing of jazz. With Gypsy Jazz, Balogh’s cimbalom becomes a new and compelling voice centering a band which also includes acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, trumpet, and violins. Similarities in jazz and traditional folk music, such as improvisation and a kaleidoscope of emotional expressions, are immediately evident.

Melodies which were created and transmitted in European villages for centuries are performed with great respect and understanding by Gypsy Jazz, enabling present day music lovers to experience the emotions and beauty inherent in the music of our ancestors.

In addition to concerts, Kálmán Balogh & Gypsy Jazz, conduct workshops, master classes, and teaching residencies on Gypsy Jazz and on the cimbalom.

Discography:

Roma vándor (1995)
Gypsy Music From Hungarian Villages (1996)
Gypsy Colours (1997)
The Art of The Gypsy Cimbalom (ARC Music, 1998)
Gypsy Colours, wiyth Romano Kokalo (FolkEurópa, 1999)
Gipsy Jazz (Rounder Records, 1999)
Aroma (FolkEurópa, 2003)
David Murray, Kovács Ferenc and Balogh Kálmán & Gipsy Cimbalom Band (Fonó, 2005)
Karácsonyi Örömzene (Gryllus, 2005)
Ó, szép fényes hajnalcsillag – Hungarian folksongs for Christmas, with Korpás Éva (FolkEurópa, 2005)
Gypsy Music From Hungary (ARC Music, 2007)
Aven Shavale (FolkEurópa, 2007)
Master of the Gypsy Cimbalom (ARC Music, 2008)
Live in Germany (Traditional Crossroads, 2007)
Délibáb (FolkEurópa, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Etnorom

Etnorom

Gypsy music band Etnorom Ensemble was founded in 2005 by Jozsef Balog and Ágnes Künstler, the world-famous ex-soloists of ‘Kalyi Jag’ Gypsy folk group. The members are the virtuosos of Central European Gypsy music, who grew up singing and playing music and toured the world from Japan to the United States. Their music broke borders: it was celebrated world-wide as the ‘first authentic Romany voice’ from Middle-Eastern Europe.

Etnorom Ensemble has created the category of ‘Romany world music’. The ensemble’s rich, versatile and especially dynamic repertoire includes Gypsy music from Hungary, the Balkans, Serbia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Spain and the Arab world! The route of Etnorom’s Gypsy caravan is represented by powerful dance solos performed by Alexandra Cegladi, a specialist in ‘fertility dance styles’. Traditional ‘oral bass’ and authentic Gypsy dances from ‘Szabolcs county’ are part of the show, too, performed by Istvan Balogh ‘Pacala’, Hungary’s best oral bass player.

The concerts are often enriched with an ‘audience dance participation section’ to give you the chance to learn belly dance moves and Romany dances. Etnorom has burnt the stage of big music festivals in Hungary, Italy and Northern Europe with enormous success and in March 2007 the group won the price ‘for the best professional performance’ of the Budapest Fringe Festival – out of 400 concerts and performances – and therefore was invited to perform at the prestigious Budapest Spring Festival in 2008. Etnorom’s first album ‘Romanyi Luma – Gypsy World’ was produced by Fonó Records, Budapest in 2006.

Etnorom has an alternative approach towards Gypsy music by merging the authentic tunes with contemporary world music, swing and jazz elements. Why is this approach new today, when world music is the main trend? Because Etnorom managed to create a musical balance so that the music saves the extreme power of real traditional tunes and rhythms.

Etnorom’s mission is to build contact between Romany tribes who wandered from Northern India and settled down in various parts of the world: In Northern Africa, Andalusia, Turkey, The Balkan Peninsula, Serbia, Russia, Romania and Hungary. In most of the cases the Gypsy people themselves don’t know the music and dances of their brothers and sisters. Etnorom aims to make Gypsy and non-Gypsy people know about the incredible diversity of Gypsy music. This mission, combined with the musical approach of the group has created a new, brave form of Gypsy music that roots in the authentic Gypsy basics and harmonically integrates other musical trends, as well.

Etnorom

Discography:

Gipsy World – Rományi Lumá – Cigány Világ (Fonó, 2006)
Diri Diri (Gryllus, 2011)
Roma Flavors – Roma Izek (ETHNIX Association, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Besh o droM

Besh o droM – Photo by Áron Mailáth

Besh o droM besh_o_drom.htm Besh o droM was founded in 1999. Their music is inspired by Balkan, Hungarian and Romanian Gypsy tunes and Middle Eastern traditional music. They interpret this music in their unique style, mixing various musical genres and backgrounds. Most of the tunes they play are traditional but they take the liberty to use any tunes they really like and enjoy. They have developed a very loyal following in Hungary and have started their career in the international world music circuit.

Besh o droM in Gypsy language means “sit on the road” literally, but its real meaning is “follow your path, get on with it”. It is also wordplay in Hungarian meaning “I am rolling…”(a cigarette).

The band’s line-up is centered around a highly experienced pair of fantastic musicians, Gergo Barcza and Ádám Pettik. Besides being friends and brother-in-laws, they have been playing together for many years. They choose the musicians they like to work with and select the musical material for the tracks.

An urban wedding band, Besh o droM’s sound is ethnic tradition with the best of club culture, the unique sound of the cimbalom with jazz improvisation, a fantastic Balkan brass section with locked-down funk grooves. Asphalt Tango Production. Address: Asphalt Tango Production, Fehrbelliner Strasse 24, D – 10119 Berlin, Germany. Phone: +49 30 2858528, Fax: +49 30 2858512. E-mail: agency@asphalt-tango.de.
Discography:

Macsó hímzés – Macho Embroidery (Fonó Records, 2000)
Nekemtenemmutogatol – Can’t Make Me! (Asphalt Tango, 2002)
GYI! (2004)
Ha megfogom az ördögöt… – Once I Catch The Devil (2005)
Kertünk alatt (Narrator Records, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Aladár Csiszár

Aladár Csiszár

Aladár Csiszár is one of the last great gypsy fiddlers from an area of Transylvania called Székelyföld [Land of the Secklers]. He is the most important informance from this region where folk music was preserved throughout the centuries. He was born into a Gypsy dynasty of musicians and has played all his life for communities surrounding his birthplace. His playing may be characterized by wild improvisations, commendable musicianship and charismatic style.

Discography:

Marosszéki Muzsika – Dance Music From Marosszék, Válogatás Vavrinecz András Gyűjtéseiből – A Selection Of Tunes Collected By András Vavrinecz ‎(Hagyományok Háza, 2007)
Original Village Music From Transylvania’s Upper Mureș Region ‎(Fonó Records, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Ágnes Künstler

Ágnes Künstler had been singing and dancing in Wild Roses folk group for 18 years. In 1984 she joined the Hungarian gypsy folk ensemble Kalyi Jag (Black Fire) and achieved world-wide fame as their soloist. She also wrote lyrics and worked as a composer on the group’s albums that were accompanied by great international success. She worked as a composer and vocalist in collaboration with Szilveszter Jeney on the album called ‘Gypsy Bethlehem’. She performed throughout Europe, Japan, India,South Korea, the United States and Brazil. She was also invited to sing her songs in films produced in Hungary and abroad.

In 2005 she founded Etnorom ensemble with Jozsef Balog. Also in 2005 she worked as a composer and vocalist on the theatre play called ‘Nomad Passion – Ballad of the Snake’. The play presents pieces of gypsy life with traditional music and dance. The premiere took place 9th December 2005, in the National Dance Theatre in Budapest and was followed by several performances in Budapest and other cities of Hungary with great success.

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Artist Profiles: Ando Drom

Ando Drom
Ando Drom (On the Road) Gypsy folklore group was founded in Budapest in 1984. Since the members come from different segments of the Hungarian Gypsy (Roma) population, the group presents a wide range of styles and variations within gypsy music and culture.

They perform on a high artistic level and present the traditional music and dances of the Gypsy people in an authentic, at the same time modern way. They also make arrangements and new compositions in order to introduce the feelings and life of today’s Gypsies, representing therefore a living and original folklore. The songs are sung in Gypsy language, accompanied by guitar, mandolin and tambura: for percussion they use spoons, jugs, wooden through and oral bass.

The group generally performs with 6 members, but for their concerts they also often invite young talented Gypsy musicians as special guests. Between 1987 and 2005 they visited many European countries and participated at many international festivals.

At the beginning of 1996 they participated at the opening ceremony honoring Copenhagen (in 1998 in London) as that Year’s “Cultural Capital of Europe”. In 1998 Radio France broadcast the one-hour long concert of Ando Drom. That same year the Italian chanel TV1 and the BBC made and broadcast a program about the group. It is the second year that Ando Drom has had a successful concert series at the Worldfestival in Edinburgh.

In addition to their concert tours abroad, they often perform in Hungary, where Ando Drom is considered to be one of the most renowned Gypsy folklore groups. They were honored two times with the prestigious Hungarian Nivo musical award. They also won first and second prizes at several international festivals (Germany, Sweden).

In 1992, French label Planett released the first cassette and CD Chants Tziganes de Hongrie. One song from the CD written by band leader Jenő Zsigó can be heard in the movie Latcho Drom and on its CD as well. In 1994 they participated in the recording of a CD of the group Chico and the Gypsies as special guests.

In 1995, Ando Drom released a second CD titled Kai Phirel O Del which was selected, best Hungarian CD in world music of the year 1995 by a popular Hungarian weekly magazine. Since the beginning of 1997 this CD was released and distributed in the US by North Pacific Music under the title Gypsy Life On the Road.

Also in 1997, German label Network Medien released another CD by Ando Drom titled Phari Mamo, with guest musicians from the French group Bratsch. Songs from the CD Phari Mamo can be heard on the compilation Gypsy Caravan released by Putumayo, on the Gypsy Road album by Alula Records and the gypsy collection called Road of the Gypsies by Network Medien.

In 1998 Ando Drom participated in the successful album by Bratsch.

The group released Live ’99 in 2000 then took part at a two-month long tour in Japan. In the same year a biographical film was made about the group.

Under the guidance of Jenő Zsigó, Ando Drom recreated Gypsy music. The group served as an incubator of talented gypsy musicians. Several well-known Gypsy acts came out of Gypsy Drom: Mitsou, the members of Romano Drom, Romano Glaso, Lindri, Rom Som, and The Szilvasi Gypsy Folk Band.

In November 2005 Ando Drom released the fifth CD, titled Muro Nav.

Discography:

Chants Tziganes De Hongrie ‎(Planett, 1992)
Kaj Phirel O Del ‎(Ando Drom Foundation, 1995), available in North America as Gypsy Life On the Road
Phari Mamo ‎(Network Medien, 1997)
Live ’99 (2000)
Muro Nav (2005)

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Artist Profiles: Thierry Robin

Thierry Robin

Thierry “Titi” Robin was born August 26, 1957 in Rochefort Sur Loire, France. Titi Robin is a self-taught musician. He built his personal musical universe by borrowing instinctively from various musical sources, his two main sources of influence being the Gypsy and Silk Road cultures. These two communities welcomed him warmly, the French mainstream music world not understanding his approach at the time.

Community celebrations were a way for him to test the validity of his original approach of music, taking his inspiration from these strong traditions without ever simply copying them. His two main masters at the time were Spanish flamenco cantaor Camarón de la Isla and Iraqi ‘ud master Munir Bachir.

On March 2004, after a career spanning more than 20 years, with more than 600 live performances and 92.000 records sold, French label Naive presented Alezane, the definitive anthology of Thierry Robin with 35 tracks, including 11 unreleased tracks, presented in a luxurious 2 CD digipack with a full color 28p booklet richly illustrated with photos and original drawings by Eric Roux-Fontaine.

Alezane’s 2 CDs are a selection made over 12 years of recordings but actually derive from 25 years of composing music. “In my previous albums, I always tried to blend dancing themes and more intimate ones. Here, on the contrary, we have selected the tracks according to two categories : the rhythmic tunes (CD1 : Le jour / daytime) and the slower ones (CD2 : la nuit / night-time). The real challenge is to show the path I follow as a contemporary musician, inside an artistic system which imposed itself on me rather than being of my own choosing. I want to express pain and joy, the lonely words and the collective exchanges, all the colors and the perfumes that circle around me and penetrate me. I have invited Eric Roux-Fontaine to design this anthology. He is a painter and a photographer, who has been involved in Gypsy cultures for about ten years. He accepted to entirely create the package for this double album.”

Discography:

Duo Luth et Tablâ, with Hameed Khan (Playasound, 1986)
An Henchou Treuz, with Erik Marchand (Ocora, 1989)
An tri breur, with Trio Erik Marchand (Silex, 1993)
Gitans (Silex, 1993)
Le regard nu (Silex, 1996)
Payo michto (Silex, 1997)
Kali gadji (Silex, 1998)
Un ciel de cuivre (Naïve, 2000)
Rakhi (Naïve, 2002)
Alezane (Naïve, 2004)
Ces vagues que l’amour soulève (Naïve, 2005)
Olé (Naïve, 2005)
La Mentale (Naïve, 2006)
Anita (Naïve, 2006)
Kali Sultana (Naïve, 2009)
Jaadu, with Faiz Ali Faiz (Accords Croisés, 2009)
Les Rives (Naïve, 2011)
Taziri, with Mehdi Nassouli (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Vera Bílá

Vera Bílá

Vera Bílá is a Czech Roma, although her family originates from the Gypsy shantytowns of Slovakia. She smokes heavily, eats with gusto, and loves to eat donuts. Her hard life is evident in her voice but she’s succeeded in becoming the Czech Republic’s best-known and most successful Gypsy performer.

For many years, Vera Bílá performed with Kale, an all male quartet. The band used to be called Vera Bílá & Kale (Vera White and The Blacks, as it translates). She comes from a small town in Bohemia (Czech Republic), Rokycany, about 70 kilometers west of Prague, in the heart of Eastern Europe. As with most Roma (Gypsy) groups, all of the band members belonged to the same family.

Vera Bílá has been called the Ella Fitzgerald of Gypsy music. She has been singing since as far back as her memory reaches. From a tender young age until she was 25, Nera sang with her father who was a violinist and leader of a cymbalom band. In the mid-1980s the top Czech folk band, Nerez, saw Vera performing with Kale at a folk festival and were so impressed that they began inviting them to guest at their sold out concerts.

Vera Bílá with Kale

In 2000 she appeared at London’s Barbican Centre on her first ever UK visit and sold out the 2000 capacity hall, she then rocked the main stage at WOMAD the following July. January 2001 saw the BBC-TV screen an hour-long documentary charting her fascinating journey from local folk singer to the stages of some of the world’s most famous concert halls.

In the beginning of September 2005, Vera Bílá split up with her band Kale and manager and producer Jiri Smetana. She moved from the Czech Republic to Presov, in Slovakia, where her family originally came from. Shortly after her arrival, she started to work with a Roma band called Holubovci.

Discography:

Rom-Pop (Ariola, 1995)
Kale Kaloré (Ariola, 1998)
Rovava (Ariola, 2001)
C’est Comme Ça ‎(Ariola, 2005)
Queen Of Romany

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Artist Profiles: Terne Chave

Terne Chave

Terne Chave (Young guys, in the Roma language) is an award-winning Gypsy music band led by Gejza Bendig that is specialized in Eastern European Roma music. The band members hail from Hradec Kralove and grew together. They perform old Gypsy songs, learned from their grandparents, who arrived to the Czech Republic from East Slovakian gypsy settlements. The band also performs its own material, sung in Roma.

Musically, Terne Chave combines Gypsy traditions with Latin music, jazz, rock, flamenco, blues, Middle Eastern and Jewish influences.

Discography:

Kaj Dzas (Indies Records, 2004)
Anja (Indies Records, 2005)
More, Love! (Indies Scope Records, 2008)
Avjam Pale (Indies Records, 2011)
Bo Me Som Rom (2015)

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