Tag Archives: Gypsy music

Artist Profiles: Esma Redzepova

Esma Redzepova

Esma Redzepova was a well-known throughout Eastern Europe and the Balkans as “the queen of the Gypsies.” She was an remarkable singer and dancer.

Born in a small town near Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, where the director of cinema Emile Kusturica filmed The Time of the Gypsies. Her music used to be available only on cassette tapes.

She performed since the age of twelve and was discovered by the renowned musician, composer and bandleader Stevo Teodosievski, who became her mentor, musical partner and later her husband. Their ensemble became one of the most popular groups in the Balkan region. They made hundreds of recordings together, several of which became “gold.” They toured extensively, filling concert halls and stadiums in Europe, Australia, China, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East. During their life together, Stevo and Esma adopted 47 orphans and street children into their home, which evolved into a school of folk music. Esma continued her career after Stevo’s death in 1997, continuing to perform with the Ensemble Teodosievski.

Composed of members of Stevo and Esma’s music school, Esma’s group was composed of Simeon Atanasov (accordion), Elvis Huna (bass accordion), Tasko Grujovski (double bass), Zekiroski Sami (clarinet), Zahir Ramadanov (trumpet) and Elama Rasidov (darbuka).

Esma Redzepova’s songs were the musical expression of her love to Macedonia and its Gypsy roots. Her music sounds like typical melodies of the Balkan Mountains with a special protagonist of the violin, clarinet and accordion and with influences from India, Persia and Spain, creating an exciting atmosphere, cheerful and sensual.

Esma was an authentic star in the Balkan countries. For many years, she performed in the most important venues of the world. She acted in several movies and was without any doubt the great ambassador of the Gypsy Macedonian culture in the world.

Esma Redzepova died on11 December 11, 2016 in Skopje, Macedonia

Selected Discography:

Songs of a Macedonian Gypsy (World Connection, 1998)
Romske pesme (PGP-RTS, 2000)
Mon histoire, My story (Accords croisés, 2007)
Gypsy Carpet (Network, 2007)


Artist Profiles: Kocani Orkestar

Kocani Orkestar

Kocani Orkestar, Macedonia’s most accomplished and best-known gypsy brass band, featured in the film “Time of the Gypsies” and take their name from a nearby town on the outskirts of Skopje, where such music is known to this day as romska orientalna muzika (?oriental gypsy band?).

The line-up consists of two trumpets, one clarinet, one saxophone, four tubas and one tapan, a large double-skinned cylindrical drum, beaten in complex rhythmic patterns with a heavy stick in one hand and a thin switch in the other.

The group’s international recognition came after they were discovered by Michel Winter and Stefan Karo, the same team responsible for first bringing Romania’s much-loved gypsy troupe, Taraf de Haidouks, to world attention. Both acts were signed to Belgium’s Crammed label, which led to the Kocani Orkestar guesting on the Taraf’s Band of Gypsies album.

Kocani Orkestar’s critical breakthrough came with their acclaimed second release, L’ Orient Est Rouge, a showcase of gypsy eclecticism, integrating original pieces into the traditional brass band repertoire, all played in a dazzling array of complex time-signatures. The title song came from China and there were Hindi film songs alongside their versions of local Macedonian dance tunes, as well as a great version of the Roma anthem, “Djelem, Djelem”.

The Orkestar continued to go from strength to strength with a new and expanded line-up. Their album Alone at My Wedding, explores the music that accompanies the three-day traditional gypsy weddings that still take place regularly all over the Balkan region. With typical gypsy diversity, Turkish and Bulgarian rhythms are married to local folk dances, with even a dash of Latin flavor thrown in for good measure.

The record also finds the Orkestar transcending the strict boundaries of the brass band genre (not that gypsy musicians ever had much respect for boundaries of any description) by showcasing the talent of their new vocalis, the charismatic young Ajnur Azizov, who sings variously in Slavic, Turkish and Roma.

At the same time, they can rock like an untamed, mutant gypsy funk band, mixing James Brown-style brass riffs with oriental and eastern European influences. The thundering rhythm is provided by the tapan drum of Saban Jasarov and the four tubas of Redzai Durmisev, Nijazi Alimov, Sukri Zejnelov and Suad Asanov. Then there are passionate, wailing solos courtesy of sax player Durak Demirov, the two trumpeters Turan Gaberov and Sukri Kadriev, and Dzeladin Demirov on clarinet.

Live, Kocani Orkestar are an even mightier experience, and whether they?re playing at a gypsy wedding in Kocani or in the more sedate setting of a western concert hall, it apparently makes no difference to their feral approach.


A Gypsy Brass Band (Long Distance, 1994)
L’Orient Est Rouge (Cramworld, 1997)
Gypsy Mambo (Yeni Dünya Müzik, 1999)
Cigance (pläne, 2000)
Gypsy Folies (pläne, 2002)
Alone At My Wedding (Crammed Discs, 2002)
Ulixes (Materiali Sonori, 2002)
Live (Il Manifesto, 2005)
The Ravished Bride (Crammed Discs, 2008)
Band Of Gypsies 2 (Crammed Discs, 2011)
Jazzwerkstatt Peitz Live / Live In Concert (Jazzwerkstatt, 2011)
Romeo Scaccia Meets Kocani Orkestar (Morgenland, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Alexian Santino Spinelli

Alexian Santino Spinelli

Alexian Santino Spinelli has been researching Gypsy music for many years. The group’s concerts are an ideal travel through the history and Roman? culture. Alexian Santino Spinelli And his group have participated in many important world music and Gypsy festivals contributing to introduce the secular culture of the Rom.

The leader of the group, Alexian Santino Spinelli, is a well known accordionist and singer, who participates in numerous cultural activities. Alexian released a double CD recently, Andre Miro Romano Gi -A journey in my gypsy soul: from India to jazz.

His CD Gijem, Gijem (which in the language of the Rom Abruzzesi means “Walking, walking”) is the version of the Rom Abruzzesi of the famous hymn gypsy “Gelem Gelem.”


Iperfisa (City Record, 1986)
Jilò Romanò/Speranza (City Record, 1988)
Soft Jazz Fisa (City Record, 1990)
Gilì Romanì (City Record, 1991)
Gijem Gijem (Al Sur, 1996)
L’orizzonte e la memoria (Santarcangelo dei Teatri, 1999)
Putraddipé (Regione Abruzzo, Pescara 2000)
Tsigane (SonoDisc, 2000)
Dromos (Associazione Dromos, 2001)
Romano Drom – Carovana romaní (Ethnoworld, 2002)
Mille Papaveri Rossi (Editrice A, 2003)
Khamoro (Studio Production SAGA)
Parovibbé/Metamorfosi (Ethnoworld, 2004)
So me sinom / Ciò che sono (Ethnoworld, 2004)
Sulla Memoria (Audiocoop)
Uno specchio per Alice (Colonna sonora, 2006)
Romano Thèm – Orizzonti Rom (CNI – Compagnia Nuove Indie, 2007)
Me pase ko Murdevele -Io ac-Canto a Dio (CNI – Compagnia Nuove Indie, 2008)
Porrajmos (2010)


New York Gypsy Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

The 14th Annual NY Gypsy Festival will take place September 6 to October 5, 2018. The international lineup includes: Dobranotch (Russia), Lemon Bucket Orkestra (Canada), Original Quartet by Javier Limon, NY Gypsy All-Stars, Barbara Martinez, Romashka, Underground Horns, and Newpoli.

The concefts will take place at DROM, 85 Avenue A New York, NY 10009. Phone: (212) 777-1157.

More at: NYGypsyFest.com


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.


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.


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)


Artist Profiles: 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.



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


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.

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)


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.


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)


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.