The Shukar Collective was born in Romania out of the meeting of new generation musicians with the gypsy traditions of Shukar founders Napoleon, Tamango and Clasic. Shukar play ursari music (ursar means ‘bear tamer’ or ‘bear handler’) using spoons, wooden barrels or darbuka to create a powerful and urgent sound that is at once emotional and soulful. Urban Gypsy combines Shukar’s original ursari music with the new technology of the collective, resulting in their distinct sound.
Consisting of the three founding members of Shukar and six new generation musicians, the Shukar Collective blend traditional ancestral gypsy songs with modern technology. The original Shukar line-up – Napoleon Constantin, Tamango (Radu Vasile) and Clasic Petre – take their inspiration from many years ago, when the Tartars and Mongolians invaded Dacia (Romania’s ancestral name). Shukar’s original sound, called ursari music, was originally developed from men singing, shouting and playing percussive instruments while a bear ‘danced’ around them. Shukar are not involved with bear taming and are only concerned with the ursari sound experience and modernizing bear taming music.
Tamango, the leader of Shukar, infuses the band with folkloric music passed down to him by his forefathers. From Balarii village, Teleorman County in Romania, he is legendary on the local folk music scene and has been playing spoons since he was 16. He contributes vocals and spoons to the musical mix on Urban Gypsy.
Napoleon is the main vocalist living in the village of Gratia, Teleorman County, and he also plays wooden barrel percussion by hitting it with his foot and stones. He appeared as a special guest on Taraf De Haidouks’ album Dumbala Dumba.
Also from Gratia, Clasic performs voices and primitive percussions and despite being only 24 years old is already a living legend of ursari music.
Lucian Stan and Dan Handrabur came up with the idea to form the Shukar Collective when they heard some original Shukar tracks and saw them perform in a well-known Bucharest jazz club.
Lucian Stan is one of the founding fathers of the Romanian Underground scene and Cristian Stanciu won the Decouvertes Electroniques contest with his band NSK (Natural Soft Killers).
One of the best double bass players in Romania, Vlaicu Golcea performs in the largely unknown but excellent Romanian jazz scene. He is attracted by the possibilities electronics offer and skillfully blends the acoustic bass with computers.
The youngest of the Shukar Collective, Marius Matesan is an excellent composer and producer and Mitos Micleusana composes ambient and experimental music.