Tag Archives: Slovak music

Artist Profiles: Zuzana Homolova

Zuzana Homolova

According to Encyclopedia of Jazz, Contemporary and Popular Music (Publ. Supraphon Prague 1990): “Zuzana Homova belongs to foremost Slovak songwriters. Her music is characteristic for lyricism, poetics and strong ties to the folk tradition.”

In the late 1960s Zuzana experienced a very formative study stay in Tours (France). The atmosphere of student unrest, barricades, the poetics of chansons and traditional French ballads, and the strong wave of folk movement worldwide; all of this inspired Zuzana Homolova to research and sing old Slovak folk ballads accompanying herself with an acoustic guitar. Ballads have remained her strongest focus ever since, apart from writing music based on contemporary and older poetry.

In the 1980s Zuzana Homolova became member of association of Slovak songsters Slnovrat, an informal group of creative songwriters, uncomfortable for the official regime of the time. The foreign experience and the dark stories of the ballads predestined Zuzana to become part of the cultural underground that was the sane alternative for the official communist culture, waiting for her time to come.

Working full time as art teacher, her considerably late debut LP Cas odchádza z domu [Time is leaving home], appeared in 1989 on the Opus label, the very year of the famous Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia. The album presented both original songs and folk ballads brought to life in arrangements of finest musicians of Czechoslovakia (Vladimir Merta, Jan Hrub?). Her second album, released by Opus in 1991, brought more silence, featuring only one sideman; eccentric jazz improviser Jiri Stivin.

The third album of Zuzana Homolova titled Slovak Ballads (Pavian Records 1995, licensed to BMG Ariola 1999) was result of 20 years of research in archives and singing of ballads in a very original, non-pathetic manner. The album was produced by Vlastimil Redl, foremost songwriter from Morava (Czech Republic) whose musical collages emphasize dark, hundreds of years old stories of love and death.

For the past years Zuzana Homolova could be seen and heard most often with violinist Samo Smetana, brilliant musician and expert in authentic folk music of Slovakia. The duo performed at Tanz & Folkfest ’99 in Rudolstadt and Bardentreffen in Norimberg.

In 1999-2000 Zuzana Homolova had her own TV show Let’s make silence, introducing live appearances of best folk singers from Slovakia and Czech Republic.

In 2003 Z. Homolova represented Slovak culture in a series of concerts in Norway. In recent three years Zuzana and Samuel collaborated with the group Banda (viola, percussions, bass, cimbalom).

The album Tvojej duši zahynút nedám [I Won’t Let Your Soul Pass Away] (Slnko records, December 2005) quickly reached the status of jewel of Slovak World Music among music journalists and radio presenters in Slovakia and Czech Republic. The album brought Zuzana Homolova back to the spotlight as a legend, reflecting 30 years of her research and singing of old Slovak ballads.

The material for the album was selected from distant regions and most often from isolated communities of Slovaks living in Hungary, where the ancient language and also the storyline remained preserved in purest form. The ballads are hundreds of years old and their stories are full of sorrow, unhappy love and blood, with almost mantric melodies.

However dark the stories get, Zuzana sings them with wisdom, charm, grace and reconciliation as only a woman of her experience and strength of enthusiastic mountaineer can do. While keeping the melody and language closest to the archive records, the arrangements range from intimate voice-and-guitar creations through hypnotic minimalism to wild polyrhythmic structures.

Besides her sideman Samo Smetana, Tvojej duši zahynút nedám was co-produced by alternative guitarist and producer Daniel Salontay, and features some of the finest folk, jazz and contemporary instrumentalists of the country.

Discography:

Cas odchádza z domu (Opus, 1989)
Homolová & Stivín (Opus, 1991)
Slovenské balady (Avian Records, (1995)
Tvojej duši zahynút nedám (Slnko Records, 2005)
Net vekšeho rozkošu (Slnko Records, 2013)
Medzi dvomi prázdnotami (Slnko Records, 2014)
Ked vojacik narukoval (Slnko Records, 2018)

Share

Artist Profiles: Czaldy Waldy Quartet

Czaldy Waldy Quartet

Czaldy Waldy is the name of an old Czech dance originated in 14th century. Four musicians decided to use the same name for their quartet. Some of them were academically educated and made their living performing classical music. But when they got together as a Czaldy Waldy Quartet they fully indulged in delights of contemporary world music. Namely in ethnic songs from eastern part of Slovakia and western Ukraine, the region known as Zakarpatian Russia.

Lyrics were left in their authentic form or slightly adjusted according to musical needs. Ales Mrazek composes the instrumental pieces, some of which are based on old European folk songs. We could also trace a range of influences from Spanish, Balkan or Arabic music to jazz, tango or chanson in his music. Ales also has a lot of experience with composing musical scores for local theaters.

Czaldy Waldy Quartet was formed in 2000. In 2005 the band released its debut album Ethno-chansons featuring music from Slovakia and Ukraine (Black Point Music 2005).

Discography:

Ethno sansony ze Slovenska a Ukrajiny – Ethno-Chansons From Slovakia and Ukraine (Black Point Music, 2005)

Share