The musicians on this CD have very different backgrounds, three of them are gypsy musicians, two are not, and that's just what makes this recording special; it's the best of both worlds.
The late Zsolt Kallai is certainly the center of this recording. He plays lead violin while the accordion, bass, guitar and cimbalom play their solos with great virtuosity.
The band performs primarily in Belgium, France and Holland. Their focus is on combining the music of different cultures while remaining true to its roots.
This means that the combination of instruments varies with each track. The cimbalom is present only when needed and the violin is omitted on a few tracks with Russian standards as well as on the "Valse Musette." This recombining of the ensemble brings a great richness to the recording.
Jalousie (J. Gade)
Probably the nicest tango-melody ever written. The score says "gypsy-tango" and that's the way it is played.
Deux guitares - Two guitars
Russian gypsy standard (Dve gitari) that has been given so many different arrangements and still, here's another one, with Tcha's gypsy guitar sound in a very important role.
Le temps des muguets - Moscow nights (Matusovsky/Solovyev-Sedoy)
One of the most popular Russian melodies (Podmoskovnye vechera), sung by Herman in the version of the late Victor Grobovenko, sober and impressive. No cimbalom.
Komm, Zigány (E. Kálmán)
Just listen! It's an instrumental version with Kallai in top form. This is not operetta, it's real Magyar nóta.
In einem kleinen café in Hernals (H. Leopold)
Viennese melody in a Hungarian version.
L'alouette - Pacsirta - Ciocarlia (Dinicu)
Is it Hungarian or Romanian? This new version doesn't give you the answer.
Ja vstrjetil vas - I met you
One of the finest Russian standards, arranged for double bass and accordion.
Sans discussion (Valse musette)
The French touch.
Sombre dimanche + A moll csárdás
Magyar nóta (= Hungarian songs, usually played by gypsies) at its best.
Les fenêtres de Moscou - Moscou windows
This is a very special one: if you listen carefully, you might recognize the original Russian melody (Moskovskia Okna), but there's very little left of it in this bebop scoring.
Romance - Lakatos
The delicate sound of Kallai's violin is pure magic on this track.
This one is a real standard with the Hungarian gypsies, here it is played with great virtuosity as it should be.
Méditation (Thaïs) (Massenet)
A classical piece in a unique gypsy version
Csardas - V. Monti
A standard for both classical and gypsy violin players, yet in a new tantalizing scoring.
Liebesleid - F. Kreisler
Another classical piece, here one really feels the pain of the heart, but the beauty of this music makes it worthwhile.
Caprice - H. Wieniawski
Short and snappy!
Zsolt Kallai: violin
° 1970 Szentes, Hungary
+ 2004 Meise, Belgium
He was born to a family of musicians where playing violin had been passed on from father to son over four generations. He studied at the Rajkó Orchestra in Budapest, a school orchestra which specialized in keeping the culture of the Hungarian gypsy music alive. Thanks to the efforts of this school the tradition of this unique music continues to be preserved. Zsolt also studied classical violin with private teachers, including Csontha András and Nándor Banyák. He was invited regularly as a guest musician with the gypsy ensemble of Roby Lakatos, until his premature death at the age of 34 ended his career abruptly.
Tcha Limberger: guitar, violin and viola
°1977 Brugge, Belgium. He is progeny of the famous gypsy family Limberger, also known as the "Piottos". Tcha is the grandson of Piotto Limberger. Although he was born blind, he became an accomplished, multi-instrumentalist musician. The music taught to him by his family is the gypsy-jazz style of Django Reinhardt. Because he also felt very attracted to the Hungarian gypsy music, he went to Budapest for a period of three years to study this music at its roots.
Sándor Ürmös: cimbalom
°Budapest, Hungary. He also comes from a long line of musicians where making a career outside of music was considered inconceivable. He studied at the Rajkó Orchestra of Budapest and is considered one of the most accomplished cymbalists of this time. He first played with the orchestra "Budapest Tanzen". Then he joined the gypsy ensemble of Sandor Jàroka, one of the most prominent names in Hungarian gypsy music. With this ensemble, he has performed on several international stages.
Frederik Caelen: accordion
°1974 Genk, Belgium. He became Master of Accordion, guided by Ludo Mariën (Royal Flemish Music Conservatory of Antwerp). Frederik Caelen teaches the accordion in different music academies and besides that he is active in various musical productions. He is the accordionist of the ensemble "Mich en Scène", specialized in the repertoire of Jacques Brel. This ensemble toured successfully in the Netherlands, France, Scotland, the USA and Australia.
Herman De Rycke: double bass and voice
°1960 Oudenaarde, Belgium. Herman De Rycke began his musical career in rock music, playing guitar and bass guitar. He went on to study jazz at the Conservatory in Gent and classical music at the Music Academy Emiel Hullebroeck in Gentbrugge where he received an academic degree in double bass with Frank Coppieters. After an accidental exposure to gypsy music, he became so fascinated by its form that it became his great love and specialty.