Lache Cercel and his Roma Swing Ensemble represent the latest chapter in an important movement in Canadian World Music – elite musicians from around the world who settle in Canada and create music that incorporates their own traditions with influences they find surrounding them here.
Before leaving his homeland, Lache Cercel was one of Romania’s premier musicians. From a musical family, he trained at the Academy of Arts in Bucharest, became a soloist with the Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and, in 1986, was awarded the “Artist of the People” Citation by the Romanian government.
Since settling in Canada in 1998, he has furthered his musical studies at Vancouver Community College and collaborated with musicians from a diverse range of backgrounds. Among them are renowned Egyptian percussionist Adel Awad, noted Vancouver jazz vocalist Laura Crema and Latin music virtuoso Sal Ferreras. Cercel’s music is firmly rooted in Roma tradition, styled with Doina Klezmer, Middle Eastern and European sounds, and held together with jazz improvisation. He calls his fusion Roma Jazz or Roma Swing. In the tradition of Django Reinhardt and Stephen Grappelli, Cercel lays classical and improvisational jazz alongside traditional renderings, which makes for a phenomenal sound.
Cercel is a bandleader who lets every musician shine. He plays with the outrageous virtuosity found in contemporary European Roma recordings, and adds his own vision, relaxing the form somewhat. The musicians play with freedom and the listener feels the strong roots and hears the history of tragedy, struggle and ultimate survival that is part of Roma music.
Cercel spent his early years in Canada doing solo performances around BC and teaching Romanian style violin. For several summers, he made annual teaching trips to the Buffalo Gap International Music Camp in Washington, DC and Mendocino Balkan Camp in Mendocino, CA. His early performance highlights include The Victoria Jazz Festival, Mission Folk Festival, the Western Premiers Conference and Victoria First Night Celebrations. Cercel also performed with the Original Balkan Jam, appearing at The Winnipeg Folk Festival and Festival by the Sea in St. John, NB. He even performed at Disneyland with the Ukranian ensemble Vaselka.
In 1994, Cercel returned to Romania to continue his exploration of Romanian music. There, he recorded his debut CD, Rhapsody of Romania with well-known Romanian conductor, Paraschiv Oprea.
He came back to Canada in 1996, settled in Vancouver and has continued since then to build his reputation as a solo performer, session musician, and composer of music for film and TV.