The New York Gypsy Festival will open on Friday, September 29th with the fiery Balkan brass of Slavic Soul Party!, followed by the joyous and intoxicating music of trumpet legend Costel Vasilescu, one of Bucharest's most important Roma (Gypsy) musicians of the older generation. Costel will lead his taraf (band) of lautari (Roma) from Romania on double bass, accordion, cymbalom, violin, guitar, clarinet and vocals in a riveting program of wedding songs, dance melodies and ballads which reveals the soul of the Roma people. Costel, who recently gained international recognition for his playing on the Sounds From a Bygone Age reissue recordings (Asphalt Tango/Harmonia Mundi), will be making his US debut.
The festival will continue on September 30th with the HonvŽd Dance Company, the Hungarian folk troupe that has been captivating audiences throughout the world since its formation in 1982. The Budapest-based company, regarded as an institution in Hungary, has created a new school with its dramatic works for dance theatre and will be making its long awaited US debut. Its program of Gypsy traditions from the Carpathian Basin will feature 14 dancers under the direction of the award-winning Ferenc Nov‡k with accompaniment by the Hegedšs Folk Band and the Lindri Trio. The captivating repertoire includes Gypsy dances of …rk, the Recruiting Dance from S‡rpatak, the Stick Dance, the Whirling Dance from Szatm‡r, dances from Sz‡szcs‡v‡s, Gypsy music from Kalotaszeg, the Fox Dance, the Spoon Dance, and the Gypsy Chardas from Szatm‡r.
For more information on other events taking place at the 2nd New York Gypsy Festival from September 29th through October 8th, visit nygypsyfest.com
These two programs are part of the European Dream Festival, a celebration of leading voices from an expanding Europe.
Costel Vasilescu was born in the Moldovan town of Ramnicu Valcea in 1940. When he was a young child, his father took him to weddings where he often saw Romania's greatest trumpeter, Hopa Mitica (who became his idol). Like Mitica, Costel furnished his trumpet with a metal or wooden mute depending on the occasion, thus giving this instrument a velvety sound that was compatible with southern Romanian suburban music. Using his trumpet he refined the best Electrecord recordings with muzica lautareasca, and often went into the studio with the renowned Gabi Lunca, Romica Puceanu and the Gore Brothers. He performed primarily at weddings until the late '80s, when electrically amplified bands became popular and replaced traditional tarafs. In 2001, he released two songs, "Jocul Boldenilor" and "Hora Lautareasca," on Fanfare Ciocarlia's Iag Bari album. In recent years Asphalt Tango released the Sounds From A Bygone Age recordings featuring Ion Petra Stoican and Romica Puceanu - CDs which have garnered much international attention. Costel Vasilescu's repertoire includes not only the dizzying fast dance melodies, but the slow and solemn melodies from Oltenia, which have not been played before on the trumpet. His taraf features Leonard Paun (cymbalon), Georgie Petrachie (vocal, guitar), Vasile Nasturica (violin), Marin Marinescu (double bass), Ion Stancoiu (vocal, accordion), and Marian Stefan (clarinet).
Slavic Soul Party! is comprised of nine musicians who have forged a virtuosic new brass band in New York - melding Gypsy, East European, Mexican and Asian immigrant backgrounds with American jazz and soul- and "developed a reputation for delivering a great time" (NY Times). Global Rhythm called its music "some of the most danceable Balkan-flavored pop this side of the Adriatic." One of the hardest working bands in New York, SSP! plays nearly 100 times a year in the US, Europe, and beyond,<