Khamoro Budapest Band: Hungarian Gypsy Music

Breaking Barriers With Sound

Listening Post 114. One of the most commonly used Romani loan words in English is “pal”—a fraternal takeaway reflecting the solidarity that binds a wandering people. A powerful byproduct of that solidarity is music that breaches social barriers the Roma themselves have often been unable to penetrate. They planted flamenco in Spain and gave manouche jazz to France; further east, the Roma sound is routinely viewed as synonymous with Hungarian music. Worthy heirs to this legacy, the members of the Khamoro Budapest Band perform not only to entertain but also to preserve and showcase Roma culture. Under the direction of singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Zsolt Farkas, the band puts new lyrics to traditional music as well as composing entirely original works. On Hungarian Gypsy Music, they sing (in Romani and Hungarian) about family and friends, passion and sorrow, and dancing in the face of adversity, with a special fondness for another pal—the potent fruit brandy pálinka. In the Transylvanian dance Mother, Give Me Lots of Money (Romani: De man mama but love!/Hungarian: Sok pénzt adj nekem anyám!), their characteristic song-banter reveals why they need cash: “Tonight I’m getting drunk and cheering everyone up” (video 1). The Boys (Le shave/A fiúk), about road-weary musicians full of bravado, could be the band’s fight song: “You pretend to be arrogant” they declare, “But when you see me, you don’t know which wall to run into!” (video 2). The more contemplative With Flower Essences (Luludyenge sungasa/Virágok illatával) is a Russian dance melody with a consoling message: “Sorrow flies away with the rain/The cold wind brings a song” (video 3). Across 17 tracks, in every strain and step, this band shows that a world of obstacles is of little consequence when you’re among friends. (ARC Music)

 

 

 

 

 


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