195

Balval: Blizzard Boheme

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Balval: Blizzard Boheme Back in my teen years, when my listening tastes were somewhat limited, I read an interview of Frank Zappa in one of the rock magazines. He was asked what he was listening to, what type of popular music spun around on his turntable. He dismissed the popular sounds, saying they didn't interest him at all, that he'd rather listen to Hungarian folk music. I thought he was being facetious. I thought he meant that there was nothing in the world less "cool" than Hungarian folk music. It took some years and a bunch of listening to realize that Zappa was serious; and that Hungarian folk music could, indeed, be very cool.

Which brings us to a group called Balval and Blizzard Boheme. These are sounds out of Eastern Europe, gypsy music spruced up and modernized, and sung in a bunch of tongues, including the Roma language, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Serbian.

The group consists of vocalist Awana Burgess, violinist/vocalist Rosalie Hartog, guitarist Daniel Mizrahi and bassist Benjamin Body, along with guest percussionist Bachar Khalife (on eight of the thirteen tunes) and vocalist Erika Serre on "Suda Phabaj."

These are vibrant, energetic sounds that conjure gypsy dancing around Balkan campfires. Returning to the Hungarian folk music theme, the disc opens with "Ado Chavo," a tune from that very country. It's a very high octane song, with Mizrahi's Django-esque guitar and Hartog's swirling violin burning behind Burgess' unaffected, no-hold-barred vocals—a song that begs you to get your dancing shoes on, and maybe get a little crazy.

Want to put a category on this sound? Gypsy Rock? Neo-Gypsy. Both could fit. The group does rock, sort of: Mizrahi switches back and forth from acoustic to electric guitars, and on the electric side he can have an echoing surf music feel ("Liza" and "Karen, Chavorale, Drom") mixed in with a rough-around-the-edges, crunchy Neil Young vibe.

This is fun, exuberant, sometimes dreamy, sometimes fiery stuff that bends the categories all over the place. Frank Zappa would be proud.


Track Listing: Ado Chavo; Dumbala Dumba; Ama Lelo; Tango; Sude Phabaj; Liza; Jekha Chaja; Keren, Chavorale, Drom; Corro Som; Cirikli; Smelka; Blues; An La Devla; Loli Rokla.

Personnel: Awana Burgess: voice; Rosalie Hartog: violin, voice; Daniel Mizrahi: guitar; Benjamin Body: bass; Zachar Khalife: percussion (1-4, 7, 8, 10, 13); Erika Serre: voice (5).

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Presidential Suite (Eight Variations on Freedom)" CD/LP/Track Review Presidential Suite (Eight Variations on Freedom)
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 25, 2016
Read "The Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review The Outlier
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "R Train On The D Line" CD/LP/Track Review R Train On The D Line
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Say So" CD/LP/Track Review Say So
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 14, 2016
Read "Cada Fuego Es El Primero" CD/LP/Track Review Cada Fuego Es El Primero
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!