131

Sanda: Gypsy in a Tree

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Sanda: Gypsy in a Tree Try as they might, the world's greatest instrument makers have yet to create anything that comes close to the beauty, joy or emotional intensity of the human voice. If this sounds like a somewhat contentious statement, then Gypsy In A Tree—a follow-up to Gypsy Killer (Knitting Factory Works, 2002)—should provide sufficient evidence, in the form of Sanda Weigl's dramatically evocative vocal interpretations of Roma songs from her childhood homeland.

Sanda, as she is known professionally, sings these songs with passion and respect. The songs tell stories of love, anger, lost youth and old age, and she brings each one to life with a striking intensity and passion. These are songs with universal themes, and Sanda inhabits them so completely that their impact easily transcends geographical or cultural distances. Her delivery is reminiscent of England's Norma Waterson or Ireland's Margaret Barry—a reminder of the way in which European musics have interacted over the centuries. These are not Sanda's songs, or her stories, but she lives every one as if it were, giving voice to the protagonists with honesty.

The musicians on Gypsy In A Tree are superb, and their instrumental backing is in complete sympathy with the moods and emotions of the songs, readily heightening the impact of Sanda's voice. This is only to be expected, were these players heavily steeped in the Roma tradition, but they are not. The core trio is of New York-based Japanese musicians, who bring elements of jazz, R&B and blues to the mix. There's also a distinct tinge of Berthold Brecht's theatricality, due, perhaps, to Sanda's own background in theatre, and to her being the niece of Brecht's wife, Helene Weigel.

Shoko Nagai's accordion and Doug Wieselman's clarinet are, perhaps, the most authentically East European of the instruments in terms of their sound, Nagai skipping brightly across tunes like "Saraiman," while Wieselman is particularly effective on the jaunty "Un Tigan Avea O Casa." It's the rhythm section, of brothers Stomu Takeishi and Satoshi Takeishi, that lends the music a more contemporary aspect, however. Their incisive playing adds drive and depth, and does much to accentuate these songs' emotions, Stomu's mournful bass building the sadness of "Adu Calu' Sa Ma Duc" ("Bring Me My Horse It's Time To Go"), just as his loping, thick-toned, playing combines with Ben Stapp's tuba to underpin the happier groove of "Nu Exista-N Lumea Asta" ("There Is No One Like My Brother").

Sanda has been resident in New York for twenty years. Born in Romania, she first heard many of these songs from the Roma people themselves. Her love for the tunes, and the sad and often strange stories told by their lyrics, has remained with her, making Gypsy In A Tree is a genuinely evocative and intensely lovely record.


Track Listing: Intr-o Zi La Poarta Mea; Un Tigan Avea O Casa; As Ofta Sa-Mi Iasa Focul; Saraiman; Adu Calu' Sa Ma Duc; Anii Mei Si Tinteretea; Jandarmul; Nu Exista-N Lumea Asta; Toderel; Dans; Alomalo.

Personnel: Sanda Weigl: vocals; Shoko Nagai: piano, accordion, farfisa; Stomu Takeishi: electric bass; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion; Douglas Wieselman: guitar, clarinet; Ben Stapp: tuba.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Barbes Records


Related Video

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Gypsy Killer
Knitting Factory Records
2002
buy

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Westering Home" CD/LP/Track Review Westering Home
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Tangle" CD/LP/Track Review Tangle
by John Eyles
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Jazz Jukebox" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Jukebox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Confirmation" CD/LP/Track Review Confirmation
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 26, 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!