3

Various Artists: Hungarian Noir

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
Various Artists: Hungarian Noir When Billie Holiday released "Gloomy Sunday," in 1941, accompanied by the Teddy Wilson Orchestra, no one could possibly imagine the back story and consequent repercussions associated with this song. Originally composed by Hungarian Reszo Seress in 1933 as "Szomorú Vasárnap," it was quickly rewritten with lyrics by poet Laslo Javor, and recorded by Pál Kalmár in 1934, becoming the infamous "Hungarian Suicide Song," among the populace. It has been imputed for the countless suicides connected with it, and considered a source of urban legend surrounding the tragedies. Holiday's popularization of the song caused the BBC to ban it from airplay—until 2002—due to its morose and despondent lyrics.

Hungarian Noir is a compilation of diverse variations on the "Gloomy Sunday," theme. The song is covered in several languages by international artists, and undergoes unique instrumental adaptations as well. The English lyrics by Sam M. Lewis are utilized, or loosely translated. No two versions are even remotely similar, the only common thread among them is the nucleus of the song itself, the disparity is obvious and that is exactly what the attraction is.

The record begins with the Cuban acappella group Vocal Sampling, whose lead singer's accented voicing depicts the lost Latin lover. In keeping with the Cuban connection, Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco perform a danceable instrumental mambo version, and Havana vocalist Glenda Lopez envelopes the song in a charanga rhythm. The mood travels to Mozambique where it undertakes an African/Portuguese transformation with singer Yolanda Chicane joining the group Wazimbo, and Brazilian hip-hop artist GOG gives it a tropical street groove with a rap twist. The American group Matuto present a swaying samba infused rendition, while the Polish superstar Kayah, singing in her native tongue, delivers with an avant-garde dance edge to her Eastern approach. Chango Spasiuk hails from Argentina, and saturates the theme in an acoustical tango infusion, for a deepening forlorn interpretation. Continuing with the South American vibe, the folkloric Colombian band Bambarabanda adds dramatic poetic flairs to the vocalization. Kálmán Balogh and Miklós Lukács are two virtuosos of the cimbalom (Hungarian dulcimer) who formed Cimbalomduo, to honor this traditional and respected instrument. They offer a heart wrenching elucidation, with dark passages depicting authentic sadness and despair.

The definitive Billie Holiday version is featured next to last, and the final track is the Hungarian recording by Pál Kalmár, the first vocal rendition. Both of these singers took this song to widespread audiences, though in different times and languages, back when radio was the established norm of music appreciation. Phonograph records would of course make the song available for the masses, and with the records came the connection to tragedy, as people tended to replay and repeat the song, wrapping the lyrics around their melancholia. There have been many covers of "Gloomy Sunday" in the modern era, though none of them can rival Holiday's for effect and influence. Hungarian Noir is a heroic attempt to shake the song from its depressive association and reveal it as a work of musical art worthy of celebratory recognition, proposing it as a song for the ages.

Track Listing: Gloomy Sunday

Personnel: Vocal Sampling (1); Wazimbo featuring Kakana (2); Matuto (3); Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco (4); Kayah (5); Gog featuring Pianola (6); Glenda Lopez (7); Chango Spasiuk (8); Bambarabanda (9); Cimbalomduo (10); Billie Holiday (11); Pál Kalmár (12).

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Piranha


Shop

More Articles

Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Back In Your Own Backyard CD/LP/Track Review Back In Your Own Backyard
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin' CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin'
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Through The Glass CD/LP/Track Review Through The Glass
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Heartaches By The Number" CD/LP/Track Review Heartaches By The Number
by James Nadal
Published: May 13, 2016
Read "Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show" CD/LP/Track Review Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Hot Coffey in the D – Burnin at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge" CD/LP/Track Review Hot Coffey in the D – Burnin at Morey Baker’s...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "Fourmation" CD/LP/Track Review Fourmation
by John Ephland
Published: March 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

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!