Vujicsics Ensemble — 25
(Vujicsics 005, 1999, CD)
by Jim Chokey, Published 2001-03-01
Founded in 1974, the Vujicsics Ensemble is perhaps Hungary’s most widely respected folk group. Named for Tilhamér Vujicsics, a composer and musical folklorist in the tradition of Béla Bartók, the ensemble is devoted to the music of Hungary’s Serbian and Croatian minorities, as well as to that of Hungary’s neighbors in the former Yugoslavia. This CD, recorded live at the Academy of Music in Budapest, celebrates the band’s 25th anniversary and features guest appearances by Márta Sebestyén and other Hungarian folksters. Its 17 tracks reflect impeccable musicianship and complete fidelity to traditional stylings. Mandolin-like instruments of various sizes called “tamburitzas” provide most of the sound here (all seven band members play them at some point), but accordion, violin, clarinet, bagpipe, shepherd’s pipe, and vocals (both male and female) are also featured. The songs are traditional south Slavic folkdances (kolos and oros, mostly), although a couple of tunes, including the eight-minute, bolero-esque “Rastanak” (with passionate clarinet playing by Mihály Borbély), have a more Gypsy feel to them. If you enjoy traditional folk from the Balkans – or if you’re looking for a great place to begin exploring it – then 25 is really a must-have. But if you’re expecting to hear progressive rock like Solaris or After Crying (or even prog folk like Kolinda), then 25 will probably leave you wanting, because that’s not what this CD is — not by a long shot.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more