Welcome to Tziganarama. For those of you who, inexplicably,
haven't come across us before, we're a 3 -piece band based in
London, playing gypsy, klezmer and Eastern European folk music
on fiddle, (Chris Haigh), accordion ,
(Alan Dunn) and double bass (Viktor Obsust )
Why call ourselves Tziganarama? The Tzigani are East
European gypsies, and Bananarama were a seventies girl band ....what
more can I say?
Our repertoire includes Klezmer, Russian, Hungarian, Rumanian,
Bulgarian, Macedonian and Polish traditional tunes.
We aim to present a broad range of styles from the dark and
mysterious doinas of Romania, the baffling rhythms of the Balkan
horos, the lively Khosid bulgars and cossack dances, jolly Polish
polkas and slinky New York klezmer. We try to present it in an
infomative as well as humourous manner. We also do specialised performances for parties or weddings, where we just play Hungarian, Polish, Jewish or Russian music.
Our Russian repertoire, for example, includes cossack dances, Russian gypsy melodies, patriotic songs, pioneer songs and kolomeikes.
Titles include Dark Eyes, Two Guitars, Katyusha, Stenka Rasin, Doctor Zhivago, Cossack Patrol, Obidno Dossadno, Alecha Cha, Koschmari, Kasbek, Troika,
Dark is the Night, Cerza, Where is the Street, Love is Gone, Pust Vsegda Budyet Solntse, Dumka, Moskovski Ockna, Moscow Nights, Ne Serdis Ne Revnui
Korobuchka, Gopak, Metelitsa, Karapet, Kolomeike
Our Hungarian repertoire ranges from "Old style" rural melodies, through to Verbunkos, Csardas and Magyar Nota. Titles we play include Ritka Buza, Ritka Arpa, The Stars in the Sky, Szep a Rozsam, Gloomy Sunday, Rakoczi March, Halljatok Ciganyok, Ennek a kislanyak rovid a skoknyaja, Golden Earrings, Az a Szep, Aa a Szep, Lehullott a rezgo nyarfa ezustszinu levele, Zsebkendom negy sarka, friss czardas, Los Botityam Miskolc Verbunkos, If you Love me, Never leave me, Hey Cigany!, Now the Dance Begins, The Sleigh Ride, One Kitten, Two Kittens, Maros Vize Folyik Csendesen.
Our Polish repertoire includes the five “National” dances of Poland; the Polonaise, Kujawiak, Mazur, Oberek and Krakowiak, as well as many polkas and waltzes. Titles include Goralu Waltz, Jack Szylko Milaja Chwile Waltz, , Jose Cheopak, Lwowska Wazanska, Mai Bok Polka, Parting with the Motherland, Green Grass Polka, Mountaineers, Cyt, Dziekujemy Muzykantom Polka.
Our Jewish repertoire ranges from central European folk tunes from the shtetl, klezmer, Yiddish swing and theatre tunes, to modern Hassidic pop/simcha tunes. Titles include Simon Tov, Mazeltov, Choson Kale Mazel Tov, Od Yishama, Ufaratsa, Tzaddik, Tzena Tzena, Hashem Malech, Miitzva G'Dola, Rad Halaila, Mayim Mayim, Yesh, Masiach, Nigun Atik, Chai, Sherele, Eshet Chayil, Mi Bon Siach, Eretz, Eretz, Erev Shel Shoshanim, Hatikvoh, Raisins and Almonds, Der Shtiler Bulgar, Odessa Bulgar, Kishiniever Bulgar, Bei Mir Bist du Schon, Tanz Tanz Yidelekh, Sunrise Sunset, Galitzyaner Tanz. We can provide a dance leader if required.
Our first album, imaginatively entitled Tziganarama
featured fourteen original tunes, in different East European styles, and had guest appearances
from many other musicians playing such things as cymbalom, gadulka,
kaval, gaida, clarinet and so on. This album is no longer available,
though tunes from it continue to feature in TV soundtracks around
the world, notably in Japan and the US.
As well as playing concerts at Arts Centres, festivals and
village halls, we also do lots of weddings and private functions,
either playing for dancing, doing background music, or sometimes
going round the tables. We played for a party in Elton John's
back garden, in front of the shark tank at the London Aquarium
(for a party of Russian millionaires- in fact we were surrounded
by sharks!), and for the Lebanese mafia in a Beiruit nightclub.
Our line-up is flexible, and can be expanded to include other
instruments such as clarinet, guitar or drums, and we can also
provide cossack dancers
We often use Serguei
Pachnine on Bayan (the Russian accordion) and vocals
Our second album, released in November 2000, is called Tree
of Life, which is mostly traditional tunes from our
set. This time we resisted the temptation to invite all our friends
into the studio, so this one is just the three of us, pretty much
as we sound at a gig. Here's a couple of examples: Kolomeike, Bulgarian
If you'd like to buy a copy, send a cheque for £12 made
payable to Chris Haigh to 232 Sebert Road, Forest Gate, London
E7 ONP. If you buy the album
and enjoy it so much that you want to play the tunes yourself,
I'll even send you copies of the sheet music for the cost of a
stamped addressed envelope. You can't say fairer than that!
Or you can pay by paypal, and use secure payment by credit
from anywhere in the world.
Here's what "Fiddle On" Magazine had to say about
Tzigane means Hungarian Gypsy according to
my dictionary. On this, their second CD, the tunes range from
polkas through the Russian Gopak, to a Bulgarian 7/8 and Macedonian
13/8. The stumbling rhythm of these odd time signatures is fascinating
and mesmeric. There are klezmer tunes such as Kishiniever Bulgar
which is played with luscious langour and then leaps up to a crackling
pace. This liveliness often overlays a melancholy of countries
and peoples that have rather too much history, although there
is a truly joyous Polish polka. The geography runs from Moscow
to Macedonia, with music of the jews and gypsies an interweaving
thread. This CD shows the great diversity of fiddle music that
exists beyond Britain and America.
The recorded sound is "tight"; they're
definitely standing around your cafe table. Slow be-twiddled musings
suddenly erupt into frenetic dances. Interestingly the pace is
often in the accompaniment, whilst the fiddle is not actually
playing that fast. In an unusually generous gesture the sleeve
notes give details of how to obtain the written music. You'll
need to buy the CD first but it's mid-priced at £11 direct
from the band. These playing styles freely explore the higher
positions up the neck, which are uncharted territory for many,
but this collection does avoid the wearisome non-stop virtuosity
of some "gypsy" music. Overall the presentation is elegant
rather than earthy, cafe rather than campfire, but this slightly
cooler approach should mean that, unlike some souvenirs of foreign
travel, it won't embarrass when you get it home, and it'll certainly
stand up to repeated listening.
"Musician" Magazine said:
Anyone who has ever fallen under the spell
of the capricious, passionate folk music of Eastern Europe will
certainly enjoy Tziganarama's Tree of Life, an album bustling
with uninhibited exuberance and infectious energy. It mixes perennial
favourites such as Dark Eyes and Moscow Nights,
klezmer tunes including the mighty Odessa Bulgar plus three
originals from fiddle player Chris Haigh who is joined on the
recording by Alan Dunn (accordion) and Bernard O'Neill (double
bass). A particular highlight is the enchanting Farewell my
Tabor. Not a medieval lament for the loss of a favourite drum
but a stirring Russian tune whose title actually means "farewell
my gypsy camp". Judging by its spirited conclusion whoever
penned it clearly couldn't get away fast enough.
Entertaining selection of gypsy, klezmer and
cossack tunes from fiddle/accordion/double bass trio hailing from
the exotic east (Forest Gate in East London). Good fun and could
well be coming to the foyer of an arts centre near you soon.
We recently played at the Jersey Arts
centre; here's what the Jersey Evening Post had to say:
Last night in St James, the impossibly named
Tziganarama totally captivated an audience who had been promised
a tour of the East European folk world.
From the first tune to the last, the energy, pace and precision
was terrific as the band played an exhilarating set that was easily
accessible to everyone-even those who were not entirely familiar
with Cossack, Ukranian, Macedonian or Bessarabian folk.
The first half took a trip to traditional folk music heaven with
melancholy moments from Russia, a jolly Polish Polka and the Carpathian
woodcutter's favourite-Kolomeike. The first half ended with the
Tree of Life, a klezmer tune written by fiddler Chris Haigh, which
had its roots firmly back in Russia.
After the interval the music was as exciting and dynamic as before
and included some very modern moments such as the stunning jazz
version of Moscow Nights, which the audience enjoyed enormously.
Although the interior of St James appeared
austere, the absence of sound-muffling furnishings made the acoustics
perfect for the band, who could hear each other as clearly as
we could hear them.
This allowed the colour and subtle phrasing to shine through.
It was hard to believe that this was an un unplugged performance.
All three musicians were so fluent on their instruments and relaxed
in their playing it was too easy to take it all for granted.
Tziganarama were Chris Haigh on fiddle, Alan Dunn on accordion
and Bernard O'Neill on double bass.
Bernard-who has been Rolf Harris's musical director for nine years-and
Alan will be returning later in the year with Rolf Harris when
they appear in the music festival in October. Bernard and Chris
may already be familiar, having played in Jersey before with the
Anything billed as Eastern European Folk virtually
guarantees a diminishing audience word by word, but it does result
in an audience which is there to listen.
The eclectic gathering last night were utterly absorbed by the
performance and thoroughly enjoyed the music, even making enough
noise at the end of the evening to bring the band back on stage
Before the show I didn't know my horas from my czardas but Tziganarama
took me on a fascinating journey that twisted and turned through
so many different ethnic musical styles. It was eastern, it was
European and it was folk.
I bought the CD.
A few more reviews...
,Cossack and much more, blended with jazz by three musicians to
create a toe-tapping set that really got the Barrow audience going.
Went down an absolute storm!"
-Barrow Evening Mail July 98
"Tziganarama are, by the standards
of this release, a gifted trio...around whom the glittering talents
of a bevy of featuring musicians have created a rare gem for the
listener to East European folk musics.
For me the benchmark of such exhibitionist issues is the need
I have for proof that the band have listened and imbibed the musics
they have sought to recreate.
In overview Tziganarama do that admirably and it shows in arrangements
that place each track geographically. A very exciting CD"
- Folk Roots Oct 98
"The music is very melodic and
varied; it is sometimes wild and energetic, sometimes slow and
beautiful, but always gets you into a trance with its complexity.
Just exciting music"
-Folkworld July 98
"Here we have Jewish, Macedonian,
Russian,Ukranian, Polish, Rumanian and Hungarian folk music extremely
well played...money well spent I'd say"
-Folk on Tap Oct 98
"Tziganarama's debut album is
a little gem. Throughout, there's a distinctive ring of authenticity,
despite the fact that all fourteen compositions are by Haigh...it
all works brilliantly."
-Taplas Oct 98
"A very refreshing album"
-Folkwrite July 98
"Lots of fun...wild and wonderful"
-Rock'n'Reel Nov 98 -Folkwrite July 1998
"The playing is excellent and
exuberant throughout, the style is faithful to a fault and the
whole album is very well produced."- Music Gazette 2003
"Just to say thanks again for a really enjoyable evening.
Loved the chat between the tunes as well as the music itself!
All but three of the evaluation forms scored you as 10 out of
10 (plus two 9s and a measly 8), and the event made £120
towards improvements to the hall, which was a bonus. Hope to see
and hear you again some day. "
Tessa. (Seend Village Hall,Wilts)
"Many thanks for sending the CD- I danced around my
living room for a minute or two this morning!
Just to say what a brilliant gig- Iam learning to play the
accordion so please tell Alan Dunn he is my new hero!
Please come to Wiltshire again soon- wake us all up! Many
Sarah (Bishopstone Village Hall)
"Many apologies it’s taken so long to thank you for all your support and help putting together my Russian Tea Dance on December 14th. I absolutely could not have done it without you and can’t thank you enough for getting such fabulous musicians. It was brilliant – I loved everything you played and particularly appreciate how straightforward it was working with you.
The feedback has been incredibly heart-warming – everyone loved the dancing – and all asked where I had found such talented musicians. I had so much fun whirling around the room with my friends, but the best part for me as the hostess was knowing that you had taken care of the detail and I could just enjoy myself. It was a liberating feeling for a party organiser! Thank you for looking the part, for being so fabulously talented, for playing what I really wanted, for choosing such a great mix of songs, for working with the Cossacks so smoothly."
Whatever you're after, feel free to get in touch and we can discuss it.
Email us at; email@example.com
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