Balogh Kálmán Gipsy Cimbalom Band   (ethno)

Kálmán Balogh is one of the foremost Hungarian cimbalom players, descending from a famous dynasty of Hungarian Gypsy musicians. His virtuosity is matched only by his understanding and respect of his heritage. A graduate of Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music of Budapest, he has completed many successful tours throughout the world with various ensembles, including five tours in North America. In 1985 he was awarded the Hungarian distinction of "Young Master of Folk Arts", and two years later he won second prize in the Aladár Rácz cimbalom-competition. He plays mostly authentic folk music from Hungary and from the Balkans, though during the last years he has played with jazz groups, rock bands and a symphony orchestra, too. As an artist he has performed with such Hungarian bands as Jánosi, Ökrös, Téka, Méta, Muzsikás, Zsarátnok, Vízöntő, Vasmalom, the Swedish Orient-Express, the Dutch Sultan and Ot Azoj, the English Transglobal Underground, the American Peter Ogi and the Joel Rubin Jewish Ensemble. He was musical director of the "Magneten Gypsy Show" of Andre Heller and also performed on a CD with the Budapest Festival Orchestra playing Brahms' Hungarian Dances. In 1997, he performed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra and also with the Miami Philharmonic Orchestra. The cimbalom, a sort of oversized hammer dulcimer played with mallets like a vibraphone, possesses piano like percussive abilities to drive a band rhythmically or take the melodic lead. In Kálmán Balogh's expert hands, the cimbalom can do both simultaneously. His mastery of this unique and rare Hungarian folk instrument has mesmerized audiences.

"With one centre stage played by the young and talented Kálmán Balogh himself, Gipsy Cimbalom Band offers the earthy, fresh sounds of Hungarian gypsy music. With Sándor Budai and László Major, two fine mature gypsy violinist, playing rhapsodic, melancholic and merry Balkan, Moldavian and Macedonian melodies, a wonderful rich bass, guitar and trumpet, this six-man group plays its distinctive music with great brio. The rhythms wrap you up inside them, the music impressing itself upon you from the beginning of each phrase, probably because the Hungarian language itself grabs you in the same way, invariably stressing the first syllable. It is gypsies like the members of this group who have proudly kept their captivating tunes safe, handing them on from generation to generation. Just as bagpipes mean Scotland, so gypsy bands mean Hungary. For their sheer musicianship and their unfussy but undoubted virtuosity, Kálmán Balogh are a real find." Jan Fairley, Scotsman, 24th August 1999.