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East Gipsy Band


EAST GIPSY BAND represents an exciting fusion format for creating unique and captivating music. Its members are highly respected representatives of jazz and roma world music.  Accordingly, theirs is an adventure with the traditions of Roma music filtered through the sensibilities of jazz. The band, formed by József Balázs, consists of the founder on piano, Lajos Sárközi on violin, Krisztián "Toggle" Lakatos on double-bass, Vilmos Oláh on cymbal (cimbalom), and Elemér Balázs on drums, with Guszti Balogh contributing vocals. Their debut album was released in May 2011, featuring the great saxophone player Tim Ries, who has invited the band to tour with him the East Coast of the United States and Canada. The tour, scheduled for October 2011, is a prime opportunity for these exceptional musicians to bring their unique mix of tradition and innovation and their interpretation of the treasures of Hungarian and Central European Roma culture to a broader international audience.




Elemér Balázs has been a central figure of Hungarian jazz for fifteen years as drummer and composer. He has performed at major festivals and worked with Anette Lowman, Stepko Gutt, Zbigniew Namyslowsky, Jukka Perko, Paolo Fresu, Stéphane Belmondo, Steve Houben, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, Pat Metheny, Rick Maritsa, Charlie Mariano, Randy Brecker, Al Jarreau and Tim Ries. He has twice won the award for Jazz Album of the Year, and is engaged in several projects while leading the Balázs Elemér Group.


József Balázs is one of the most talented piano players of the young generation. He has played with Erik Truffaz, Stéphane Belmondo, Bobbie Watson, Charlie Mariano, Robin Eubanks, and Steve Houben, among others. He has placed second at the Füsti Balogh Gábor Jazz Piano Competition, while also earning the prize for Best Soloist at the Krakow Jazz Juniors festival. In 2007, he founded the Balázs József Quintet, releasing their first album in 2008. His latest formation, East Gipsy Band was launched in May 2010. The band's first album was released in May 2011, featuring Tim Ries.


Guszti Balogh is a self-taught singer. He founded his own band Nomada in 2003 and has acted as its song writer and lyricist since. In 2004, he became the founding member of Fabula Rasa, a formation playing contemporary world music. Since 2005, he has been a permanent contributing artist to Balogh Kálmán Gipsy Cimbalom Band. In 2010, he founded the band Vojasa, fusing authentic gypsy music. Currently, he writes lyrics and music for many performers, while he is also continuously on tour home and abroad. So far, he has been a contributing or lead artist on 15 albums.


Vilmos Oláh took up playing the cymbal at the age of seven. During his first years he received a training focused exclusively on classical music. Later, he was a  cymbal major at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, where, he earned a degree in chamber music and teaching. He earned first prize at several music competitions and participated in the Rácz Aladár Cymbal Competition, achieving an exemplary position in the junior category. In 2000, he was invited to collaborate on György Vukán's album IBERIA, playing with the members of Creative Art Trio (György Vukán, Balázs Berkes, Elemér Balázs) and the CA Symphony Orchestra. He is interested in all genres that can be played on the cymbal, from classical pieces through folk music to jazz.


Lajos Sárközi was taught to play the violin at the age of five by his father. In 2004, he was admitted to the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, studying under Eszter Perényi. In 2003 and 2008, he placed first at the Zathureczky Ede National Violin Competition. In 2005, he won the International Telemann Violin Competition in Poland. A further 2006 competition triumph granted him the opportunity to record his first album. The young violinist continues to woo audiences at various concerts, including festivals as the San Jose Gypsy Airs music event where he performed with great success in 2010.


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