Szalóki Ági

Szalóki Ági

BandWorldFolk

This ‘folk-jazz’ may be regarded as crossover, a fresh breeze blown by innovative young musicians...

Biography

Since the release of her debut solo album ‘Teli- nyari laboda’ in 2004, Agi Szalóki and her band have been interpreting her favourite folk songs from the Carpathian Basin in an inventive new style. The intimate, jazz-tinged follow-up ‘Lament’ (2005) won both popular and critical acclaim, collecting an Album of the Year Award from the Hungarian Labels’ Association in 2006, a feat emulated this year by her third album ‘Cipity Lõrinc’ (2006).
Ági sings Gypsy folk songs and well-known poems set to traditional melodies but mostly folk songs from Transylvania, Gyimes and Moldavia, the most interesting and valuable repositories of ancient Hungarian culture. These are age-old tales of love and loss, joy and sorrow, happiness and grief, prime examples of the oral tradition that have been passed down from generation to generation. The arrangements, however, are modern collaborations between Ági and the classically trained musicians accompanying her – they are all open to contemporary influences and are not afraid to take chances. In their new environment the lyrics are revitalized, imbued with relevance for a world wide audience in the 21st century. The musicians play these songs in their own way, experimenting freely, and Ági sings from the heart, beautifully as always, with great dignity and sensitivity.
This ‘folk-jazz’ may be regarded as crossover, a fresh breeze blown by innovative young musicians, but it retains a simplicity and purity, the heartfelt purity of the Hungarian soul.

ÁGI SZALÓKI
Hallgató - Lament FolkEurópa FECD020
This is a beautiful album, a new departure in Hungarian music that, with a slight publicity push in the right directions, could do very well worldwide.
Well known for her work with Makám, the Ökrös ensemble and Besh o droM, Ági Szalóki is a Hungarian traditional singer with a seductive still, quiet, reedy voice with perfectly turned grace-noting and vibrato that, like Márta Sebestyén’s, is equally at home or solo or making its own calm space among accompaniment.
Lament is an album of sad Hungarian traditional and Romany songs; the twist is that her accompaniment is not traditional instruments but a top team from another form of music in which Hungary excels, jazz. What they deliver isn’t brash and brassy, it’s a smoky, reflective environment of liquid piano, guitar and bass with interjecting lines on tenor sax. The combination works perfectly; there’s absolutely no pressure nor discomfort on either side, and the songs emerge shining. Romany music, of course, already has links with jazz, but the non-Romany songs work equally well, either harmonised with great non-impeding skill or, where full harmony would be inappropriate, taken either unaccompanied or intertwining as a duet with the sax.
No concessions are made in the traditional melodies; the jazz players are given new shapes to work with, a world away from international cool jazz, and they cherish them with subtlety and understanding. And, rather as with Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, the power and meaning of stark lyrics such as „Oh, I wish the world would die, rather than my mother” are intensified by the contrast with their musical environment.
www.hangveto.hu
Andrew Cronshaw

Various Wedding At Méra (FolkEurópa FECD017)
In the oppressive Ceausescu years field recording in the villages was a risky activity, but Antal Fekete taped the music at a big Hungarian wedding in the 1984 in Méra, Romania, from the opening lads’ dance through fast szaporas to dawn songs, sung and played on fiddles, brácsa, cello, accordeon and bass, by top names including fiddler Sándor ’Neti’ Fodor. www.hangveto.hu

Discography

Tél-nyári laboda/ Winter-Summer Orache FolkEurópa, 2004
Hallgató/ Lament FolkEurópa, 2005, Award „Fonogram”, 2006 – Best Jazz Album of the year
Cipity Lõrinc FolkEurópa, 2006, Award „Fonogram”, 2007 – Best Album for Children