Sometime midway through the 1990s, Piet Maris (frontman with the acclaimed Euro roots outfit Jaune Toujours) began to make contact with gypsy musicians and, through their guidance and contacts, to travel regularly to a Roma community in Slovakia. Through the latter, the ever curious musician learned their gypsy style of playing. Afterwards, this repertoire was thoroughly reinterpreted by the musicians of Jaune Toujours (Piet Maris, accordion & vocal - Théophane Raballand, drums & percussion - Mathieu Verkaeren, double bass - Mattias Laga - sax soprano & clarinets), who, in their usual fashion, began pushing the music beyond the boundaries of tradition by adding their own musical flavours to the sound. At first, the more traditionally-minded gypsies in the band’s audience frowned in astonishment at these changes but the sound began to catch on with the younger Roma. The latter’s stamp of approval was, ultimately, given authority when two young Roma singers - Katia and Milka Pohlodkova - joined the band for encores on stage and never left… The gypsy incarnation that has developed from Jaune Toujours is called Mec Yek and Taisa is their latest recording.
As you’d expect from Mec Yek’s origins, their music contains quite some musical surprises. Some years after SuperDiverCity they present a new album Taisa, meaning ‘tomorrow’. It’s the ‘mañana’ from the Roma, you could say. And the Covid year 2020 will show to be decisive for the sound of the new repertoire. Mec Yek has opted for a lightweight percussion device, so that it could be easily manoeuvred for safe rehearsals in a wide variety of locations: outdoors or in large indoor spaces, with the necessary distance. Most of the recordings were also done this way, in the concert venue VK in Molenbeek, Brussels. For the repertoire itself, Katia and Milka went back to their youth in Kosice, Slovakia, to a demo of songs they made with their brothers. But there are also special arrangements of traditional Roma songs. Singing is in Romanes, but sometimes also in Russian and there is even a little bit of Dutch. With a wide range of styles, from tarantella to ska and island blues. But against all odds : Mec Yek is a gypsy band without a violin.
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