Mahala Raï Banda is a sensational new band from the Gypsy ghetto of Bucharest which combines the staple Romanian diet of violins and accordions with a horn section consisting of army brass band veterans, powered by a funky rhythm section. Formed by two people closely related to the Taraf de Haïdouks (violinist/arranger Aurel Ionita and Taraf musical director Stéphane Karo), the Mahala Raï Banda have recorded this debut album in Romania, and mixed it in collaboration with electro-gypsy whiz Shantel.
Shaped in the Gypsy ghettos (Mahala) around Bucharest, Mahala Raï Banda (literally 'Noble Band from the Ghetto') brings together gypsy music from two different regions. Part of the band is closely linked to the Taraf de Haidouks. These are the sons of the generation that left the little village of Clejani to settle down in the ghettos on the outskirts of Bucharest. In their early twenties they have grown up playing music and making a living by playing at Romanian weddings. Living on the outskirts of a city, they have been immersed in modern culture which gives their otherwise traditional repertoire a contemporary twist.
Gypsy as well, but from Moldavia near the Ukraine, the Mahala Raï Banda brass players were discovered performing in a restaurant in Bucharest. They learnt their craft in the ranks of the Romanian army under Ceaucescu, where they were taught music theory and acceptable folk songs and dances to perform at public ceremonies and official governmental events.
Thanks to their powerful rhythms and their inventive arrangements, the Mahala Raï Banda are bound to play a central role in the irresistible rise of Balkan Gypsy music, which has been becoming increasingly popular among the younger generations in Western Europe
Aurel Ionita - (violin, voice), Sorin Constantin - (voice, clarinet), Bosnea Aurel - (baritone sax), Oprica Viorel - (trumpet), Viorel Gavrila - (trumpet), Marian Enache - (accordion), Mihail Enache - (taraban), Trofin Eugène - (tuba), Dinu Marian - (drums)