CHRISTIAN GARRICK – violin, darabuka
EDDIE HESSION – button accordion
ADRIAN ZOLOTUHIN – guitar, saz, balalaika, domra
KELLY CANTLON – double bass
The Budapest Café Orchestra were established in 2009 by British composer, violinist and band leader, Christian Garrick. 2017 sees the band enter its eighth busy and exciting year and also, coincidentally, the release of their eighth album, Fifty Shades Of Goulash.
The Budapest Café Orchestra play traditional folk and gypsy-flavoured music from across the world. Raucous, toe-tapping Balkan and Russian numbers are combined with jazz and swing inflections; Klezmer, Romanian Doinas and Hungarian Czardas are awarded fresh treatments before they give way to a disarmingly beautiful arsenal of ballads such as the Schindler's List theme or Andy Statman's bitter sweet The Flatbush Waltz. The involvingly diverse repertoire often even strays over into the technicolour territory of many a well-loved film or television score.
The BCO has recorded two extended suites: The Trolls Suite is a tone poem based on the troll myths of the Nordic countries inspired by the 2010 movie Trollhunter. Written by leader, composer and violinist Christian Garrick, The Trolls Suite, in which each of six different trolls - the Ringlefinch, the Tosserlad, the Harding, the Mountain King, the Rimetosser and the mighty Jotnar - gets their own piece, appears on the third BCO CD ‘Legends And Romances’, all of which results in a momentous suite lasting some 25 minutes.
The group recorded The Gaelic Chronicles, their 6th album, in 2014 to celebrate the particular affinity with their adopted spiritual homeland: the Scottish Highlands and Islands. The BCO tour the remotest and loveliest parts of Scotlandia annually and have collected an enviable array of old Gaelic songs in the course of these visits. The Gaelic Chronicles is a collection of fifteen of these timeless melodies, expanded into complete instrumental and vocal arrangements by Christian Garrick, featuring Highlander Gaelic vocalist Emma Maclean.
When founder and leader Christian Garrick conceived the idea to form the band in 2009 he determined to invite certain musicians he knew would fit the criteria of being swish performers as well as effortless to work with. These individuals are described in their own words thus:
ADRIAN ZOLOTUHIN (guitars)
“One of my earliest memories is standing in the wings at The Albert Hall watching my father's balalaika orchestra perform. I was fascinated with the sound, the lights, the spectacle, the music; I think that was the moment I fell in love with the guitar. My parents had me educated in the UK, and it was at school there that I fell in with a crowd of likeminded souls and formed a bourgeois punk band, Terminal Illness. We had many fun times touring the local village halls, unconstrained by the shackles of commercial success. By the age of sixteen I was regularly performing Russian music with my father, providing the soundtrack to the socialisation and digestion of nobility and peasantry alike. I studied Music & Sound at University and went on to become the sound engineer for artists such as Beverley Knight and Ruby Turner, but my thirst for the Gypsybeat was going unquenched. So when the call from Balkan Bob arrived, I wasted no time in accepting the role of Fiddler's Labourer for the most wonderful nearly Balkan fairly Gypsy orchestra in the world.”
KELLY CANTLON (double bass)
“Pointed shoes are a must in the BCO wardrobe. In fact the more pointed the better. I bought my first set of proper professional BCO snake-skin winkle pickers in a shoe shop on the isle of Jersey. Sound's crazy I know but it's true. I was a bit slow to realise the advantages of pointed shoes but after a short meeting with cousin Besnic (The Merciless) I was convinced that life would be much happier and significantly longer if I showed more enthusiasm. So I'm still wearing them. My favourite jazz double bass player is Richard Davies. I first heard him on an album with Elvin Jones and John Coltrane called Blacknus. Davis also recorded with Van Morrison on the classic album Astral Weeks in 1968. These two records have been my biggest influences. On the bass guitar, for me it has to be James Jamerson the genius Tamla Motown session player. He was a classical double bass player but went on to play a Fender Precision bass too. The very first 'music' I can remember hearing was The Ying Tong Song by The Goons. My mum and dad were big fans of the radio show in the fifties and bought the record. I was about 2 yrs old but it's still very clear in my mind. It was fun playing with Northern Soul legends Jimmy James and the Vagabonds back in the late ’60s”
EDDIE HESSION (button accordion)
“As I recall, I wanted to play the drums when I was young but somehow ended up with an accordion. After that, there was no turning back. The accordion has taken me to all sorts of places around the world, from swimming pool reception areas to lavish concert halls. I grew up in North London but now live in Brighton with my girlfriend. When we're on a break I like to walk by the sea and on the Sussex Downs, as well as spending time with my kids, Patrick and Maisie. A couple of benefits of travelling with the band are that I have loads of full English breakfasts and countless charity shops to browse in. If I hadn't been a musician, I would like to have worked in quality control for Mr Kipling. Highlights, part from the BCO, include touring the world with the 3 Tenors, Chris Rea and my on screen role as an Italian soldier in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin!”
CHRISTIAN GARRICK (violin)
“I grew up in a tall and narrow house with four pianos, one door and a goldfish. I started violin aged 4 and remember meeting the composer Oliver Messiaen at a rehearsal for the premiere performance of his magnum opus, St Francis Of Assisi. Early working experience was gained at the local fairground spinning the cars on the Waltzer. I first played with frequent collaborators and employers, the British jazz royals, Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth aged 10 but it wasn’t until much later I met my first real royal, Princess Diana, at my graduation from the Royal Academy of Music where she was patron. I have shared the stage with all sorts of interesting artists like Wynton Marsalis, Nigel Kennedy, Bireli Lagrene, Dolly Parton, All About Eve, Duffy, Caro Emerald and Van Morrison. We are currently busy with Tango Alakulo, a Finnish theatrical show, which has been created to mark 100 years of Finnish independence in 2017. I enjoy working in film and TV and am currently busy as the solo violin-voice of the BBC drama ‘Poldark’. I am professor of jazz violin studies at the Royal Academy, Royal College and Guildhall School of Music in London.”
“Back by popular demand, the fiery vivacity and awe-inspiring musicianship of the finest purveyors of Eastern European gypsy music this side of a Lada scrap heap will leave you with a grin on your face and rhythm in your feet…”
“The music is magic in their hands”
Sean Rafferty BBC Radio 3
“Evoking vivid images of Tzigane fiddle maestros, Budapest café life and gypsy campfires - plus a few surprises along the way - hugely entertaining, immense skill and profound musicianship, a show by the BCO is good enough to make you want to book that holiday down the Danube!”
Last night we went, with friends, to see The New Budapest Cafe Orchestra. It was the most exciting, inspiring and uplifting evening. The whole event was a delight and everybody in the audience were stamping and shouting for more. Thank you for bringing such class entertainment to our area. More of them please, we would certainly love to see the BCO again.
"The Budapest Cafe Orchestra play a blistering barrage of Czardas, East European and Russian folk tunes that might have come from the Hot Club of Paris via the Orient Express!"
"What a treat we had from the Budapest Café Orchestra More than anything, it felt like a touch of magic had landed in the theatre. Not only was their musicianship and performance magical, but there was also magic in the sense of trickery, or what illusions they were going to engage us in by the very sounds they produced on their instruments. Add to this the very real rapport they immediately established with the audience, and you have music and entertainment of absolute quality. Follow all this with a repartee that kept everyone enthralled and amused and you have a good night out; and add to that a magical stage presentation and you have something even more."
Laurence Rugg, Orcadian
"The boys from the BCO eek out an interesting advantage over others in that they are musically connected to the culture rather than culturally connected to the music and this manifests itself in their performances which are among the most fulfilling live entertainment spectacles you are ever likely to find of any genre"
BBC Celtic Connections
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