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Istanbul has long been considered as being the gateway between East and West, a two-way portal for the exchange of goods, peoples and cultures. Once at the crossroads of Roman influence and home to many diverse ethnic traditions, when that great empire shrank, certain cultures grew to dominance, others were displaced, migrated or dispersed. Among these dispersed peoples, we find European Jews and other tribes which can be loosely grouped as Roma or Gypsy, often leading itinerant lives, fiercely independent and fiercely protective of their historic origins and culture.
Whereas Western European music, strictly governed by the Church of Rome (and of course Constantinople up until the incursion of Islam), developed along well-defined and well-documented lines, the diverse musical culture of the Eastern fringes retained many links with older traditions, so that to modern-day Western ears this music sounds at the same time exotic as well as strangely familiar.
Find a range of Eastern European Bands at Hop Till You Drop
Just as the classical Latin of Biblical times has evolved into the similar yet distinct modern ‘Romance’ languages found in Western Europe, so it is with the development of musical culture. Eastern European music sounds different because it developed in different regions and within different cultures, yet taken as a whole it shares certain fundamental features which make it recognisable and accessible to Western listeners.
The instruments nowadays played in a typical Gypsy or Jewish Klezmer ensemble are instantly recognisable – it is the idiom of the musical genre and style that is distinctive. Accordion, clarinet, violin, guitar, double-bass and piano frequently appear, much as they do in the popular and folk traditions of the West. Perhaps the only ‘alien’ sound unique to the culture is that of the cembalon, a hammer-dulcimer forerunner of the piano.
As with the music of other displaced peoples the world over (Afro-American Blues, Portuguese ‘Fado’ etc), Gypsy music reflects a deep-rooted melancholy which characterises much of the repertoire – songs of yearning for home, searching for something lost, a quest for identity. However, this definitive mood is regularly interrupted by bursts of fantastically joyous, fast and frenetic celebration music, as exciting and uplifting (and danceable) as any to be found around the globe.
As in certain other traditions where music is learnt aurally, passed on from player to player without reference to a standard written version, individuality in performance is a defining element in Roma and Gypsy music, with a strong emphasis on variation and improvisation, making each rendition to a significant extent unique, as in Western jazz.
Gypsy and Klezmer bands will readily switch from playing attractive, atmospheric background music as accompaniment to a formal meal or drinks reception, to an engaging, interactive performance of more up-tempo music for dancing later on.
At many events, a compact ensemble will perform background music for the earlier part of proceedings, sometimes playing their instruments acoustically, and then augment with further musicians (often including drums) and amplify their sound to achieve a full-on dance-band impact. Naturally, this highly-adaptable arrangement is ideal for a whole range of different social events.
The development of Eastern European music in some ways parallels that of the West, in other aspects has diverged over the intervening centuries. Whereas Western art music fairly rapidly became a literate culture, evolving, progressing and changing in a highly visible way, music in the East continued as a predominantly aural tradition and so developed along different, more organic lines. Shared instrumentation and regular dance-forms bring the cultures closer, but the instantly recognisable idiomatic and stylistic differences give Eastern European music its attractive, exotic quality and appeal.
Evocative and nostalgic to listen to, irresistible and effervescent to dance to, a Gypsy band will present a flexible, adaptable performance well-suited to entertain guests at almost any social event, from weddings and private parties to corporate functions and public festivities.
On Friday 1st November, Gabriel Fonseca and his Cuban friends from La Mono Band and Cuban Strings entertained a full house at the Jubilee Hall in Hartley Wintney. Read on to find out how the performance was received …
Imagine the good time vibe of the Buena Vista Social Club back in the `1940s and you come close to the atmosphere Gabriel Fonseca and his friends conjured up on a dark and dismal November Friday night at Hartley Wintney Jazz Club.
Find out more about booking Gabriel Fonseca and La Cuba Ritmo..
The performance generated the warmth and good humour of a hot sultry Cuban evening. Add in the infectious salsa beat and you can’t help getting that good-time holiday feeling. It’s a party from start to finish.
The evening opens with La Mono Band, ably accompanied by Gabriel himself on violin. Ingrid’s dusky voice and delightful looks and swaying hips charm us, while the sharp crisp rhythms from Mono’s bongos energise and excite. Salsa and Merengue set us all in the party mood. Add spare, tight chords from the keyboard and sonorous tones from Gabriel’s violin and the night really starts to get going.
The band performs a mix of dance rhythms and joyful folk songs. Sometimes Mono takes the lead, with soulful singing that touches the heart. Harmony singing adds to the feeling of community between the musicians on stage and with the audience.
Find out more about booking Gabriel Fonseca and La Cuba Ritmo..
In the second set, Cuban Strings – Gabriel’s guitar and violin duo, with a guest appearance by delightful young vocalist Laura – take us to a boulevard café in downtown Havana. We are entertained with simple but effective arrangements of folk tunes from the Caribbean and Southern America. Sometimes catchy and humorous, sometimes elegaic and soulful and sometimes high drama, we are enchanted by the musical trip.
Gabriel is joined on stage by Mike Evans, leader of The Pump Room Trio in Bath during the 1980s and the original violinist with the rock band Stackridge, who opened the very first Glastonbury Festival back in 1970. The ensuing musical badinage is one of the the highlights of the night. We find ourselves in the middle of a delightful light-hearted musical duel.
There is nothing quite like rivalry to sharpen up the playing! We are treated to musical virtuosity and witty exchanges from both players, each answering the other back with interest, featuring humorous references from Mike to the English tradition to which he is firmly rooted, skilfully woven into the complex sultry tropical rhythms.
Find out more about booking Gabriel Fonseca and La Cuba Ritmo..
The first set engaged the interest, the second set absorbed and enchanted: now we’re all really ready to step out – and so are the musicians! The evening ends with a thoroughly good, full-on party.
With Mono and Ingrid in full swing the party really gets into gear – and before you can say Jack Robinson, Hartley Wintney is on the dancefloor! English reserve is jettisoned in order to join in the Latin-American magic. For a short time, we forget our winter woes and bask in the Cuban musical sunshine.
Got the Winter Blues? You don’t need to visit the doctor for a tonic. Come to Hartley Wintney Jazz Club and join in Gabriel Fonseca’s Cuban musical extravaganza. It’s a totally reinvigorating, utterly refreshing burst of musical sunshine. We all want him and his band to come back so that we can do it again!
Accomplished London Jazz Diva Kai Hoffman presents Kai’s Roaring Twenties Extravaganza. It’s Kai’s tribute to the vibrant and exciting period that saw a new form of music – Jazz – catch on across the world. The period brought freedom for modern women who shingled their hair and stepped into simple easy- to-wear fashions that sent hemlines flying upward, freeing unencumbered limbs to let rip with exuberant risqué new jazz-influenced dances like The Charleston, The Black Bottom and the Lindy Hop.
Find out more about booking Kai’s Roaring Twenties Extravaganza.
Resident singer at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Kai’s mellifluous voice and gripping stage presence presents the perfect vehicle for trademark songs from the ‘20s such as ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, and the experienced musicians that comprise her band recreate the evocative sounds that characterise the Birth of Jazz with panache and hard-earned professionalism.
The advent of radio is the key to the Jazz Age. Eager listeners across America, Europe and the British Isles tuned in regularly to popular music shows broadcasting the innovative music from the exciting pioneer jazz clubs in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. The craze for Dixieland Jazz, Ragtime and Big Band sounds spread rapidly across America, and smash-hit movies like The Jazz Age confirmed the epidemic, not just in New York, but in London and Paris too. Soon anyone who wanted to be considered ‘hip’ was strumming hot rhythms on the banjo, with the double-bass holding down the harmony and a vibrant bouncing interweaving topline from clarinet, trumpet and trombone, stretching out on ‘The St Louis Blues’ and recent Broadway hits such as ‘Tea for Two’.
Kai brings you the excitement and restlessness of the ‘20s through a soulful and sparkling rendition of the songs that epitomised the period. At a large 1920s-themed event, Kai can set the mood with a full six-piece band, featuring London’s finest horn-players on trumpet, clarinet and trombone, ably supported by double-bass and tasteful drums. You can be sure that her audience will be on the dancefloor, kicking up their heels in no time! Perhaps you are organising a Tea-Dance for a smaller, more intimate group. Kai can scale down her performance, presenting a captivating duo of vocals accompanied by 1920s ragtime-style piano.
Whether performing at an intimate afternoon tea-dance or a full-scale ‘20s-themed Ball, Kai and her musicians have the repertoire and musical experience to fit the bill. If ballroom etiquette is on the agenda, in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ style, Kai and the band have a comprehensive repertoire of strict-time dances at their fingertips. Old stalwarts like the Waltz and the Foxtrot are no problem, and ‘20s innovations such as Tango and Quickstep can be central to the themed performance.
It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that SWING! You can’t keep your feet still once the Jazz vibe gets going. With the brash new music and the daring new fashions came convention-defying new dances that swept the world. Soon everyone who was anyone was kicking up their heels to The Charleston and learning risqué new dance-moves like The Shimmy. Guys and gals thought nothing of shocking Granny and upsetting their parents by frequenting fashionable night-clubs to dance The Black Bottom and The Lindy Hop.
It was postwar – an edgy, exciting, fast-paced time that kicked out the past and eagerly fell in love with all that was modern and new. Short simple loose clothes allowed easy movement, and arms and legs kicked and swung with the syncopating rhythms of the music. Girls who dressed and danced in this way were nick-named Flappers.
In the 1920s, emancipated modern women shocked their senior relatives by bobbing their hair, slipping on simple short flapper dresses decorated with elaborate feather boas and eye-catching feather head-dresses and chiffon scarves. Kai and the guys help you set the atmosphere by dressing with great care and attention to detail in authentic 1920s style. The guys will present in sharp ‘20s style suits, or full formal evening dress, if the occasion demands. Kai herself will dress to kill in full flamboyant 1920s manner.
Dressed in keeping with the period, Kai’s Roaring Twenties Extravaganza provides the perfect musical backdrop for 1920s-themed Tea-Dances and formal Balls.
Both the camera and the microphone loved that consummate performer, Frank Sinatra. His velvet-textured larynx and unique romantic style won him worldwide acclaim, coupled with the notoriety of the celebrity lifestyle he led and the ‘Ratpack’ company he kept. Along with Fred Astaire, he was Hollywood’s leading man of the Swing Jazz era.
A hard act to follow, equally difficult to emulate. However, with his ‘Salute To Sinatra’ Gary Grace offers the next best thing in a magical tribute to the great entertainer.
Find out more about booking Gary Grace Frank Sinatra Tribute Band for your wedding.
With 30 years’ performance experience in the music industry, Gary has built a reputation as one of the most highly-regarded popular singers in the UK. Natural vocal ability, an affinitive gift for mimicry and a magnetic stage-presence all combine wonderfully in this homage to his principal hero.
This is splendid entertainment for a wedding reception party. You can expect to hear all the iconic swing jazz classics in an uncannily pitch-perfect replica of Sinatra’s interpretations of ‘My Way’, ‘Mack The Knife’, ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ – the list goes on.
Sinatra’s extensive back-catalogue is eclectic and varied in style, making his music ideal accompaniment to different stages of a wedding celebration. Laid-back soulful jazz during the champagne reception or formal meal can make way for more high-energy, up-tempo arrangements for dancing later on.
If unalloyed Sinatra isn’t quite enough, Gary Grace can widen his repertoire to include other artists of international repute, such as Tony Bennett, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Matt Monro, in his ‘Tribute to the Kings of Swing’ show.
Wouldn’t it be absolutely incredible to have your all-time favourite band come and play at your wedding reception? Unfortunately, unless you are either related to or can number Mick or Keith or Paul (or even better, Simon) among your close friends, or you are quite obscenely loaded anyway, this is and will remain purely a pipedream.
However, you could have the next best thing. There is a growing number of high-quality, authentic-sounding Tribute Acts operating across the UK, paying faithful homage to the music and replicating the stageshows of iconic international superstars of the recent past.
Find out more about booking a tribute band for your wedding
The musicians in a tribute band strive to express their shared passion for a particular recording artist’s or band’s music by diligently replicating their performance as accurately as possible. Naturally, all of the most popular hits will be covered, together with some of the less well-known items selected from the original’s back-catalogue.
In most cases, in purely musical terms it can be difficult to separate the replica from the real thing, and occasionally the tribute band’s performance even exceeds the original. Shut your eyes and suspend your disbelief – perhaps Elvis has not yet left the building after all!
Minute attention to detail in every aspect of a tribute act’s performance is a critical part of their artistic approach. Everything will be accurately replicated, from the sound and stage-lighting to the costumes, makeup and hairstyles. The musicians will act completely ‘in character’ and choreographed dance-routines and general movement will also be closely observed, so that the overall effect will sound and look uncannily like the original.
To complete the effect, you could ask your guests to come to the wedding reception in appropriate ‘period’ dress to involve them interactively in the theme – most tribute acts welcome audience participation!
The style of live music you choose for your wedding reception will effectively create the atmosphere and set the tone of the proceedings, so it’s vitally important to choose wisely. However, identifying music that both reflects your personality and simultaneously appeals to your guests’ varied tastes can present a bit of a conundrum.
Careful consideration is required to reconcile these and other factors, and you may well need to compromise to an extent; it’s probably diplomatic to aim to keep everybody happy at least some of the time.
Find out more about booking a live band for your wedding.
Much more effectively than a disco or other recorded music, a live band can set the scene from their very first chord, so it’s important to choose a style of music that will create exactly the atmosphere you want through careful selection of repertoire and tempo.
For instance, if you’re after elegance and sophistication, then a string quartet or piano trio might fit the bill, mixing classical pieces with lighter, more popular items. If you imagine your guests would enjoy an evening of dancing but aren’t likely to be too keen on popular modern chart hits, then a classy swing jazz band playing all the favourites from Hollywood’s golden age would conjure up a suitably vintage ambience.
For something a little more exotic with a timeless feel, a Caribbean steel band or perhaps a Brazilian salsa troupe would add a colourful element of spectacle as well as performing exciting, danceable music, or there’s always an Indian Bollywood band if you’re looking for a vibrant, spectacular stage-show as the highlight of the evening’s entertainment.
It’s your wedding and you (or Daddy) are going to be footing the bill, so of course you should be allowed to choose your favourite style of musical entertainment. But do include your guests’ potential enjoyment as an important influential factor in your decision. Remember, pleasing all of the people some of the time should ideally be your main aim.
Your wedding is anticipated to be the most special day in your life, and naturally the ceremony is central to it. Irrespective of whether you are planning to marry during a church service or elsewhere in a civil ceremony, live music can play a significant role in creating a real sense of occasion.
Consider carefully how much and at which points before, during and after the ceremony you would like to have music played or sung. Talk to the vicar or registrar to help establish where and when music would be most appropriate, and take advice from the musicians who will be performing, as their experience in these matters may be invaluable.
Find out more about booking live musicians for your wedding.
To settle the atmosphere of growing anticipation during the anxious minutes as the guests assemble in expectation of the (fashionably late) arrival of the bridal party, a selection of calm, contemplative music will be a welcome distraction, soothing nerves and disguising coughs and whispers.
At a given signal, a fanfare and march are perfect to announce the bridal party and accompany their procession up the aisle. Perhaps you have a special piece in mind for this – discuss possibilities with the musicians beforehand, and don’t forget to inform the vicar or registrar of your choice, as there may be certain restrictions as to what music is deemed suitable.
In a typical C of E marriage service, hymns or psalms (and occasionally anthems) are sung as a regular part of proceedings. In a civil ceremony where religious music is not permitted, instrumental items or secular songs can be effectively substituted at corresponding points.
Music is appropriate in all cases during the interlude for the signing of the marriage register (which often takes quite a few minutes) before another fanfare-like piece can triumphantly announce the newlyweds as they are presented to their family and friends as man and wife.
The above-mentioned fanfare-like piece can be quite pivotal, as it simultaneously signals the end of the religious and/or legal aspects of proceedings and the beginning of the informal, celebratory elements of the occasion.
Where possible, it would be an excellent idea for the musicians to relocate outside (weather permitting) in order to sustain the cheerful atmosphere and entertain your guests with a further selection of light-hearted music while champagne is sipped and the photographs are taken.
Live music can play an important central role in defining, accompanying and announcing the various unfolding stages of a wedding before, during and after the actual ceremony.
Consult with the musicians in order to establish where and when you want music to be performed, and discuss your choice of musical items with the vicar or registrar to make sure of their approval.
If appropriate and logistically feasible, ask the musicians to stay on after the ceremony to entertain your guests for a while during the drinks reception. Above all, enjoy your wedding, enjoy the atmosphere, and enjoy the music!