So I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from lovely people afraid I am suffering from “heimweh" (Goheen tells me this means homesickness.) But actually we’ve been having a lot of fun.
--My darling Barmaljovans debuted my first-ever original lyrics (to a gorgeous instrumental by Ljova) at Joe’s Pub! You can hear the version with Ljova’s intro to the song here and the intro-less version here. Also, check out the review of their show, and the photographic proof that Inna and Ljova have indeed run back to NYC.
Hungary’s loss is your gain. Check out Ljova's myspace page and go without fail to his next gig. You have not lived until you’ve seen Inna and Ljova live. Here's a youtube clip of the three of us jamming in the basement of Sirály.
--Before Barmaljova flew the coop, they threw a going-away party which climaxed in an incredible three-fiddle jam. Ljova wrecked shop on his viola, Inna radiated song, Yonathan laid down fluid accompaniment, and a cat named Zoltan Lantos melted his borrowed fiddle like it was a plastic sax and he was Charlie Parker. Last night we heard him play in a duo at Sirály, and once again he blew our minds with his sick fiddle skills. Zoltan spent 10 years in India studying Indian music, and you can really it in his music. His phrasing reminds me of my first really serious jazz violin teacher, David Balakrishnan of Turtle Island String Quartet. When I started with David I was so new to jazz that I associated his sound with bebop—but last night I finally realized “THAT’S the secret ingrediant in David B.'s sound...it's an Indian inflection!” David Balakrishnan and Zoltan share a clean, precise yet complex bowing style that I absolutely covet.
Zoltan has this incredible prototype Indian fiddle, with five strings and sympathetic strings (strings tuned to a certain pitch which are not played, but resonate in “sympathy” with regular strings when a true pitch is hit). The fiddle is actually Spanish, not Indian; it was created by a crazy wealthy hippie Spanish hobbyist obsessed with fusing western and eastern instruments. I meant to take a picture of Zoltan and his incredible fiddle but I forgot my camera. So I drew a picture for you.
--My quest to learn about Hungarian culture continues. This week I visited Budapest’s ethnographic museum (News Flash: Hungarian Nativity Play includes Devil Character. More at 11.) Rick and I also visited the amazing history museum with our young friend Peter. After staggering through 1000+ years of Magyar history we had a long post-museum roundtable covering Las Vegas, Tiki Bars, the Revolutions of 1848, Hungarian Literature, and American vs. Hungarian senses of humor. Peter found dead baby jokes funny, and agreed that blondes are stupid, but did not understand lightbulb jokes. In a moment of misguided optimism we made him watch Stephen Colbert’s address to the white house press corps. We averaged three minutes of explanation to one minute of joke. Peter gamely kept trying to understand and we gamely kept trying to explain the humor, but I felt like I was writing a masters’ thesis.
In other humor news, Rick, who has an even harder time with Hungarian than I do, made his first Hungarian pun. This is a big deal since the Hungarian love for punning rivals my Uncle Jimbo's. The Hungarian word for “Cheers” is “Egészégedre.” We were discussing West Coast hip-hop while wine shopping at the 24 hour deli, and Rick observed that if Dr. Dre came to Hungary, and you were drinking with him, you could slap his back and say “Egészege, …DRE!” I didn’t know whether to be encouraged or appalled. I decided on encouraged.
Last but not least, have you seen the Hungarian hip-hop cops? No? They still haven't been caught. My youtube account will still not let me post video, so click here. You're welcome.
6 months ago