Hai La Drum
Hai La Drum (let’s hit the road) is a fantastic combination of gypsy, jewish, Romanian manouche, Balkan, swing, jazz, hot club of France influences led by the astonishing violin virtuoso Baz Stanescu.
In 1997 Baz decided to come to the green pastures of England, where he found home in Haywards Heath, the heart of mid sussex. His talent was quickly spotted, and before long he was engaged in a tour of the country playing the music of Niccolo Paganini, to universal acclaim.
During his time on the road he began to encounter fellow musicians, some of whom caught his eye. After forming some solid working relationships and friendships he began to develop a plan to create his own group. He wanted to bring Romanian and Balkan music to a wider audience.
This seed of an idea came to fruition in 2003 when the group was finally formed. The maestro is ably assisted by Pete Watson on accordion, Jason Henson on guitar and Dan Sheppard on double bass.
Haila La Drum is available from duo to quintet. Baz Stanescu is also available for solo performance.
Review London Evening Standard 30/04/07
"Imagine you're in the Balkans", said Sylvia, the flamboyant hostess at Le Quecumbar, "Don't be boring and English, make lots of noise!" So from the beginning Romanian Gypsy violinist Baz Stanescu got wild whoops and clapping from the crowd. Actually, the atmosphere at Le Quecumbar isn't Balkan, but more 1930s Paris or Brussels. From the outside it's clearly a converted pub, but inside it's a congenial Gypsy music café with candles, art nouveau lights, old black-and-white photos and a little stage in the corner ringed by luxuriant potted plants. Certainly it doesn't feel like Battersea. Stanescu, was born in Bucharest into a family of Gypsy musicians going back, he says, some 250 years. He started playing aged seven and clearly has had some classical training alongside his Gypsy tradition. His band, Hai La Drum (Hit the Road), is essentially British, despite their Romany name, playing accordion, guitar and double bass. He started with some Romanian tunes with heavily ornamented fiddle playing, before slipping into Ciocarlia (The Lark). This is a cliché Romanian Gypsy piece usually trotted out as an encore and it was brave to throw it in early on and keep it fresh with a musical integrity plus spectacular bird effects. Stanescu's violin techniques include spectral harmonics, double stopping and a spectacular left-hand pizzicato with a panache I've only seen matched by Maxim Vengerov. Stanescu and the band toss musical phrases back and forth and Le Quecumbar clearly thrives on this sort of quality musical vibe. The repertoire ranged from Romanian tunes to Russian classics and Django-style Gypsy swing. The warmth, camaraderie and ambience took us to another world, far from London". Simon Broughton, London Evening Standard