Sanda Weigl

Gypsy in a Tree
Barbès Records 2010

  1. Intro-o Zi la Poarta Mea
  2. Un Tigan Avea o Casa
  3. As Ofta Sa-Mi Iasa Focul
  4. Saraiman
  5. Adu Calu' Sa Ma Duc
  6. Anii Mei Si Tineretea
  7. Jandarmul
  8. Nu Exista-n Lumea Asata
  9. Todorel
10. Dans
11. Alomalo


As a child growing up in Bucharest, Romania, Sanda was mesmerized by the music of the gypsy street singers, who could be found on every street corner. Sanda quickly picked up these melodies and soon became a child star on Romanian national television.

When political persecution forced her family to move to East Berlin, Sanda was still a child: "We arrived in East Berlin", she remembers, "and one week later the Wall went up and we were trapped."

In her teens Sanda branched out into rock music and became embroiled in the political unrest in East Germany. She was arrested and sentenced to prison. An international outcry against the government's harsh sentence forced her release from jail. Labeled an enemy of the state, Sanda was expelled to West Germany.

In the early 90s Sanda moved to New York. She began performing and quickly became a sensation in New York's downtown clubs, playing the Knitting Factory, Tonic, BAM, the Balkan Cabaret Series at Exit Art, the JVC Jazz Festival and different cities in the US. In Europe she was invited to perform at the Pina Bausch Festival in Germany. She went on tour, enthusiastically received at sold-out performances: the Ruhrtriennale in Germany, the Moers Jazz Festival, Theater Spektakel in Zurich, Switzerland and many others. An audience of more than 20,000 fans cheered her appearance at the Jewish Music Festival in Krakow, Poland. In 2009 she was invited to perform at the Nobel Prize ceremonies for Herta Müller in Stockholm.

In 2010 she will perform at the Baryshnikov Arts Festival in Sarasota, Florida.

The new album's title "Gypsy in a Tree" refers to the Gypsy lautari in the early 20th century, who, while playing for weddings and other family ceremonies, were forced to sit in a tree, to be invisible to the guests.

The songs on this new album hail mostly from the urban lautari1 (gypsy) music. They are love and drinking songs, doinas2, horas3, all full of beautiful metaphors. Sanda has collected these songs and added many more she discovered during her recent travels through Romania.

Her new sound here is less folkloric than minimal and transparent. The arrangements by the Japanese musicians accompanying her have an innovative, fresh approach without straying too far from the original spirit of the songs.

Shoko Nagai plays the piano and the accordion as if she had been raised in a Bucharest mahala4. Satoshi Takeishi brings his imaginative percussion into Romanian music; sometimes he evokes the clop-clop of horses' hooves, sometimes the sound of castagnets. Stomu Takeishi provides the warm heartbeat for the band.

Sanda's unique interpretations of Romanian folk and Gypsy songs, hovering between tradition, jazz and improvisation are by turn enigmatic, sad, merry or wistful. Sanda's unmistakably powerful voice is her trademark and resonates throughout every one of the melodies on this album.

To call Weigl's voice "powerful" would be an understatement...
-BBC World Music

1lautari - musicians of a taraf (group) who cannot read music and learn from the ear how to play - mostly
                gypsy musicians
2doina - song of elegy
3hora - dance song
4mahala - quarters on the border between the town and the country - "cintece de mahala" are the songs
                 of the suburbs

Barbès Records