Django Bar, April 8
Nadya and Zoran’s 101 Candles Orkestra turned the Django Bar into a little crucible of multiculturalism; the Tavern at the End of Euroverse, if you will. Greeks, Anglos and Italians mingled and danced with Serbs and other Balkans, while the band was even more ethnically diverse, and the repertoire ranged from stomping Balkan-Gypsy firecrackers to French chanson, tango and even Nino Rota’s timeless Parla piu piano (The Godfather theme).
What other art form can do this? It was like witnessing time-lapse photography of the ancient wound of interracial suspicion healing without a scar. And meanwhile in the upstairs venue Senegalese Independence Day was being celebrated.
Nadya Golksi has the sort of voice that would still light up a room if the electricity failed. A contralto of power, range and conviction, it always sounded spontaneous rather than contrived, even as she slid effortlessly between Serbian, French, Italian, Yiddish, English and more. As well as some truly incendiary singing from driving guitarist Goce Manche Manasiev the vocal department was bolstered by some entertaining contributions from our host, Yaron Hallis, further amplifying the sense of communal informality.
Crammed on to the Django Bar’s stage this nine-piece version of the band was completed by the father and son team of Zoran and Sasha Todorovic (accordions), Daniel Weltlinger (violin), Stephen Lalor (mandolin), Arne Hanna (guitar), Dario Moconja (bass) and James Tawadros (percussion). It made for a propulsive, thick-pile sound that could drop away to Lalor’s plaintive mandolin (La Vie en rose), or could spawn thrilling solos, mainly from Zoran or Weltlinger. For Caje Sukarije the band became a 12-piece with three players from upstairs dashing down to join, including Sam Golding taking a slicing trumpet solo. This song also exemplified Zoran’s phenomenal improvising, which was like hearing a glass that kept shattering, so shards of sound were flying in multiple directions at armour-piercing speed amid mad, fluttering trills. Weltlinger’s violin melted across La Vie en rose and scorched over the Gypsy material, a perfect foil for Golksi’s voice.