It has to be left to actual Hungarians to pronounce upon the authenticity of Ernö Kállai Kiss Jr. and His Gypsy Band, but they'll sound great to the rest of us. In the general contour and modal flavor of the tunes, what is heard here resembles the representations of gypsy music heard on easy listening albums and the like, but the overall effect is completely different. There are two basic moods in this music, slow and sadly questioning with free tempo, and fiery whirlwind. That might sound monotonous, but not the way it's done here, for the appeal of the music is in its richness. The slow passages are fascinating. They're genuinely heterophonic, with a shimmering texture consisting of multiple layers. A violin, apparently improvising, creates a constant counterpoint to Kiss' lead clarinet, while other instruments add freer lines. Notable among these is a cimbalom hammered dulcimer, which sometimes breaks out for solo passages. The density of the music is unusual, and when the players coalesce into one of the upbeat dances they generate a great deal of energy. The Hungarian Songs English designation on the album cover is misleading; to judge from the titles most of the music did indeed have vocal origins, but there are only three tracks with vocals, in untranslated Hungarian. Track 18, the Rumanian hora of Grigoras Dinicu, is not, incidentally, the famed Hora staccato, but it is an equally effective piece in the same vein. About the only complaint here is the booklet, which merely offers a biography of Kiss in English and Hungarian; there will be many buyers of this disc who want to know more about what they're hearing. Those buyers will be getting a real thrill, straight from the heartland of gypsy music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Mikor a pénze elfogyott (When his money was gone) (J. Bihari) / Úgy nézek rád (I look at you like that) (T. Kalmár)
Hej, te kuvasz (Hey, you tyke) (M. Eisemann) / Sólyommadár fészkét rakja egy sziklán (The hawk is nesting on a cliff) (G. Orbán)
Ma éjjel kigyúl egy csillag az égen (A star will light up on the sky tonight) (J. Sándor) / Ugye, hogy nem felejtesz el (You will not
Mulatok, mulatok (I am carousing, carousing) (S. Jároka) / Üzenek majd néked (I will send you a message) (Z. Rácz)
Eltörött az ezüsthangú tilinkóm (My silver-toned flute broke) (J. Farkas) / Ezekkel a kakasokkal baj van (There is trouble with these