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Humble Grumble


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Crazed jazzy and avant-proggy Belgian ensemble Humble Grumble seem "Zappa-esque" in their meld of anything-goes music and sometimes outrageous, sometimes incongruously dark lyrics, but the roots of the band are on the somewhat folkier side.
Hungarian singer/guitarist Gabor "Humble" Vörös wandered around Europe before settling in the Ghent, Belgium area in 1993. He participated in a number of musical projects, including a somewhat oddball folk-rock outfit named Dearest Companion, also featuring multi-instrumentalist Tom Theuns. Vörös (on guitar and vocals) and Theuns (on bass) formed Humble Grumble in 1996, and a quintet version of the group toured Switzerland and Germany and recorded a pair of demos that year, The Golden Pile and The Tom and Gabor Special. (Singer/guitarist David Bovée was another member of Dearest Companion, and Bovée later went on to form Think of One, whose debut disc, 1998's Juggernaut, featured appearances by Humble Grumble's musicians.) Theuns would soon depart the group, however, to form Ambrozijn with violinist Wouter Van Den Abeele, and Humble Grumble largely became a vehicle for realizing whatever ideas might spring from Vörös' imagination.
After the privately released Dreamwavepatterns in 2000 and Rockstar in 2004, Humble Grumble issued 30 Years Kolinda on the Pan Records label in 2005. Vörös had become enamored of the music of Hungarian folk outfit Kolinda, and embarked on the 30 Years Kolinda project and album after meeting group mainstay Peter Dabasi in Budapest. To mark Kolinda's 30th anniversary, Vörös invited Dabasi to perform live with Humble Grumble, and, aside from one track, the associated 30 Years Kolinda album featured Dabasi compositions exclusively. The album also marked the arrival of several musicians who would remain key members of Humble Grumble in the future: saxophonist Pol Mareen, clarinetist Pedro Guridi, and bassist Jouni Isoherranen.
Several years would pass between the release of 2005's 30 Years Kolinda and Humble Grumble's next album, The Face of Humble Grumble, which arrived in 2008 on the Cocktail Soul Productions label and featured re-recordings of material from Dreamwavepatterns and Rockstar. In addition to Vörös, Mareen, Guridi, and Isoherranen, the musicians on The Face of Humble Grumble also included Pieter Claus on marimba, Jonathan Callens on drums, and a pair of singers, Megan Quill and Franciska Roose, who good-naturedly harmonized with decidedly quirky frontman Vörös. From that point forward, Humble Grumble would settle into a lineup of guitar/vocals, saxophone, clarinet, marimba/vibraphone, bass, and drums, plus female vocal chorus and other guests.
Meanwhile, to the south in Milan, Italy, producer Marcello Marinone and friends at the AltrOck label were taking notice of Humble Grumble, and ultimately concluded that the group would fit in well with the imprint's avant-prog artist roster. Providing the group with its widest distribution yet, AltrOck released the ambitious yet crazily offbeat Flanders Fields CD in 2011; the album featured Vörös, Mareen, Guridi, Isoherranen, Claus, and Callens, plus Quill and Roose among a slew of 11 guest musicians, most of them vocalists. Two years later, Humble Grumble returned with their second AltrOck release, Guzzle It Up!, featuring the same basic core lineup plus guests; singer Quill was now deemed a full bandmember but Roose had departed, with Liesbeth Verlaet joining Quill in the band's female vocal duo (with matching nautical motif miniskirts and over-the-knee socks), and Joren Cautaers was the group's new vibraphonist, although Pieter Claus took a "guest" marimba solo on one track. ~ Dave Lynch, Rovi


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