The ancient musical traditions of the "lautari" gypsies of Romania are extended through the unique performances of Taraf de Haïdouks, a band of 12 instrumentalists and singers aged 20 to 78.
In addition to recording four memorable albums of traditional tunes, the group has appeared on television with Yehudi Menuhin
and has recorded and performed with Swiss pop star Stephan Eicher
. The music of Taraf de Haïdouks was featured in Tony Gartlif's award-winning film, Latcho Drom. According to David Harrington of Kronos Quartet
, Taraf de Haïdouks "take their listeners to the essence of music; that place where the bow meets the string and a world of action follows." Taraf de Haïdouks, who take their name from the Haidouks, Robin Hood-like thieves who are recalled in many of the group's ballads, hail from the small Romanian vollage of Clejani, southwest of Bucharest. The group stuck close to their home village until being "discovered" by Stephen Karo and Michael Winter, two Belgian music fans who became enchanted with Taraf de Haïdouks' music during a trip to Romania in 1990. In addition to organizing several concerts for the band in Belgium, Karo and Winter brought them to the attention of world music record label, Crammed Discs
. After performing to an enthusiastic crowd at the WOMAD festival in 1991, Taraf de Haïdouks released their debut album, Musique Des Tsiganes De Roumanie. The album reached the top slot on Europe's world music charts and introduced the band's music to a global audience. Taraf de Haïdouks' second album, Honourable Brigands, released in 1994, was voted "Best World Music Album" by the German Critics Association. The group continued their success with Dumbala Dumba, released in 1998, which featured appearances by such guests as Rosioru, a master of Valachian Gypsy crooners, Viorica Rudareasa, a renowned Romanian female vocalist, and Napoleon, a member of the Urasi, a Romanian bear trainer caste. Taraf de Haïdouks' self-titled fourth album was released in 1999. A documentary video of Taraf de Haïdouks was filmed by French director Guy Demoy in 1998. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi