Veronika Harcsa & Bálint Gyémánt: Tell Her: Release Information
[Tracks] [Info] [Media Resources] [Order CD]
Release Date: 03.02.2017
TT Catalogue No: 4642
Veronika Harcsa - Bálint Gyémánt
When the first duo album of Veronika Harcsa and Bálint Gyémánt was released in 2014 it sparked enthusiastic reactions among press and audience. The vast reduction to vocals and guitar lets the songs on Lifelover sound extraordinarily transparent, direct and intimate, at the same time the duo fascinatingly exhibits a stylistic range from jazz to artful pop facets. But most captivating of all, is Harcsa’s exceptionally variable voice. When she lightly skips through octaves, varies tempos or cuts capers scatting, she unites outstanding talent and juvenile wit. „Harcsa is an amazingly versatile musician, a brilliant vocalist and gifted entertainer in the best sense. She has found her very own thing and performed it on a high level with great impact.” (allaboutjazz.com)
The songs of the new album Tell Her present a refinement of expression through compositional sophistication and clever details. The courageous expansion of dynamics is especially apparent. Veronika Harcsa and Bálint Gyémánt fathom the substantial depth that is inherent in quiet passages and long notes. Therein Harcsa’s involvement with other projects, which are set in the domain of Classical music, is also reflected. The song Give Time for example, is inspired by J.S. Bach’s cello suites. At the same time producer Jeremy Friedman contributed ideas that carefully broaden the spectrum of sounds. “We wanted to work with somebody, who always concerns himself with sound possibilities”, Harcsa explains. “I met Jeremy during my concert series in Berlin, when I was playing with his father, the American vibraphone player David Friedman.”
Although Veronika Harcsa writes the music and texts for most of the songs, it is very important to her, that the pieces are a product of collective effort in the end. It is undeniably essential to the sound of the new album, that the virtuoso Bálint Gyémánt exclusively plays acoustic guitar now, whereby Tell Her altogether shifts a little more towards the direction of a singer/songwriter aesthetic. Gyémánt studied both classical and jazz guitar and in 2007 he was the first Hungarian student to receive a scholarship to the Academy of Music Oslo. As a member of the Transform Quintet the innovative musician played an album with Joey Calderazzo and besides his work with Harcsa, he is just about to record his trio's debut album featuring Shai Maestro on the piano. He has known Veronika Harcsa for 10 years now. At first he was a regular guest with her quartet at that time, then Harcsa and he founded the band Bin-Jip with pianist Zsolt Kaltenecker and DJ Andrew J. Their experimental electro-jazz was also characterized by Gyémánt’s perfect mastery of the looper; in 2011 Bin-Jip’s debut Enter won the Hungarian Grammy for Alternative Album of the Year.
Veronika Harcsa also started with Classical music at one time. As a seven-year-old she learned the piano and as a teenager she switched to saxophone. Achie Shepp’s Down Home New York impressed her deeply; furthermore she listened to The Doors, Janis Joplin and Pink Floyd. In 2004 she decided to study singing at the academy in Budapest. The first album of her quartet was initially a success in Japan, which then also brought success in Hungary. Harcsa’s second CD found even greater response. “In 2007 we had the luck to surf on a wave”, Harcsa tells, “a sudden wave of hip clubs where jazz was played opening everywhere, furthermore there were new radio stations and shows, with really courageous editors.” Veronika Harcsa is a passionate European. Born in Budapest seven years before the fall of the iron curtain, she values open borders to this day. For years she has been commuting between east and west, speaks Hungarian and English, French and German. She has toured extensively in Serbia and Romania, and Harcsa completed her master’s degree at the conservatory in Brussels. In Berlin she initiated a monthly concert series, for which she always brought new duo constellations to the stage. At the moment she is primarily living in London and Budapest. In the past ten years she has performed in clubs and at festivals in over 20 countries worldwide, worked in different projects with Erik Truffaz, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Enrico Pieranunzi, Kris Defoort, Nicola Conte and is currently collaborating with the Oscar-winning director JiĹ™i Menzel. In addition Harcsa composes for film and theatre. For the first time there is a traditional Hungarian piece on Tell Me, which indirectly has to do with her multifarious engagements. “I learned ‘Vetettem violát’ as a child,“ she explains. “I spend more and more time abroad and I love the variety of the cultural influences I get. Yet as a counterpoint I feel more and more attached to the beauty of my roots. This is why we decided to record this song.”
With their new album Tell Me Veronika Harcsa and Bálint Gyémánt show a determined creative will that unites direct and vivid charisma with structural thoughts. In addition, there are Harcsa’s poetic English texts. “As an artist you don’t have a chance not to react to social and political events at the moment. Nonetheless, this time my songs are first and foremost influenced by personal experiences that strongly matter to me emotionally,” Harcsa says. Even when her lyrics don’t directly take a political stance, the attitude of the cosmopolitan duo is clear. Just recently the singer was involved in a project in Budapest that actively and playfully contributed to reducing the fear of foreigners. In the end the stylistically diversified music of Veronika Harcsa and Bálint Gyémánt is in itself a living plea for openness and modernity.
The new album is innovative and neoclassical at the same time, uplifting and astonishing, the most serious work the singer-songwriter produced so far. She proved again, that she is willing to leave the beaten path for the sake of playing and experimenting. As she mentions in her lyrics, she is "moving anticlockwise", which makes her one of the most versatile and exciting performers of our time.
I've heard many voice and guitar duos, but non of them has such a full-bodied and rich sound, and only few of them can fill the songs with so much life with just one guitar. Veronika's voice is brilliantly clear, tender and strong. Not only is her technique uniquely versatile, but she is also very creative vocally. The shifts she can produce in her voice are so precise and subtle, as if she was playing an instrument.