Words by Simon Broughton
Poland’s greatest non-Polish Gypsy group
Čači Vorba is the name of the group, but it’s vocalist and fiddler Maria Natanson who is the star of the show. Their name, in Romani, means ‘True Speech’ and they’re one of the best groups in Poland, although they don’t perform Polish music. The tracks on this, their third, album are in Romanian, Greek, Romani, Serbian and Bulgarian, yet Natanson’s striking voice and inventive instrumental arrangements give it a completely cohesive character. The instrumentation includes accordion, bouzouki, guitar, double bass and percussion, with some guest sarangi, kamancheh and more from multi-instrumentalist Bart Palyga. The spectral violin at the opening of ‘Mehandzija’, a Macedonian Gypsy song, and the transparent accordion and frame-drum texture in the Greek sound of ‘Yasemi Mou’ are just two examples of what makes Čači Vorba so distinctive. The arrangements are mostly by guitarist/bouzouki player Piotr Majczyna.
Natanson went to Carpathian Ukraine, one of Europe’s most isolated regions, aged 15 and spent years learning Gypsy songs and the Romani language. She’s certainly the best gadji (non-Roma) singer performing Gypsy music, and simply one of the most talented around from any background.