About the band:
The Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar is a Brooklyn, NY-based 6-piece ensemble that plays traditional Balkan brass band music for enthusiastic audiences in the New York Area. Our performances of this upbeat and exciting music cross cultural borders by combining elements of Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Roma (gypsy) and jazz music, and help to foster an understanding of the music and cultures of the Balkan region.
The Zagnuts have played for capacity crowds at New York bars and restaurants like Cafe Barbes, North Six, the Bowery Poetry Club, Cafe Moto, and Tagine; at weddings and parties; and for folk dancers at Zlatne Uste's Golden Festival, and Hungarian House, a cultural center that hosts events sponsored by the East European Folklife Center. No matter where we play audiences can't help but dance, even if they don't know the traditional steps.
About the band members:
Matthew Fass is the founder, director & accordionist of the Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar. He also plays Balkan-based jazz with saxophonist Jessica Lurie in Sheqer. Matthew lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Jeanette Lewicki, with whom he plays klezmer music in Max & Minka International Accordion Duo. He has studied Albanian, Roma (gypsy) and Jazz accordion with Raif Hyseni, Ivan Milev and William Schimmel, and has researched extensively in Eastern Europe and Greece. Matthew is also a Board member of the East European Folklife Center, and teaches Balkan dance with the band Slavic Soul Party!.
Ben Holmes is a Brooklyn-based trumpeter who performs with many ensembles in New York and New Jersey, including the Klez Dispensers, the Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar, the Village Klezmer Quintet, Romashka, King Django's Roots & Culture Band, and numerous jazz groups. Ben's compositions are featured on "New Jersey Freylakhs", a 2004 album from the Klez Dipsensers and has appeared as a member of the Klezmatics on HBO's "Sex and the City".
Jeanette Lewicki plays Klezmer accordion and sings in Yiddish, French, Spanish, and English. She has performed new Jewish music with contemporary composers Jenny Schneiman, Daniel Hoffman (in the groups Davka and the San Francisco Klezmer Experience) and Sheldon Brown of the Club Foot Orchestra, and has coached the celebrated Yiddish singer Michael Tilson Thomas. She studied in Berlin with Alan Bern of Brave Old World and went on to appear at the Ashkenaz Festival of Yiddish Culture in Toronto, the Schleiswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, Davies Symphony Hall, A Traveling Jewish Theatre, and in subways around the world. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband Matthew Fass, with whom she plays and sings in accordion duo Max & Minka. The Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar is her first venture into Balkan music and she likes it fine.
Timothy Quigley is a percussionist and composer living in Brooklyn, NY. His unique sound and versatility have made him a sought-after sideman. He has worked with such talents as Alan Ginsberg, Cheb Nasro, Christos Govetas, Smokey Hormel, Doug Wieselman, Frank London, Jessica Lurie, Ron Miles, Chata Addy, and Zlatne Uste Brass Band. Timothy currently teaches privately and performs with the Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar, Romashka, Hazmat, Sheqer, and the rock band Argentine.
George Rush, performing as a freelance upright and electric bassist, has worked with such varied performers as Don Byron, Vernon Reid, Lloyd Cole, Randy Brecker, blues legend Hubert Sumlin, Ben E. King (of "Stand By Me" fame), Steve Bernstein, Deborah Harry of Blondie, and Fred Schneider of the B-52s. His performance experience ranges from punk cabaret to traditional orchestras, from rock clubs like CBGB to Merkin Concert Hall. He is currently a member of the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, with which he has performed throughout North America and Europe at venues that include the Kennedy Center and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Greg Squared is the preferred alias of Greg Schneiderman, saxophone/clarinet/flute player in several New York ensembles, including the Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar and the Hungry March Band. He studied music at the University of California with such groundbreaking 20th century improvisors as George Lewis and Bertram Turetzky, and has traveled extensively in both the Iberian and Balkan Peninsulas as well as the U.S. and Mexico, absorbing a variety of musical styles along the way. An interest in the music of the gitanos of Spain led him to embark on a broader exploration of Roma (gypsy) music from around the world. Most recently, Greg has focused on music from the Balkan countries of Macedonia (FYROM), Greece, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
Jodi Hewat performs frequently as a guest vocalist with the Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar, as well as with such New York Balkan groups as Zlatne Uste Brass Band, Slavic Soul Party!, and Sukunet. Over the past 10 years she has made many trips to southeastern Europe and has studied vocal technique with Albanian superstar Merita Halili, Bulgarian Radio Choir luminaries Kremena Stancheva and Tzvetanka Varimezova, and with 'Queen of the Gypsies' diva Esma Redzepova. Currently, she leads Asuli, a women's a capella ensemble specializing in polyphonic music from the Republic of Georgia.
Matthew Fass at 917-497-7852 or by email.