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For years Balogh has led a larger band that adapts the so-called Gypsy jazz developed by guitarist Django Reinhardt for his own instrument—the cimbalom is a sort of eastern European hammer dulcimer. I know that for some folks any kind of dulcimer just makes them think of guys playing for tips at farmers' markets or craft fairs, but Balogh's lightning-fast attack and almost liquid improvisations make it abundantly clear he's from another world entirely.
Balogh has collaborated with all sorts of musicians, from jazz saxophonist David Murray to klezmer clarinetist Joel Rubin, and he was part of the group of Hungarian traditionalists that worked with A Hawk and a Hacksaw during the year and a half the band lived in Budapest. I've heard only a couple of tracks by the excellent trio performing tonight—Balogh, violinist Robert Lakatos, and bassist Csaba Novák—but they're wonderful. The stripped-down lineup, free of the drums and horns in Balogh's main band, really gives the deft interplay and high-level harmonies room to breathe, and the group brings a swift swing feel to timeless Romany melodies, despite the sometimes elaborate time signatures.