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Muzsiks & Marta Sebestyen
After earning 67 seconds of fame by singing the opening theme of last year's most unaccountably popular art-house hit, Hungarian vocalist Marta Sebestyen's record label relentlessly hypes her as the "Voice of The English Patient." Milking this ludicrous publicity angle, Rykodisc issued a best-of collection in early '97, hoping to break the artist big-time in the States, despite her scant discography. Can the most popular vocalist in Budapest co-opt the coveted tiara from reigning world-music queen Cesaria Evora? Sebestyen speaks seven languages and can sing in many more (from Serbian to Hindi to Greek); and her last solo album, Kismet, was the hot item on European world radio. Her decadelong investigations of folk material from Transylvanian villages have yielded stunning results, particularly in collaboration with the raucous fiddlers of Muzsikas on recordings like 1993's The Lost Jewish Music of Transylvania and the more recent Morning Star. Despite all this, most Americans just aren't interested in raw folk music from an unfamiliar ethnic group; then again, Bay Area music fans aren't like most Americans.

-- Sam Prestianni

Muzsikas & Marta Sebestyen perform Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk). Tickets are $16; call 885-0750.

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