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Wednesday, Feb 2 2000
Next-generation Russian Gypsy band Loyko draws its inspiration from the exuberant lust for life, love, and music found in gitano cultures all over the world. But this trio of two singing fiddlers and a lone six-string slinger is clearly on the postmodern tip. Weaned on Schnittke and Shostakovich in Russia's classical conservatories, Loyko's virtuoso players bring a technical and tonal brilliance to their largely traditional repertoire that's far more refined than the raw approach of, say, Romania's Taraf de Haîdouks or Transylvania's Ökrös Ensemble. Still, the group manages to capture the emotional eruptions typical of Gypsy music.

Mix-matching traditions with carefree abandon, tunes on Loyko's live album The Fortuneteller run the gamut of moods, from impassioned ballads to impossibly synchronized and fiery jams. Their original compositions may be the most compelling -- or disorienting, depending on your need for stylistic purity: "The 9th of April" layers a plaintive Gypsy-sounding violin over gorgeous, Spanish classical-guitar finger-picking; "Good Luck" is a spirited reel straight out of a Dublin pub; "Shara" exemplifies the trio's instrumental mastery with its deft collusion of Russian, Gypsy, and Western European themes; and "The Old Fiddler" celebrates both over-the-top zeal, via breakneck tempo acceleration, and erudite musicality, with a sophisticated arrangement. Appealing to mind and body, heart and soul, Loyko's pomo vision of the Gypsy experience is ideally suited to Bay Area audiences.

Loyko performs on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage, 1111 Addison St., Berkeley. Tickets are $15.50 in advance or $16.50 at the door; call (510) 548-1761.

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Sam Prestianni


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