Gypsy In a Tree finds Sanda reinventing the music of her Romanian roots with a brilliant cast of New York-based Japanese musicians, the brothers Stomu and Satoshi Takeishi, on electric bass and percussion, respectively, and Shoko Nagai on accordion, piano and Farfisa organ. In many ways the CD is a follow up to 2002’s acclaimed Gypsy Killer, a collaboration with inventive pianist Anthony Coleman (known for his work with Marc Ribot as well as John Zorn). Rather than ripping the songs out of context, Sanda and her savvy cohorts infuse the music with an international array of influences, as if continuing the Gypsies wanderings into new and unexpected lands. It’s folkloric music for the Internet age, pulsing with the blood and tears of Romanian soil, but wafted along by hints of klezmer, tango, cumbia, jazz and soul.
“Satoshi was the musical producer,” says Sanda, who’s lived in downtown Manhattan for the past two decades. “Shoko is an amazing pianist and accordionist, and they’re all such creative musicians. They’re so responsive and intuitive. It was an incredible journey to work with them.”
While the collaboration with Japanese musicians on Gypsy In a Tree might seem unlikely, it’s a perfect reflection of the way New York’s melting pot can distill an artist’s essential identity. Twice disposed, Sanda can’t go home again, but her music is thriving in the transplanted soil.
“I would say that I found my roots in New York,” Sanda says. “When I go to Romania, for them I’m a stranger. It’s strange but I feel much more rooted and much more at home than when I’m in my home country. In New York, I’m more in Romania than in Romania.”