“The next time you hear a Euro-sceptic politician question just what the EU has ever done for us, point them in the direction of Mec Yek. For the European Community’s value isn’t merely economic; the free and frank exchange of culture has been much welcome too.
Twenty years ago, Mec Yek simply wouldn’t have existed – their personnel, spanning the continent’s western and eastern reaches, would have been unlikely to have crossed each others’ paths. Fronted by a pair of spirited Roma sisters, Mec Yek is the brainchild of Piet Maris, frontman with past WOMAD faves Jaune Toujours. His fascination with Eastern European gypsy culture has culminated in forming this tradition-savvy yet musically adventurous combo, one powered along by accordion, clarinet, double bass and drums.
Along the way they’ve picked up an ever-increasing gaggle of admirers, including fRoots who praised the combination of “earthy traditionalism and hot jazz”. Exactly the kind of mongrel sound that the isolationist politicos would hate.” (Nige Tassell, Womad ’09)
Sometime midway through the 1990s, Piet Maris (frontman with the acclaimed Euro roots outfit Jaune Toujours) began to make contact with gypsy musicians and, through their guidance and contacts, to travel regularly to a Roma community in Slovakia. Through the latter, the ever curious musician learned their gypsy style of playing. Afterwards, this repertoire was thoroughly reintepreted by the musicians of Jaune Toujours, who, in their usual fashion, began pushing the music beyond the boundaries of tradition by adding their own musical flavours to the sound. At first, the more traditionally-minded gypsies in the band’s audience frowned in astonishment at these changes but the sound began to catch on with the younger Roma. The latter’s stamp of approval was, ultimately, given authority when two young Roma singers – Katia and Milka Pohlodkova – joined the band on stage and never left…