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Interview with Hungarian singer Julianna Fabian

Julianna Fabian

Julianna Fabian from Budapest is not just making her London debut as a singer next week. She’s on her very first trip to London.

I was first alerted to this visit, and to her gig on Wednesday 11th at the 606 by the club’s excellent schedule/newsletter. Steve Rubie produces it month after month with a LOT of thought, and it is always chock-full of information about the musicians appearing.

How could my attention not be grabbed by “a voice like honey with chilli peppers,” by a two-time finalist in the Shure competition in Montreux? The 606 gig is a twinning arrangement with a club in Budapest, where British musicians will also appear.

Fabian’s MYSPACE PAGE has a wide range of material, she’s been trying out a lot of styles, convincingly. Track 6, Doodling, definitely caught my ear.

I spoke to Julianna, also known as Juli, about her two gigs in London. At the 606 she’ll be appearing with a top London rhythm section featuring Tim Lapthorn on piano, marvellous Anglo-Hungarian Arnie Somogyi on bass. At her Hungarian Cultural Centre gig on Friday 13th she’ll be with her regular duo partner from Budapest, Peter Sarik.

The Hungarians have a primary school music education system which is envied the world over. Fabian is still thankful for that early musical discipline. She played the piano seriously as a child. In the tracks I’ve heard, there is not just a very strong rhythmic sense. She also clearly works with the imperative to let the pianist be properly heard, for the two voices to work together. There’s also some real character and power in the lower part of the voice. So I’m very tempted to hear her live on this fleeting visit.

Her parents, both economists, were enthusiatic about music, but jazz was her own discovery. She went to her first gig at 16- “with my friends, definitely without my parents.” She started jazz singing at 20, and quickly abandoned university studies economics and public relations to concentrate on music, and was lucky to find someone whom she describes as an ideal singing teacher.

The Marble Hall
of Hungarian Radio

Influences? “Ella Fitzgerald , Sarah Vaughan, but my idol is Bobby McFerrin.” She’s also worked in the Hungarian folk-gypsy-jazz tradition with the younger members of the Lakatos musical dynasty, in a concert in the Marble Hall of Hungarian Radio.

Although Fabian has lived surrounded by Hungarian music , listened to a lot of folk and classical music, she says that for her to start singing in Hungarian rather than English currently seems a “big step,” not to be taken at all lightly. “I’m still thinking about it.”

Talking to Fabian I get the sense of a continuing journey with adventures and influences still to come. A young singer for whom the good breaks are happening, everything experienced in real-time and for the first time.

A British rhythm section like this, with Lapthorn and Somogyi on board, could make a first-time-try-out-karaoke-housewife from Finsbury Park sound really special. The singers who can’t count up to four…It’s something these guys have to do rather too often…..

So, working with a thoughtful musician of Fabian’s pedigree, next Wednesday is going to be a really interesting juxtaposition. And the Covent Garden Friday gig with Sarik at the Hungarian Cultural Centere sounds tempting too. That’s the one which is going into my recommended list.
The gig is free but places need to be reserved on 0207 240 8448.

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4 replies »

  1. Hello Sebastian, I am much more ignorant than the anticipated readers of this blog; for example, what instrument does Claire Martin play? or is she a singer? I was interested also in the Hungarian singer’s genres: gypsy etc. I’d like to hear her. Would she come to Cheltenham Jazz Fest? The music that came on is excruciating but that’s because i’m not very sofisticated. Is there an opportunity for one to choose a jazz track? Or perhaps an era? Also, on Monday morning, Sarah Morepeach played a brilliant Stan Getz Jazz Samba (1962) called ‘Desaffinato’ or something. Could you provide links to tracks so that one could hear them again, or find out where to purchase them? The blog is extremely comprehensive and beautifully written – and well layed out. Did you choose the green? Jazz is no longer ‘the blues’, then? AShx

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  2. “A British rhythm section like this, with Lapthorn and Somogyi on board, could make a first-time-try-out-karaoke-housewife from Finsbury Park sound really special. The singers who can’t count up to four…It’s something these guys have to do rather too often…..”Indeed, the chance to play with a crack rhythm is what makes the singers’ circuit around London an intriguing one. The Vortex monthly night, hosted by Romy Summers and with the Bob Stuckey Trio, does exactly that and attracted over 50 people – and 25 singers – last Sunday despite the snow falling fast. Not that the night is quite populated by that many Finsbury Park housewives. It proved the starting point for a number of the singers around,such as Estelle Kokot and Joe Stilgoe.

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  3. So popular Seb that it is sold out! The lady at HCC laughed at me on the phone yesterday when said I wanted to reserve tickets!(Wanted to go with a girfriend, v disappointed…)

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