Csókolom is a group of four musicians, who play Hungarian and Romanian village music, Gypsy songs, French musette waltzes etc., all arranged by Anti von Klewitz. Among other things, they play the dance that Bartók Béla based his 3rd Romanian folkdance on, in a different, more original, and also very beautiful arrangement.
I heard them play at an open air festival, 7 June 1997, and knew at once this was it. This music swings! I bought their cassette tape on the spot. I play it quit often, and it doesn't get boring. There aren't just some great pieces on it, but every single one of them is wonderful.
Later on there was also a mini-CD, with five of the pieces that are also on the cassette tape (which has seven other pieces in addition). They now have two "real" CDs out, released by Arhoolie Productions. One is called "May I kiss your hand" (explanation) (released autumn 1998) and the other is Ludo Luda (Fools Fancy), available starting October 2001. Both cd's are available from (among others) bol.com.
I heard and saw them play again in Amsterdam (Buiksloot) in May 1998, they played pieces I knew from the tape, but also several new pieces, such as a Bulgarian dance in 11/8 time (4+3+2+2). (This is track 9 of the CD "May I kiss your hand").
Group members are:
Anti von Klewitz: arrangements, violin, vocals, viola
Anneke Frankenberg: violin, güiro (torch (UK) / flashlight (US) with no batteries), background vocals, viola
Sander Hoving: kontra, viola, violin
Gregor Schaefer: double-bass
(Until 2004, from January 2005: Jens Piezunka).
About the group's name Csókolom:
It is a general Hungarian greeting, mostly used by men to address women, and by younger persons of both sexes to address older persons and express respect.
From a grammatical point of view, it is the first person singular definite form of the verb "csókol" (to kiss) which in turn comes from the noun "csók" (kiss). ("Csók" sounds roughly like "choke" in American or Scottish English).
Csókolom could be interpreted as a shorter version of "(Én) csókolom őt" (I kiss it) or "Kezét csókolom" (I kiss your hand).
Clearly, the title of Csókolom's first full CD, "May I kiss your hand" is in fact a free translation of the group's name.
(Technical note: the vowel before the t in the last word of "Csókolom őt" should look like an o with two acute accents, or two dots lengthened to be become acute accents. In Hungarian, this means that ő is a longer version of the short ö. To see this correctly, you do need a browser that supports Unicode. Some browsers that don't support it may have implemented this: