About the musicians
Hailed by Billboard Magazine as “one of New York’s fastest-rising composers and instrumentalists”, and by the New York Times as “an eclectic with an ear for texture… strikingly original and soulful”, LJOVA (Lev Zhurbin) was born in 1978 in Moscow, Russia, and moved to New York with his parents, composer Alexander Zhurbin and writer Irena Ginzburg, in 1990. He divides his time between performing as a violist in diverse groups ranging from his own LJOVA AND THE KONTRABAND, to string quartets, jazz combos and Gypsy bands; studying and arranging music for Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, Jay-Z, Gustavo Santaolalla, Osvaldo Golijov, Alondra de la Parra and others; and composing original music for film, TV, dance, and the concert stage.
Inna Barmash, vocals, immigrated to the States from Lithuania, where she first started singing in Yiddish and Russian. While a student at Princeton University, she co-founded the Klez Dispensers, and has performed with numerous other klezmer groups in the tri-state area. Her explorations of the repertoire of Russian and Romanian gypsies led to her co-founding of Romashka, a gypsy band based in New York. While roaming through clubs, cafe, and underground parties with Romashka, Inna encountered Ljova, and now they travel together with Ljova and the Kontraband, and their son Benjamin.
Accordionist Patrick Farrell moved to Brooklyn from New Orleans in 2007, and has quickly integrated into the New York City music scene. He plays in many different genres and musical situations around the city, from dance accompaniment and cabaret to club gigs, concerts and weddings. Farrell leads his own group, Stagger Back Brass Band, playing original brass circus music, and is a member of new-music chamber ensemble Ljova and the Kontraband, Russian and Romanian Roma-music band Romashka, Michael Winograd’s Klezmer Trio and Serbian-style brass band Veveritse, as well as appearing with numerous other groups and individuals around town. He has studied accordion in Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Romania, and has played in clubs, concert halls, streets, and serenades all over the US and Europe as well as Canada and Mexico. He has appeared on over 20 recordings and can be found at www.pattysounds.com.
Since his arrival in New York City in 1999, Mike Savino (bass, banjo) has performed in an eclectic array of capacities. At once a composer, multi- instrumentalist, and songwriter, Savino has developed a highly personal and unique style, incorporating years of exploration into the jazz, folk, and world music traditions. He is the singer and banjo player behind NYC based alt-folk band, Tall Tall Trees, whose music has been featured on a number of television programs including American Pickers and MTV’s Teen Mom. Over the years he has had the pleasure to collaborate with a wonderful variety of artists including Kate Havnevik, Of Montreal, Ljova & the Kontraband, and Scott Kettner’s Nation Beat, among many others. He currently resides in Harlem with his cat Stinko. He holds a B.F.A. from New School University’s prestigious Jazz & Contemporary Music Program and is a self professed ethnomusicologist. As a composer, he has written over 200 pieces.
Mathias Kunzli (drums & percussion) was born in Switzerland in 1975 where he lived until 1995. As a drummer and percussionist he has had the chance to perform or record with: Lauryn Hill, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, Moby, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Oscar Castro-Neves, Gary Brown, Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Marc Ribot, John Zorn’s Electric Masada, Jamey Haddad, Mark Soskin, Herb Pomeroy, Bill Pierce, Cecil Bridgewater, John Lockwood, Savina Yannatou, Dave Samuels,The Paul Winter Consort, Mike Richmond, Donny McCaslin, Eugene Friesen, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Matt Dariau, Tall Tall Trees and Frank London.