Departing from an Irish pub circa 1962 and passing through Hungary for a chance encounter with a blue-eyed beauty before stopping in the Virginias for an old-fashioned hoedown, Mozaik’s Changing Trains is a musical journey hindered not by genre, place or time signature. Recorded in 2005 in Budapest, Mozaik’s first studio album explores and celebrates the fusion of Irish, European and American folk music. While Changing Trains is a “unique cross-cultural exercise” (Irish Music Magazine), the strength of this album lies within each individual member’s deep respect and understanding of their own musical traditions.
Mozaik are Ireland’s Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny (both original members of Planxty), American born old-time musician Bruce Molsky, Dutch guitarist Rens Van Der Zalm, and Hungarian multi-instrumentalist Nikola Parov. Together they form the ultimate global stringband with a legendary lineage. It was on a lengthy drive through Australia that the great Irish singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Andy Irvine first envisioned Mozaik. According to Irvine, “The Muse said ‘Get a bunch of your favorite musicians together and do a tour of this beautiful country.’” He continues, “I pondered for not very long before emailing the suspects I had in mind. To my delight they were all into it and thus emerged Mozaik – a band to die for…”
Born to Irish-Scottish parents in London, Irvine began his artistic career as a young child, trying his hand in acting, acoustic guitar, and traditional music. He moved to Dublin to further develop his Irish trad musical talents, playing such instruments as the guitar, bouzouki, and mandolin. Irvine collaborated with several talented musicians, and formed such bands as Sweeny’s Men, Planxty, and Mosaic. After Mosaic, Irvine began producing music with fiddler Kevin Burke, guitarist/vocalist Gerry O’Beirne, and accordionist Jackie Daly as Patrick Street. Mozaik (a revamped version of the old name) is the most recent culmination of Irvine’s diverse musical experience and visionary propensity.
Irishman Donnal Lunny’s thirty years of musical prowess is the stronghold of Mozaik. He has been hailed by Irvine as one of the most innovative musicians that Ireland has ever produced. Multi-talented Lunny acts as not only a close friend to Irvine, but also as a professional musician and master arranger for the group. He hears each band member’s niche flavor and acts as the glue that holds the sound of Mozaik together.
Bruce Molsky and Irvine met at a house party Molsky was hosting in Atlanta, Georgia. Irvine first became aware of Molsky’s incredible talent when he first heard him perform “I Truly Understand.” Molsky’s talents with the guitar and 5-string banjo in combination with his old-time musical style contribute a unique zest to the group. Intricate string arrangements perfectly complement Molsky’s plaintive vocals.
Irvine first met Parov in Budapest twenty years previously, playing with his Balkan band Zsaratnok. Irvine has commented that Parov’s musical propensity is so extensive that an instrument that Parov cannot play has not yet been invented. When Irvine and Parov played together in The East Wind Trio, Parov wielded not only the gadulka, gajda, kaval, and other traditional Bulgarian instruments, but also the guitar, bodhran, and clarinet. As if Parov’s instrumental talents were not astounding enough, he was additionally involvemed with the finest Irish musicians through his performance with Riverdance.
RENS VAN DER ZALM
Rens Van Der Zalm and Andy Irvine first met in Slovenia on the road immediately after Van Der Zalm had graduated. Ver Der Zalm’s style is inventive and creative, incorporating such instruments as the mandolin, fiddle, guitar, accordion, bass guitar, tin whistle, and many other zany gadgets.