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Good-bye Anca - A Tribute to a Jazz Singer
Our First Meeting
It was in spring 1987 when I traveled to Romania to attend the Sibiu Jazz Festival, the biggest festival in the country, and the only one with international participation. The year before I had met one of the organizers at another festival, and he had invited me to come to Sibiu. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the jazz scene in Romania. On the train from Bucarest to Sibiu I met a young woman who traveled together with her husband and some friends. I soon found out that she was a jazz singer who was also on the way to Sibiu to perform there at the festival. Her name was Anca Parghel. When we arrived in Sibiu, we were already friends.
Before I went to Sibiu, I knew only very little about jazz in Romania, and so I was surprised by the high standard of most of the performances of the Romanian musicians. One of the biggest surprises of the festival was Anca who performed together with her duo partner, trombone player Liviu Marculescu. I was impressed by her extraordinary vocal technique, her four octaves voice range, using these possibilities to express emotions beyond imagination. Another thing that surprised me was the festival audience, the festival hall was packed with enthusiastic people who tried to escape the daily two hour TV program which contained only communist propaganda.
The Next Step
In the late 1980s I had some contacts to festival organizers in Germany, and so I decided to use these contacts to give Anca the opportunity to perform at these festivals. In September 1987 Anca performed with her duo partner at the Leipzig Jazz Days, her first concert outside Romania, followed by a performance with the group Trialog (w saxophonist Dan Mindrila and pianist Mircea Tiberian) at the Nuremberg East West Festival in 1988. Both concerts impressed the audience as well as the jazz critics, and the door for further concerts, concert tours and festival performances in Germany and other Western countries was open.
Back In Romania
In April 1989, Anca went on tour in Romania, together with two German musicians. Together with her, I had organized the tour, we had five concerts including a performance at the festival in Sibiu. It was the darkest time of the Ceaucescu dictatorship which collapsed later that year. The day before the tour started we met in Bucarest, and next morning we had to take a domestic flight to Tirgu Mures where the first concert took place. We arrived at the airport, and we were told that due to bad weather conditions our flight was delayed. After two or three hours Anca told me to bring my magic box into action. This magic box was filled with coffee, pepper, soap, cigarettes and other things useful for a trip in Romania. I took a pack of coffee from the box, and Anca went with me to the office of the airport commander. She spoke with the commander, and then she told me to leave the coffee on his desk. About half an hour later the miracle happened - the weather conditions changed... It was not the only problem we faced during that tour. In some cases we spent more time to get petrol for our two cars than driving to the next concert but there was my magic box which was always very helpful. Despite all these problems, the concert tour was a big success, especially the final concert at the Sibiu festival.
1990 - 2008
In the early 1990s we met several times in different places. During this period Anca performed at many important jazz festivals, in concert halls and clubs all over Europe and the United States, or she went on concert tours with different well known musicians like Billy Hart, Archie Shepp, Claudio Roditi, Larry Coryell, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, Philippe Catherine, Peter Herbolzheimer, Aldo Romano, Marc Levine, John Dankworth, Tomasz Stanko, Norma Winstone, or Klaus Ignatzek. Together with her band, which included her two sons she performed in some of the most important jazz scenes in the world. In 1997 she settled in Brussels, where she taught jazz and performed. She also taught and performed in Germany.
On December 5th, 2008, Anca Parghel died of cancer at the age of 51.
- Traveling in Romania
In the late 1970s and 1980s I traveled many times in Romania. It was a time of economic hardship and the darkest time of the Communist dictatorship under Ceausescu. Many Romanians lived in poverty. First...
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