Going to Drom is like taking a journey to the most exotic places on earth and, as Ilhan explains, that is where the club's moniker comes from, -It comes from the word dromus - road. Drom is a journey in the Gypsy language like in the movie Latcho Drom - Safe Journey. Open less than a year, its patrons have thus far been treated to many unique musical journeys. This is in part due to the backgrounds and experiences of the owners. As Ilhan relates, “I have been in the production and restaurant business for a long time. I always wanted to have a place like Drom to showcase world music. After selling my last place, Maia Meyhane [7th and B], my friends Nachi and Numan liked the idea and wanted to be partners with me. We are three partners, two of us Turkish and the other one Indian. I studied art and I am a graphic designer and producer. My partners are from the finance sector. I like jazz and world music and the last five to six years I have been into Gypsy music a lot!
Ilhan's love of Gypsy music resulted in this year's Droma Gypsy Festival that concludes this month and brought together the finest gypsy musicians in the world for nine days of multi-cultural music. When jazz fans think of gypsy guitarists the great Django Reinhardt tops the list. Expanding on that tradition at this year’s festival was guitarist Dotschy Reinhardt who melds Brazilian, jazz and gypsy into a captivating sound. The festivities close with a phenomenal jazz/world double billing. Trumpet virtuoso, compositional innovator and fusion master Frank London, whose work with the Klezmatics, Hasidic New Wave and John Zorn has revitalized the relationship between jazz and Jewish music, is joined by percussionist Sunny Jain whose Indian/jazz projects have likewise formed a new musical relationship between jazz and India. In this special event, Jain will play the Indian double-sided dholi drum in the context of his Red Baraat Festival, a 13-member horn/percussion experience.
Three other October dates highlight the unique platform that Drom provides for cross-cultural pollination. Firstly, clarinetist Margot Leverett, who along with London is a founder of klezmer's jazzy new wave, brings her Klezmer Mountain Boys project to Drom's intimate setting for an evening of klezmer/bluegrass fare. The culmination of banjo player Jayme Stone’s field studies and musical explorations of the African roots of the America banjo follows. He is joined by kora master Mansa Sissoko to showcase the harmonious juncture of these two stringed instruments in his Africa to Appalachia project. Finally, saxophonist David Rogers has produced Imaginary Homeland, a concept album that developed from years of African field study. His music, subtitled African Fiddle Meets American Jazz, introduces the Ghanian native drum language and horse hair fiddle to the West Virginia mountains with a downtown New York flair. He will be joined that evening by balafonist (African xylophone) Famoro Dioubate and his nine-piece band for high voltage classical African melodies.
Rounding out October are two individual performances by singular guitarists. Pavel Rivera and his band come to Drom to debut the enchanting Gira that smoothly blends Latin, jazz and electronic beats into a delightfully ambient groove. This provides counterpoint to a very special performance of Turkish folk music by the originator of the fretless guitar, Erkan Ogur, and Ismail Hakki Demircioglu on divan lute.
With the diversity of acts that Drom has been host to, Ilhan views the night the great Serbian trumpeter Boban Markovic came to their stage as one of the more memorable. His band was coming from Canada and we were expecting them in New York at noon but because of the storm they arrived at midnight and their concert was at 9 pm. There were almost 200 fans who waited over three hours so the band played until three in the morning and everybody was dancing.
In addition to the music, Drom's menu and space is also delightfully international. The food created by Spanish chef Diego Gonzales is a deliciously global mixture with an emphasis on veggie and fish dishes such as Happy Salmon cured with Raki and served with a cucumber dill salad. The cocktail menu, created by Japanese mixologist Shige, features signature drinks and the favorite, Summer Fling, a smooth concoction of shiso-infused vodka and tonic. The music, food, drinks and atmosphere make Drom the premier NYC destination for those on a global musical journey.
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