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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Les Yeux Noirs mixes joy, sorrow

In the spirit of Django Reinhardt, who played the Russian gypsy tune from which the group took its name, Les Yeux Noirs infused Spaulding Auditorium with Jewish-Gypsy dance on Saturday night with inspired klezmer music.

French for "The Black Eyes," Les Yeux Noirs was found-ed by the violin-swooning Slabiak brothers, who must have souls as deep as their group's name implies. The music is a mixture of ancient Jewish melodies, Gypsy tunes and French Gypsy jazz, interwoven in songs both devastating and ecstatic.

In songs call-ed threnodies, a mournful line underwrote fast-paced violin that wouldn't allow your feet to remain still. Yet the lilting sadness was given room of its own in certain songs, at times becoming wind-like in its breath.

The joy manifest in the melodies was mirrored in the brothers' rock-star stance. They played off of one another, quite literally at times. In one song they conversed through a game of Simon Says played on a single violin.

The two violinists were accompanied by a guitarist, a bassist, a cellist and a drummer. In a spotlight solo, the drummer, snake-like, played quiet and slow in a pure, seductive rhythm.

Les Yeux Noirs, not an ordinary band, inspired dreams of retiring to the Gypsy caves of southern Spain -- or at least the desire to open the Upper Val-ley's first klezmer-Gypsy cabaret.