Mesmerizing, captivating, dreamy, stirring - all words that describe the magic of a Gadjo Collective performance! Masterful musicians with ragged old souls that will move you, body and spirit. Gadjo melted our dance floor and our hearts. Would not hesitate to book again” - Jana Graham - Artistic Director of Snowking festival

Gadjo Collective - Bio 



    The Gadjo Collective was formed in 2013 as a balkan dance band since it did not appear that Edmonton had such a thing. The word Gadjo means non-roma in Romani so I thought it was perfect for a group of “gadjo’s “ playing music inspired by the music of Romani people. Prior to this the Rd to Django had been created as a band more for the theatre playing music I had written while travelling the Roma trail from India to Spain starting in 2010. I recruited Lisi Sommer for the Gadjo Collective as the only person in Edmonton who could approach the musical prowess of Esma Redzepova, the amazing Roma singer from Macedonia whose house I walked by regularly in Skope. 
    Amazingly, Lisi learned a dozen songs in a few weeks in 6 different languages, drawing on her opera training. I also recruited Kieth Rempel, well known for his bass playing, on sousaphone as well as some of the players from The Road to Django, including my daughter, vocalist and guitarist Billie Zizi, guitarist Alin Rogos, guitarist Clint Pelletier , darbuka player Ahmed Al Auqaily ,clarinetist Don Ross, trombonist Marylee Bird , saxaphonist Spencer Murray and drummer Bramwell Park. We were often joined by talented young Caleb Hunt on violin, the son of Lisi who I was teaching and part of his training was to play with us. So we were 11( or 12 with Caleb)  now, still a bit unwieldy but down from the 17 person Rd to Django show. With the  tunes I had learned from my travels in the Balkans and some of my own tunes we were a formidable force and our first show at the Blue Skys club was sold out ( actually considerably more than sold out! )   
    The Gadjo Collective continued to play events and festivals around Edmonton and area including the Balkan festival called Ederlezi that occurs May 5 in all balkan countries. We started organizing it in 2012, holding it in various locations, including downtown in Churchill Square for a few years as a City sponsored event. The musicians have stayed mostly the same, but I draw on a number of other musicians to fill in as required to augment our sound. In 2017 , we released a cd “ Balkan Jam” and are poised to release a second one in early 2020. 
    At the same time we continued to do theatre shows with The Road to Django which more and more became the same band augmented with extra musicians and a different repertoire with a focus on a narrative that traced the historical route of Romani people from India to Spain.   
    In performance the Gadjo Collective combines the energy of balkan music with the sensibilities of jazz improvisation for a show that is compelling to dance to ,entertaining to listen to and a window into the exotic sounds of the east. 
    Currently , we are honed down to a 6 piece band for the festival season, myself ,Lisi Sommer- vocals,  Billie Zizi - guitar and vocals , Don Ross - clarinet, Kieth Rempel - sousaphone  and Daniel Stadniki on drums.

Press Photos

Gadjo Collective at Festival Place

Gadjo Collective at Blue Sky

Gadjo Collective @ Capitol Theatre

Sample Track

Sample Video