Veronika Harcsa & Bálint Gyémánt

Shapeshifter album release

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Last Show: Saturday 20 th April 2019

The Pheasantry (Chelsea)

On Shapeshifter, Harcsa and Gyémánt are starting a new chapter of their collaboration. Playing as a quartet for the first time, with Nicolas Thys on bass and drummer Antoine Pierre, the atmospheric original compositions have more foundation now. Rhythmic finesse, multifarious harmonies and airy, even in dynamically denser parts smartly balanced arrangements develop captivating qualities. “We like the duality between catchy melodies and conceptual soundscapes,“ Veronika Harcsa explains, “our songs have verses, bridges and refrains like a pop song, but the melodies and harmonies are rooted in jazz aesthetics and modern music.”

Photo credit: Lily Julia Hegyi 

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"Harcsa is an amazingly versatile musician, a brilliant vocalist and gifted entertainer in the best sense. Her facial, vocal, gestural and musical expressions were mutually reinforcing. With her clear and supple voice she not only can get almost everywhere. She captures 'it' in an open smile and inviting gesture. It all happens in an almost effortless flow and a mildly stylized way. She has found her very own thing and performed it on a high level with great impact. What she was doing defies categorization and makes comparisons superfluous. Her performance not only had great variation but also unfolding, focusing, draught and pointedness"

Veronika Harcsa and Bálint Gyémánt have been playing together continuously for more than ten years, after meeting during their studies at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. In 2008 Harcsa finished her diploma there and switched to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, where she graduated with a masters degree in 2014. In 2005 already, the multiple-award-winning singer and composer started her first jazz band in which Gyémánt was sometimes featured as a guest. In the following years they celebrated great success together with the electronic quartet Bin-Jip. Born in Budapest seven years before the fall of the iron curtain, Harcsa still cherishes open borders and considers herself a passionate European. After having composed for film and theatre already, Harcsa was recently involved in projects of modern classical music.

In the meantime Bálint Gyémánt further developed his talent on acoustic and electric guitars, which includes the precise and masterful use of the loop station and other effects. As a member of the Transform Quintet he recorded with Grammy-winner Joey Calderazzo and for his own award-winning debut in 2016 he was able to engage Shai Maestro as special guest.
The connection to the two musicians from Belgium - who now for the first time extend the duo Harcsa-Gyémánt to a quartet - goes back several years. Since her studies in Brussels, Harcsa has stayed in touch with the Belgian scene and played in different formations with Nicolas Thys and Antoine Pierre.

Since 2014 Thys and Pierre have been playing together in the quartet TaxiWars with Robin Verheyen and Tom Barman, head of the avant-garde pop band Deus. Drummer Antoine Pierre started playing with Philip Catherine’s band in 2010 when he was only 18 years old. In 2014 he completed his masters degree in Brussels and moved to New York for one year.

Not only because of its new lineup, Shapeshifter marks an impressive step forward in the successful collaboration of Veronika Harcsa and Bálint Gyémánt. The title of the album symbolically signifies the development: the band grows, the sound becomes more opulent, more profound, more complex, and the dynamics even more powerful. At the same time the essence stays present, namely the distinctive melodies and variable grooves, elegant changes of style and the intense singing of an outstanding voice. This is how modern, pan-European songwriter-jazz that values personal expression over ephemeral trends should sound. 

Band Lineup

Veronika Harcsa (vocals)

Bálint Gyémánt (guitar)

Nicolas Thys (double bass) 

Antoine Pierre (drums)