Lelo Nika is way beyond technical challenges and virtuosity. He is one hundred percent expression. But it is not only about: expressing feelings; sudden changes from sorrow into joy, from dispair into victory, from melancholy into euphoria, are also conveyed by other musicians from various genres. Lelo Nika gives you something more. Through his instrument he gives birth to stories that fire your imagination even if you should happen to be quite unimaginative. Glimpses of the past, Balkan places, people on the run, jealousy, happiness, misery and celebration. Brilliantly colourful, pictures are succeeded by sober haze, dream and reality become one.
Lelo Nikas background is as varied as his musical palette. He is by origin a Serbian gypsy but has adopted Romanian traditions through his roots in the polyethnic village of Nikolinci, eighty kilometers northeast of Belgrade, where the majority is Romanian. In 1970, the oneyearold Lelo moved with his parents to Denmark and settled in Helsing°r. Today, he lives in Malmˇ, in the south of Sweden.
At the age of five Lelo Nika got his first accordion from his father, who is also an accordionist and whose family is well known for its gypsy music traditions passed down, through generations. Lelo was brought up with music as a natural everyday element; muI sic was a way of life, a way of communicating, irrespective of situation, place or hour. Technical qualities were never ends in themselves, simply means to attain total expression. His father was Nikas first accordion teacher and brought his son to Yugoslavia when he was ten years old. Lelo stayed there for three years, studying under the Serbian accordionist Branimir Dokic and going deeply into Slavic and Romanian culture. There is no doubt that this stay in Yugoslavia played a crucial part in Lelo Nikas progress, both, as a musician and a human being. But a single person that has been very important for Lelo Nika is his father's teacher who was very demanding and taught Lelo once and for all the meaning of discipline.
Lelo Nika plays music from the whole of the Balkans, but in his very own way, based on a particular groove that is typical of modern Romanian gypsy music. He has also performed with several American jazz celebrities:
"Lelo gives new meaning to the word 'virtuoso'. His sound and technique are simply staggering. Add to that a healthy dose of SerbianGypsy Soul, and you might begin to imagine what his music is like. Every night on the bandstand, the audience was left in tatters after his solo piece." (Randy Brecker)
"Lelo's playing transcends the instrument. A real natural. He is a true artist." (Adam Nussbaum)
He has competed twice in the Accordion World Championship and won both times, but for the time being Nika pursues higher studies at The Malm÷ Academy of Music in order to, as he says with an almost irritating humility, "learn a little more". Being an ordinary mortal, one might wonder if it is possible to play even better, but why ponder too much over this? Just make yourself comfortable if you can sit still and let yourself be seduced by one of the greatest accordion phenomenons of our times.