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Influences: West European
Genres: world, post folk
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October 2022 #24 - Top 40 for West European Influence Saule brida miglajos (music video) (video)
March 2021 #28 - Top 40 for West European Influence Saule brida miglajos (music video) (video)
Photo by: Ilgi
About: ILGI at Samarqand 2015
"One of the best known folk-rock-and-roots bands in Latvia, Ilgi demonstrates the local folk music with a new vibrance and enthusiasm without ever losing sight of its deep roots." - RootsWorld

Ilgi has released thirteen albums, five of which were named Best Contemporary Folk Music Album by the Latvian recording industry. In 2006 "Ne uz vienu dienu" ("Not for One Day") reached No. 2 on the World Music Charts Europe, and remained in its top ten for four months. The band returned to the World Music Charts Europe in 2012 at No. 4 with "Tur saulite perties gaja."

Ilgi has performed throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia, Australia and China. In recent years Ilgi played at the Trad It Festival in The Netherlands, Positivus AB Festival in Latvia, Posthof Festival in Austria, and Suklegos in Lithuania. Ilgi represented Latvia at the Brandenburg Gate when it joined the European Union in 2004. The band's 2007 coast-to-coast U.S. tour included appearances at Globalquerque, the University of Wisconsin World Music Festival, the Freight & Salvage, and Swallow Hill. In 2011 performed at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia, and in 2012 at Chicago's Old Town School. In 2014, a cross country concert tour of Latvia.

In 1981 Ilga Reizniece, a classically trained violinist, formed the folk group Ilgi. She was joined by Maris Muktupavels on kokle, bagpipes and accordion. They traveled the country learning folk songs and traditions at a time when the Latvian folklore movement was more of a political statement than a musical trend.

As Reizniece recalls, "from the very beginning we were different from the authentic music ensembles in the traditional sense. We have always been interested in music as art, not just the folklore aspect of it. There always has been a dual purpose of the group: we had to fulfill our mission in preserving the Latvian heritage, return forgotten lore to the nation, but at the same time we really enjoyed just playing the music. I am a professional musician after all."

Ilgi’s music continued to evolve after Latvian independence was restored in 1991. The band’s meditative and somewhat traditional approach gave way to fuller instrumentation and bolder arrangements. They began to travel abroad. Gatis Gaujenieks, a native New Yorker of Latvian descent, moved to Latvia and joined Ilgi in 1997 as a musician and producer. Their first joint effort, the album "Saules meita," was awarded The Latvian National Grand Music Award by the Ministry of Culture and Best Folk Music Album by the Latvian recording industry.

Over the years Reizniece and Muktupavels have been joined in Ilgi by some of the best Latvian musicians. In addition to Gaujenieks on electric bass and giga, the roster has included Egons Kronbergs, an accomplished rock guitarist (Skyforger), since 2001, and Martins Linde, a successful jazz drummer and percussionist (Time After Time), since 2008.

ļģi albums have received favorable reviews in the world music press for many years. "Latvia's leading roots band, fronted by fiddler Ilga Reizniece's soft lead vocals, continues to gently evolve its sound of kokles (Baltic zither), pipes, frets, bass and drums" wrote Andrew Cronshaw, giving a fRoots' thumbs up for the 2009 "Īsākās Nakts Dziesmas." In World Music Central TJ Nelsonfound the album "juicy with clever composition and deft instrumentation. . . stylish and energetic. . . smart and savvy." In 2012 World Music Central’s Angel Romero described “Tur Saulīte Pērties Gāja” as “a lovely and mesmeric album” and Rootworld’s Lee Blackstone proclaimed “Iļģi may well have achieved post-folk perfection.”