Mahala Rai Banda is a gypsy band based in Bucharest (Romania). It was formed by violinist and composer Aurel Ionita, who originally comes from a family of lautari from the village of Clejani. He is related to several members of Taraf de Haïdouks.
The band plays with an array of styles and genres. Romanian violins & accordions are combined with a brass section consisting of army brass band veterans and musicians from Romania's famous village Zece Prăjini – hometown of Fanfare Ciocărlia and a rocking rhythm section. They effortlessly combine a knack for inventive arrangements with an ability to turn every single concert into a wild party.
Their music is positioned right at the crossroads between traditional popular music and club-oriented, so called Balkan Beats. This rich blend of sophisticated arrangements, traditional elements and modern outlook puts them in a unique position among all the current bands.
Mahala Rai Banda's self-titled debut album was recorded in 2004 in Bucharest, Romania. Additional production and mix were carried out by Shantel and Marcus Darius in Frankfurt, Germany. The mix was done in collaboration with Ionita Aurel (who is the band's leader) and Stéphane Karo. The album was released on Crammed Discs in early 2005.
The Second Album
Mahala Rai Banda's second album “Ghetto Blasters” was recorded in 2009 in Berlin, Germany and Bucharest, Romania. The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Henry Ernst and Marc Elsner (former productions Fanfare Ciocarlia, Jony Iliev). The album was released on Asphalt Tango Records, in October 2009. The album climbed to position 2 in the World Music Charts Europe and was voted amongst the top ten "Best Albums Of The Year 2009" by UK's popular music magazine Songlines.
Ever since the release of their debut album, Mahala Rai Banda's reputation has kept growing all around the world:
- The band has played around 200 concerts in 26 countries, and appeared at major festivals and prestigious clubs and concert halls
- Their song "Mahalageasca" (both in its original version and in the shape of the rework made by Shantel) has appeared in successful US feature film Borat, and in several other films and advertising campaigns.
- The album climbed to Nr 3 in the World Music Charts Europe
- Mahala Raï Banda have had their tracks remixed and/or reworked by prestigious electronic music producers and artists such as Nouvelle Vague, Felix B (from Basement Jaxx), Balkan Beat Box, DJ Click, Russ Jones, Shantel and more. Most of these reworks appeared as part of the Electric Gypsyland albums.
- Mahala Raï Banda tracks have appeared on international compilations such as Buddha Bar (France), Bucovina Club (Germany), Balkan Bangers and Gypsy Beats (UK), Balearic Bisquits (Denmark), Balkanology (South Africa), Rough Guide to Eastern Europe (UK), Rromanu Suno (Serbia), Balkan Beats (Germany) Barrio Latino (France), Bar Gypsy (USA) and more, as well as in the soundtrack album of the "Borat" movie.
- Mahala Rai Banda is part of THE GYPSY QUEENS AND KINGS  since 2009.
- Mahalageasca is featured on the 2011 platforming game LittleBigPlanet 2.