Balog’s career began in 1980, when, as vocalist, mandolinist and guitarist, he helped the band Kalyi Jag (Black Fire) achieve international renown. For years, Kalyi Jag was celebrated as a highly popular ensemble whose CDs were sold in stores as far away as the US West Coast. For people across the world, it was an introduction to Vlax Romani music. Hungarian Vlax Roma have one of the most unique styles among all music played by Romani people. The listener hears the distinctive and prominent use of oral percussion (not unlike the bol, or vocal drumming, syllables sometimes used in South Asia) and other features reminiscent of the ancestral homeland of India, including drums made from jugs. The melodies and harmonies, however, are rooted in European traditions that have been co-developed by various majority and Romani groups. As a songwriter, Balog has taken the traditional melodic and rhythmic sensibility of his subgroup and often updated it with new texts as well as crisp, texturally layered arrangements.
Kalyi Jag has produced eight highly acclaimed albums. He founded the Ethnix ensemble in 2002. He has performed throughout Europe, Japan, India, South Korea, the United States and Brazil. His songs have been used in films made in Hungary and elsewhere. In 2005 Balog founded the EtnoRom ensemble. The same year, Balog worked as a composer and musician on a stage play representing Romani life.
Several song titles recorded by EtnoRom:
Haj szo kerav
Soha senkit nem szerettem
Jek fogási me keráv
De man Devla rájipe
One of EtnoRom’s religious songs, celebrating Christmas:
Krecsuneski sunto rátyi