Balkan Brass Battle

Balkan Brass Battle

The joyful, uproarious sound of Balkan brass bands first reached a wider audience in the 1990s. On 2011’s Balkan Brass Battle, two of the genre’s best groups — the Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra (a Serbian ensemble) and Fanfare Ciocarlia (from Rumania) — go head to head, and the listener is the winner. These high-energy gypsy ensembles bring swagger to their oompah-driven rhythms; call it Eastern European funk. Football marching bands, New Orleans outfits, and klezmer groups all come to mind. The Markovic Orchestra is made up of brass and drums, while Fanfare Ciocarlia adds woodwinds as well. Spirited vocals are also part of the mix. Both groups turn in versions of the Juan Tizol-penned Duke Ellington classic, “Caravan.” Fanfare Ciocarlia’s cover sports an alto sax solo and some crazy vocals while the Markovic Orchestra’s version isn’t afraid to utilize disco rhythms. The groups appear together on a number of tracks, including a delightfully boisterous take of the James Bond Theme, and the exciting closer, “Asfalt Tango.” This music could wake up the dead.


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