May 26, 2011

Balkan Brass Battle

ARTIST:  Fanfare Ciocarlia vs. Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra
TITLE:  Balkan Brass Battle
LABEL:  Asphalt Tango
REVIEW:  Like jazz musicians, gypsy brass bands have a competitive streak.  So the folks at Berlin’s Asphalt Tango Records, who put out some of the best Balkan recordings anywhere, had a stroke of genius -- a “cutting contest” disc (and an accompanying European tour) featuring two of the hottest brass bands, Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia and Serbia’s Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra.  Each band gets a few tracks of its own to show off its chops.  The bands go head-to-head on Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” (tracks 5 and 6) -- I’ll call that one a draw.  And as a piece de resistance, they actually team up on four tracks (4, 7, 10 and 13) proving that two gypsy brass bands are twice as raucous as one.  This record had me grinning from start to finish -- everyone involved sounds like he’s having a great time.  My only regrets are (a) that there’s no bonus DVD so we can see the action (although the booklet photos are well worth the CD’s purchase price), and (b) that the tour isn’t coming to the USA.  Maybe next time? 
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
TOP TRACKS:    4    5    6    7    10    13
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    2    3    8    9    11    12

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