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Album Review

It's the kind of battle of the bands to have any fan of Balkan brass music salivating. Serbia's Boban & Marki Markovic Orchestra go head to head with Fanfare Ciocãrlia from Romania. Both get to strut their stuff and show what kind of chops they have here, coming together to perform "James Bond Theme," "Asfalt Tango," "Devla," and a pair of others to thrilling, glossy effect, and each offering a take on the classic "Caravan." Each group has its style, which becomes immediately identifiable when heard next to the competition, but they're both thrilling and packed with virtuosic playing. It doesn't matter what kind of brass you enjoy: whether military bands or the down 'n' dirty music of New Orleans, there's plenty here to excite. For instance, on "Suite a la Ciobanas," a truly stunning display of instrumental talent, the playing is so fast that it's hard to believe the recording isn't speeded up. Fanfare owe more of a debt to the Jewish klezmer music that pervaded the region a century ago, while the Markovics show more of a Western influence. Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter. This is music to be enjoyed, to let your jaw drop at the skill of the players, and to work up a sweat dancing around the room to some remarkable music, some of the best released by either of these superb bands.

Balkan Brass Battle, Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra
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