Music Reviews
3:49 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Serbia's Markovic Orkestar Breaks Boundaries With Brass

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 7:06 pm

If you're planning a wedding, and looking for music that's fresh, irresistible and completely unexpected, you might want to consider The Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, a cutting-edge Gypsy brass band from southern Serbia. A new best-of compilation called Golden Horns puts the group's wild, genre-bending flair on full display.

Golden Horns may sound at times like a work of brass-band punk rock, but it's actually full of traditional songs like "Udri Mile," filtered through the Orkestar's rich imagination. The jazzy pump of "Dzumbus Funk" — that's "Chaos Funk" in English — also showcases the group's experimental vision.

Trumpeter Boban Markovic started out leading a local village band and soon found himself at the crest of a Balkan brass music wave in the 1990s. Original songs like "Khelipe E Cheasa" proved surprisingly successful on dance floors throughout Europe.

From childhood, Boban's son Marko practiced like a maniac (up to 10 hours a day), and he debuted with the band at 14. A decade later, Marko is the band's star soloist and lead arranger, bringing fresh ideas and energy to his dad's joyful enterprise. Marko even raps when the spirit moves him, as in "Sljivovica," a song about plum brandy, the region's traditional spirit.

Balkan music is demanding to play: fast, precise and rhythmically complex. These guys are talented enough, and brave enough, to slip in elements of jazz, funk or Latin music with ease. So, the next time you're at a wedding, take along a copy of Golden Horns and slip it to the DJ. If it's not the high point of the party, it can only mean they've run out of plum brandy.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Balkan brass music is made up of fast-paced, danceable party songs. One of the top bands of the genre is led by Serbia's Boban Markovic. His son Marko joined the band and has helped update their sound. A new collection called "Golden Horns" offers the best of what is now the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar.

Reviewer Banning Eyre says it takes us on a wild ride.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: If you're planning a wedding and looking for music that's fresh, irresistible and completely unexpected, you might want to go Eastern European with a cutting edge brass band from southern Serbia.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: This number is actually a traditional song interpreted by the incomparable Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar. You want to hear the group's more experimental side? Check out the jazzy pomp of "Dzumbus Funk." That's "Chaos Funk" in English.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DZUMBUS FUNK")

EYRE: Trumpeter Boban Markovic started out leading a local village band and soon found himself at the crest of a Balkan brass music wave in the 1990s. Original songs like "Khelipe E Cheasa" proved surprisingly successful on dance floors throughout Europe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KHELIPE E CHEASA")

EYRE: From childhood, Boban's son Marko practiced like a maniac, up to 10 hours a day, and he debuted with the band at 14. A decade later, Marko is the band's star soloist and lead arranger, bringing fresh ideas and energy to his dad's joyful enterprise. Marko even raps when the spirit moves him, as in this song about plum brandy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLJIVOVICA")

EYRE: Balkan music is demanding to play - fast, precise and rhythmically complex. These guys are talented enough and brave enough to slip in elements of jazz, funk or Latin music with ease. So, next wedding, take along a copy of "Golden Horns" and slip it to the deejay. If it's not the high point of the party, it can only mean they've run out of plum brandy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at AfroPop.org. He reviewed "Golden Horns" by the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.