Balkan Brass Battle (2011)
Prior to the album release, the producers released a teaser video that showed the music rivalry between the two bands and promised a showdown to see who is the best. This was, of course, meant to be in good fun.
I really can’t say which one is the best. Both are excellent Gypsy (Roma) brass bands and their collaborations throughout the album are spectacular.
The Balkan Brass Battle album was recorded during a feverish, sleepless forty-eight hours in a Transylvanian hotel right outside Graf Dracula, the castle of Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad the Impaler and inspiration for the vampire character Count Dracula). The musicians recorded a combination of fiery original pieces along with folk songs, Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’ and John Barry’s ‘James Bond Theme’.
The showdown between the two brass band goliaths had been taking shape over the past decade. Fanfare Ciocarlia arose from rural Romanian obscurity to storm global stages and they developed a reputation as the world’s fastest, hardest Balkan brass band. Yet word reached them about another Gipsy brass band, that had survived the Yugoslav Civil War, appeared on the soundtracks of Kusturica’s crazed movies and were the undisputed champions at the famed Guca Brass Festival: Boban i Marko Markovic Orchestra. The two bands eventually got together for this remarkable album and a worldwide tour.
Balkan Brass Battle is an irresistible collaboration between two of the greatest Balkan brass bands of our time.