Raya Brass Band
As Eastern European-style brass band music has become increasingly popular, New York’s Raya Brass Band joins the feast. Although Raya Brass Band is relatively small compared with the large Romanian and Serbian bands, they put on a powerful show.
The majority of the pieces on Dancing on Roses, Dancing on Cinders are traditional, based on Balkan or northern Greek music, although Raya Brass Band show their American origin by injecting jazz and New Orleans influences.
“This draws a lot of us to the music,” explains Raya’s reeds man Greg Squared. “The challenge of the meters. All over the Balkans, you get lots of dances and songs in seven or sometimes in nine. But in Greece, you get tunes in 9+7, in these amazing compound odd meters with certain beats that swing and stretch.” Which adds up to an intriguing time for musicians and dancers alike.
“When I was in Greece, I remember hearing this incredible music coming down street. It was a brass band, wandering through the village,” recalls accordion player Matthew Fass. “I was struck by the immediacy and the intimacy. That drew all of us to this. We don’t want to play on stage so much; we love to be out on the dance floor, to break down the walls between us and the audience.”
Dancing on Roses, Dancing on Cinders is a festive album that brings the appealing Balkan brass band sound to North American audiences.
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