Sandy Lopicic


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Big band Balkan music. It sounds like an anomaly, but in this case it's definitely not. You get hyped-up village brass with some sophisticated arrangements, a drummer who swings like Buddy Rich on one of his best days, and a vocal trio who front things like a twisted version of the Andrews Sisters. Add to that a superb violinist who brings more than a touch of gypsy style to tracks like "Cocek 4," where his solo goes stratospheric before the sax takes it even higher, and you've got one of the must unusual, and appealing, Balkan outfits around. The tunes themselves are fabulous, whether it's "Makedonsko Devojce," which is, at times, reminiscent of "Fly Me to the Moon," or the far more ethnic -- inasmuch as this assortment of different Balkan nationals can ever be strictly ethnic -- "Ka Pom E Ja." But with a few exceptions for some solos, this album is mostly about the songs, and the sweet harmony singing over the stinging brass. It's a thrilling combination whose shorts are always on target and deadly, unusual enough to grab the ear, and inventive enough to keep you listening and happy.

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