Boban Markovic Orkestar

Live in Belgrade

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In terms of Balkan brass bands -- which are a major musical art form in the region -- the Boban Markoviae Orkestar are up there on the gold standard, and this live recording begins to give a real idea why, capturing at least some of the sweat and fire of their concerts. Capable of playing at breakneck speeds, they can remain full of funk whatever the tempo, powered by a rhythm section of tuba and no less than four tenor horns. Along with the two drums, they keep everything anchored, letting the three flugelhorns and the sax fly. And take off they certainly do, with Markoviae up front providing the lone vocals -- although it's the playing you'll remember more, the remarkable stop-star rhythms and serpentine, flowing sax work on "Intro/Cororo/Branjski Cocek/Nikolin Cokek" or the wonderfully titled "Disco Dzumbus," whose rhythms would be cheesy of not done so wonderfully, all the brass parts interlocking like an intricate puzzle. They even tackle the Jewish classic "Hava Naguila" with incredible aplomb and no fear, letting it speed faster and faster. Closing on a slower, gentler note with the traditional "Ederlezi" (recorded in Budapest, not Belgrade), they show why they keep winning brass band contests. And listen to Markoviae's marvelously controlled solo on "Vodopad" -- it's an object lesson in how to play the flugelhorn.

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