The King of Balkan brass music, Boban Markovic has nothing to prove as far as his playing and composing abilities are concerned. However, given the flashes of brilliance on this, his first fully studio-recorded album, one would think he's trying to make a debut-level flash to get noticed by the masses. In tandem with his son Marko, Boban blazes through newer compositions and arrangements of traditional pieces. The band provides a highly capable backing, as well as a groove-inducing thump from the goc (a large drum) and a snare drum, but the stars here are Boban and Marko. Their playing on "Sunce Sjajno" would put Al Hirt's old solos to shame. The compositions range from the speedy dance tune to the ponderous paean. Many are cinematic in scope, just waiting for an epic Sergio Leone film to be attached to. Perhaps more impressive, though, are those in which they are able to incorporate elements of jazz, funk, and other world musics into their sound. "Meksikanka" makes use of some Afro Cuban jazz motives, and "Vegas Cocek" makes use of some more Oriental idioms (though admittedly Istanbul isn't terribly distant from the Balkans). "Voz" has half a hip-hop beat laid out behind the main players, but they twist the horns to work with the sound, making an irresistible Gypsy funk. This is really the case throughout The Promise: an undeniable groove keeps the listener interested regardless of the style, but the horns can still make the varied styles of music mesh with the groove well. A particularly good release of contemporary Balkan music.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg