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Band of Gypsies

the_title() 10/30/2012 - Balkan Trafik! 2012 - Line Up

Taraf de Haïdouks and Kocani Orkestar are undoubtedly two of the most famous and emblematic Balkan Gypsy bands.

Started in 1991 in the small Romanian village of Clejani, the “band of honourable brigands” (that’s the literal translation of “Taraf de Haïdouks”) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by launching an ambitious project: a kind of Balkan big band, in which the 13 Taraf musicians and singers are joined by the 13 members of Macedonia’s Koçani Orkestar, one of the top brass bands around. The big band has recorded a new album, and will be touring from the spring 2011 on.

The name of this collaborative ensemble, Band Of Gypsies, is (among others) a reference to Taraf de Haïdouks milestone 2001 album, which included three tracks in collaboration with Koçani Orkestar. This time the plan is more ambitious: all the pieces of this entirely new repertoire are written, arranged and performed by an impressive, 26-piece orchestra, which explores all the contrasts between the two bands’ rich, respective textures. The swirling and fiery violins, cimbalums and accordions of Taraf de Haïdouks are engaging in exciting combinations and interplay with the mighty, funky brass and percussion of Koçani Orkestar.

Yes… encounters between styles and generations, but also between musicians of different origins and cultures: let’s remember that, while both bands consist of Rom musicians, the members of Taraf de Haïdouks speak Romanian (a Romance language) and are Christians, whereas the members of Koçani Orkestar speak Macedonian (a Slavic language) and Turkish, and are Muslims! They communicate with each other via various Rom dialects, different but mutually- understandable… and, of course, mostly through the universal language of music.

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