Kocani Orkestar, Alone At My Wedding

Peter Margasak

By Peter Margasak

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

One of Eastern Europe's greatest and most active Gypsy brass bands, the Macedonian juggernaut Kocani Orkestar expand their sound on this terrific album, vividly enhancing their propulsive yet agile horn riffs — anchored by a four-strong tuba section — and soaring reeds with violin and djumbus (a kind of fretless banjo from the region). As the title indicates, the material is drawn from the vast repertoire of Balkan, Turkish and Bulgarian songs heard at Gypsy weddings — affairs that can last up to three days. Over furiously percolating rhythms finessed on percussion instruments like the two-headed tapan and the hand-struck darbuka, the brass players deliver impossibly fast and fleet parts with jaw-dropping precision and articulation that interlock in dizzying riffs and lines that only enhance the music's sublime danceability. Vocals are also a more prevalent feature of the Kocani sound here, as new members Ajlur Azizov and accordionist Zlate Nikolov tear into the sing-along melodies with soulful gusto. A number of tracks pare down the instrumentation to just percussion, clarinet and djumbus, reflecting the dialed-down phases of wedding celebrations — no one would be able to keep up with a full-throttle brass band for three days. But even at its most restrained, this music would always be a welcome antidote to "Celebration."