King Naat Veliov & the Original Koçani Orkestar
Dunya Records (www.felmay.it)
Macedonian gypsy trumpeter and bandleader King Naat Veliov is a virtuoso of Rom brass-band music, a tradition derived from the Turkish military bands that prevailed throughout the Balkans under Ottoman rule. The ten-man Koçani Orkestar's twin trumpets, flugelhorns and saxophones, along with tuba, accordion, parkesion and darbuka produce an effervescent, jazz-inflected repertoire of festival, wedding and funeral music from Macedonia and neighboring Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.
The title track's soulful opening trumpet launches a darbuka-driven improvisation between trumpet, accordion, and saxophone that embodies all the vitality of Balkan gypsy and Jewish music. "Muli Devla," Veliov's eulogy to his mother, sets up a mournful ska-like shuffle, while "Malajka" combines a zydeco-tinged accordion with the offhand swing and muddy brass tones of a New Orleans second line. "Eleno Mome" appeals ironically to a young woman whose mother dismisses him as a no-account: "I'm not a doctor or an important man of affairs, just a fine musician." The polyrhythmic attack and descending melodic line of "Sevinc Oro" conjure up a decidedly Andalusian feel, underscoring the musical reach of the Rom diaspora. - Michael Stone
Audio: "Sevinc Oro" (c)2001 Felmay/Dunya, used by permission
Available at cdRoots