Long before the current Balkan brass music craze was iconified by crossover artists like Beirut and NY’s Balkan Beat Box, the nine musicians of the San Francisco Bay Area’s powerhouse Brass Menažeri Balkan Brass Band were already getting deep into the tradition, developed over centuries by the Rom (Gypsy) communities of Serbia, Macedonia and Greece, which yields music as alive with ecstatic celebration as with despairing laments. The band draws on many of the characteristics common throughout the Balkans: brazen horn lines, odd-metered rhythms, riveting, close harmonies, soulful improvisations, and a mission: to make people dance. Now a wider audience is taking notice, as Brass Menažeri’s powerful performances drive some of the most fresh and exciting live shows in the Bay Area, including SF Weekly’s “Best Crazed Gypsy Brass Band Dance Party”, Kafana Balkan, that has packed most of San Francisco’s venues over its 3 year history. The reissue of their 2008 album Vranjski San (Vranje Dream) showcases the collective’s exuberant, road-tightened sound and repertoire of traditional Balkan music with songs in Rromanes, Bosnian and Greek languages complemented by original compositions and Indian rhythms.
Vranjski San (2010)