Fanfare Ciocarlia | City Winery | International | Chicago Reader

Fanfare Ciocarlia All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Sun., April 24, 5 & 8 p.m. 2016

The high-octane energy and minor-key darkness of Balkan brass music took root in my heart nearly two decades ago, and the sound still quickens my pulse today. But as the music of Macedonia’s Boban Markovic and Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia was embraced by the world-music industry it began to change, adapting a slick sound with bigger beats and a predilection for kitschy covers and producer-driven collaboration. A couple of years ago Fanfare Ciocarlia made Devil’s Tale (Asphalt Tango), which paired them with Canadian jazz-manouche guitarist Adrian Raso. The mash-up of Romani musical traditions was pleasant enough, but there was nothing about it that made me want to go back for more. With the new Onwards to Mars! (Asphalt Tango) the group is on its own and more appealing for it, but their cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell On You” is pure hokum and the production by Koby Israelite, who wrote most of the material, puts an emphasis on low end and adds extra drums for a sound far removed from the traditional tapan hectoring heard in Roma villages. I plead guilty to fetishizing a more primitive Romani sound because I object to the tradition evolving within the marketplace, but on the other hand, when these guys play live all of that studio jive thankfully melts away.

Peter Margasak

Price: $27

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