Goran Bregovic & His Wedding and Funeral Orchestra | Ravinia Festival | International | Chicago Reader

Goran Bregovic & His Wedding and Funeral Orchestra Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sun., June 14, 7 p.m. 2009

Goran Bregovic may not ever shake the controversy that accompanied his rise to superstardom—Boban Markovic and Esma Redzepova have accused him of taking full credit for songs he cowrote with them—but the fact remains that his savvy distillation of various Romany musics into a punchy, potent contemporary style has helped connect even relatively traditional Balkan artists to a global audience. On the new Alkohol (Wrasse), his first U.S. release, he and a tight ten-piece band rip through a variety of traditional themes that he’s adapted to varying degrees, presenting the raw electric thrill of Balkan brass in a refined and sophisticated guise. Most of the album was cut live in 2007 at the fabled Serbian brass-band festival in Guca—a fraught setting, given the suspicious eye the fest’s hard-core audience casts upon popularizers—and Bregovic’s group sure sounds like it had something to prove. He shares vocal duties on many tunes with a pair of strong female singers, and throughout the disc he underlines the razor-sharp horn charts—driven by fat-sounding beats from Alen Ademovic’s two-headed tapan drum—with tasteful electric-guitar lines. You can hear touches of his rock-band past on a few tracks, and DJ Shantel of Bucovina fame adds a touch of electro to “Gas Gas Gas,” but by and large Bregovic doesn’t try to rethink traditional Balkan music so much as amp up its power. He made his North American debut here in 2006 with a 43-member ensemble, and though this time he’s only bringing 19 musicians I still expect a knockout spectacle. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10-$40

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