Taraf de Haïdouks & Kocani Orkestar are undoubtedly two of the most famous and emblematic Balkan Gypsy bands. Started in 1991 in the small Romanian village of Clejani, the band of honourable brigands (that s the literal translation of Taraf de Haïdouks ) were celebrating its 20th anniversary tlast year by launching an ambitious project: a kind of Balkan big band, in which the 13 Taraf musicians and singers are joined by the 13 members of Macedonia s Kocani Orkestar, one of the top brass bands around. Together, they have recorded a new album, and are on tour togther. The name of this collaborative project, Band of Gypsies 2
, is (among others) a reference to Taraf de Haïdouks milestone 2001 album, which included three tracks in collaboration with Kocani Orkestar. This time the plan is more ambitious: all the pieces of this entirely new repertoire are written, arranged and performed by an impressive, 26-piece orchestra, which explores all the contrasts between the two bands rich, respective textures. The swirling and fiery violins, cimbalums and accordions of Taraf de Haïdouks are engaging in exciting combinations and interplay with the mighty, funky brass and percussion of Kocani Orkestar. The compositions dig deep into the various sources which have been inspiring the two bands for years: traditional music from the Romanian countryside, urban Balkan pop, medieval ballads, so-called oriental brass band music, Turkish, Jewish, Greek and even Indian influences... It s therefore an album which gathers elements from all over the Balkans, from Romania, Macedonia and Serbia to Bulgaria, Turkey and beyond, all weaved into powerful and sophisticated arrangements.