Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Gypsy Hop: Boban & Marko Marković Orchestra with "Sljivovica"

I have waxed poetic in the past on my surprise and delight at the emergence of Balkan brass band music, especially in dance-able club music. Today's song is another example of this, but with a twist. Hip hop, until I started listening to it in a world music wrapper, was not a really big attraction for me. Hip hop lost my interest when it seemed to become, at least in the popular songs, hedonistic and glorifying violence instead of highlighting up front the social and economic issues of the communities from whence it sprung. Thankfully, hip hop seems to have gone through that adolescence and, while it now has pop success there is also a new focus on issues of substance.

With hip hop in foreign languages, I could listen to the beat and the rhymes without understanding the language and I found that I actually liked that. There is a great quality to hip hop, to me at least, in that you don't need to understand the language to appreciate the artistry. Hip hop in French sounds great. Hip hop in German has a fun quality to it. Today's song gives us hip hop in Serbian - and while I might seem like a hypocrite because the song is about a plum brandy and it appears, from the video, that it is promoting some of that hedonistic qualities that drove me away in the first place, I love the use of it with the brass band sound. So yeah, if I close my eyes and listen to the song, and I don't understand the language, I like the new sound it brings.

Boban Marković is a Serbian Romani trumpet player and brass ensemble leader frequently recognized as the greatest trumpet player to emerge from the Balkans. The Boban Marković Orchestra has been one of the leading Balkan brass bands in Serbia over the last 17 years. They have won several of the most important prizes ("Golden Trumpet", "First Trumpet" and "The Best Orchestra") at the Guča trumpet festival, called "Dragačevski Sabor" which has been held every August in Central Serbia's town of Guča since 1961. Boban Marković's son, Marko, has played with the band since 2002. Marko was said to practice ten hours a day before joining with the band. During the two years he spent touring with the band, Marko became the main soloist and arranger of the renamed Boban & Marko Marković Orchestra at age 17. Sljivovica can be found on the Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra's 2013 album Gipsy Manifesto.