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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Kocani Orkestar

By Tom Jackson
Published March 13, 2007

Alone At My Wedding
Crammed Discs CRAW 25

Apparently in the Macedonian village of Kocani, after the first night of a couple’s three-night wedding festivities, it's customary for the assembled friends and family to make a brief visit to the local mosque...and then jump in the river. The pumping energy of the powerhouse brass band that is the Kocani Orkestar, propelled by the mighty turbines of four (count ’em) tubas, may well be enough to drive the most casual listener to take an icy plunge. The party begins with a funkily syncopated “Šiki Šiki Baba” and from that moment on, the band simply doesn’t let up. They merrily drum up a party, press-ganging, like the Ottoman military brass bands from which these Balkan wedding crews evolved. This disc isn’t what most would call easy listening, with its relentless energy and vocals in Macedonian, Turkish and Rom, but it’s every bit as bracing as a frigid early morning dip.