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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Asambl Mastika

By Robert Kaye
Published June 22, 2007

Gde Si, Bre?
Chamsa

NYC-based woodwind player Greg Squared (a.k.a. Greg Schniederman) heads up this impressive sextet of fellow Yankees whose hearts and ears resonate to music from the Balkans. Squared and comrades have performed in other Eastern European bands in the Big Apple, hence are no strangers to the genre. Gde Si, Bre? proves you don’t have to hail from the Old Country to play its music well. Squared wrote all the songs, which speaks volumes about his understanding of and immersion into Balkan musical culture. Ansambl Mastika, Squared’s well-rounded band, effortlessly performs the “crooked dance” meters, exotic scales and modes indigenous to the genre, doing so with conviction and a sense of adventure. All the musicians are top-notch; they’ve obviously done the woodshedding to master the stylistic gypsy nuances on their respective instruments. If you dig R&B (Roma ’n’ Balkan) music in all its earthy funkiness, this album stands on fertile ground.