Gili Garabdi: Ancient Secrets of Gypsy Brass

Fanfare Ciocarlia

Fanfare Ciocarlia is a 12-man brass-woodwind-percussion band of gypsies from Zece Prajini, the “invisible village in northeastern Romania … a village so secret it is not on any map!”—according to the liner notes of the band’s latest CD, Gili Garabdi. “We are magicians of music and in Zece Prajini the ancient secrets of Gypsy magic live,” says clarinetist Ioan Ivancea. Fanfare Ciocarlia plays an exciting mix of traditional Romanian folk music with Turkish, Bulgarian and Macedonian rhythms; German “oom-pah”; as well as Middle Eastern stylings. Tempos are at times blistering. The trumpet playing on “Sirba Moldoveneasca,” is incredibly fast and dance-inspiring, as is the tuba accompaniment. This CD documents just how a fast a tuba can actually be played, both accurately and entertainingly. Though the band so often plays with the fervor and beat of an exuberant marching band, other elements are very non-Western-sounding. The tone of the clarinet and alto sax is unusual and mysterious. Same for the exotic vocals from the band’s four vocalists (who double on instruments as well) and Bulgarian guest singer Jony Iliev. A lot of fun!