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Fanfare Ciocarlia Queens & Kings Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

An introduction to many of Europe's greatest Gypsy singers while also being one of the...

Garth Cartwright 2007

Fanfare Ciocarlia are, right now, the world's most famous brass band. The 11-piece Romany Gypsy outfit from a tiny village in North Eastern Romania originally operated as a weddings and funerals band until German sound engineer Henry Ernst took then to Berlin in 1996 and their ferocious, roaring sound immediately won over the West.

Their turbo-charged brass sound has both helped popularize Balkan brass and lead to the Balkan beats club movement. With band leader Ioan Ivancea dying in 2006, Fanfare decided to dedicate Queens & Kings to his memory by gathering Romany brethren from across Europe. Thus across this album they’re joined by singers from Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and France. The different musical flavours all work well alongside Fanfare’s gonzo brass attack, the band building dynamics around the different voices.

Opening track "Kan Marau La" is a huge rush of Oriental brass with mysterious Romanian singer Dan Armeanca ripping through a great original composition. Next up is "Que Delor" which finds Kaloome from Perpignan lending a lovely flamenco flavour to the brass. Legendary Serbian vocalist Saban Bajramovic appears on two songs while Macedonia's Queen of the Gypsies, Esma Redzepova, also guests on two. Perhaps most spectacular is track six "Duj Duj" which finds Hungaria's Mitsou and Romania's Florentina Sandu trading vocals over a coiling brass pattern.

Queens & Kings ends with Fanfare's take on rock standard "Born To Be Wild". This was cut for the Borat soundtrack at the request of Sacha Baron Cohen and is amusing but comes nowhere near matching the remarkable Gypsy songs throughout.

Queens & Kings offers an introduction to many of Europe's greatest Gypsy singers while also being one of the best party albums ever made. Put this on the stereo and everyone will be dancing.

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