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Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar: A Little Bit of Balkan Soul

Posted by Goran / July 23, 2008

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Last night at la Tulipe, the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar showed the packed house that when not doing nasty things to one another, we (the people of the Balkans) also enjoy the arts. Some happen to be rather proficient in their trade. Boban & Marko have been receiving some pretty raving reviews. Although, “the best trumpeters in the world!” (as they were introduced), may be slightly unsubstantiated, the brass orchestra put on a dazzling and powerful performance.

Members of the local Serb (former Yugoslav) community came out in hordes to support the Gypsy band from their native land. Such events typically attract more robust crowds in the TO area, but I was surprised to hear enough Serbo-Croat tongues around me to make the event authentically cultural enough. I must note, however, that the show was also a testament to the profound love for the Balkan beat genre among the Francophone community. Further proof can be found with the crowd at Les Bobards any night a Gypsy band happens to be performing.

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The genre can be particularly powerful. From the rich trumpet-led melodies emanates the soul of the Balkan region. It screams of endless strife and reflects the traditions of a plurality of conquerors that have given shape to the vibrant culture and left their marks on the visage of a population. But giving life to the melancholic melody is a strong and energetic rhythm that hopes and dreams of a better future. Infused with Arabesque harmonies and blended with hopping polka-ish rhythms, it is no wonder that this highly adaptable bastard child has experienced a contemporary renaissance through its natural mingling with pop under the supervision and mastery of Goran Bregovic and Bijelo Dugme.

The lead trumpets cut through the Tulip’s atmosphere with surgical precision and thunderous blare. Incessant percussion had the booties go up and down with the repeat button on. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much audience fluidity at a Montreal concert (usually characterized by hipsters casually bobbing their heads; just enough to look like they’re barely enjoying it). The Yugo’s were dancing on chairs and holding hands in their traditional kolo dance, while the Franco’s attempted their own, more Arabic influenced, body movements. The fullness of the sound range created by the mélange of flugelhorn, tenor horn, and helicon goes to show that professional acoustics can create the soulful sound that digital can only fathom emulating in its binary dreams.

The crowd exploded to, then demanded and in return received encores of, folk favourites such as ‘Mesecina’, 'Bubamara' and ‘Kalashnikov’. They chanted along and almost cried, to a riveting rendition of the classic ‘Djurdjev Dan’ (a.k.a. ‘Ederlezi’). Boban’s performance was strong, but it was clear that his son, Marko, is set ro follow as the bandleader. The elder could not hide the fatigue induced by endless touring, exasperating horn blowing, and strenuous singing. Although it may soon become just the ‘Mark Markovic Orkestar’, it won’t fall short on quality. The vigorous and visionary new leader could very well guide the orkestar into a new era of fame and prosperity through the aforementioned fusion of Balkan folk and Western pop.

Photos from Flickr user gr0uch0

Discussion

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