“Who knew John Zorn was composing 13-time Balkan/Arabic tunes? Balkan-jazz quintet Radio Banska, evidently, and there’s a cracking arrangement of Zorn’s ‘Ravayah’ on this album. For all the rootsiness of the tunes, they’re all modern, with guitarist Dave Spencer contributing half and violinist Nina Trott’s briskly Manouche ‘Emo Latino’ a lively little number. Tosh Wijetunge’s bass and Mark Whitlam’s drums cast a convincing reggae spell over Richard Galliano’s ‘Chat Pitre’, moodily rendered as a loose ballad, and guitarist Tony Barby flavours Spencer’s ‘We’re Not in Kansas Now’ with a Moorish flamenco underpinning. It’s all tightly arranged, straddling the roots/jazz divide without overstretching either way, and nicely captures the band’s distinctive sound.”
“I spend hours listening to world music of all kinds, every continent, every genre, and very rarely does a disc make me sit up the way this one did. Right from the first track, La Mezquita (The Mosque, if I am not mistaken) with its obvious nods to Moorish and Iberian influences, placed just right, followed by the fun of the back-flip bass opening of track two, Ravayah - the scene, I think, has been set for something unexpectedly enchanting. What is obvious is that these guys (and girl) are enjoying every minute of what they are doing, and it is so much easier to engage with happy musicians. I guarantee you will play it for your mates. For my money probably the release of the year, an unassuming little gem that deserves listening to - and enjoying !”
" Radio Banska is a favourite on the festival circuit and it's easy to see why with their debut CD, 'The Balkan Courtesan'. Not only are they superior musicians — their individual playing can hold you in awe in several different ways — but they have opted for a road less travelled, taking their formidable skills and applying them to something not formulaic . . .and all the more exciting for it.
A purposefully undefined blend of world influences - this is simply Radio Banska music. Six of the ten tunes are original compositions by electric guitarist Dave Spencer, brought alive by consummate violinist Nina Trott and the acoustic guitar and charango of Tony Barby. Double bassist Tosh Wijetunge is a marvel, and drummer Mark Whitlam brings his massive jazz chops to bear on the world music material, creating a rhythm section that plays like a section : locked in.
Check out 'The Balkan Courtesan' – you will be richly rewarded! "
“The Balkan Courtesan is well worth every penny - it is one of my favourite albums of the year, brilliant . . .!”
" … the rapport between the musicians is captivating …traditional and original material with jazz, Balkan and latin influences. An intelligent, dynamic, adventurous and exciting musical journey – I can't wait to hear them again ! "
Marick Baxter, director - Bath Folk Festival
" ... sounds from around the world - and also an adept contemporary jazz combo with unique material and a command of rhythms that go further than the average 'ethnic' outfit. Fine and distinctive players, too ... "
Steve Henwood, director - Bath Fringe Festival
“... numbers that speed up to drive dancers into ecstasy, haunting, exotic minor key melodies, unusual time signatures ... it is music to dance to; it's a celebration ...the rhythm section of Tosh on double bass and drummer Mark Whitlam are what make Radio Banska an extraordinarily powerful band, a kind of Levantine Zeppelin ...the whole band is terrific, worth seeing for their musicianship alone ...”
"A lively atmosphere and an impressive mix of European, African and sultry latin rhythms. They obviously enjoy what they do and that rubs off on the audience ... "
" A heady and varied range of music ... a natural rapport and an engaging performance ... ideally suited to the Rural Touring venues ... "
Nicholas Keyworth, director - Wiltshire Rural Touring