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Brass Menazeri / Press

“ (Town Hall) The Seattle Folk Festival is set to present what has to be the most unexpected collaboration of the year: veteran indie rapper Mr. Lif (Def Jux) performing with live Balkan brass band Brass Menazeri. This is what the website for the festival states: “Brass Menazeri is quite simply one of the best Balkan brass bands in the U.S. Inspired by the frenetic and wildly virtuosic brass bands that had been popularized in the movies of Emir Kusturica…” So this event will be something likeBeat Street meets Time of the Gypsies? Fuck, how will that even work? The band, we are told, is from the Bay Area and apparently has found a way to match the frenetic rhythms of Eastern European music with the chilled dopeness of hiphop. Mr. Lif will be rapping against all of that brass. ”

“Bosnian gems mingle with Bollywood bangles, while Rromani (Gypsy) hits mix with super-fly funk. Thanks to dreamed melodies and down-and-dirty bass lines, Brass Menazeri has been packing Mission bars with a heady mix of Balkan perfection and Bay Area eccentricity, of serious chops and serious joy, for years. Now on Vranjski San (Porto Franco Records; August 10, 2010)¸ the brass band with attitude breaks out a fresh vision of how hip Balkan brass can be, while maintaining a rare depth of cultural knowledge. The group puts a new polish on favorite songs from Rromani, Greek, and Slavic masters, while shining light on unexpected sides of Balkan culture: the love of Bollywood, the funky production esthetics, the constant hunger for new sounds to try in old forms. ”

“They’re brassy! They’re sassy! Oakland’s ambassadors of Balkan bump ‘n’ grind, Brass Menazeri! [...] If you’ve never seen this ten-piece horn-and-clarinet-fueled firecracker of a band before – well, then, you need to. Personally, I can think of few better ways to let loose the demons of the workweek than to kick it up on a Friday night with some joyful noise from these folks. ”