Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fanfare Ciocarlia

28 April 2006

I had an email recently from Jackie at Making Music. Jackie plays tenor saxophone in a Brighton-based Cuban street band. A couple of years ago they were playing at a festival where they met and made friends with the Romanian Gypsy brass band, Fanfare Ciocarlia. They kept in touch and, at the end of 2004, Jackie and her boyfriend were invited to spend Christmas in Romania with the band. Arriving in a remote mountain village in Transylvania in the middle of the night, she was shocked to discover that almost the whole village had turned out to meet her – and they had sacrificed a goat in her honour! Jackie was quite a novelty to the locals as they were unused to the idea of a female musician. She had taken her saxophone with her and spent her time in Transylvania learning as much of the local folk music as possible. In return she taught the band how to play the Benny Hill theme tune – a traditional English folk tune!

Fanfare Ciocarlia are a great party band (‘the fastest band in the world’) and play a fast and furious version of Balkan Gypsy brass music (a bit like ‘Bad Manners’ to the Boban Markovic Orkestar’s ‘Madness’ if you know what I mean!). I noticed, a few weeks ago, that Fanfare Ciocarlia had won the Europe award in this year’s BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music and I wondered whether Jackie would be going to the awards concert at the Brixton Academy. Then last week she emailed me a photo of herself backstage with the band with her hand on the trophy (“think this is the closest I'll ever get to my own!!!”).

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