When Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia came here for the 2009 Sydney Festival their own flare and ebullience was rather overshadowed by the extraordinary guest singers with whom they shared the stage. For this album they have wisely pursued the same philosophy of largely being accompanists rather than the main event. The guest this time is Adrian Raso, a brilliant Canadian guitarist operating in the Gypsy swing tradition of Django Reinhardt.
Of course all Gypsy music has indelible overlaps, whether from the Balkans, Spain or Belgium, and the 12 Romanians have no trouble bending their traditional 2/4 oompah rhythmic sense to the lither and more flexible grooves of many of Raso’s compositions.
The end result is no shotgun marriage, but music that plays to the strengths of both parties. The brass-heavy Fanfare Ciocarlia can bray, swagger and bluster in the best tradition of the Balkans, while Raso overlays slippery solos of striking lyricism. He also takes to the banjo for some pieces, which sings a bright song all its own against those many cheerful horns.