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Written in fRoots issue 310, 2009

EZERKI & 7/8

Dallas CD DALLAS 3008 (2006)

A Macedonian ensemble of Croatians, some Macedonian-born, linked with the Croatian-Macedonian Association of Zagreb, Ezerki is a twenty-member female choir, 7/8 an eight-piece band led by violinist Bruno Urlic and including accordion, mandolin, kaval, guitar, cello, fretless bass and drums. They perform arrangements of popular Macedonian traditional songs and tunes, many of them in the typical 7/8 Macedonian rhythm of the name, as well as its 5/8 and 11/8 kin.
     Itís far from the village music of its sources, certainly, and appears on the face of it closer to the sort of uncool stereotype that perhaps one might see on a Balkan TV programme or at an ambassadorial event, but it would be a mistake never to pay attention to such things, because often fine singers and musicians appear in them. And this album is rather splendid; meatily melodic and full of spirited singing and rich-textured playing in big, stylistically wide arrangements.
     Urlic, who has other musical projects including Balkan ethno meets jazz-funk trio Mavi Kan, soars warmly on violin, and his band is joined by guests on trumpet and soprano and tenor saxes, and while the choir has its own lead singers of notable character and earthiness there are two guest solo singers. One is well-known Macedonian popular male singer Tose Proeski, the other at first listen sounds like another male singer, but is in fact the surprisingly low-register sound of Croatian popular music diva Radojka Sverko, accompanied by the band in elegant ethno-pop mode in a truly remarkable, regal and extraordinarily deep-resonating performance of Kales Bre Andjo.
     www.dallas.hr, www.ezerki78.com

© 2009 Andrew Cronshaw

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