Fanfare Ciocărlia is a popular twelve-piece Balkan Brass Band/Romani brass band (not to be confused with Romanian) from the northeastern Romanian village of Zece Prăjini. The band began as a loose assemblage of part-time musicians playing at local weddings and baptisms. In October 1996, the German sound engineer and record producer Henry Ernst visited Zece Prajini and convinced a number of the musicians there to assemble a touring band. These musicians decided to name the band Fanfare Ciocârlia: Fanfare being a French word that has passed into Romanian and is used to designate a brass band; Ciocârlia being the Romanian word for the skylark. Since their discovery by Ernst, who serves as their manager, they have played more than thousand concerts in more than 50 countries across the globe.
With historical roots in Austrian and Turkish military bands, Fanfare Ciocârlia's instrumental lineup includes trumpets, tenor and baritone horns, tubas, clarinets, saxophones, bass drum and percussion. Their song lyrics are usually either in Romani or Romanian. Their musical style stems primarily from the traditions of Romani and Romanian folk dance music, but they also borrow freely from Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian musical styles, and they incorporate a number of tunes gleaned from international radio, Hollywood and Bollywood in their broad repertoire as well. They are best known for a very fast, high-energy sound, with complex rhythms and high-speed, staccato clarinet, saxophone and trumpet solos, sometimes performed at more than 200 beats per minute. They are also known for using no sheet music in their performances, sometimes randomly blasting their horns and clarinets in the middle of a song, and for playing old, battered instruments onstage.
The band won the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award for Europe in 2006. Their latest release is entitled Queens and Kings.
Influence in North America
Songs from the debut album Radio Paşcani ("Ah Ya Bibi" in particular) have appealed greatly to American fans of Gypsy. American Gypsy musicians Balkanarama covered "Ah Ya Bibi" on their 2003 release Nonstop. The eclectic, Santa Cruz-based jazz/rock/metal act Estradasphere, who are known for frequently interpreting Gypsy music, often play "Ah Ya Bibi" at live shows (on their EP "The Silent Elk of Yesterday", the track is recorded under the title "A Tune by F.F.C."). New York City's Hungry March Band covered their song "Asfalt Tango" on their On the Waterfront CD, and the Extra Action Marching Band recorded "Ciocarlia Suite" on their Live CD.
Influence in Dance Music
The song "Asfalt Tango" was used by Basement Jaxx, a British electronic dance group, on the song "Hey U", which featured on their 2006 album Crazy Itch Radio. A cover version of the James Bond theme is included on the album Gypsy Beats and Balkan Bangers compiled by Basement Jaxx' Felix B
The full-length film Iag Bari - Brass on Fire, directed by Ralf Marscalleck, features the life of Fanfare Ciocărlia members, focusing on the small Romanian Gypsy village of Zece Prajini in contrast to the large concert venues the band attends. It would go on to win "Best Documentary Award" at the Festival De Cine Documental Musical in Barcelona and Madrid in November 2003. It was also awarded "Best Long Documentary Award" on the Romani Festival for TV and Radio Production Golden Wheel in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.
In October 2004, Asphalt Tango Records released the first Fanfare Ciocărlia DVD that included a full live concert and Iag Bari, along with other video segments.
Fanfare Ciocărlia's version of "Born to be Wild" can be heard on the closing credits of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
- Radio Paşcani (1998)
- Baro Biao - World Wide Wedding (1999)
- Iag Bari - The Gypsy Horns From The Mountains Beyond (2001)
- Gili Garabdi - Ancient Secrets of Gypsy Brass (2005)
- Queens and Kings (2007)
- LIVE! (2009)
- Balkan Brass Battle (2011) together with Boban & Marko Marcovic Orkestar
- Gypsy Brass Legends - The Story of the Band (2004)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fanfare Ciocărlia.|
- Fanfare Ciocărlia's official website
- "Ah Ya Bibi" mp3 sample (Balkanarama version)
- Artist Bio on National Geographic World Music Site
- Asphalt Tango Records