Border Crossings

The Brass Heard ’round the World

Serbia’s Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar Brings Its Dancefloor-Packing Best on Golden Horns

Boban Markovic and his son, prized protégé Marko, have managed the nigh-impossible: Leaping from a deeply rooted Roma (Gypsy) scene in Serbia, they have ignited hip club dancefloors, innovating effortlessly and integrating everything from jazz to disco in brilliant, organic ways. They sound authentic, yet utterly fresh.

Combining the absolute flexibility of Miles Davis and the cool funk of Herb Alpert, the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar has found the funkiest expression of their Southern Serbian Roma roots. Golden Horns offers the perfect summary of the Markovics’ stunning career, with tracks that reflect their dancefloor-friendly best.

Boban i Marko Karovic Orkestar on tour, February 2012

“As a DJ, I’ve had nearly twenty years to see the reaction Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar get from the crowd,” explains album compiler and Balkan beatologist DJ Robert Soko (BalkanBeats). “Tracks like ‘Khelipe e cheasa,’ ‘Od Srca,’ and ‘Mundo Chochek’ simply kick ass. They get people dancing like crazy.”

Boban (right) and his prized protégé (and son) Marko Markovic

Now fans and new listeners can join the party with thirteen classic cuts, from the hard-hitting, almost Latin-inflected “Sljivovica” to an aching live version of “Ederlezi,” a deeply moving song beloved from Balkan bars to the silver screen (thanks to Emir Kustarica, who featured Boban in his groundbreaking film, Underground).

The greatest-hits collection features two swinging remixes by Soko (“Go Marko Go”) and by {dunkelbunt}, adding another layer to the already rich sonic heritage of the Markovics.

Markovic the elder, from the small town of Vladicin Han, burst onto the European music scene and became the spark that lit thousands of fires. After stunning performances on stage and on film, he became the inspiration for a vibrant scene that stretched around the world: DJs, musicians, and fans who became delightfully addicted to the intricate yet grooving sounds of Balkan brass.

Far from resting on his laurels, Boban has built on his decades of experience by harnessing Marko’s youthful vibe-an energy sustained by marathon practice sessions and a lifetime spent with dad on stage. As a kid, Marko put in ten hours a day at home with his horn, a practice that drove Boban so crazy he finally insisted his son stand and deliver with the Orkestar. The determined, then fourteen-year-old Marko played so perfectly, he soon became a fixture in the group.

Barbo i Marko Markovic Orkestar, official video for ‘Sljivovica’

But Marko has done more than merely play along. Together, Boban and Marko Markovic are expanding the idioms of gypsy brass: Marko can rap with spot-on precision, and the Orkestar can hint at disco, salsa, or the wilder edges of jazz. All while keeping true to tradition: the lightning-fast melodies, driving rhythms, and exuberant transcendence of the greatest Balkan brass bands.

From the pulsing, lithe “Sina Nari” to the band’s wonderfully celebratory rendition of “Hava Nagila,” Golden Horns shows why Boban, Marko, and company have managed to make Balkan brass a whole new, hip genre from Vienna to Brooklyn, while still remaining true to the centuries-old sounds of generations of Romani musicians.

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, ‘Disko Dzumbus’: ‘They are an authentic Serbian brass band who reinterpret traditional pieces and play their own compositions in a listenable, danceable manner.’

“They are an authentic Serbian brass band who reinterpret traditional pieces and play their own compositions in a listenable, danceable manner. They are just so good at conveying the beauty of Southeast European music, and making it palatable for Western audiences,” Soko reflects. “At the same time, they are constantly experimenting with other musical genres–jazz, soul, classical, or even disco–melting various elements together and producing a new sound of their own.”

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar’s Golden Horns is available at

Courtesy our friends at World Music News Wire

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