Review of Fanfare Ciocarlia

A review of the SOLD OUT Fanfare Ciocarlia performance (our first of the Winter/Spring 2014 season!) by one of my new favorite patrons Yvonne Brunot!

Last Wednesday, January 15th, was nodoubt a day of routine pleasantry for most of the population of Somerville, MA. The year of 2014 is in its infancy, yet the warm holiday glow of past weeks had faded, and the lives of most have returned to the rhythms of daily life.

Except at Johnny D's.

At 8:00pm on the aforementioned date, the Somerville club known as Johnny D's hosted the internationally recognized Roma Brass Band Fanfare Ciocărlia.  Fanfare Ciocărlia (said, "Fan-FAR-ay  Chow-car-LEE-uh) is a twelve piece, innovative and intensely creative ensemble of musicians hailing from the tiny town of Zece Prajini in north east Romania.  It's not so much that the club let them play; it's more like they unleashed the musical Beast that immediately engulfs all listeners in a resonant maelstrom of Roma folk tunes, American Big Band standards and Balkan-sounding dance music with intriguing verve and precise rhythm.  

Discovered by German music aficionado Henry Ernst in 1996, the basis for the band's style is reputed to be part of a lineage harking back to the bands that accompanied the Ottoman armies.  One only has to sample their considerable discography to appreciate the distinctive flavor of their bold, brassy greatness.  However, once FC began to tour Europe, even as they won fans worldwide, they worked with a numberof talented musicians and singers to keep their synergy new and to avoid the cliché of becoming a "niche" band.

At Johnny D's on the night of the concert, I, just as many of my neighbors were, was on my feet in front of the stage.  The show was an unstoppable bacchanal of Eastern European beats playing tag with blues, jazz  and what sounded like Romani Dixieland.  Songs played that night included thestandards Lume, Lume, Iag Bari, and Fanfare Ciocărlia's unique rendering of Duke Ellington's Caravan.  Before the audience could even consider catching their breath, these musical tricksters let loose with their insanely unrepentant version of Born To Be Wild.  The dancing would last for at least 45 minutes more and through several encores.

Happy New Year, indeed!


For more information, and a review of their latest album, The Devil's Tale, go to: