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BALKAN EXPRESS  - Various Artists CAT. NO: CS-13
Rare Jazz/Fusion Gems From Yugoslavian Vaults FORMAT: LP / CD
£8.50 + VAT

£8.50 + VAT

RTB BIG BAND – BALKAN EKSPRES RTB Big Band is institution on it's own. It is like a Jazz academy. Almost everyone who did anything in Jazz in Yugoslavia went through this band. It was formed in 1948 and still going strong. In 1978 they released double album for their 30 anniversary packed with quality music. Balkan Ekspres is just one of them. Tough funky fusion with excellent arrangements.
MISHA BLAM - SECANJE (MEMORY) Misha is the best and probably the most used bass player in Yugoslavia also well known for organizing Belgrade Jazz Festivals. He was a long time companion of Dusko Gojkovic and member of RTB Big band but had some projects as a leader as well. Here is represented with extremely tasteful and deep fusion track from his LP "Secanja" (Memories). The track rises gradually and gets you more and more by every second.
LALA KOVACEV - EMINA Lala is the most original and definitely the best Yugoslavian drummer. Slow and deep fusion with a heavy funky bass line based on the traditional folklore theme. Full of excellent break beats. Check brilliant soulful solos on trumpet and saxophone.
MILAN STOJANOVIC - BAG’S GROOVE This track is taken from the extremely rare 7" EP from 1961 and was the only record that multi instrumentalist Stojanovic recorded under his name. He plays flute on this track and resemblance to Yusef Lateef is unbelievable. I had to check cover to make sure.
DUSKO GOJKOVIC - QUO VADIS SAMBA There is no need to talk about trumpeter Dusko. He is the best known Yugoslavian musician. Quo Vadis Samba is taken from the LP "Trumpet and Rhythm Units" and is Jazz Samba at it's best. It drives all the way through. Tip for DJs: Play it in a mix with Shamek Farrah's "Waiting For Marvin".

GABY NOVAK - CARAVAN Gaby is well known singer but not in Jazz. Popular music and ballads were her forte. Digging through the crates I was supprised to find her Jazz 10" from the early 60’s including this astonishing version of Caravan. Very trippy 60’s sound and beautiful voice of Gaby will definitely move you up. The most enlightening version I've ever heard. Works excellent in clubs.
BIG BAND RTS - NE GA SI PRODAVAJ RTB Big Band under the new name (Radio Television Serbia) strikes back. After all these years the quality has just improved. Amazing combination of Macedonian and Latino rhythms, and when you expect the least, beautiful string arrangements. It is a masterpiece and knowing that guests are Stjepko Gut, Peter Mihelich, Reggie Johnson and Alvin Queen there is no wonder. It is also worth mentioning String Ensemble “Jazzart”.

BORA ROKOVIC - STRING-EM Pianist Rokovic was for many years member of RTB Big Band and also known by his work on MPS. String-Em is a soundtrack style composition consistent of several parts. It changes mood several times, from strings arrangements to Jazz-Fusion with solid bass line and back. Other musicians on this track are RTB Studio Ensemble and Mica Markovic on tenor sax with mad, mad solo at the end.

RTB BIG BAND - Balkan Ekspres
02 MISHA BLAM - Memory
03 LALA KOVACEV - Emina 7:41
04 MILAN STOJANOVIC - Bag's Groove LISTEN 3:37
DUSKO GOJKOVIC - Quo Vadis Samba 5'44
GABY NOVAK - Caravan
RTB BIG BAND - Ne ga se prodavaj 6:49


 ECHOES magazine (April 2001, page 39) Elia Rulli
Enough on here to have you purring for weeks, from the Head Hunters-esque title track from RTB Big Band, to the soundtracky Emina courtesy of Lala Kovacev. But the two tracks here destined to make noise are clear: Bora Rokovic's String-Em which inhabits a world all it's own. Several worlds, in fact, mixing some fine string arrangements with nasty funk. And for vocal fans, Gaby Novak's take on Caravan will have you absolutely fienin'.

In the tradition of the excellent other compilations on the Cosmic Sounds label -- this set features some killer jazz and funk gems from Yugoslavia, the kinds of tunes that we might have missed otherwise, thanks to the Iron Curtain! Finding the set's like discovering a pile of great records in the back of some dusty bookshop in a neighborhood you've never visited before -- as each one's got a different groove, mixing together electric funk with big band swinging and small combo modal grooving.

STRAIGHT NO CHASER (Summer 2001, page64) C.P.
Generally, I'll pass over compilations - there's simply too many available and rarely do you find one that's actually sayin' it! However, three tracks in on 'Balkan Express' I'm compelled to jump to and proudly present one that does. Rare Yugoslavian jazz/fusion gems that you're never going to have the pleasure of experiencing unless you take my advice and hunt this LP down. You needn't be a jazz dance enthusiast to appreciate this glorious tracks. The smokey atmosphere of Pork recordings from Tom Tyler would sit perfectly along side the heavenly Lala Kovacev, ripping it up with horn solos on intergalactic tip. Listening to the jazz samba magic from Dusko Gojkovic I'm transported to Russ Dewbury's Jazz rooms. Extraordinary is the only word fit to describe 'Caravan', which is sung in native tongue by Gaby Novak and simply buzzes along augmented by the funkiest of backing vocals. You'll not be disappointed. (C.P.)

PLASTIKS magazine, Belgium (issue 47, page 77) [in Flamish]
Cosmic Sounds blijft er in slagen om ons maandelijks een nieuwe portie Oostblok jazz voor te schotelen. Deze maand is het de beurt aan ‘Balkan Express’, een compilatie vol Joegoslavische rare jazz an fusion van de jaren zestig tot nu. Het varieert van funky bigband fusion in ‘Balkan Express' van RTB Bigband tot uptempo jazzy samba in ‘Quo Vadis Samba’ van trompettist Dusko Gojkovic. De meeste tracks zijn lekker ontspannen, laidback jazz en fusion composities, met als uitzondering de snelle sixties vocal jazz van zangeres Gaby Novak (‘Caravan’). Een speciale vermelding verdient ook ‘String-Em’ van ex-RTB Bigband lid Bora Rokovic. De track verrast voortdurend met nieuwe sfeeren stijlbreuken. Met ‘Balkan Express’ bledt Cosmic Sounds alweer een boeiende, uiterst exclusieve compilate voor de fusion liefhebbers. **** (wdk)

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