boban i marko markovic orkestar 1The Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar are a Roma brass band from Vladicin Hal in the south of Serbia. They were founded in 1984 by Boban Markovic under the name Boban Markovic Orkestar and are one of the most famous Roma brass bands ever. In 2004, Boban Markovic officially handed over leadership of the band to his son Marko. Since then, the band are called the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar.
The Roma family Markovic have a very long tradition as a family of musicians in Serbia. Boban Markovic's grandfather was already a legendary trumpet player in the Serbia of the 1930s and even played in honour of King Alexander.
At the age of ten, Boban Markovic accompanied his father Dragutin and his orchestra at weddings and festivals. When he was 16, he became a professional musician, and at 20, took over leadership of the family band. In the 1980s and 1990s, Boban Markovic and his orchestra would go on to win several awards at the annual Guca Festival in Serbia. Among other things, he won the “Golden Trumpet” award five times in a row and still appears at the festival though without competing.
During that time the orchestra began touring throughout Serbia and also abroad and their first CDs were released. The Boban Markovic Orkestar became known outside Serbia primarily because of their appearance in Emir Kusturica’s film “Underground” as well as the collaboration with Serbian composer Goran Bregovic. Boban Markovic and his orchestra released a total of 5 CDs between 1996 and 2001. Since 2002, the band have been signed with German world music label Piranha Records and have released seven albums on that label to date.
Marko Markovic began playing trumpet while still a pre-schooler. It was his grandfather Dragutin who taught him, since his father was almost always away on tour and giving concerts. The young Marko sometimes played up to 10 hours a day, dreaming of eventually accompanying his father on stage. Due to his frequent absences, father Boban only noticed his son’s extraordinary talent when Marko was 12 years old and then immediately brought him into the band. He handed over leadership of the band bit by bit to finally hand it over to him officially on Marko’s 18th birthday.
The Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar are known worldwide for their exuberant live performances. In 2000, British rock band Oasis had to postpone their appearance on the main stage at Hungary’s Sziget Festival by 30 minutes in order to wait for the Boban Markovic Orkestar to finish their concert to a crowd of 15,000 on a side stage. In the seven years between 2002 and 2009 alone, the band played more than 600 concerts, including a sold-out tour of the USA and Canada.
Boban and Marko Markovic have repeatedly collaborated with various musicians in recent years. In 2002, they joined up with New York klezmer musician Frank London and Cairo’s Hasaballa Brass Band. This resulted in the CD “Klezmer Brass Allstars, Frank London pres. the Brotherhood of Brass” on which klezmer music hooked up with the traditions of Roma brass music of the Balkans and Arab brass music of Egypt.
There were also several collaborations with Frankfurt Balkan Beat DJ and producer Shantel. Marko Markovic contributed various trumpet parts to Shantel’s albums “Disko Partizani” (2007) and “Planet Paprika” (2009). And Shantel, in turn, produced several songs for the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar.
In 2011, Boban i Marko Markovic presented their joint project with the Romanian Roma brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia, the “Balkan Brass Battle”. Together, the bands released a CD of the same title and launched a large-scale and very successful concert tour. As the name suggests, the bands face off to battle against one another. Who wins is decided by the listener / audience. That, of course, is all to be taken with a wink of the eye!
Musically, the band have been open to other styles from the early days on. Although Boban and Marko Markovic always remain true to the Roma music, they are not afraid to combine this with a number of other musical influences and expand it. Thus, elements of Latin American music, funk, jazz, klezmer and modern dancefloor are reflected in their arrangements. On the album “Devla”, released in 2011, Marko took to the mic himself on several songs, giving listeners an earful of his highly idiosyncratic and unique mix of vocals and rap in English, Serbian and Romani.
In 2006, Marko Markovic played the starring role in the movie “Guca - The Distant Trumpet” by Serbian director Dusan Milic.
Their most recent album came out in 2013. It is entitled “Gipsy Manifesto”.


Text: Robert Lippuner / Gypsy Music Network
Translation: Jamie Davies


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