ekrem mamutovic 1The Ekrem Mamutovic Orkestar are a Roma brass band from Vranje, a town in the southeast part of Serbia. Vranje is not far from the border to Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria. The head of the band is, as the name implies, trumpeter Ekrem Mamutovic who stems from one of the oldest families of Roma brass musicians with a long standing in Serbia.
The band were originally founded in the 1920s by Ekrem Mamutovic’s great-great-grandfather Fejza Bakic under his own name. In the 1930s, it was taken over by his son Bakija Bakic, one of Serbia’s most legendary and famous trumpet players. Bakija Bakic was just a teenager when he took over the band and he headed it for half a century. During that period, he was awarded “Best Trumpet Player” three times over at the annual Guca Festival and received the title of “Master of the Trumpet”. He passed away in 1989. In 2006, a monument was erected posthumously to Bakija Bakic in his hometown of Gornja Carsija. A memorial festival is held in Vranje each year on the anniversary of his death.
At the end of the 1980s, the band were handed over from Bakija Bakic to Ekrem Mamutovic (grandfather of the current head of the band). He was also a prize-winner four times at the Guca Festival and honoured with the title of “Master of the Trumpet”. Driven by the nationalistic climate during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Ekrem Mamutovic changed his name to Milan Mladenovic. After his death, the band split into two: the Nenad Mladenovic Orkestar of his son Nenad and the Ekrem Mamutovic Orkestar of his grandson Ekrem.
Ekrem Mamutovic was born in Vranje in 1982. He claims to have grown up literally with trumpet in hand. During his childhood, Ekrem played the instrument several hours a day and was thus gradually introduced into the family tradition by his relatives. He attended the conservatoire in Vranje for several years, graduating from there. At the age of 11, he became an official member of his grandfather’s band in which his father Dobrivoje Mamutovic also played. Since taking over the group in 2007, Ekrem Mamutovic has steadily modernised it, opening it to new musical trends without neglecting centuries-old traditions.
The band are active as a highly in-demand wedding and festival band as well as a concert band in Serbia and abroad. The group have already recorded several CDs that up to now have been released only in Serbia. Together with Lebanese world music producer Michel Elefteriades, the Ekrem Mamutovic Orkestar recorded the song “Diki Diki” and the accompanying music clip in 2012.
In keeping with the tradition of his ancestors, Ekrem Mamutovic has already received numerous awards at the Guca Festival and in 2009 was honoured with the title of “Master of the Trumpet”.
Discography (excerpt):
2009 Bakija Bakic Orchestra Led By Ekrem Mamutovic
2013 Red Cocek


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


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