"It Wasn't Hard To Love You". Fanfare Ciocârlia celebrates its 25th band anniversary
Precision, speed and playfulness are the trademarks of the Romanian Fanfare Ciocârlia. With their current album "It Wasn't Hard To Love You" this brass band delivers for the first time a work that, with one exception, consists of newly written pieces. A journey to the beginning and in the presence of the probably fastest wind instrument players in the world by Grit Friedrich.
The story of this band begins in Zece Prăjini, a village, founded after the abolition of slavery in Romania in 1856, because the landowner of Dagâța donated land to the men, women and children of the local Roma community, that is what the musicians proudly tell about their village. In Zece Prăjini colorful houses nestle against gentle hills, lined up like a string of pearls. After the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu, many men and women lose their jobs in the factories in the small town of Roman. But some families from Zece Prăjini are lucky, they have mastered a craft that enables them to start a new life. They play the tuba, horn, trumpet or saxophone, because wind instruments determine the sound of this region in northeast Romania, Moldova. It is not possible to say exactly where the tradition of wind instruments in north-eastern Romania comes from but for sure Austro-Hungarian military brass bands were popular in nearby Bukovina for centuries. In 1996 the Berlin based sound engineer Henry Ernst came to Zece Prăjini during his many trips across Romania and soon after he formed a band with the help of the clarinetist Ioan Ivancea, baritone horn player Constantin Calin recalls.
“I was immediately enthusiastic about the rehearsals with Henry. At first we thought that we would play abroad just like at weddings. Without rehearsing beforehand. At a wedding we play quite casually and often improvise. What I like about the band is that I know exactly what role I'm going to play. That is very exhausting, especially in a concert program of almost two hours. It is very important that the melody is precisely arranged. It gets a different twist when everyone knows what to do."
Especially the solo trumpeter Cimai Trifan likes to jam with jazz musicians from other bands at festivals. From his sometimes delicate, floating playing you can hear that different musicians have shaped him. Wynton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie from Afro-American jazz culture, and legendary trumpeters from the Republic of Moldova, such as Valeriu Hanganu or Adam Stanga too. Cimai Trifan:
“We have kept our traditional style. These are our origins. The music from Moldova is our base. But we have polished and modernized these pieces. And in addition to tradition, we mixed in other influences, some Jazz, Romanes vocals, scatt chanting, a little Pop and R&B, we combined all of that.”
In “Escape from Baltimore”, arranged by Henry Ernst, you can literally hear trains sniffing by. Laurențiu Ivancea and Constantin Calin imitate the sound of the concise foghorns of American trains on their baritone horns. They are accompanied by the pounding rhythm of their band. "It Wasn't Hard To Love You" marks the 25th anniversary of Fanfare Ciocărlia, which will be celebrated with a Europe-wide tour from February 2022. Most of the new pieces put a smile on your face and a twitch in your legs, but there is also a melancholy ballad. “The Trumpeters Lament” tells of a Lautar who waits in vain for someone to hire him. This piece was written for the 74-year-old senior of the band, the trumpeter Radulescu Lazar, whom all musicians respectfully call nea Radu and who sings ballads in live concerts like “Lume, Lume”. But this time Iulian Canaf, a passionate Blues interpreter from Iași, and from Roma Minority too, sings this lament and Cimai Trifan and the whole band are happy about this collaboration:
“We went on our way step by step and the new album sounds technically even more demanding. It is quite normal for our band to sound different than it did 25 years ago. We hope that we succeeded. But our vibe, our feeling and our warmth are unchanged.”
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