"The Brotherhood of Brass"

Thought I'd share this with you all.

For the last 3 years, I've been travelling to Europe as a member of Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars, playing all over Central and even Eastern Europe.

It's been quite an amazing for me journey musically, culturally, even spiritually, not to mention physically. Our tour schedule just last year took us from Vienna to Belgrade, from Riga Latvia to the small village of Vladichin Han, just a few miles from the Serbian border with Kossovo. I just returned form a concert in Chemnitz Germany, and in June will return to Vienna, by popular demand, to open the famed Weiner Festwochen as well as a concert tour of Italy.

One of the highlights of my experience with this group has been our collaborations with the Boban Markovic Orchestra, Serbia's finest Gypsy Brass Band. We recorded a CD with them, "The Brotherhood of Brass" in Budapest in 2001, which was released the following year on the Pirhana label. Just last year, we recorded a track for their latest CD "Boban I Marko" in Belgrade.

That CD was featured on NPR's "The World" recently, and just in case if you missed it, I've included a link where you can hear the story as it was broadcast, including the tune we recorded with them: and old Hassidic melody given the Gypsy treatment.

I've also posted a photo diary of our trip to Serbia, including the recording of the CD. You find even more photos from our many trips posted here as well.

It was quite an experience travelling Eastern Europe and Austria with Gypsies. Not always a pleasant one at times, made all the more chilling by the recent horrific treatment of the Rroma population in the Czech Republic, and news that the Austrian Government is building jails in Romania to house "Romanian criminals" (mostly Rroma) outside their own country. Anywhere that you can openly discriminate against gypsies and other "outsiders", you can be sure that Jews can expect the same treatment eventually. All I know how to combat this ignorance is to continue to return to Eastern Europe and elsewhere, identifying myself unabashedly as a Jew and attempting in my own small way as a musician to illustrate those things that bind ALL peoples together, rather than what makes us different. I invite you to visit this site with links to Rroma Rights organizations.

I also have quite a few things to share with you about the Jewish community of Belgrade, but that's a whole other story and you may contact me off line about that.

Shabbat shalom, and best to you!

Mark