Brass Menažeri (2000-2013)

The Brass Menažeri ("Menagerie") was the San Francisco Bay Area's Balkan Romani ("Gypsy") powerhouse Brass Band. For 9 years they cascaded through the music of the Serbian, Macedonian, Greek & Rajasthani Roma with wild rhythms, soulful vocals & hot improvisations. Their energy was infectious—toes tap, bodies slam, sweat flies as vital energy radiates from the dance floor. The Brass Menažeri was a shining example of traditional Balkan repertoire combined with new sensibilities, innovative arrangements & original compositions at the hands & lips of American devotees.

Resilient

Mr. Lif & Brass Menažeri

Brass Menažeri met Mr. Lif way back in December of 2010, when mad genius Devon Leger thought—unlike anyone else in the world—that Balkan brass would make a good backdrop for hip hop. So he invited us all to meet and collaborate in the Seattle Folk Festival. We sent a swath of largely fruitless emails, flew to Seattle, and had a single rehearsal in a puddly coffin factory, with a borrowed Crate bass guitar amp for Lif’s vocals. We didn’t get electrocuted, somehow, and thus we didn’t make use of the factory’s usual product. Instead we created a collaboration method based on live remixing the band, slicing and rearranging our repertoire on cue, muting and soloing sections of the band & looping sections willy nilly, like a DJ might if they held dictatorial control over ten people, instead of Ableton Live.

You weren’t there, but it was awesome.

We loved it & rocked it. We decided to make a record, raised money from friends & faithful strangers, recorded a lot of music, the band disbanded, some people loved and lost, others simply waited, we composed & recorded & edited & re-recorded (in three different countries) & cut & recut & recomposed (& decomposed a bit—happens to us all), and now only seven years later, you’re holding this thing in your I-wouldn’t-say-grubby-exactly hands, praise the laud.
We’re so eternally grateful to all those who believed in us and supported us throughout this long process; to all who donated to the project; to Waxsimile Records for putting us over the top; and to you for listening to the final result. We hope you enjoy this crazy fruit of our crazy labor & our crazy love. And while the world's winds whip up certain uncertainty, may we breathe deep & build Resilience together—our intertwined roots anchoring our supple-yet-shatterproof trunks, so that everyone's limbs might offer up their most beautiful particular fruit, to nourish us all, while we birth again the world.

—Peter Jaques, Athens 2017
Read more… close
0:00/???
  1. 1
    0:00/3:34
  2. 2
    0:00/3:17
  3. 3
    0:00/3:34
  4. 4
    0:00/5:50
  5. 5
    0:00/5:33
  6. 6
    0:00/4:08
  7. 7
    0:00/3:22
  8. 8
    0:00/4:01
  9. 9
    0:00/2:45
  10. 10
    0:00/5:17