The sixth edition of Balkan Trafik is ready for take off. It looks promising. No big names such as Goran Bregovic this time, but a series of brilliant bands from the Balkans. It will be a voyage of discovery.
During the previous edition we enjoyed the rich Balkan music in the cosy Le Rembetiko Kafe and at Kabaret Manouche. Given the success, this year there will be an extension where Bosnian music is put on the spotlight with Sevdah Kafana. Highly recommended, because in the Balkans, Bosnians are known for their musical talents.
On Friday 13/04 you may already expect a firm dose of music. Ensemble Dropulli Gjirokastër brings the best of traditional music from southern Albania. We look forward to meet their guest whom they bring to Brussels, Josif Shukallari the master player of the Albanian clarinet. Next, on stage, a Brussels band Zongora, they recently have released an excellent album. They are the ideal band to get the people in the right mood for the rest of the evening.
First we welcome Band of Gypsies starring Taraf de Haïdouks and Koçani Orkestar. Their previous appearance at the AB launched fireworks. And there is more, because the notorious Amsterdam Klezmer Band, that may take credit for more than 1,000 live performances, are finally on stage at Balkan Trafik. For whom energy is still left there is a beautiful surprise. At 2 o’clock at night you can enjoy Dejan Lazarević Orkestar, winner of the famous Guca festival.
Saturday 14/04 we start a bit earlier and relaxed. Xheladin Zeqiri is known as one of the best vocal and dance companies in Macedonia and surrounding countries. For 65 years they’ve been performing all over the world. They are followed by Choir Hazreti Hamza from Bosnia, a 15-member choir with a rich repertoire, ranging from religious songs to sevdah. Then the stage is for one of the best bands at this moment in Belgium, Orchestre International du Vetex. Albania is strongly represented in this edition with a second name: the Koprulu of Berat, bringing us some of the best traditional and Roma music in the region.
Also, on the agenda Saturday night and probably one of the highlights of this edition: the Balkan Trafik Clarinet Project with, amongst others, Ivo Papasov, Josif Shukallari ‘King’ Ferus Mustafov, and the Hungarian cimbalom virtuoso Kálmán Balogh. Unknown in Belgium, but hugely popular in Kosova, Albania is Jericho, one of the best underground bands at this time. An absolute must see this one.
On top of this great musical selection, we also present you film. Sunday 15/04 is Balkan Cinema day. During this edition, the organization has chosen for a tight but high quality program. Among others, you can enjoy movies of Mila Turajlic and Emir Kusturica.
Furthermore, there are numerous interesting workshops, exhibitions and other gatherings where you can learn more about the diversity in the Balkans. All this takes place in the heart of Europe, in Brussels, at the beautiful Paleis voor Schone Kunsten.
It is an edition that merges cultures, where exuberant horns and trompets fuse with melancholic songs and dances.
Bleri Lleshi, music critic
Translation to English by Ann Blanckaert