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Balkan Beat Box 

Wednesday, Mar 10 2010

Israel-to-NYC émigrés Ori Kaplan (sax) and Tamir Muskat (drums, programming) founded Balkan Beat Box, an ensemble dedicated to intermingling traditional sounds of the Balkan and Middle East regions with rock, hip-hop, and techno. While Arab and Jewish cultures are often at odds politically, they have much in common musically, such as sinuous modal expression and melismatic singing (the stretching and "worrying" of syllables over a melody). The blare of brass is similarly heady and intoxicating, and the group's myriad styles dance dizzily, boisterously bashed over a bed of dubbed-out beats. As fun as the band's albums are, Balkan Beat Box needs to be experienced live, where improvisation kicks the party up a notch.

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Mark Keresman

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