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Inspector Gadje Bring a Balkan Dance Party to the Oakland Marina

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Brass band Inspector Gadje and clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski. (John Nilsen)

Inspector Gadje’s show at the Rickshaw Stop was one of the most memorable pre-COVID concerts I attended.

The San Francisco Balkan brass band, made up of 12 stellar brass musicians and two percussionists, packed out the small club. At the center of the action was rock-star clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski, who fired off solo after solo, and used his instrument in ways I didn’t know were possible (he even made it “scratch” like a turntable, like Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello does with his guitar). Bilingual rapper Deuce Eclipse came out as a surprise guest and hyped the crowd with verses in English and Spanish.

You might not think hip-hop would go with sousaphones and baritone horns, but the global, West-Coast-meets-Romani musical fusion on stage inspired a wild dance party I haven’t stopped thinking about since late 2019.

Inspector Gadje returns to the stage this Friday, Nov. 12, for Kafana Balkan’s post-2020 comeback party, now outdoors at Rocky’s Market at the Brooklyn Basin, the Oakland waterfront park that looks out onto the San Francisco skyline. (Lumanovski, who is based in New York, won’t be at this particular show.) Listeners will also hear from Kafana Balkan founder DJ Željko, who’ll be spinning Balkan music from his native Serbia and other neighboring countries between the live sets. Tickets and details are on the event page.


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