We arrived in Topana only 30 minutes delayed, but rather than the full orchestra waiting for us, there were only Asan and his friend Ali, who kept telling us they would arrive any moment.
So we waited and waited, and Ali felt more and more uncomfortable, until they admitted that the band was actually on a gig. What a weird way of dealing with people, we thought, why pretend, when we would find out a little later anyway? More and more I experience that there is a huge cultural behavior pattern going on, which is quite contrary to my 'German' straight forward way of being. One really has to look behind the scenes and let go of the 'matter-of-fact' being, release into a world of stories and float with it.
I think Asan really just wanted our company, but I had enough, and so we prepared to leave...
Now the funniest thing occurred: Asan begged us to wait just for 10 more minutes, and left 20 min later he did return, and with him a whole Balkan brass band ! What an extraordinary thing. Some of the members were very young, maybe 14-16 years old, and felt rather awkward in this situation, having to play for and with this strange foreign lady who for some reason knew their music.
We had a great jam in every way. The energy which vibrated from this really tight rhythm section was extraordinary, I don’t think I ever played in such a powerful environment. Not that they knew the pieces, but they made it up as they went along.
For one piece, which I really like, I could not handle the often wrong chords anymore, and they would not hold any of the breaks which made this piece so strong. So I interrupted the whole thing vehemently and taught them the right chords and breaks. This was quite a funny situation, me sitting in the middle of a Romany settlement with a borrowed brass band, teaching them one of their own pieces, but it changed the dynamics, and afterwards the youngest weren’t feeling so awkward anymore.
The leader of that group then invited me then to play with their band, of course in such a way so Asan would not hear – great, now I could be member of three Balkan Brass Orchestars in Macedonia. I felt like a trophy which they all wanted to own for themselves. Well, I did decline politely, as I did not want to be the cause of a Balkan brass battle.
Gosia eventually did some dancing as well, and after we have been playing rather chaotically through all pieces which I had learned on my last visit, and Asan found no means to hold us there any longer, we departed and were chauffeured to the centre. Over several glasses of rakja, Gosia and me reflected on all those weird and wonderful events of the day.