With up to 14 musicians (12 horns and 2 percussionists), Bay Area-San Francisco-based Inspector Gadje brings a big sound to the beautiful and bumpin’ brass band music of the Balkans of south-eastern Europe. Hearing Inspector Gadje is love at first listen. The driving, tight groove of low brass and drums with soaring melodies from trumpets, saxophones, and clarinet incite joy and dance from the very first downbeat. Inspector Gadje ignites the dance floor and makes the party wherever they play, be it clubs (including notable venues such as the MGM Arena, Fox Theater, Palace Of Fine Arts, The Independent, Ashkenaz, Café du Nord, The New Parish, Rickshaw Stop, and Yoshi’s to name a few) weddings, parties, and street festivals.
Original inspiration for the group came from many years of collaboration between the Brass Liberation Orchestra (BLO), a progressive social activist street band, and the Voice of Roma, a non-profit organization that supports Romani community and cultural causes world-wide. In 2009, after years of working together, Voice of Roma secured grant funding from the Haas Foundation to teach traditional Romani music to the BLO through an intensive six months of study with master Bulgarian-Romani musician Rumen “Sali” Shopov and well-known local Balkan musician, Peter Jaques. Subsequently, members of the BLO elected to continue their study and performance through a new band solely dedicated to Balkan music. Additional musicians were recruited to form the now known and loved Inspector Gadje.
Romani Community Connections
Through study and performance of Romani music, Inspector Gadje pays homage to Romani culture and community, all the while acknowledging our own simultaneous position as cultural outsiders and allies. The name “Inspector Gadje” is not only a playful reference to the popular 1980’s cartoon show “Inspector Gadget,” but also to the bands’ non-Romani identity as “gadje.” For more information about Romani issues and efforts to break “Gypsy” (the often-pejorative term for Roma) stereotypes, visit www.VoiceofRoma.com.
As Balkan music has soared in popularity around the world, we feel there has been a lack of attention on the often subjugated communities from which this music has sprung. We are dedicated to a model of music that deals openly with issues of cultural appropriation. From the stage we encourage our audiences to look more closely at the ways in which we as Americans can contribute to healthier cultural awareness through the process of respectfully learning and sharing music as a social touchstone. As the nature of the Bay Area changes, and the world is literally our neighborhood, this type of approach is relevant beyond (Balkan) music and applicable to multiple strained cultural relationships.
Inspector Gadje believes that autonomy is one way to survive the earthquakes of the modern music industry. As such, management, booking, PR, graphic design, and web development, all roles that have historically belonged to external characters, are housed internally within the band, or with close friend: Serbian producer DJ Željko of Kafana Balkan . Even more experimentally, the band has cultivated cultural emissary roles, where a number of ensemble members travel annually to Balkan countries (including Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, Romania, Albania) in order to study from masters and bring back learning and new sounds to the ensemble. Gadje also invites masters of the tradition to collaborate with them on their home turf of the Bay Area, keeping an ongoing loop of cultural exchange alive. This is traditional music for the 21st century.
Dedication to Learning
When a master is in town, we make every effort to attend the concert, and to arrange a master workshop class for Inspector Gadje. We have been lucky enough to engage in master workshops with Kocani Orkestar (from Macedonia), Ivan Milev (from Bulgaria, now living in New York) Ismail Lumanovski (from Macedonia, now living in New York.)
- Noah Levitt - Trumpet
- Danny Cao - Trumpet
- Morgan Nilsen- Clarinet
- Paul Bertin - Alto Sax
- Mike Perlmutter - Alto Sax
- Ofir Uziel - Accordion
- Paul Marini - Baritone Horn
- Jeff Giaquinto - Baritone Horn
- Greg Stevens - Baritone Horn
- Andrew Cohen - Helicon
- Sean Tergis - Percussion
- Marco Peris - Percussion
Notable festivals and venues
- Golden Fest, Brooklyn, NY
- MGM Arena, Las Vegas, NV
- River to River Festival, New York Brasslands premiere
- LA Film Festival, Los Angeles CA
- Outside Lands Music Festival, San Francisco CA (collaboration with the Loyd Family Players)
- Fox Theater, Oakland CA
- Kafana Balkan, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco
- Palace of Fine Arts S.F. TEDMED
- The Independent, San Francisco
- The Boom Boom Room, San Francisco
- Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley
- Herdeljezi Festival, Petaluma/Sebastopol/new perish oakland