Before the band flew into town for their March 10 show at Metro Chicago, Balkan Beat Box’s Ori Kaplan sat down with me on the phone to talk about the band’s new sound; what they’ve been listening to recently; the future of global “roots” music; and their fourth and latest release, Give.
As the album’s title and cover suggest, Give functions as both international political commentary and a rally for political change. This thematic shift from previous albums is accompanied by a shift in the band’s own make-up; they’ve moved away from what Ori calls their “zoomed-out…urban-global” sound, with numerous guest artists, to a more focused trio. That trio includes Kaplan on sax and brass, Tomer Yosef on vocals and percussion, and Tamir Muskat on drums and production. Yet despite their smaller ensemble, the group sounds more expansive on Give than ever before—like they want to fill a stadium, as opposed to all the parties on the block.
The band just finished the first US leg of their world tour and are now off on their European leg through May, before coming back to the states for their second US stretch this summer. Check out their website for more info on the band and their travels.