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Serbian Dance Band in New Jersey, ca. 1949​-​50

by Banat Tamburitza Orchestra

Erdeljanka 02:42
Nebesko Kolo 02:34
Radikalko 02:49
Dorčolka 02:47
Djurdjevka 02:58
Zaječarka 02:28
Neda Grivne 02:27
Tandrčak 02:26
Drmes #2 03:05


The Banat Tamburitza band are said to have been formed in 1913 in Elizabeth, New Jersey by Serbian immigrants from the village of Sânpetru Mare (then-population about 2,000) in the Banat region of present-day Timiș county of western Romania. A group by the same name recorded for Columbia in the mid-20s for Columbia and then in the mid-40s for the Sonart label with the renowned Bosnian singer Edo Ljubić (b. 1912; d. 1993) at which point a reference in Miriam Lidster and Dorothy Tamburini's book Folk Dance Progressions referred to them as being from Philadelphia. Various lineups continued to perform around New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio until around 1972. When this incarnation recorded in the late '40s and the '50s for Michael Herman's Folk Dancer label, their press announcements always stated that they were Serbians from Newark, New Jersey (about 15 miles south of Elizabeth.)

Founding members included:
-Zdravko (Steve) Jezdimir (b. Feb. 11, 1896; immigrated Oct. 19, 1912; d. Dec. 21, 1979 in Evesham, Burlington, New Jersey) who was a machinist for the Singer sewing machine company in the 1940s.
-Vasa Bukovich (aka Vlada Torosov, b. June 19, 1888; immigrated Nov. 21, 1907) who was married to Julia Janos in Elizabeth NJ in 1913 before making ten discs with his brother for Columbia in June 1916. He moved to Chicago in the '20s and made about eight more discs for the Jugoslavia label recorded in Richmond Indiana at the Gennett Studio in 1924 and one final disc for Columbia on a return visit to New York in 1928.
-Bogdan Kuzmanovich (b. July 24, 1890; immigrated 1910; d. in Elizabeth NJ Dec. 19, 1979)
as well Vasa's brother Mirko Bukovich and Letsa Stoyanov. Some member of the band also played in the Oroa Tamburiza group lead by Dusan Jovanovic who recorded prolifically for Columbia and Victor in the '20s.

According to the notes of a CD issued by Festival records, by 1956 Jezdimir remained the leader of the group of musicians whom we take to be second-generation: his son Walter Jezdimir, Milan Kosic, and Walter (b. Aug. 15, 1927 Union City NJ; d. April 21, 1990) and Ed Bacinich.

The region of Banat saw a major settlement of Serbs in the 15th century and was Ottoman territory during the 16th-18th centuries and was then under Austro-Hungarian administration from the early 19th century until WWI. Through all of that time, it was a multi-ethnic region where Romanians, Serbs, Hungarians, Germans, Jews, Bulgarians, Greeks, etc. settled and lived to one extent or another. An autonomous Banat Republic existed briefly in 1918 before it was subsumed first into the Kingdom of Serbia (later renamed Yugoslavia) and then in 1920 into Romania.

The Banat Tamburiza Orchestra in New Jersey meanwhile seems to have performed primarily for Croatian events during the middle of the 20th century, offering what John Filcich, head of Festival Records, described in 1954 as a "coveted" style of dance music to Southern Slavic-American enthusiasts.


released November 20, 2022

Transfers, restorations, and notes by Ian Nagoski
Many thanks to Andrea Brick Ader.
Thanks also to Larry Weiner for help.
Transliterations and translations are given here as they appear on the original disc labels.


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