Between the roots of free music and contemporary jazz: the second edition of the Pleven jazz festival closes


The Autumn Jazz Festival in Pleven is relatively new but has successfully fitted into the amalgam of international music forums in Bulgaria. The selection of both editions has been made by the Alarma Punk Jazz platform of the Bulgarian National Radio led by the host of the radio show of the same name Tsvetan Tsvetanov. The idea of the event is to reveal the roots of free music making and the contemporary branches of jazz.

The main organizer of the event is the Municipality of Pleven which provides the financing. By tradition every festival night opens with music and conversations broadcast by the Bulgarian National Radio from a mobile studio located close to the open stage in the yard of the Regional Museum of History.

The festival started last year”, says Tsvetan. “Before that there was a festival also financed by the Municipality of Pleven – Jazz in the Gallery created by Gergana Bocheva. She founded the cultural center Dom Kafe (Coffee Home), a place suited to the souls and thoughts of people with unconventional thinking. We gradually agreed on the idea to organize a three-day festival in the open. The first edition was very successful and on the day it closed, I suggested to the organizers a selection including most of the musicians that we listened to this year.”

The second edition of the Autumn Jazz Festival in Pleven was opened by the musicians from Hakos Trios. The name is formed by the letters in surnames of the instrumentalists – Hadjigrudev (Vasil, double bass), Kovac (Lav, drums) and Oliver (Enrique, saxophone), as well as of Sánchez (Julián, trumpet) whotook part in the first album of the band. Later the name transformed into Hako. Referring to a language of an American Indian tribe the word means “the creation of the world” which matches perfectly the band’s ideas in music. They perform at concerts in Bulgaria, Spain, and now they are heading to Serbia to record their second album. Drummer Lav Kovac says more:

After Hako Pleven audiences applauded Mamadou Diabate from Burkina Faso. A drummer, singer and percussionist he has been living in Vienna for years and he first gave a concert in Bulgaria in 2007. After his attractive show in Pleven he left for USA for a creative visit.

The program of the festival also featured two of the bands of Rosen Zahariev –  Metaforмоза and Fly We To The Moon. The latter was founded ten years ago. “No matter that sometimes a replacement of musicians is made, we retain the idea of freedom and flight,” says Rosen. Apart from trumpet and flugelhorn he plays various drums.

“Guiro is of Latin American origin; it is a drum but sometimes it sounds as if it speaks,” he explains. “And ‘conversations’ always take place in the band. I use also Moroccan castanets, pan flute, and a siren – all these instruments help me at certain moments to ‘fly up higher’, to seek a different sound. The West European music is rather limiting. Playing between the intervals that are accepted as basic, results in microtones and a whole world that unfolds at different levels. For quite some time I have been under influence from African music. This summer I had the chance team up with several times with Ayuune Sule – this was a precious experience for me.”

The original musician mentioned by Rosen is from the King Ayisoba Band from Ghana which closed the festival and on the next day gave a concert at Studio 1 of the Bulgarian National Radio.

One of the highlights in the concert was the performance of Ilire Avdiu who visited Bulgaria thanks to Tsvetozar Tsakov and the association Balkans – Ways to Friendship.

On stage in Sofia (where she gave a concert before the festival) and in Pleven, her partners were Stanislav Arabadjiev – piano, Mihail Ivanov – double bass and Stefan Goranov – drums.

On the sidelines of the Autumn Jazz Festival in Pleven, a workshop in African dances was held led by Maria Cossa. It attracted both kids and adults. She was even invited to teach African dances in Pleven. The beautiful dancer has said that she is among the organizers of a festival of African culture in Sofia and has been teaching in Veliko Tarnovo for some time now.

Maria Cossa

English version: Daniela Konstantinova

Photos: Albena Bezovska

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