Guitarist Ludmil Krumov-about improvisation, sincerity and freedom

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Photo: © Daniil Rabovsky

One of Bulgaria’s most talented jazz guitarists Ludmil Krumov studied music in the Netherlands. There, he rediscovered his Bulgarian roots, worked and lived. Ludmil says that the most precious lesson he learnt at the Prince Claus Conservatorium in Groningen is to be real when he expresses himself through music. He plays contemporary jazz. He also plays his authors music and participates in different music projects-concerts for children, pieces for choir and symphony orchestra with a solo guitar.

Ludmil Krumov was born in the town of Svishtov. His father, who passed away young, used to play on the saxophone and trumpet. His grandfather was a talented dancer and his great grandfather was a very skilled piper. Ludmil started to study music at the age of six. He was fourteen when he first played on the guitar. After graduating from the high-school of commerce Ludmil joined that Academy of Economics in his home town, but soon he realized that this was not for him and decided to follow his talent. I have serious experience as a pub musician, Ludmil says. I went through all music styles-from pop and rock to evergreens and oriental music. I fell in love with the Bulgarian folklore when I studied at a folk dance school. In 2001 he was accepted at the Berklee College of Music winning the B.E.S.T award for original composition, but he did not have enough money to study at the USA.

Then, I went to the Netherlands which was a wonderful opportunity, because the Prince Claus Conservatorium in Groningen worked under a US programme with lecturers (acting jazz musicians) from the USA, Ludmil told Radio Bulgaria. This is exactly what I wanted- to study jazz. Our lecturers in Groningen made us think who we were and where our roots were. They taught us to be straightforward and real. I peered at my personal story. Although I studied jazz hard and in details, my roots were different. Then I used my experience from the dancing school and leaned on my interest in our irregular music rhythms and improvisation. Later, I obtained a Master of Music degree from CODARTS-Rotterdam. The theme was related to the mixing of jazz and folk music. In the Netherlands you study the whole tradition-from the very beginning of jazz to its most modern manifestations. I decided to use the same approach to the performers of our folk music and study the development of each Bulgarian folk music instrument separately.

And since I spoke of sincerity- I don’t follow other styles. Of course, if I must follow some requirements I can do it, but in my author’s music I include jazz, Bulgarian folklore and elements of the classical music. I would like to note again-improvisation is very important to me and it is a very significant element in the Bulgarian folk music.
The Bulgarian guitarist says that his new Bulgarian project promises to be very special. It all began in March this year. Ludmil came to Bulgaria for a concert with Jazzanitsa-a project of drummer Borislav Petrov. He decided to adapt his orchestral plays and present them together with his favorite Bulgarian musicians and fellow-students from the Netherlands- Bobi Petrov and Misho Ivanov (double bass). He also invited Zhivko Vasilev (shepherd’s pipe, kaval) and Peyo Peev (rebec) to join his band. Ludmil learned a lot about folk music from Peyo Peev. Peyo is an incredible improviser. He takes all sounds from the rebec and it is great pleasure to listen to him playing, Ludmil says.

The music born by the interweaving of personalities and traditions is close to both the Bulgarian folklore and jazz. Ludmil contends that there is no freedom in improvisation. The secret is the good command of the subject and the “rich vocabulary”. The good improviser is like a juggler-the more elements he includes, the better improvisation achieved. Of course, you have the complete freedom to choose what to include and react to what your colleagues do on the stage.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov


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