Acoustic Version comes to stage with new program and “fresh blood” in the band

Christo Yotsov: “The Version” is in its adult years and the joy of making music is the most important thing for us

On October 10, Acoustic Version Jazz Trio will present its new program, specially prepared for the Nisville International Jazz Festival in Serbia. The concert is at Sofia Live Club.

Engrossed in their busy daily lives of performers, composers, arrangers, and music teachers, Antoni Donchev (piano) and Christo Yotsov (drums) rarely find the time to play together, though the Acoustic Version is the first successful jazz project for both of them. Back in 1985, the then newly formed band became the first Bulgarian formation to win the first prize of Jazz Hoeilaart, Belgium - perhaps the most respected European competition for jazz performers. The following year, the prestigious European Jazz Competition in Leverkusen, Germany, honored the duo with the Grand Prix and the title "Jazz Artists of 1986". Shortly after the beginning, the duo was joined by Georgi Donchev – double bass. To this day, the "Acoustic Version" appears as a trio, and the bassists with whom Antoni and Christo play in collaboration are several. In the coming concert they will perform together with Boris Taslev.

The latest album of Acoustic Version was Time in Time out released in 2015, Christo Yotsov recalls, adding:

“As is well-known, the band does not play every day, on the other hand every new concert is an eventin itself. In August this year, Ivan Blagojevic, Artistic Director and known as the “heart” of Nisville, invited us to play at the festival. Just to note that the main line-up of this prestigious forum is very serious. It takes place at two stages and one can listen to many big stars there. The reason for this invitation was that we played at the first edition of the festival. It was then the time of the war, of the embargo on Yugoslavia, but the Bulgarian artists supported the event. Now we have a brand new program called "We added fuel to the fire". We are presenting our new pieces in Sofia now and a week later on October 17th we will play at the Bee Bop Café Club in Plovdiv. As usual, the authors are me and Tony, even he surprised us and sent a brand new play before the last rehearsal. The music is, so to speak, "versioned" – in the typical style for the group. Whatever it sounds like, I think it should not be changed, because what we did in 1984-85 delineated a very clear direction in front of us.”

As Christo Yotsov put it, Acoustic Version has "bred" many bass players who, after an "internship" with the band,went to the US. “Now we have "fresh blood" in the trio, we work with a great musician – Boris Taslev. I no longer count the years of the Version, but I know that it is in its adulthood now and the wisdom, serenity and joy of making music is the most important thing for us at this point”, he says.

How did they come up with the name of their band is another interesting question. “As far as I remember, Antoni invented it. We created the formation when there was a "boom" in electronic music, fusion styles”, Yotsov recalls. “We went crazy on Chick Corea, Electric Band, Herbie Hancock ... But we didn't have any opportunity to own such instruments. Looking for a name, we decided to let it "speak" that we are the antithesis of the "electronic wave" that had flooded the world at that moment. Our beginning was so strong that it forever marked the group's philosophy. We've never had a problem with what music to do. From now on, as I said, the maturity, the experience gained over the years complement, give colour to and expand the range of our music. Despite our rare on-stage meetings, we have a remarkable partnership with Antoni. We don't even need to play written music. When there is a third person, things change, but when it is just the two of us, we can make music absolutely spontaneously and it doesn't seem like we are making it at the moment. We have done it many times. We are like astral twins, the "musical unity" is never broken”, Christo Yotsov concludes.

English version Rossitsa Petcova

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