Yuri Yunakov and his Romani Wedding
Saturday, October 6, 2007 - 8 pm
This high energy music, once banned by the Soviets,
blends the kick of rock, the fluidity of jazz and the joyous exuberance of a
Yuri Yunakov (saxophone) pioneered
“Bulgarian Romani Wedding Music” along with Ivo Papazov and Neshko Neshev in
the 1970s and was then catapulted to international fame. Their incredibly
thrilling music showcases virtuosi technique, electrifying improvisation, rapid
tempos, daring key changes and eclectic musical literacy. This
contemporary style of "wedding music", named for its ubiquitous
presence at life cycle celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, and
circumcisions where dancing and music are a requirement, was originally played
only for, with, and by Roma (“Gypsies”).
The “Romani Wedding Music
Goes Global” fall 2007 U.S.
tour is produced by the Romani non-profit organization, Voice of Roma’s “Romani
Routes” program dedicated to educating audiences about the music and culture of
the Romani people.
The Band includes the rising
star Selaidin “Sal” Mamudoski on clarinet, Severdjan Azirov on percussion,
Kujtim Ismailov on bass and Muhamed Ismailov on accordion and keyboard.
Brew House, 2100 Mary Street
(Southside off Carson St
and 21st Street
– Look for the Big Clock – that’s it!) – seating and
at the door - $10; $8 for students (to age 22)
Yuri Yunakov (saxophone) was born in Haskovo,
Bulgaria, of Turkish Romani
ancestry and currently lives in the New
York City area.
He hails from a long line of musicians in his extended family, including
his father and grandfather and his uncles and brother. Yuri's career began with the band "Mladost"
and he subsequently began a 10-year collaboration with Ivo Papazov and
"Trakija." Yuri is Bulgaria's most
famous saxophonist. Together with the
"Trakija" orchestra Yunakov played at hundreds of weddings in his
native Bulgaria, and has
toured extensively in Europe and North America.
In 1989 he was featured on NBC TV with saxophonist David Sanborn. Yuri appears on the recording "Gypsy
Fire", a CD of Turkish music on Traditional Crossroads. He is the director
of the Yuri Yunakov Ensemble, and is in great demand among the Bulgarian,
Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Armenian and Romani communities in the New York City area.
Mamudoski (clarinet) was
born in 1988 in New York.
His Romani family includes a long line of musicians from Sutka and Prilep, Macedonia.
He started playing clarinet when he was eleven-years-old, taking lessons from
Yuri Yunakov. Only seventeen now, Sal has been playing professionally at Romani
weddings in the New York
area for two years and is identified by Yunakov as one of the rising stars of
Romani virtuosi clarinetists..
Erhan Umer “Rambo” (keyboards,
vocals) was born in Bitola, Macedonia
in the Romani neighborhood, and immigrated to the United States
in the 1980s. He comes from a long line of professional musicians; in fact, all
the males in his family are musicians. His father was drummer with the national
Macedonian ensemble "Tanec," and his uncle
also played tupan. Erhan
regularly performs for weddings and other celebrations in the New York City area for his own community of
Macedonian Roma as well as Bulgarian, Serbian, Turkish, Albanian, and Bosnian
community celebrations. He is the leader of Amenet – a 6-piece Romani Band in New
York. He plays accordion, keyboard and sings, and he
has collaborated with guest musicians from the Balkans as well as with family
members. Erhan has performed at the Annual California
Roma Herdeljezi Festival with Yuri Yunakov in 2005 and 2006 and with Amenet
Shopov (percussion) is a Rom from Gotse Delchev, a crossroads town in Southwest Bulgaria near the
borders with Greece and Macedonia, whose musical traditions he has mastered
along with those of the local Bulgarians, Roma, and Turks. An astonishing
musician on tambura (long-necked mandolin) and
bouzouki, as well as an accomplished vocalist, trap drummer, and doumbek player, Rumen is also one of the greatest living
exponents of the southern Bulgarian/northern Greek style of ceremonial and
celebratory tapan. He was the concertmaster of the Nevrokopski Folk Ensemble, Bulgaria's
first national folk ensemble, for more than 20 years, and led two of Southwest
Bulgaria's hottest bands, Shturo Make and Orkestar Orbita, performing
throughout the Balkans, Europe and Canada. He has played at five Herdeljezi Festivals with many bands, including with Yuri Yunakov, and at countless other VOR events. He has toured
the U.S.; teaches at music
and dance camps around California, all across America, and in Canada;
and participates in many folk arts events throughout California,
notably as tapan player at the annual Turkish
Festival in Monterey
and at Greek and Kurdish weddings. VOR produced Rumen’s first CD, “Soul of the Mahala,” in 2006.
ensemble performs Slavic and Romani (Gypsy) music from the Balkan countries of Bulgaria, Macedonia,
Serbia and Turkey in southeastern Europe. This music is renowned for its haunting
melodies, dense ornamentation, complex rhythms, and stunning
improvisations. The region’s geography
and politics have blended influences from both East and West, including modern
jazz and rock, rural and urban folk styles.
This music’s popularity is now exploding beyond the Balkans, gaining
enthusiastic audiences and critical acclaim in Western
Europe, Canada, Australia and the U.S.