Mostar Sevdah Reunion (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

The Pioneers of Modern Sevdah

Mostar Sevdah Reunion is an exquisite group of artists sharing the same passion. Some might say that they live for Sevdah and that could be the only cause of their existence. To decode and to represent this over 400 year old traditional music from Bosnia and Herzegovina is a difficult task to cope with. Despite all obstacles, MSR kept going.
The story begins in 1993 when Dragi Sestic, producer and former of the band, recorded an audiocassette with a couple of tracks that was distributed in limited edition among their friends. Those were the times of war in the Balkans and the reason for recording was just a getaway episode to forget for one single moment all the atrocities and suffering. Then, they gave the promise that “the whole world will know about Sevdah” – one day when war would come to an end. They fulfilled the promise and recorded their first album “Mostar Sevdah Reunion“ in 1998. Since that day they have been fascinating their audiences wherever they go.
Diversity in musical backgrounds and individual virtuosity in a collective that never performed two identical gigs in a row make them unique on the World Music scene. Working and recording with Saban Bajramovic ✝︎ “A Gypsy Legend” , Ljiljana Buttler ✝︎ “The Mother of Gypsy Soul”, Esma Redzepova “The Queen of Gypsies”, Boban Markovic , Naat Veliov and Amira Medunjanin they intend to show the variety of Balkan music and to give due respect to the finest and uncompromised authors of genuine Gypsy music.

The style of the band has changed since its early days, along with many of its members. Guitar and piano have joined violin and accordion as lead instruments, while a younger generation of singers has taken over as vocalists, but the music remains fluid, thoughtful, and an effective reminder that there is more to Balkan music than the high-octane brass bands and drunken stomping of popular imagination.

After their acclaimed 2013 concept album „Tales From a Forgotten City“, entirely dedicated to beautiful and troubled Mostar and her poets and singers, they now come back with something different, in line with the tradition of discovering and presenting forgotten and new talent. “The Balkan Autumn” (2018) features one of the best kept musical secrets of the region: Milutin Sretenovic Sreta is an incredible 70 years old crooner from Serbia who mixes Sinatra-like jazzy vocals with Spanish flamenco and Oriental maqams. Another new voice at Sreta’s side will be only 25 year old Antonija Batinic, the latest star of Sevdah music whose vocal abilities seem to be without limits. „The Balkan Autumn“ promises an exciting mix of experience and youth, energy and virtuosity.


Discography

2018 Mostar Sevdah Reunion Presents Sreta, The Balkan Autumn
2017 Kings of Sevdah, Live Album, Digital Release
2013 Mostar Sevdah Reunion, Tales From A Forgotten City,  SR-66021
2007 Mostar Sevdah Reunion, Café Sevdah, LC-12490
2005 Ljiljana Buttler & Mostar Sevdah Reunion, The Legends of Life, SR-66006
2003 Mostar Sevdah Reunion, A Secret Gate, SR-66002
2002 Liljana Buttler & Mostar Sevdah Reunion, The Mother of Gypsy Soul, SR-66001


Films

2013 Tales From A Forgotten City von Amir Grabus
2005 Sevdah – The Bridge of Bosnian Blues, BBC documentary


Press

“Deeply sad and beautiful.”
Hessischer Rundfunk, D, 2013

“This Balkan answer to the blues is transformed and updated by being matched against contemporary blues and jazz influences… …A subtle and intriguing band.”
The Guardian, UK, 2007

 

Amira Medunjanin (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Sevdah meets Jazz: Bosnian Billie Holiday

It is not easy to find a single word in English that can stand for the Bosnian concept of Sevdah, although yearning perhaps comes closest. Like the Spanish Duende, or Portuguese Fado, it carries multiple meanings – love, hopeless love, endless love, a desire that chills and fevers the lover like malaria, and like malaria can never be shaken off – but in the end, it’s a way of life, and a narrative that tells the story of itself.

In her native Bosnia, Amira Medunjanin is adored as the new diva of Sevdalinke (Bosnian love songs). She was born in Sarajevo at the time when the popularity of traditional music in former Yugoslavia was at high tide, and Sevdah held a special place for her. The sevdalinke (sevdah songs) she learned from her mother were the most beautiful of songs. Her fascination with the oral tradition of Bosnia and Herzegovina led her to devote herself to creating a unique voice within Sevdah to explore its expressive capacity to the full. She had spent years searching to find people who shared her ideas about Sevdah, and for the best way to present it.

On her latest album Damar (2016), as in all her previous productions, Amira draws deep from the wellspring of Sevdah, the “beating heart” of Bosnian music, with revivifying ancestral Bosnian songs, whilst for the first time introducing new compositions to her artistic palette. A particular emphasis on acoustic guitar brings a subtle Iberian piquancy to Damar, and once again the great Serbian pianist Bojan Z  bestows his musical and production skills upon the endeavour.  With a quintet that suggests everything from flamenco to contemporary jazz – a flourish of guitar here, a provocative piano solo there – Amira Medunjanin transforms tradition into a powerful emotional statement, one that suggests her homeland but is not limited to it.

During the past few years Amira has been increasingly collaborating with classical Croatian orchestras (Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Zagreb Soloists and Zagreb Philharmonics),  thus placing traditional music from the Balkans into a slightly new context. In 2017 she started working with the internationally renowned Norvegian chamber orchestra Trondheim Solistene, recording and performing together at the Arena di Pula in Istria/Croatia in August 2018. Shortly after this grandiose, sold out  event she releases Ascending, recorded in Trondheim and the Abbey Road Studios in London and produced by Amira herself with her long time musical companions Ante Gelo und Bojan Z. With this special, retrospective album the Bosnian diva celebrates her 15th stage anniversary and opens a new chapter in her musical career.

Dubbed “Bosnia’s Billie Holiday” by music journalist and author Garth Cartwright, the comparison reflects the way in which Amira turns Sevdah inside out, finding new contexts and forms within a tradition that is hundreds of years old. Amira Medunjanin was ranked among the Top Ten World Music Divas by the British magazine Songlines in 2017.


Current Projects

DUO Amira Medunjanin & Bojan Z (piano)
DUO Amira Medunjanin & Boško Jovic (guit)
TRIO Amira Medunjanin & Bojan Z (piano) & Zvonimir Šestak (double bass)
QUARTET Amira Medunjanin & Ante Gelo (guit) & Bosko Jovic (guit) & Zvonimir Šestak (double bass)
SEXTET  Amira Medunjanin & Bojan Z (piano) & Zvonimir Šestak (double bass) & Yurdal Osman Tokcan (oud) & Hakan Güngör (kanun) & Bosko Jovic (guit)
Amira Medunjanin & orchestra


Discography

2020 For Him and Her (Croatia Records)
2018 Ascending (Croatia Records/Town Hill Colony)
2016 Damar (Harmonia Mundi/World Village)
2014 Silk&Stone (Harmonia Mundi/World Village)
2011 Amulette (Harmonia Mundi / World Village)
2010 Zumra (Harmonia Mundi / World Village)
2009 Live from Jazz Fest Sarajevo (Gramofon)
2005 Rosa (Snail Records)
2003 A Secret Gate (Snail Records)


Press

“…powerful and passionate…“
The Guardian (UK) on Damar

“An exquisite album that affirms her status as Eastern Europe’s most potent contemporary voice.”
Nigel Williamson on Silk&Stone, Uncut, UK

“With Amulette, Medunjanin succeeds in doing what many of today’s artists have not: to incorporate Sevdah in the 21st century, adding new contemporary elements whiule retianing its originality; avoiding frustration for the older audience of traditional music while, at the same time, engaging a new one. Together, with her team of musicians, she has showed that tradition, in a new setting, can and must be appreciated and taken car of.”
All About Jazz

“The home of the soul is silence; from this silence beautiful music emerges. Amira’s voice touches that silence on one end of its range; on the other, it reaches transcendent emotional purity. Her voice is good news for those of us who need music to live.”
Aleksandar Hemon

Maurizio Geri Swingtet (Italy)

Swing Manouche all’Italiana

For many years we have known the man with the velvet voice as singer, guitar virtuoso and the author of some of the most beautiful songs of Riccardo Tesi’s Banditaliana – but only very few people north of the Alps will know that Maurizio Geri is also a band leader!

With his Swingtet he renders homage to the style of grandmaster Django Reinhardt, blending the typical Manouche technique with Swing and Italian cantautori tradition. The result is a unique sound that over the years has made the band Italy’s number one of Swing Manouche. Maurizio Geri Swingtet are also the only Italian ensemble that ever caused a stir at the genre’s most important festival in Samois sur Seine in France.

The Swingtet is Maurizio’s core activity around the heritage of Django Reinhardt. He has studied and played with Manouche artists, but without ever renouncing to his own roots. This means that he has learned Django’s lesson not only for the guitar and the repertoire, but above all in the dialogue between originality and belonging that had made of the master the great idol of generations of European, non academic musicians.

So far Maurizio Geri has released five critically acclaimed albumss. His musical approach is passionate and free, strict but open for innovation. Django’s heritage is presented in the disguise of Jazz, dance music and und improvisation, very European but at the same time full of respect for the Italian singer-songwriter tradition and Maurizio’s first musical love, the folk tunes of his native Tuscany.


Line up

Maurizio Geri – vocals, guitar
Luca Giovacchini – guitar
Michele Marini – clarinet
Giacomo Tosti „Giacobazzi“ – accordion, piano
Nicola Vernuccio – double bass

Discography

2015 Swing a Sud
2012 Tito Tariero
2007 Ancora Un Ballo
2002 A Cielo Aperto
1996 Manouche et Dintorni


Presse

“Light and mediterranean Gypsy Swing…fiery, tender and at moments wonderfully sentimental.”
Folker, DE

“The music is nostalgic in a charming way and sounds enjoyably old-fashioned…. Maybe Django Reinhardt would sound like this today.”
Folkworld (DE)

“Maurizio Geri is a refined and sensitive guitarist – his elegant phrasing combines poetry and musicality, he is never too restrained or outré, his notes always make sense…. a lesson for all Django apprentices.”
Djangostation (FR)

Bella Ciao (Italy)

50 Years Italian Folk Revival
Lucilla Galeazzi, Elena Ledda, Riccardo Tesi and others

BELLA CIAO is historically known as the show that marked the beginning of the Italian folk revival. It was the first of a series of didactic concerts created by the Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano, which brought the rich heritage of folk songs collected between 1954 and 1964 to a wider audience. From its very first performance in June 1964 at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, which aroused violent disputes, comes the work of all musicians who nowadays with great success bring  Italian Folk music to stages all over the world.

Fifty years later the greatest show of the Italian folk revival has been rearranged with a formidable cast, consisting of some of the finest and most renowned Italian folk musicians of our time: Lucilla Galeazzi, Elena Ledda, Alessio Lega and others have come together to revive the old heritage with contemporary influences, directed and orchestrated by accordion player Riccardo Tesi, one of the most brilliant and rigorous protagonists of today’s world music scene.

Today, the old partisan and labourers’ songs of BELLA CIAO do not only retain all their expressive power, but they have acquired a new urgency in the globalized world for their values of liberty, peace and civil rights. BELLA CIAO is a lesson of democracy that directly originates from the people. A historical narration unravelling through music, sounds and words, carried by the most important voices of Italian social and political singing of the past 30 years.


Line Up

Lucilla Galeazzi – vocals
Elena Ledda – vocals
Ginevra di Marco / Luisa Cottifogli – vocals
Alessio Lega – vocals, guitar
Andrea Salvadori / Maurizio Geri – guitar, vocals
Gigi Biolcati – percussion, vocals
Riccardo Tesi – accordion, arrangements, musical direction


Discography

2015 Bella Ciao (Visage Music/Galileo MC)


Press

“It’s always moving when musicians playing historical and well-defined traditional tunes are able to strike the same chord in everyone who’s listening to them, even if those listeners have different origins and cultures. … they unveiled a central page of the Italian folklore in front of the Womex audience, showing the imaginative drive which those songs still harbour.”
Rhythm Passport (UK), 2016

“The music creeps mercilessly under your skin as it did 50 years ago.”
Moors Magazine (NL), 2015

„While talks and acts of war multiply, this ‘lession in democracy from the bottom’ reminds us of what we need most: peace.”
Les Inrocks (FR), Dix Disques pour refaire l’Europe, 2015

Didier Laloy (Belgium)

The mad dog meets the nobility:
BELEM Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam

Didier Laloy and Kathy Adam form an atypical duo featuring diatonic accordion and cello. They are both brilliant musicians in their own right. They have travelled through Europe with the group ‘Panta Rhei’, and shared the stage on many other occasions including Didier’s own projects “Didier Laloy Invites”, [Pô-Z]s, Noir’s and Nonsens. Although we had to wait for 23 years before a direct collaboration emerged, it was well worth the wait.

For decades, they’ve been thinking about experimenting with chamber music, without neglecting the expressive side. Today they provide an anthology of compositions, at the crossroads of their experiences. A strong but simple music, subtle and surprising, where silence, dynamics and the most elegant and crazy rhythms intersect. Musical images collide, and lead you on a musical journey and unique experience. Gentle and daring duo, result of a long-awaited meeting between two wonderful artists.

Laloy is considered as one of the most active representatives of the diatonic accordion revival in Europe. His easy and humorous onstage manner, his ability to tackle almost any musical genre from world to chanson, from contemporary music to projects for children, the subtlety of his playing and his never ending energy and enthusiasm have made him a highly sought after and appreciated musician in the contemporary Belgian musical scene. He was also a member of the transeuropean accordion collective The Samurai.

Kathy Adam studied cello and chamber music in Brussels and has been performing for over 20 years. In addtion to her life as a classical musician she regularly works with world music artists and theater and dance productions.


Didier Laloy’s Current Projects

Duo Didier Laloy (acc) & Quentin Dujardin (guit)
Belem & The MeKanics (Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam and a mechanical orchestra)
Belem (Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam)
Belem & Ensemble Quartz (Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam & wind quartet)
Belem & Slang (Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam & jazz trio)
Belem & Barbara Fortuna (Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam & Corsican voices)
Noir’s (Quartett acc – cello – guit – perc, concert in the dark)
Duo Didier Laloy (acc) & Tuur Florizoone (acc)
Didier Laloy’s Cameleon Tribe (flexible format from trio to quartet)


Discography

2019 Water and Fire / Didier Laloy & Quentin Dujardin (Agua Music)
2017 Belem & The MeKanics (Igloo Records)
2014 Belem Didier Laloy & Kathy Adam (Homerecords.be)
2012 Didier Laloy & Tuur Florizoone (Aventura Musica)
2011 Noir’s (Wild Boar Music)
2009 Milann&Laloy “ La Marquise”
2008 Didier Laloy PôZ’s
2005 CD/DVD Didier Laloy “Invite…s”
2003 Didier Laloy “S-Tres/Version Originale”


Press

“Fanstastic world chamber music from Belgium. ORF Ö1, A, 2015

 “On the duo album you can only hear the two musicians. But at no moment the purely instrumental music sounds thin or sketchy. On the contrary, the sound is powerful like a small folk orchestra. Special compliment to producer Michel van Achter.”
Folker, D, 2015

What did we hear? Jazz, folk, contemporary music, world music? Or just simply good music in the best sense of the word?”
Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, D, 2011

“His musical expression resembles a rough diamond… Loneliness, the dark and profound abyss, but also desire and charm are recurring elements in all his projects. And during his concerts he seems in league with love just as well as with the devil…”
Concerto, A, 2011

“The wild body language of a rock musician with the grace of a primaballerina in slowmotion.”
De Volkskrant, NL, 2009

Branko Galoić (Croatia/France)

Troubadour from the Balkans to the World

Singer songwriter, composer and guitar player, Branko Galoic was born in Zagreb in former Yugoslavia in 1973. Right from the beginning he combined rock with traditional Balkan influences.

In the year 2000 he moved to Amsterdam. A few years later, he recorded his first album, Above the Roofs, which was released internationally and received great reviews in the European Press. He collaborated with some of the best musicians from the Balkans such as Mostar Sevdah Reunion, Vlatko Stefanovski, Merima Kljuco, and his first album „Above the Roofs“ was produced by renowned producer Dragi Sestic (Mostar Sevdah Reunion, Amira Medunjanin etc).

Branko released two more albums in Amsterdam, Skakavac and Ej ti tu! and then moved to Berlin where he recorded one more album Super cug with Marko Jovanovic, a mouth harmonica virtuoso from Berlin. His music is based in the tradition of Ex-Yugoslavia and mixed with different styles such as Ska, Pop and Chanson. Over the years he has played with musicians from Greece, Turkey, Iran, Irak, Latin America, Holland, Germany, France, Ex Yugoslavia and so developped his own, unique style which has already been compared to the likes of Jaques Brel, Alain Stivell or Melingo.

Since 2014 Branko has been living in Paris where his release Angel Song (Silvox Records 2015) was celebrated by FIP radio as one of the discoveries of the season. In January 2016 “Angel Song” also entered the European World Music Charts on number 15 and was longlisted for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

Branko’s latest duo album One With The Wind with Paris based Portuguese guitar virtuoso Francisco Cordovil was released in 2018.


Available Projects

Duo Branko Galoić & Francisco Cordovil (2 guitars & vocals)
Branko Galoić Quartett (guit – voc – perc – cello)
Branko Galoic Skakavac Orkestar (5-7 brass bigband)


Discography

2018 One With The Wind (Galileo Music)
2015 Angel Song (Silvox Music)
2014 Super Cug (CD Baby, digital release)
2011 82 Ej ti ju! (Silvox Music)
2010 Skakavac (self-released/Xango Music, CD Baby digital distribution)
2005 Above The Roofs (Snail Records)


Press

“A pleasantly breezy album”
Songlines, UK, 2019

“There’s lightning-fast virtuoso guitar work that at times blurs the boundaries between flamenco and rock… An impressive melange of styles that works really well.”
http://www.blissaquamarine.net/, 2019

“Croatia and Portugal as an explosive mix (…) a bombastic experience.”
Mittelbadische Presse, DE, 2017

„… from Gipsy Balkan Brass to Turbo-Reggae and a kind of South Italian film music, reminding of a merry-go-round in a Fellini classic”
Radio Bremen CD Tipp Angel Song, DE, 2016

“The music is very lively, but also melancolic and romantic…with a touch of Ex-Jugoslavian feeling… I recommend “Angels Songs” at any time!”
Sound&Image on Angel Song, DE, 2016

“The beautifull Ej ti tu album!”
Mattie Poels, Radio 6, NL, 2013

“New strong hope for balkan music”
Zlatko Gall, Free Dalmatia, CRO, 2013

“You can wake me up with songs like Fraukje tango any time”
Ton Mass Volskrant, Amsterdam, NL, 2011

Gaia Cuatro (Japan/Argentina)

A puzzling encounter between Argentina and Japan on the frontier of Jazz

The fiery and intense character of Argentine music, mixed with the refinement of Japanese musical tradition provide the raw materials for this exceptional quartet, created from the meeting of two major symbols of Japanese jazz and two inventive Argentine musicians from the European scene.

The mind-blowing virtuosity of the violinist Aska Kaneko – a true star in her native Japan – is well served by Gerardo Di Giusto’s sophisticated and colorful compositions. Creating rhythms, in all their subtle distinctions, which respond to this ensemble in perfect harmony, weaving in the surprising conversation between bass player Carlos Buschini and percussionist Yahiro Tomohiro.

These four musicians are taking the art of improvisation to a whole new level, away from predictable formulas. As a matter of fact, they are shaping a new style of music. Nevertheless, its natural elegance makes it still sound surprinsingly familiar to us.


Line up

Gerardo di Giusto – piano
Aska Kaneko – violin
Carlos “el tero” Buschini – bass, double bass
Tomohiro Yahiro – drums


Discography

2015 Kaze feat. Paolo Fresu, Solis String Quartet (Abeat Records)
2010 Haruka feat. Paulo Fresu (Abeat Records)
2008 Udin (Abeat Records)
2007 Gaia Cuatro (Cristal Records)


Press

„Jazz improvisation between Japanese and Argentine musicians may sound a bit strange to some of us, but the visitors of Teatro Verme definitely learned the opposite. The concert of Gaia Cuatro was a positive surprise in building a wonderful bridge between two cultures that have nothing in common”.
IFG Online, Milan 2007

„The Argentine-Japanese ensemble with their totally new hybrid sound certainly was the most original contribution in this season of Charleville Action Jazz“.
L’Ardennais 2007

“This fascinating mix is based on the quality of the compositions but also on the musicians intense complicity and lust of playing which from the first moment captured the audience.”
L’Ardennais 2007

Dancas Ocultas (Portugal)

Four magical accordions from the edge of Europe

Danças Ocultas are four accordionsts from Agueda near Porto who are among the most innovative and most exciting representatives of contemporary Portuguese music. For some years now they have been rising on the international world music scene – with an apparently very simple concept: quiet, lyrical, more or less traditional, with only four diatonic accordions.

The quartet’s name has nothing to do with esoteric spheres but means that Dancas Ocultas play music for dances that still have to be invented. Famous Fado plays a minor role, the band’s inspiration comes rather from traditional village music, Tango Nuevo and the chamber music e.g. of the Russian Terem Quartet. They neither indulge in virtuosity competitions, nor do they play pure folk music. “Impressionist Folk” is maybe the best label for this timeless art music: minimalist, profound sound paintings full of unexpected turns and noble melancholy. Very special music – impossible to escape its magnetism.

One of the first supporters of Danças Ocultas was Gabriel Gomes, the accordionist of Portugal’s most famous world music band Madredeus. He motivated them to explore their own sound worlds. Their collaboration with choreographer Paul Ribeiro and the Gulbenkian Ballet, regular appearances at international festivals and a highly acclaimed showcase at Womex 2010 have brought them international recognition far beyond the Portuguese borders.


Line up

Artur Fernandes – diatonic accordion
Francisco Miguel – diatonic accordion
Filipe Cal – diatonic accordion
Filipe Ricardo – diatonic accordion


Current Projects

Danças Ocultas (accordion quatuor)
DENTRO DESSE MAR Danças Ocultas feat. Jaques Morelenbaum
ARCO Danças Ocultas feat. Dom la Nena
AMPLITUDE Danças Ocultas with orchestra (possible collaboration with local orchestras)


Discography

2018 dentro desse mar (Sony/Galileo Music)
2016 Amplitude (Uguru/Sony/Galielo Music)
2014 Arco (EP Uguru)
2011 Alento (iplay / Galileo MC)
2009 Tarab (Numerica)
2004 Pulsar (Magic Music)
2002 Travessa da Espera (L’Empreinte Digitale)
1998 Ar (EMI VC)
1996 Dancas Ocultas (EMI VC)


Press

“Danças Ocultas have managed to leave the circuit of mere accordion lovers and to perform on big stages, which is best proved by Amplitude.”
JazzThing, DE, Amplitude, 2016

„Amplitude is a powerful album that opens your heart.”
Sound&Image, DE, Amplitude, 2016

“It was less of a concert but much more a musical lecture, a collective
breathing that you’re being part of and that you’re carried away with, in an
emotional, meditative dimension”.
Il Giornale di Vicenza, IT, 2011

You walk into the darkened main concert hall and suddenly, all that falls away, there are four men on stage, and they are creating a space where you can relax, breath and luxuriate in beautiful sounds.””
Michal Shapiro on The Huffington Post, USA, 2010

„Inventive and creative instrumental music by one of Europe’s best art music ensembles. Highly recommended!“
CD Roots 2007

“Danças Ocultas are very special – the interaction of these four accordionists is amazing. Their music is so full of tension that you did not realise how the time goes by. The music is excellently arranged and acts between very slow bits, where only one accordion is playing – creating an atmosphere of very loud silence – up to quite fast and very lively pieces. It is not easy to describe their music – you simply have to see them live to get an idea of what they are doing (or at least you should listen to their CD…) My personal highlight of the festival.”
Folkworld 2001