Saturday, May 22, 2010

Behind the balkan curtain...

Like so many others I suppose I listened to jazz and fusion in university to drown out the simplistic pop all around me. I had no idea there was any good jazz outside of the US or north america until the advent of napster. What a shock then to find out the europeans had mastered fusion in the seventies, and in some cases had taken it further than originators in the US, melding it with classical and rock to a much more cohesive extent. Of course they did the same with rock itself, both were american inventions that europeans really built on formidably. What was even more surprising was to see how many countries had taken up fusion. Back then in eastern Europe it must have been very popular because they made so much great music, new albums just keep popping up. This one, Lyubomir Denev Jazz Trio & Petko Tomanov, is from Bulgaria, from 1979. They have incorporated some folk or ethnic melodies into the fusion in a really marvellous way as in "Ritual Dance" some parts of "Scherzo" are almost reminiscent of Bartok. The classical education always shines through with european jazz e.g. "Pastoral." I think these lost albums deserve to be heard by more people than the few who for some reason or another own a copy of the record. I'm willing to bet though the vast majority of the records are sitting in used stores in Eastern Europe, which is really a shame and waste.
I remember during the nato war of the nineties in the balkans the comment was frequently made that the region had a long history of wars and conflicts, as if certain geographies had a 'natural' propensity for violence, or certain cultures were born more sadistic. Not until recently when curiosity over the issue of genocide led me to read the history of Yugoslavia (which hearing about during the clinton era news so much, had made me bored of the issue like so many other people) did I realize that the true antecedents of the balkan wars were the horrific genocide experienced by the people in the nazi and later tito eras. According to sources, one tenth of the population was exterminated in only the years 41-45, making an annual death rate of 2.64 percent by proportion one of the most lethal regimes ever in the twentieth century, on a par with Cambodia, Stalin. Bloody 20th century indeed-- everywhere one looks one can find a new example of violence. We know that a child that grows up with violence and unstable dread will inevitably become violent, how much more obvious when a population is surrounded by this, as in the vietnam war, the soviet war in afghanistan, etc. These are all examples of societies that were subjected to enormous stress and that as a result could not escape a fate of war until enough blood had been spilled on the ground to satiate the demons. And of course as with the other mentioned places, it had nothing to do with Yugoslavia's bloodthirstiness and everything to do with the fact the poor country was a 'pawn' for greater forces: nazi fascism, communism and the cold war. In the same way there is nothing innately sadistic about cambodians, everyone who has traveled there can see they are a very warm gentle (buddhist in fact) people. A case could be made that a great deal of Yugoslavian suffering in fact was based on Hitler's hatred for them (just as he hated jews, gypsies, and poles). People overlook the fact Hitler hated a lot of different people. Or that the US and USSR didn't much care what happened there, just like in Angola, where they armed every man many times over because they just didn't care how much civil war went on. I don't remember much being said on CNN about these causes of the balkan wars of the nineties. Instead I remember the cheering when Clinton decided to bomb key cities.
The reason I'm curious about genocide is because I think our relatively peaceful early 21st century times are a lull, when times get tough later this century we will be back into the world wars again and genocides, it's too much a part of human nature to make war. For example many people don't realize there has been almost no REAL progress on disarmament of nuclear weapons in the US and USSR (as opposed to treaties and political promises), each of which has thousands and thousands of bombs ready to exterminate.

Hobo biography:
'The band HOBO was formed by keyboardist Mato Dosen in Zagreb 1972. The line-up also included Sasa Cavric-bass, Josip Belamaric-el. violin, Boris Trubic-percussion, vocal and Mladen Garasic-drums. They appeared at Ljubljana BOOM Festival 1974 and played as a support group at DEEP PURPLE concert in Zagreb 1975. The same year they recorded their only one, eponymous album. Due to lack of commercial success, Dosen soon disbanded the group, and went on to become a successful pop producer and composer.' The band is basic rock with some progressive touches in the typical yugo style.

Regarding Lala Kovacev, there are actually two albums with the name Balkan Impressions these were collected together into volumes 1 and 2, this one is the second. A serbian drummer, his discography is pretty extensive, cf.:

1964 JAZZ ORKESTAR RTB-"Pozdrav Count Basieu" (RTB)
1972 BOBBY GUTESHA - "Rockin Bach Dimensions" (BASF/MPS)
1973 WOLFGANG DAUNER - "Et Cetera Live"" (BASF/MPS)
1975 MICHAL URBANIAK GROUP - "Inactin" (Intercord)
1975 MICHAL URBANIAK GROUP - "Parathypus B" (Intercord)
1976 BENNY BEILEY - "Islands" (Enja)
1976 NDR WORKSHOP 1976 (NDR)
1977 BOSKO PETROVIC - In Pain I Was B orn (Jugoton)
1977 ALAN SKIDMORE - "Morning Rise" (EGO)
1977 MILAN PILAR - "Catch Up II : The Birth Of The Second Life" (Calig)
1978 JAZZ ORKESTAR RADIO-TELEVIZIJE BEOGRAD (1948-1978) - "Jazz Orkestar RTB Sa Gostima" (RTB)
1979 JAZZ NA KONCERTNOM PODIJU vol.4 (Jugoton)
1979 GOJKOVIC-KOVACEV - "Trumpets & Rhythm Unit" (RTB)
1978 INTERNATIONAL JAZZ CONSENSUS - "Four For Slavia" (Electrola)
1982 CHARLIE MARIANO - "Some Kind Of Changes" (Calig)
1985 LALA KOVACEV - "Balkan Impressions" (RTB)
1985 LALA KOVACEV - "Balkan Impressions vol. 2" (RTB)

Trite Puti...


Tristan Stefan said...

Anonymous said...

Hi Tristan, thank you very much again for your great post's. I am a grateful man, not someone who expects to make petty "critical." I found an incredible amount of gems thanks to you. The group that struck me most was: "Nordvision." What piece of band! A superb fusion of rich and varied musical influences, led by the motor addictive "progressive"! I was shocked with the first hearing!

Thank you, Friend!

From Chile

Pd: Do not stop your mission, please!

Anonymous said...

Tristan, let me join those who admire your work with bringing all these wonderful peaces of music into this blog. It is astonishing to see how many hidden works are waiting for being discovered! Your efforts cannot be thanked enough.
From Hungary

Tristan Stefan said...


tymusic said...

brilliant blog sir...

Anonymous said...

Hallo, all links is dead.... it is possible to re-upload? Thank you again, Mario, Genova

isabelbc said...

new links:

isabelbc said...

Hobo >>

Anonymous said...

Isabel, you're very fast. Thank you again, Mario

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