In the ex-Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia the Romany people are regarded as the uncontested kings of the music field, with a tradition that dates back to the 1400s, when the population left the Indian lands of Rajasthan to settle in the Balkans. For centuries Rom artists have animated festivities, marriages and other rites, and with their different styles continue to exercise a considerable influence on contemporary Balkan music.
This is the particular groove in which the human and musical experience of forty-something trumpet player NAAT VELIOV is situated. Born in Kocani a small town about fifty miles from the Macedonian capital Skopje, VELIOV comes from a family of musicians of Turkish origin. A popular figure in his country VELIOV, thanks in part to his role in Emir Kusturica’s film The Time of the Gypsies has managed to gather a considerable following abroad, quickly becoming the most well-known and appreciated Macedonian artist on the international scene. The Kocani Orkestar which he founded has over the years undergone many line-up changes, yet has managed to maintain unaltered the freshness and spirit of its early years, demonstrating itself on disc after disc to be one of the most innovative and original Balkan brass bands around. Gigance, their latest excellent recording does nothing other than confirm VELIOV and his cohorts passion for playing music, uniting mastery of their own traditional heritage with a number of influences from neighbouring cultures (Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey). Both popular themes and dance numbers are nonetheless injected with just the right does of modernity, expressed though VELIOV’s capacity for both rhythmic (on Gigance can be heard jazz inflections that blend perfectly with the traditional body of the music) and melodic (with atmospheres permeated by Turkish and Middle Eastern nuances) variation. Some tracks, such as the poetic and melancholy Muli Devla or the amusingly ironic Eleno Mome, were written by VELIOV, confirming his talent as a musician not only able to perpetuate with bravura and feeling his own ethnic heritage but also to measure himself against the innovations that any musical tradition brings with it.With its warmth, its passion, the dynamism of the ensemble and the brilliance of its virtuoso solo passages, not to mention the charm of the encounter between different cultures, Gigance will, thanks to the talent and artistic sensibility of KING NAAT VELIOV and his orchestra, without doubt make Macedonian music known to a wider audience, breaking free of the narrow confines within which it has so far been constrained.
KOCANI ORKESTAR feat. Naat Veliov from Felmay Shop