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Ivo Papasov Wedding Band 5 May Islington

PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:00 pm
by Seb Merrick
As far as we know, it's the first London perfromance since 1991, which was either at Ronnies or Jazz cafe. This one's at Islington Carling Academy 6-10pm curfew. £15 adv no booking fee frm Bar Academy Box Office in person. Or £18 on door. Info 07966 452557

Ivo Papasov - clarinet
Maria Karafizieva - vocal
Ali Salif Salif - percs
Vasil Mitev - gadulka
Nesho Neshev - accordion
Matio Milev - kaval
Ateshkhan Yuseinov - guitar

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 1:43 pm
by Ian A.
Thanks for that one, Seb. Abso-f*ing-lutely sensational! I only saw the last 45 minutes having not taken in that it was an early start/finish gig and thus was, I gather, spared a bit of jazz rock and guitar noodling earlier in the set (came just as that was concluding). But from the moment we got there it was jawdroppingly good, including that guest appearance by Gilad Atzmon.

Not a bad week of gigs altogether - LaXula, Tinariwen, Mose Allison and Ivo Papasov, with Van Eyken still to come tonight!

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:21 pm
by garth cartwright
here's my notes on the entire set - cheers Seb for all your efforts and nice to see Ian and Jamie enjoying the sound and fury!


For the finale of Balkan Fever 2007 Kazum saved the best ‘til last: the first London performance of Thracian flute legend Ivo Papasov in at least 15 years! On stage at 8, off at 10 – then was the loudest, fastest most intense gig I’ve been too since, oh, Motorhead at The Astoria many years ago.

I’m not being supercilious with the comparison: there’s an element of Balkan music that appeals to more extreme rock fans – I’m aware Fanfare Ciocarlia initially won over rock and rave fans in Germany and Ferus Mustafa’s awesome Live CD has a calamitous rush that its executive producer compares to – yes – Motorhead. For those not familiar with live Balkan music and wondering how a Gypsy clarinet player can be compared with Lemmy & co it’s the physicality of the music, its huge dense rush, the way solos build and build, musicians stuck together like glue, the sense that nothing in the world matters more than taking the sound as far out as possible. Exhilarating? Indeed. Exhausting? Yes, this is physical music, a wave of constant sound crashing over you, no way you can escape it, chat over it, concentrate on anything else. As the band began its first number I noticed some reaching for ear-plugs – not an unwise decision.

But let’s backtrack: before Taraf, before Fanfare, there was Ivo Papasov, a Gypsy Giant from the southern Balkans who appeared capable of holding Western audiences transfixed as he wove wild patterns of sound from his magical clarinet. This was in the late 1980s when the Berlin Wall still stood and the Eastern Bloc remained something very foreign and deeply strange. That Papasov was from Bulgaria, amongst the most totalitarian and isolated of communist nations, added to his aura. Ivo, with his big sound and big gut and two excellent albums produced by Joe Boyd (and released on Hannibal) was a rising star. Yet as communism collapsed Papasov vanished from Western stages, missing out on the West’s embrace of Balkan Gypsy music. Then at the 2005 BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards Papasov won the Audience Award – away for more than a dozen years and yet it showed the general public still wanted to hear from the master! Papasov accepted the award at the ceremony before again disappearing from site. Boyd got him booked for Womad 2006 and he played a strong set on the main stage on Sunday morning though the lack of volume – last year’s Womad was often too quiet I felt – and 45 minute set length weren’t ideal for a first introduction to Ivo. The Academy gig is how Ivo should be heard – beyond at a Bulgarian wedding! – and tonight it appears the old King wants to reclaim his crown.

Papasov was backed by a five piece band (and joined on occasion by his wife Maria Karafezieva who sang with great throaty presence). Maria, drummer Salif Ali and accordionist Neshko Neshev have been with Papasov for decades and the band locked down with that singular Balkan intensity shaped by decades of playing weddings. The first number began to immediately build and build and when Ivo took one of those huge solos that build and twist and churn, full of fire and spit and ancient melodies that go way, way back, the audience erupted. Very few musicians anywhere in the world can make their instrument convey such wild, lyrical intensity as Ivo. And so the concert continued, no let up, each number crashing across us. Bam! Bam! Bam!

Admittedly, the numbers Maria sang were quieter but no less intense – “she a Gypsy but she’s employing Bulgarian phrasingâ€