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Yuri Yunakov Ensemble
Yuri Yunakov
Yuri Yunakov Ensemble
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

The so-called "wedding music" of Bulgaria has grown wildly popular both there and around the world. For the world at large, there are really only two names: Ivo Papasov and Yuri Yunakov. New York City resident Yunakov appe...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Yuri Yunakov
Title: Yuri Yunakov Ensemble
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Trad. Crossroads
Release Date: 2/9/1999
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
Styles: Jewish & Yiddish, Europe, Eastern Europe, Easy Listening
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 780702429124

The so-called "wedding music" of Bulgaria has grown wildly popular both there and around the world. For the world at large, there are really only two names: Ivo Papasov and Yuri Yunakov. New York City resident Yunakov appears here with his second recording, and while the shock of the rapid-fire playing and incredible harmonies may be lessened by familiarity these days, the impact of the music itself hasn't waned. This is a more mature recording, with an emphasis on arrangements instead of pure speed, and the masterful saxophone work of Yunakov is far more in the forefront here. The big bonus on this CD is the accordion of Neshko Neshev, who steals the show on a number of tracks. There's a surprisingly good showing from American clarinetist Catherine Foster and solid percussion on dumbek only (no drum kit!) by Seido Salifoski. The weak link: synthesizer bass lines are walked through without much spirit, other synthed lines are just distracting, and the vocals are a bit stiff compared to the stellar performances heard elsewhere. --Louis Gibson

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CD Reviews

Tantalizing, Spine-tingling Innovativel Music & Vocals
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 11/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Bulgarian "wedding music" is innovative and distinctive, elevating traditional Bulgarian folk music into its own genre. Innovative in that the saxaphone and clarinet, the two wind instruments that predominate, allow for a wide range of technical expansion and creativity. In the hands of Yuri Yunakov, that means astonishing technical expertise creating explosive music with unbelievable chromatic scales and harmonic progressions. Summed up in one simple sentence, "This is NOT your grandfather's village music anymore." This astounding music has unlimited creative horizons that stretch the art of improvisation beyond the boundaries of regional music catapulting it into world class jazz at its finest and most astonishing best. The music is reminiscent of American jazz, Roma (Gypsy) music, with snatches of Arabic influences, combined with the rapid rhythms and odd-numbered meters of the Balkans, making it very distinctive indeed! Bulgarian wedding music was born in southern Bulgaria, in a region called Thrace, where it thrived despite communist suppression, which tried to eliminate all "foreign" sounding music and keep Bulgarian music pure (as they defined it). This music thrived due to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people that gathered where ever it was played. Huge numbers of uninvited guests gathered where wedding parties were celebrated. Eventually, even the authorities had to capitulate and accept this genre of music due to its enormous popularity and growing status. "Balada: Bulgarian Wedding Music" is the title of this CD. It is filled with a wide range of musical rhythms and styles primarily from the Thrace region. The music is ethereal, other-worldly, and absolutley the best music that Bulgaria and the Balkans has to offer. It is filled with beautifully updated folk tunes brought up to speed with modern instruments, such as the saxophone and clarinet, along with the traditional regional instrument of the accordion and dumbek. Traditional Bulgarian melodies have been refashioned by the hands of Yuri Yunakov, with his prodigious technical skill and creative musical expertise: he is a virtuoso beyond compare! If you love jazz and improvisations -- this CD is for you. If you are fascinated by Balkan music: you MUST have this CD!!

The signature tune, "Balada" is a trio of folk tune medlies, the first is a "graovsko" which is named after a town west of Sofia, the second is a Bulgarian dance called, "ruchenitsa" in the 7/16 meter, and the third is a "pravo horo" which is in the 2/4 meter, a regional snake-like dance that can last as long as 6 hours! Stated another way, "this ain't your village music anymore", with high-speed chromatic variations and harmonic progressions, the music is exotic and hypnotizing! There are stunning vocals on some tracks by Carol Silverman (a professor of folklore and cultural anthropology at the University of Oregon) and by Lauren Brody, a Bulgarian musical expert, both of whom have traveled to Bulgaria extensively and have first hand knowledge by absorbing the rhythms and meters for over 30 years each. Other examples of musical styles are the "chochek", which is a Roma (gypsy) dance in the 2/4 or 9/8 meter. There is a "kopanitsa" meter which is very pleasing from the Pazardzhik region of western Thrace. It includes the vocal technique called glottal stops. Included on this CD is the "dajchovo" meter which is 9/16 broken up as 2-2-2-3. There are several musical examples in the "ruchenitsa" meter of 7/16 (2-2-3). A "bavna melodija" was created by Yuri Yunakov and Neshko Neshev which demonstrates their virtuosity and technical skills, as well as artistic creativity and control. Also on this CD is a "smesno" ("mixed") horo (dance) which combines the chetvorno meter of 7/16 (3-2-2) with the flowing Thracian 2/4 meter. The two styles combined provide for a much wider range of variations for improvisation. There is a "paidushko" meter which is 5/16 (2-3) that is well-known and a popular dance throughout Bulgaria. The CD finishes with a "Buchimish" in the 15/16 meter, a decidedly different and unusual meter, 2-2-2-2-3-2-2. It is an example of the music which originates from the Shope region of Bulgaria. All in all: this CD is jam-packed with great music. It show-cases many fine examples of the very best Bulgarian wedding music every played!
Erika Borsos (erikab93)"
What was that title again?
virginia creamer | 02/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"That is right! Bulgarian wedding music at its best. I dont know if many of you have ever worked in retail but you can learn to appreciate anything that comes along to quiet the insanity customers can bring. Enter the incomprable Fury of Yuri and things instantly become silent to the sounds that come from the speakers. Magically people begin to vanish, a absolute miracle if you can appreciate it with the right(wrong?) kind of mind. I first came across this cd about two years ago at a retail outlet and found it indespensable! The best track is "Iskam ja mamo" with its vocal solo. But all the tracks are equally great! a true treasure for people suffering from depression and for someone trying to end a disturbing dinner party at just the right time. A land mark for the mind and soul. Buy it! If you dare!"