The Bulgarian soul of modern jazz

The Bulgarian soul of modern jazz

“This is a new generation of Bulgarian “alchemists” who take our folk music on an interesting journey to New York, perhaps Amsterdam…and back!” 
Theodossi Spassov 



SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3pht8ewHYsbznDsOojsXWB?si=XqJKVtdEQVSv86uU5vx3RQ


JAZZANITZA – Am Chi Ne Luzhi
I’ll Be Fine (Live)
Jazzanitza – Ti Si Znaish, Maina (Live at Apollonia Jazz Fest 2017)
Jazzanitza CD Release Concert – Pravo Kato Magistrala

Jazzanitza translates asymmetric rhythms –  a distinctive feature of Bulgarian folklore –  into the language of contemporary jazz, following the well-trodden paths in the musical heritage of folk improvisers such as Ivo Papazov, Petar Ralchev, Teodosii Spasov.

Jazzanitza is a long-term author’s project of the drummer and composer Borislav Petrov. Well-known Bulgarian musicians such as Antoni Donchev, Vladimir Karparov, Dimitar Liolev, Lyudmil Krumov have been a part of it. The current lineup of the band includes the “young lions” of ethno-jazz Zhivko Vassilev and Borislav Iliev.

In Jazzanitza’s third album, called “Be-Bop-Hop-Trop”, Borislav Petrov created an amalgam between Bulgarian instrumental folklore and bebop music, writing original melodies over the chords of well-known bebop songs.


“The journey to this project began 18 years ago when I met saxophonist Dimitar Liolev, who is the son of the renowned folk music performer, composer, and arranger, Kostadin Liolev. Dimitar opened my eyes and heart to the magic of Bulgarian folk music. After many years of investigation, exploration, and experiments, I finally got the courage to write music and assemble a band that reflects my ideas about blending jazz and Bulgarian folk music. I am happy to have some of my best friends in this band. These are the people I am fortunate to grow with as an artist and human being.” 
Borislav Petrov 2020
Jazzanitza released its debut album of the same name in 2016. The project was honored to have two very special guests contributing to this album – the great Bulgarian musician Vladimir Karparov, based in Berlin, who played tenor and soprano saxes in the album, and the legendary pianist, composer and pioneer of Bulgarian folk jazz Antoni Donchev, who played the album release tour. Folk music masters like Theodossii Spassov, Nedyalko Nedyalkov, Stoyan Yankoulov, and Peyo Peev were honorable attendants of the Jazzanitza album release concert. Jazzanitza quickly became a leading name on the Bulgarian jazz scene and performed at most of the major festivals around the country in 2016, including the prestigious Apollonia Festival of Arts and the international A to Jazz Festival.
In 2018, the song Pravo Kato Magistrala was selected by students in the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, to be featured in the annual graduation concert of the school’s Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble.
In 2019, the band performed as a quartet with saxophone, guitar, bass, and drums at the Art and Culture Institute of Bucharest (ARCUB), Romania. The smaller version of the band allowed for the material from the 2016 release to be performed in a much more open and adventurous way. The live album “Jazzanitza Live At ARCUB” was released on July 1, 2020.
Also in 2019, Borislav Petrov began working on a new experiment, trying to explore the possibilities of merging the musical language of bebop with Bulgarian instrumental folk music. Similar to how beboppers in the 1940-s wrote their original melodies over the chord changes of popular standards, Petrov wrote folk-like melodies in various asymmetric meters over the chordal structures of well-known Charlie Parker and other bebop tunes. This new idea is materialized in the new album of the band, called “Be-Bop-Hop-Trop”. The album was released by Optomusic on May 31, 2022, and premiered at Sofia Live Club on June 9.