A great concert by Roma group RomaNeno concert, part of the second Fortissimo Festival, attracted a packed house at Sofia Live Club on November 5.
With a repertory of traditional Roma music and songs written by Roma and Bulgarian composers, the band is also influenced by jazz, flamenco, Latin and funk.
Vocalist Neno Iliev, saxophonist Boril Iliev, trombonist Velislav Stoyanov, pianist Vasil Spassov, bass player Boris Taslev and drummer Ventsislav Radev performed alongside Mihail Yossifov, one of the greatest contemporary jazz musicians in Bulgaria.
Special guest performer was conductor and violinist Maxim Eshkenazy, musical director of the festival and its founder. In the USA, his adopted country, Eshkenazy serves as musical director and conductor of the Pacific symphony youth orchestra. In 2011, the orchestra made its first tour in Maxim’s homeland of Bulgaria.
Eshkenazy invited RomaNeno to participate in the festival and performed alongside them because he was attracted by their music. He played the violin Ka Jarav Te Irines (I will wait for your return) an old romantic Roma song, chosen by band leader Neno.
The new arrangement was written by Mihail Yossifov (he and Eshkenazy are classmates) and RomaNeno played this song for the first time on November 5.
Sashka Alexandrova joined them for the first time, replacing RomaNeno's regular guest vocalist Dessy Dobreva who is on a "maternity hiatus" in Varna.
The songs with female guest vocal were Ma Rov, Daje (old Gypsy song again) and Taj Mahala with music and lyrics by Tossen Ramar, a young Roma man who writes music and lyrics. Ramar was also at Saturday's concert.
Other songs from Saturday night were Vaker (music and lyrics Saban Bajramovic - called the King of the world Gypsy music), Sine (music and lyrics Dimitar Tzvetanov), Merak (Bajramovic again), Thagarni (music and lyrics by Tossen Ramar), But Droma and Trin Davulja (Dimitar Tzvetanov again).
The encore songs were Isi, Nanai - the Roma version of the famous Bobby McFerrin song Don`t worry be happy (with gypsy lyrics by Dimitar Tzvetanov) and the last instrumental play was Evrovizia - written by the RomaNeno sax player Boril Iliev.
RomaNeno's first album, Taj Mahala, will be available in a few months. The album includes 10 songs, all of them performed on November 5. All play arrangements are written by Mihail Yossifov.