Bulgarian Wedding Music

Welcome to the first set of Notes From Abroad, a column where we’ll dig into some of the deepest bass playing on the planet. Get ready—we’re kicking it off with a bang! “Punk jazz” was the perfect term to describe Jaco Pastorius’s genre-bending efforts, but it could also characterize the aesthetic of Bulgaria’s Roma (Gypsy) musicians, who created music so provocative the country’s socialist government actually outlawed it in the ’70s and ’80s. Blending traditional melodies and rhythms with virtuosic solo improvisations, pioneers like clarinetist Ivo Papasov and alto saxophonist Yuri Yunakov defined the genre known as Bulgarian wedding music. On Together Again: Legends of Bulgarian Wedding Music, the two reunite after years of pursuing solo careers, enlisting Kalin Kirilov to serve double duty on bass and guitar on a disc that showcases one of the world’s most rhythmically dense and harmonically complex genres.