FERUS THE KING – JAZZ, FOLK, DANCE Ferus Mustasfov was named “the Balkan king of swing” by the largest German newspaper “FAZ – Frankfurter Alegemaine
The thing is that the ethno element in some songs is rather well covered and converted in a jazzy way, so only a person from Balkans that knows the original songs could say that this is not a regular jazz song, but it has its roots in some Macedonian or Gypsy folk song. The album is fully instrumental, with Ferus’s sax dominating all over the place. It is so different from song to song, you will be surprised with the richness of the various types of music stemming from the Balkans, as well as the inclusion of music of various cultures – Macedonian, Roma (Gypsy), Greek and Oriental. Anyway, the most important thing to say is that here we have a jazz album from Ferus Mustafov, a person who is known by his belly dance music and here he proves that jazz is his domain in a rather high quality fashion. Ferus Mustafov, born in Shtip, a small town in eastern Macedonia, and one of the great virtuoses of modern Balkan popular folk music. The challenge to a musician’s skills and memory in such a diverse and spirited country as Macedonia is immense. The astonishing range of music on this record shows how ready a misicians has to be to cater for the different nationalities and their different tastes; so much of a band’s income comes from playing requests at so many Euros a throw that failure to come up with the right time would spell an end to their career. Ferus himself plays for Macedonians, Roms, Turks, Albanians at their festivals and weddings as well as mixed audiences at restaurants, where the evening ends with a long line of dancers winding their way between the tables. One of the sounds of a summer evening in Skopje is the wall of his clarinet drifting down from the restaurant perched on top of the Kale, the mediaeval fortress that rises above the old town. The familly of Rom into which Ferus was born had been involved in music for generations. His father Ilmi Jasharov was a well-known musician and repudetly the first to introduce the saxaphone to folk music in the southern Balkans. Ilmi taught his own wife to play, and the young Ferus followed his parents and studied at the junior musical academy in his home town, at first on the violin and later on the clarinet, on which he made such quick progress that by the age of seventeen he was asked to tour with the band of Toma Chrchev. This was such a success that “feeling the desire for money” as he himself puts it, he abandoned the academy and set out to become a working musician. Almost immediately his plan was interrupted by his call-up military service, so the career was suspended for a year. After that he was returned to Macedonia and started up his own group together with accordionist Mite Stoilkov. Also he worked with a set of different bands, and then got a call from the band-leader Micha Radivanovich, who invited him to Sarajevo. At this time Sarajevo was one of the powerhouses of folk-based popular music, and the place where musical experiments were at their most adventurous. Ferus’s reputation blossomed spectacularly, and his multi instrumental skills made him perhaps even more popular with other musicians than with the public. In Sarajevo he had meet a very popular singers like a Saban Saulic, Hanka Paldum, Marinko Rokvich, Toma Zdravkovich, Nada Obrich. Micha eventually went to America to work and Ferus returned to Macedonia, where he became one of the directors of musical programming for the Rom language, programmes at the Radio Television in Skopje. Next destination was Slovenia, precisely the festival in Ljubljana where he went on invitation of Peter Barbarich the menager from Slovenia. After that he start to visit and participate on menu differents festivals as for today and he work with a best on his opinion accordeonist Milan Zavkov. Since that time he has gone from strength, and there is no serious contender for his crown.