Few people can match the experiences that keyboardist Dzijan Emin has had as a musician. Times are hard for musicians, who are expected to be proficient and versatile in a variety of genres. Emin is probably best known for his collaboration with Bodan Arsovski, as a member of his Ezgija Orchestra. But more recent endeavors including DNO and Project Zlust are perhaps better indications of his artistic mettle. Part Two of the interview continues exploring Emin's musical journey.
All About Jazz: You were also part of a project that Kodzabashia led at the time called Alshar. As far as I remember it was a sprawling band made up of 15 musicians. How do you look back at this band?
Dzijan Emin: It was in a way a collective with musicians from different genres, where some had studied at the Academy, some were into rock or punk music, and others played jazz and folk music. The basic idea that Kodzabashia had at the time was to put all these people together. The project was successful and we gave some concerts, and some of them were recorded by the national television, and were even broadcasted on TV. This was basically gathering a large group of people and then letting the fun begin. We even covered other people's music, like "Stairway to Heaven" which was done in reggae version, and many other tunes that we massacred. The tunes had interesting names Bah mu e majka (In Bach We Trust) or Leb i Dugme (reference to two enormously popular ex-YU bands Leb i Sol and Goran Bregovic's Bijelo Dugme). It had nothing to do with their music as much as it had to do with the film each of us had in our heads. Everyone played the way they intimately felt those tunes.
AAJ: There is one name that is constantly mentioned when it comes to the visual part of what you guys do and that is the artist Aleksandar Stankovski. He directed most of your videos (DNO) and most of them are veritable works of art.
DE: The collaboration with him happened very spontaneously. I knew who he was at the time but I never had an opportunity to see his paintings or even to talk to him. Finally I got to meet him and I will say we were very lucky to meet such a person and artist. When he talks about art it can be compared to reading a good book on that subject. He is a great person and philosopher. His paintings are amazing. It's like a whole universe of colors and shapes. Simply put, he is a genius. He was introduced to our music through some of our friends and he immediately suggested doing a video for us. We were amazed by what we saw. He really contributed greatly for our music to expand its forms and media of expression. Those videos he made for us are not standard video clips, but works of art. Each video has its own story and in the future our collaboration will result into something else, a film, for example.
AAJ: You were part of Bodan Arsovski's band Ezgija Orchestra for many years. Tell me about the experience of working with his band.
DE: The work with Bodan Arsovski is of great importance for me as a musician. It was an enormous positive experience.
AAJ: Last year he published a DVD from the tour of antique theatres in the country titled Shadows In The Night.
DE: The performances captured on that DVD are our last and since then we haven't performed together. At the moment he is working on a project with his old Leb i Sol band mate Kokan Dimusevski, which is great, as both of them are great musicians and great characters, and as I said previously, it is great that they are working together again. The DVD is a result of those four concerts we gave. Bodan had a great idea and the DVD is a result of that idea4 concerts at 4 antique theatres in Macedonia. It was a great tour, we had excellent chemistry and it holds a special place in my memory.
I became part of his band when Goce Stefkovski [drummer of Project Zlust] suggested me as a keyboard player, as someone who will enrich the sound of the band. I was delighted when he called me to play in his band and he was satisfied that I managed to learn the material very quickly; I had to since we had a gig very soon afterwards. I worked with Bodan for three or four years and during that period we had several tours throughout the former Yugoslavia. He is a brilliant musician and a unique bassist. His experience is enormous since he worked with one of the greatest bands in former Yugoslavia, Leb i Sol.
The world of jazz is a musical space with a complex history and haunting appeal--a space to revisit and celebrate. It’s that
amazing moment when you hear a really great song you haven't heard in years and you still know the tune and every word.