Home » Jazz Articles » Vlatko Stefanovski and Theodosii Spassov at the Hungarian House of...


Live Review

Vlatko Stefanovski and Theodosii Spassov at the Hungarian House of New York

Vlatko Stefanovski and Theodosii Spassov at the Hungarian House of New York

Courtesy Nenad Georgievski


Sign in to view read count
Vlatko Stefanovski and Theodosii Spassov
Hungarian House of New York
New York, NY
October 23, 2022

Both guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski and kavalist Theodosii Spassov are masterful players and likeminded souls. Even though they come from seemingly different areas of interest and are like two distant galaxies with their colorful and storied careers, they share a lot in common. But they are bonded and have been since their first endeavor together, the Balkan Horses band in 2001, by affection for jazz, folk, classical and avant music alike. These two seemingly different musicians hit a remarkable and effortless rapport on a Sunday night at the Hungarian House in New York as part of their US/Canada fall tour.

The tour was twice postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and when the virus first hit in 2020 and borders were closed, Stefanovski and Spassov opened the Skopje Jazz Festival in October sending positive and uplifting vibes at a time when large gatherings of any kind were seen as dangerous and the atmosphere was grim. They reminded people how uplifting music can be and how healing live music can be. Something similar happened at the Hungarian House when the duo played a set predominantly based on Macedonian folk songs and several selections from both artists' solo oeuvres.

This meeting of two masters of their respective realms was a spine-tingling triumph. In the pantheon of guitarists, the name Vlatko Stefanovski towers high above. He is renowned for his high-energy, virtuoso antics as well as memorable and gentle melodies that have thrilled crowds for more than four decades. Spassov has spent that time rewriting the folk-jazz rule book, along the way acquiring an unprecedented virtuosity on his flute-like instrument and branching out into colorful collaborations with composer Ennio Morricone, percussionist Trilok Gurtu and pianist Milcho Leviev, to name but a few.

But it takes more than virtuosity for this music to send shivers down someone's spine. It takes generosity and vision, impeccable taste and a willingness to take risks. Both artists have long delighted in crossing stylistic boundaries and they delivered a set of deeply engaging, organically realized songs that perfectly balanced their respective jazz and folk skills. Most of the songs in their repertoire were classics, but they were used as vehicles for further melodic explorations and boundary pushing as both artists were able to forge a compelling and new language. The set kicked off with "Makedonsko Devojce" a classic mid-tempo song that was followed by other classics, reels such as "Ej ti Momche Ohrigjance," "Pajdusko" and " Kalajdzisko Oro" or songs such as "Ne si go Prodavaj Koljo Ciflikot," "Yovano, Yovanke," "Eleno Kjerko" and even the original songs such as "Gypsy Magic," "Kandilce" or "Lost Whales."

Both of them were interesting to watch on the simple stage, which was decorated with unusual sci-fi stage lighting. Spassov was able to access every capability of his instrument's sonority and even sang or did vocal improvisations while Stefanovski sat with his eyes closed and inner being completely lost in the joys and pleasures of playing. Together they were able to produce fluid melodic lines, varied textures and dramatic dynamic shaping.

Despite the stylistic variety of the repertoire and the liberties they took, none of this sounded disjointed or bitty. The duo's spontaneous alchemy was mesmerizing and there was incredible synchronicity that seemed to float in or out of the improvisations. Their shared joy of music-making was tangible and radiated out toward the audience. This culminated with a standing ovation to bring back the musicians for an encore of "Skopje."

The performance at the Hungarian House saw a rare meeting between two distinct musicians at the top of their games, who combined their talents and differences in order to create a memorable performance.

Post a comment

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
https://soundcloud.com/vlatkostefanovski/more-sokol-pie-feat-theodosii? utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing


View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Local Businesses | More...


Jazz article: Atlantis Trio at MutaMenti HK
Jazz article: Shakti 50th Anniversary Tour at Hill Auditorium
Jazz article: European Jazz Conference 2023
Jazz article: Herbie Hancock At Chautauqua Auditorium


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.