In one of its meanings, the word “montuno” (literally translated as ‘from the mountain’) stands for a musical section in the end of a typical Cuban song, where the music becomes more repetitive and is open for vocal and instrumental improvisations. Krassi Jeliazkov – a Bulgarian ethno-music veteran (Balkan Horses Band) – formed Montuno Project with the idea to create an environment for improvisation within the form of Bulgarian folk songs and dances. Using traditional material, or composing music based on the tradition of Bulgarian folk, Krassi Jeliazkov intertwines typical Bulgarian melodic and rhythmic motives with jazz-like improvisation, while the rhythm section provides solid groove based arrangements, rooted in the aesthetics the jazz-rock or fusion realm. Influences from Steps Ahead and Pat Metheny Group to Caribbean Jazz Project are clearly pronounced here. Instrumental virtuosity and smooth lyricism live together in the music of Montuno Project.
Diyana Vasileva – traditional vocal:Diyana Vasileva, one of the most sought-after singers on the Bulgarian ethno music scene, was born in Pernik. By the age of 18 she is already considered a sensation. In 2015 she became part of one of the most famous Bulgarian ethno groups Oratnitsa. The same year, she got involved in concerts organized by Chris Cornell – singer and founder of one of the most successful grunge bands – Soundgarden.
In 2016 she was accepted as a soloist in the world-famous Grammy-winning choir – Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, which concerts with the Buchimish project and the Australian performer Lisa Gerrard. Miss Gerald, hearing for the first time Diana, calls her a „Mountain girl”.
In 2017 her vocal performance was used in the world hit Stanga by Sagi Abitbul – the Israeli DJ who conquered the world with a Bulgarian folk song. Together with the Abagar Quartet, Diana recorded music by world-renowned DJ and producer Armin van Buren.
Arnau Garrofe – saxophone & flute:Originally from Barcelona, Arnau Garrofé grew musically in the Netherlands. Finishing his jazz education in the Hague and Rottedam, is during those years that he had the chance to play with great musicians such as the ex-jazz messenger Philip Harper, the late Kris Goessens, Erik Ineke and others.
After playing all over the Netherlands and Belgium, in 2014 Arnau expanded his musical threshold by travelling to Asia looking for new inputs. That brought him to play frequently in the main clubs of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Since 2016 he lives in Sofia where he quickly became one of the most sought after musicians of the Bulgarian scene. He is known for his performances together with “Brass Association Big Band”, Hristo Yotsov´s “Jazz Cats”, Ruth Koleva Live Band as well as a member of the Bulgarian National Radio Big Band.
In October 2016 Arnau was awarded as “Best Solo Instrumentalist” in the Johnny Raducanu International Jazz Festival held in Braila, Romania.
Radoslav Slavchev — Riverman:One of the leading bass players of Bulgaria was born in 1982 in Ruse. He started his music education with classical guitar but at age of 14, he switched to the bass guitar. He obtained a master degree at the conservatory of music in Sofia.
Radoslav has been a member of various bands and projects such as: Ahead, Studio X, Balkan Horses Band, Shakazulu Orchestra. He has recorded and worked with famous artists such as: Cecilia Long (USA), Frank McComb, the legendary American drummer Poogie Bell, Valya Balkanska, Ivo Papazov, Theodosii Spassov and others.
Currently he plays in several projects, Funkallero, Brasil Acoustic and High Time — jazz & fusion project with which he participates in all the major jazz festivals in Bulgaria.
Borislav Petrov — drums:Born in Sofia, one of the best drummers in Bulgaria received his music education in the Netherlands, by completing the “New York Comes to Groningen” jazz program at the Prince Claus Conservatorium, the Netherlands, followed by the masters program at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.
A member of numerous Bulgarian and international projects – Jazzanitza, Tin Men & The Telephone, Tarhana, The Stage Band, etc. Borislav has collaborated with artists from all over the world and performed in many countries around Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. Participated in prestigious festivals such as November Music and North See Jazz.
His discography includes over 20 albums of artists such as: Amsterdam Jazz Orchestra, Renske Taminiau, Dimitar Liolev, Sebastian Burneci and many others.
Pavel Tzonev – keyboards: Born in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, 1988. During his studies at the Plovdiv Conservatory he performed with various artists on the Bulgarian jazz scene – Hilda Kazasyan, Hristo Yotsov, Veselin Veselinov – Eko, Stoyan Yankulov, Alexander Lekov, Nikolay Karageorgiev and others. In a short time he became one of the most sought-after young pianists in the country.
In 2016 recorded the guitar album of Tom Sinatra – a nephew of the legendary Frank Sinatra.
In 2017 received an invitation from jazz singer Miroslava Katsarova to participate as a guest on her show “The New Standarts”. He has performed with the State Opera and Military Big Band in Stara Zagora.
In 2018 he took part in several jazz festivals in Bulgaria.
Krassi Jeliazkov – ac. guitar & Bulgarian tamboura: Creator of the project. Author of music and arrangements. Music producer, manager, band leader, writes music for theatre, film, jazz and ethno music, guitar player and Bulgarian tamboura performer. Creator of the unique music project Balkan Horses Band. Author a lot of books for Bulgarian tamboura.
He plays with famous artists such as: Rick Dellaratta , US piano and vocal, Cecilia Long, US jazz singer, Indian percussions player Ramesh Shotam, Croatian violin player Marko Ramljak and many others.
Participates in many local and international festivals including: Grand Paris Du Jazz (Paris, France), Balkan Square (Thessaloniki, Greece) 10 Festival Lent (Maribor, Slovenia), Brossela Folk & Jazz (Bruxells, Belgium) and more.
MONTUNO – PROJECT – VIDEOS