Martin lubenov 2Martin Lubenov is a Bulgarian accordionist, composer and songwriter. He is originally from Sofia, but has lived in Vienna since 2000. He studied classical music and jazz in Sofia and Vienna and accordion at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, California. He is one of the key representatives of contemporary Roma and Balkan music and is an essential part of the Austrian ethno and jazz scene.
Martin Lubenov is from a family of Roma musicians with a long tradition. He has been playing accordion since the age of seven. Both his father and grandfather were respected musicians in Bulgaria and so it was natural for Martin to also make a career in music. It was while he was studying that he developed his outstanding and unique way of playing the accordion. He’s at home with the traditional music of the Roma and the Balkans as well as with jazz, tango, musette and Latin music.
He is the founder of two band projects: the Martin Lubenov Orkestar and Jazzta Prasta. The Martin Lubenov Orkestar, formed in 2003, comprise Bulgarian Roma musicians and Austrian jazz musicians. Their debut album entitled “Dui Droma” was released on the Dutch label Connecting Cultures in 2004. The album was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike and is considered a milestone of contemporary Roma and Balkan music. Vocals were contributed by blind Bulgarian Roma singer Neno Iliev.
Martin Lubenov also leads a Balkan jazz project with Jazzta Prasta that combines Bulgarian folk music with jazz. Their debut album “Veselina” was released on the Connecting Cultures Jazz label in 2005, and was highly acclaimed by critics.
Jazzta Prasta won the Austrian World Music Award in 2005. In addition to that, Martin Lubenov received the coveted French Prix Gus Viseur in 2005. The documentary “Martin Lubenov and the new Generation of Bulgarian Roma Music: Jazzta Prasta”, which portrayed Lubenov’s life and musical career, was released in 2009.
Aside from the work on his own projects, Martin Lubenov is also active as a composer for theatre and television. He wrote the music for the play “Das Haus des Richters” (The Judge’s House) by Bulgarian writer Dimitré Dinev, who lives in Austria. Lubenov is also responsible for providing the background music for various TV films and movies.
In March 2015, the second part of Lubenov’s long-awaited Jazzta Prasta project came out. The album is entitled “Impressions” and was released on the renowned Swiss jazz label Unit Recods. A new album by Martin Lubenov Orkestar has also been announced for 2016. On it, Lubenov has once again worked with a series of young, outstanding Roma and jazz musicians from Bulgaria and Austria. The album was again completely written and composed by Lubenov himself and is already eagerly awaited by those in the world music and jazz scenes. The album is entitled “Don’t worry, be Gypsy” and is also published on Unit Records. On top of all that, he is working on other music projects which we will hear about in the near future.


Text: Robert Lippuner / Gypsy Music Network


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