Dzambo Agushevi Orkestar

The FYROMian brass band, Dzambo Agushevi Orkestar, consists of 10 musicians led by trumpeter Dzambo Agushev, all of Turkish-FYROMian heritage from the Strumica region of eastern FYROM. We spoke with their manager Bojan Djordjevic, who is also the founder of Ring Ring Festival.

Dzambo Agushevi Orkestar will be giving two performances at Kinisi Festival of Sound on Friday 21 October 2016. The first will be in collaboration with soundscape artist Katerina Tzedaki in the form of a soundwalk through the medieval village of Pyrgos. The second will be an evening performance at Venetsanos Winery.

As with most brass bands of this region, the group draws on a family heritage of musicianship. Dzambo’s uncle, Koco led the Agushevi Orkestar together with Dzambo’s father, Cemal, which they formed in Strumica during the 1980s.

“Koco was really a legend, and someone who was really admired by other musicians. He was a difficult character too; always ready to fight for no good reason. But he was a really great musician and a great teacher,” says Bojan Djordjevic, who has been managing the band for the past three years.

As a young boy Dzambo would spend most of his time with his uncle studying and learning to play the trumpet. At the age of 11 his uncle Koco decided to include him in the band. When Koco died 8 years ago his father led the band, and after 2 years decided to pass the position on to Dzambo.

BD: For some years Cemal led the band because Dzambo was still young, but after 2 years he said: “Ok, you are much better than me. You can be the future of this orchestra. I will be there to help you, to advise, and to follow you.” Dzambo’s younger brother is also in the band, continuing the family tradition.

Since taking over leadership of the band, Dzambo has swept the stages of competitions for trumpeters and Balkan brass bands, winning first prize in ‘Kumanovo Trumpet Fest’ 6 years in a row, ‘Assembly of Trumpet Players’ at the Guca Festival in Serbia, as well as the competition in Pehcevo two years in a row.

Winning prizes in competitions brings a great deal of prestige but, with a band consisting of 10 members, their main source of income comes from playing at weddings. Alongside the band's fee, the “bakshish” (tips) provide a considerable income for the band members who are often the sole providers for their respective families.

BD: Generally all these bands are quite famous and popular locally, and are usually content with playing weddings, festivities, and events around their villages or their town. But they also have the desire to try to play concerts for other audiences. Dzambo is also a person with a vision. He wants to do concerts even if the band is not always following him completely. But he is the bandleader and they trust him. His message to the band has been: “Ok, I would like to do it this way: we will play weddings as well. But this is more important, so if there is a concert we will not play weddings.” Because often, Balkan bands or brass bands will skip concerts in favour of weddings because they are always better paid. I really feel that this music should be heard worldwide, we need a bit more influence on the international stage.

HH: How would you describe the dynamic of the band, their performance and their relation to music?

BD: Everyone in the band is really nice, they're humble people. They want to share what they know and they really enjoy playing music. If you let them they will play throughout the whole day, and when they see the site I imagine they will get even more ideas for how and what to perform. This is what they are. They enjoy playing music. No matter if it is a concert, a wedding or a street parade. They just enjoy playing together. Of course they have to eat and rest, but when they are performing they forget about everything else. It will be really enjoyable. I know people in Greece and on the islands like this kind of music and it’s going to be quite familiar to them. This is party music, but there are also ballads, so there will be some slow tunes too. Sometimes you really have to gauge the audience: if they want to party, let’s party. But if they want to sit, enjoy the music and just listen, there are some really nice beautiful slow tunes and slow solos in Gypsy music as well.

You can read about their latest release here: