Misho Yosiffov: The Big Brass Theory

The Big Brass Theory

(Interview with Mihail Yosiffov by Teodora Petkova)

Misho Yosiffov is a Bulgarian trumpeter, one of the founders of the Brass Association, and also one of the “culprits” for the Bulgarian Brass festival Brazzobrazzie. Misho also performs with the  Big Band Brass Association, led by Angel Zaberski, while successfully managing various projects, including Sentimental Swingers, Brass Combo and several others. He even finds time to  teach at the Music school, leading a jazz formation there too.

Featured image: © Albena Zografova

[if in a mood for mindful reading downlawd the pdf: Misho Yosiffov and The Big Brass Theory – Events in Bulgaria]

Teodora Petkova met Misho and forever changed the way she looks at live music, improvisation and all that jazz around us.

Misho is so eloquent, systematic and well-versed that I was left absolutely  blown. Not by his trumpet, but by his insights. Not only I forgot to take any pictures, but could’t ask all my questions. At least I got the essence of Misho’s theory.

According to the Big Brass Association model (or what I call the Big Brass Theory), the audience of Brass music expands and continues to expand thanks to Misho’s and his fellow musicians’ constant hard work, true devotion and of course their natural desire to spread (blast) emotions. Meet Misho yourselves and tell me if I was wrong in my perception of the Big Brass Theory.

Ladies and gentlemen, Misho Yosiffov!

Let’s start with the Brass Association, tell us more about it.

Well, the Brass Association is a union of Brass musicians and not only brass musicians, who participate in several different bands. The biggest of them is the Big Brass Band Association. A slightly smaller version is the Brazz village, then comes the Sextet (ed. the Jazz formation Mihail Yossifov Sextet). There’s also a Brass Association Combo and many of our members are part of various other bands too.

A few years ago realizing that we play together as a brass section almost every day, we  decided that it’s high time we gather into a union and start working together as a separate entity. At that very time,  Angel Zaberski had already gathered us in a Big Band several times, so we knew what was to play in that format and liked it a lot.

Video: Live concert from NDK, Sofia, December 2014. The Big Band Brass Association, Conductor Angel Zaberski. The event was part of the rich program of the International festival Salon of the Arts.

Later on, when we founded the Association together with a non-profit association, both dedicated to various music projects. This opened doors for us not only to play together, but also to start working on our own original projects. I’ve always had  a band and somehow lead it, but when we united as a association, things started growing and developing in new directions. Basically all the things that we do are going well and are our main source of income. Which is great.

Video: Misho Yosiffov, BNT January 2012

It is, you do what you love and you do best. What about your projects?

Our first album was the album of Big Band Brass Association with music by Angel Zaberski. Then came out the Sextet album. And this year came out the BraZZViliDJ one.

Vili Stoyanov Brazzobrazzie Source BNR

Vili Stoyanov, Source: BNR Archive

Between the making of these albums, Vili Stoyanov came up with this idea about the brass festival and we founded Brazzobrazzie. And to add to “all that jazz”, we regularly play with other bands and projects.

Such as Sentimental Swingers?

Yes, this project actually  launched when we formed the SPerdoming extet. Back then the person in charge of the Swingin` Hall club – Galyo, called me and Vili to tell us that he loves  what we do, the way we have fun on the stage and in general he finds the concept behind the Sextet pretty amazing.So we started to make the musical program of the club – Soul in Da Hole. And since we wanted the Sextet to present own original things, we  started by inviting various soloists every week to perform with us, to name a few we’ve played with Militsa Gladnishka, Ben Cross, Dani Milev and many others. And in fact  one of these projects was Sentimental Swingers and they went successful pretty quick.

Video: Sentimental Swingers participating in a night Show on BNT

Two of the girls (ed. Roni from Nasekomix and Desi from Phuture shock) already had their audience.They were only looking for a third girl, as to make something similar to Andrew Sisters trio. And then came Vera who was a student of Roni. She infused her enthusiasm, passion and last but now least business skill into the project and everything went really successful.

Our performance with Militsa  are also going very well. So is the small brass band we formed – the Brass Association Combo. This is where we play various styles, not necessarily limiting ourselves to jazz.

You mentioned you are coming from a  teaching class. What do want to teach your students?

Yes, I teach at the National School of Music Lyubomir Pipkov. What I teach them? I advise  them: Get off these trumpets :-)
Now, seriously, I try to teach them what I’ve learned and also show it to them.

Do you do something together or just formal teaching?

Well, actually one of my first assignments as a teacher was at the music school where me, Vili and Emmanuel Manolov [aka Badema, meaning the Almond], on the  initiative of the director Milka Miteva, established  a jazz band at the school. Its first fruits are now a fact. An example for this is Funky Miracle, a band that is doing very well.

Let’s get back to the festival, you said you are not the initiator.

Well I will play at the festival with few people from the jazz formation. I am dealing with the arrangements, the music programme and such things. While Vili, together with Eli Petrusheva and Mitko Stoev, are dealing with the organization.

I was rather asking about the idea behind it. You shared that it was Vili’s idea, aiming at popularizing what you do, and brass music in general.

Well , yes. Our mission is somehow to promote Brass music. Show the audiences its various faces. The festival came very logical, considering all our other projects. It’s a natural step forward. We are organizing it for a third year in a row. Last year we even had it presented on two stages, in two cities.

 That is Brazzobrazzie’s stage at the Spirit of Burgas?

Yes. And the idea of the festival is to gather as many people who like us from abroad, and to perform with them. Come to think of it, the brass (horn) section is very common and popular part in any musical genre. Starting from classical music through jazz, to pop music, funk , reggae, there are bands from New Orleans who play their typical jazz, in a word there are tons of applications. We want to show the audience non standard things that have been performed. Because  they have their considerable charm and many people enjoy these festivals.

For example there’s such a festival in Serbia, called Gucha, and it is one of the most popular events on the summer is Europe. It’s great fun there, apart from the festival itself there is also a contest for brass bands.

Will someone from Gucha perform at Brazzobrazzie?

Last year we had Boban Markovic perfoming here. He came together with his son  Marko Markovic who is also a trumpeter. This year, a similar band is coming, this time from France [ed. Funky Style Brass, see the full line up of Brazzobrazzie 2014] and they a rather distant from jazz. This year the jazz musician invited is Jigs Whigham, one of the top trombonists in the world. He will  perform with the Big Band, being a soloist, his original pieces.

Looks like what I thought to be a good title to present you – The Big Brass Theory, matches pretty good your intentions – to spread the word and the emotion about brass music as further as possible.

Yes, it’s a cool match. In fact, brass music has been around in Bulgaria for many years. My family is from northwestern Bulgaria, my roots are from there. My grandfather played brass music. Brass music for  me invokes a mood of celebration, spreads euphoria, uplifts people. My first impressions as a professional musician are in a brass orchestra. Also, when we were students, we used to play on the street with brass instruments, making, I dare to say, furor on Vitosha Boulevard in Sofia :-)

Thank you for this, you just preceded my question, which was: What was the path from  Street Boys, your 90’s band to Brazzobrazzie?

Next page: Jazz during the Communism. Jazz as a dialogue.  Jazz as quality food for thought