Hristo Vitchev (pronounced Ha-wri-sto Veet-chev) was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. A young boy intent on being a pilot; reminisced of going to the book store and spending countless hours looking at books with planes and learning all about them, from the technical aspects down to the history of them. Little did he know his life was going to take a completely different turn.
His grandmother signed him up for guitar lessons in a community music school in his neighborhood while living in Sofia when he was 12 years old. Always having an interest in music and drawn to people making music, he never realized why. The moment he picked up his first guitar he knew what he was meant to do. His teacher was very instrumental as well, pointing him in the right direction, guiding him from the very beginning.
Vitchev continued his studies in Caracas, Venezuela once the family had relocated there from Sophia and later in the USA. Relocating to the San Francisco Bay area about 12 years ago, he admits this is where he discovered jazz music, prior to that he was really into progressive rock bands and guitar oriented rock music.
“Vitchev’s sophisticated and adventurous work is imbued with shimmering harmonies and lyrical improvisations.”
-Jazz Times Magazine
“I do all my composing, writing and arranging on the piano so that I can escape all the muscle memory achieved on my main instrument after all these years of playing. That way I am forced to think more consciously and make decisions in terms of harmony and melody in a much more intense and deep level”. Vitchev plays the piano as well as the bass.
Vitchev gets his inspiration for his music from visual art, nature, traveling and like most of us; life experiences and memories. Having no favorite piece of music, each coming from its own special place in time. “It sort of starts to come out by itself”.
Vitchev’s music is comprised of both duets and quartets, I asked him how he decides.
“I decide the format of the ensemble for the recording, or tour etc. by the music I write. Some pieces are more open, free and need the elasticity of a smaller group that can create the desired space as well and embrace the textures and fluency that the music requires. Other pieces need a more rigid support, more intense feel and more rhythmic approach in which case you really need a fuller band”.
Vitchev talks about his piano player Weber Iago; In 2007 when they were both part of a rhythm section in a band of an Italian pop-opera singer. He was immediately drawn to the music Iago played and his interpretations and harmony of his music.
“It felt as the sounds that were coming out of the instrument were the very same sounds I had always imagined to play if I ever had picked up the piano as an instrument.”
Vitchev knew immediately he and Iago would work together. ” It has been a great journey ever since Weber Iago is an inspiration to all. An accomplished composer, arranger, amazing pianist and band leader, as well as one of my best friends.”
“I always want to point out that I feel honored and blessed to be able to express my music and work with some of the most unique and talented musicians in the world.”
Vitchev’s admiralty for his band members is evident.
“Dan Robbins is a virtuoso extraordinaire on the instrument. Drummer Mike Shannon inspires me every time we step on the bandstand together, playing as soft as a whisper and at the same time pack enough energy and intensity into his playing to compete with the hardest rock group.”
Vitchev, noted as a jazz prodigy at such a young age, now only 32 years old has completed his 5th album Familiar Fields and is touring the states with his quartet. They will be playing for the first time in Eugene at the Jazz Station on Friday September 13, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
Familiar Fields is dedicated to his grandmother Donka Krasteva for her never endless desire to keep living and fighting.
See you out there!