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Milcho’s Official website: Bio and more info
Pianist and composer Milcho Leviev was born and raised in Bulgaria in 1937 which means he had the experience of World War II, the Soviet invasion, and a long dictatorship as a child and young man.
Milcho is part of a wave of supremely accomplished musicians from Eastern Europe who’ve made huge creative contributions to jazz over the decades.
Their dedication to the art is epic and perhaps not fully appreciated.
During the Communist times, jazz was, for all practical purposes, a banned music in the Eastern Bloc. Schools did not teach it, public performances were frowned on, jazz records were seized at Customs and pursuing jazz was a potential career-killer for a professional musician.
Still they persisted.
Milcho relates how a small group of dedicated musicians and fans in his country tuned into Willis Conover’s 1 AM Voice of America jazz broadcast with their primitive tape recorders turned on.
The hope was that one of the group would get a relatively clear signal (the program was jammed by authorities) and could share the tape with others. They then laboriously worked together to transcribe the recordings so they could study them.
Why did they love jazz so much? Because it exemplified freedom.
A sampling of where that love of freedom has brought Milcho. Enjoy!
Milcho returns to Bulgaria
With Art Pepper
With Don Ellis
With Bill Cobham
With Dave Holland
Tribute to Voice of America’s Willis Conover
Bulgarian cartoon from the 60s (Jazz in banned in Heaven)
Where Milcho lives now: Thessaloniki, Greece
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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