Three men dressed in black conquered the dark Maly Theater Dec. 6, lighting up the subdued hall with a blazing performance. Bulgaria’s Theodosii Spassov Trio was thanked with repeated standing ovations.
Spassov, who plays the traditional wooden rim-blown Bulgarian flute, or kaval, was joined by electric guitarist Angel Dimitrov and percussionist Stoyan Yankulov. The trio’s individual and collective virtuosity put a dazzling spin on syncopation, speed, imagination, taste, you name it.
The selections included a substantial helping of gypsy soul, much of which was played at full speed, as well as a touch of Western “progressive” sources springing from somewhere between jazz, blues, rock and tango. The percussionist played every which way–fast or slow, with hands and sticks, echoing riffs, punctuating, syncopating, banging a large drum or shaking, ringing and knocking various other percussive instruments.
The guitarist played in such a way as to make you forget that there was no bassist, and when he took a solo he made his faultless fingerwork up and down the fretboard look easy. As for Spassov, he didn’t merely blow into the kaval, he made it howl and cry. He also urged the crowd into an incredible scat session, topping off an unbelievable night.