Danilo Blaiotta, jazz pianist of Arbereshe (Albanian) origin, had the idea for the project “Balkanica” in 2011.

The project, which takes its inspiration from Albanian music, covers the entire Balkan Peninsula, with sounds from Serbia to those of Macedonia.

The repertory consists of delightful rearrangements of ethnic-folk music as well as Blaiotta’s own works; the pieces explore complex music sources, from which interesting rhythms emanate (like the irregular 5, 7, 13….), and melodies which are very moving and never trivial.

The Quintet needs two saxophonists who play 5 different (wind) instruments: the baritone sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, alto sax and bass clarinet, and each of these have an essential role in illustrating the theme of the pieces.

The excellent player of the alto sax and bass clarinet, Achille Succi (who works with Uri Caine, Ralph Alessi, Sylvie Curvoisier, Steve Swell, Louis Sclavis, Ernst Reijseger, Pierre Dorge, Franco D’Andrea…), a reference point for Italian jazz in the world, is predominantly the soloist in almost all the compositions.

Marco Rossin, the baritone, tenor and soprano sax player (who works with Baba Sissoko, Joe Amoruso, Attilio Zanchi, and is an orchestral player for Riccardo Muti), is the excellent classical saxophonist, fundamental for the underlying base on which the pieces are structured.

The piano, double bass, and drums are not used as a conventional jazz trio: there is a play of beats which is more typical of Balkan music than of (what we consider) true jazz. This jazz is intention, often harmony, extracted from very complex and well-delineated material, a new idea, its flavor enriched.

Danilo Blaiotta, the pianist (who works with Mike Applebaum, Robertinho De Paula, Claudio Fasoli, Antonio Onorato, Attilio Zanchi, Anita Vitale, pupil of Kenny Werner, Avishai Cohen, Larry Grenadier and John Taylor…) is the leader although not explicitly, and is also the composer and arranger of the Quintet’s pieces. He does the arrangements and the underlying ideas of the group are his, as well as some original compositions written specifically for the project.

Pietro Leveratto (he worked with Lee Konitz, Mal Waldron, Steve Grossman, Sal Nistico, Joe Chambers, Steve Lacy, Dewey Redman, Al Cohn, Enrico Rava, Dave Liebman, Jimmy Owens, Kenny Weelher, Eddie Henderson, Bob Mover, Ray Anderson, Joe Newman, Bob Wilber…), is one of the most important double bass players of the past forty years, and his contribution and experience are of fundamental importance for the other components of the group; his recent ideas on arrangements have opened up new and unconventional horizons for the Quintet.

Fabrizio La Fauci, drummer, (he works with Charlie Cannon, Paolo Fresu, Chicago Bue, Lutte Berg, Marvin Stamm, Marco Tamburini, Robertinho De Paula, Eric Daniel, Daniele Scannapieco, Jenny B, Gegè Telesforo, Franco Califano, Claudio Baglioni, Rossana Casale, Simona Bencini, Joe Amoruso, Francesca Schiavo, Felice Clemente), developed his talent in Rome’s most interesting jazz settings, is appreciated for his accurate drumming and uses his instrument not just to accompany, but to be an integral part of ever-lively counterpoint.

Sergio Gimigliano of Picanto Records has decided to record the first disc of the Balkanica project, which is available from 1 march 2014. The disc is not an arrival, but rather a departure for the group towards new adventures and engagements, including both concert and recording activities.

The Quintet’s purpose is music-exploration, and not only that. Balkanica wants to musically embrace the peoples of those geographical areas tormented by wars, and whose incredible artistic out-flow has been so severely suffocated.

Balkanica wants to be this message:

A Quintet that can play the music of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Croatia, represents a message of peace… this is what art alone can do!