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Bogdanovic: Blues and 7 Variations
Ivanović: Cafe Pieces (6)
Ourkouzounov: Folk Song Variations
Rivera, C: Cancion
Thomas, Alan: Out of Africa - five pieces

Multi-award winning guitarist Denis Azabagic invites listeners into a realm where world, folk, and classical music intersect on Out of Africa . . . and Around the Word, the Bosnia-born, Chicago-based virtuoso’s first solo album on Cedille Records. Showcasing works by living composers, the album takes its title from American-born, British-based composer Alan Thomas’s evocative Out of Africa, inspired by the Karen Blixen memoir and movie of the same name. Thomas weaves together strands of African singing styles, scales, and rhythms, while paying homage to African string instruments, such as the kora and the oud. Bosnian composer Vojislav Ivanovic’s set of six Café Pieces, an audience favorite, includes an homage to Astor Piazzolla in the form of a tango with hints of Balkan jazz. Atanas Ourkouzounov takes a traditional song from his native Bulgaria as the basis for his Folk Song Variations. Carlos Rafael Rivera, an American composer of Cuban and Guatemalan descent, says his Canción came to him in a moment of inspiration, with no evident folk music connections. Sarajevo-born Dusan Bogdanovic employs a kaleidoscope of styles in Blues and Seven Variations, including big band orchestration and a Brazilian carnival rhythm.

Soundboard said Azabagic’s playing “is virtually flawless and his technical facility is a joy to see as well as hear.” The magazine said he merits being “mentioned in the same breath as John Williams.” Azabagic has been featured in Classical Guitar, Guitarrissimo, and Guitarra magazines.

Azabagic has performed as guest instrumentalist and soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Madrid Symphony, and Belgium’s l’Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, among other ensembles. Azabagic has won 11 first prizes in international guitar competitions, including the prestigious “Jacinto e Inocencio Guerro” competition in Madrid, Spain, and the Guitar Foundation of America competition, which launched him on a 60-concert tour.

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