Listening to Acoustic Version was certainly part of my early musical development and the very first contact with jazz in my teens. Jazz was not highly developed in Bulgaria as in other East European countries such as Poland, but already in the 1960s there were some formidable players and composers. All the jazz fans would remember Milcho Leviev and its jazz quartet FOCUS ’65 which was awarded the Critic’s Prize at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1967. Over the last thirty years jazz, ethno-jazz and fusion have flourished in Bulgaria with some unique musical examples such as Theodosii Spassov and Ivo Papazov.
This recording is a classic album because of the natural flow of the music and the extraordinary empathy between Hristo Yotsov and the Donchev brothers, Anthony and George. Acoustic Version has always been about the musical synergy and chemistry between the players. Their classical training and cultural background have determined a style impossible to define. Certainly there are elements of Bulgarian folklore — treated in a “urban” way — European classical music heritage of chamber music making, and experimental contemporary jazz.
Their language is based on an intelligent dialogue, where the conventional style of a jazz trio is changed. The three instruments are equals. The bass is not a mere part of the rhythm section and the drums are not just adding colour and energy to the structure of the piano playing. Anthony’s voicing creates musical spaces for the other two players with the support of his left hand. His brother George is subtle in shaping the phrases and has lots to say in his solos. Hristo Yotsov on the other hands has a very rich palette of colours and helps to create a complex musical texture.
Acoustic Version has kept its character and has evolved and matured over this thirty years without changing its style, which I believe can be considered part of the European jazz classics.
The magazine of the European Jazz Association – Jazz Forum says: “Donchev and Yotsov have managed to extend the jazz language to fields, where no one ever now has made experiments.”