Culture

"Musical conversation with Ilir Bajri" for the unique portrait of the maestro

Ilir Bajri

The inauguration of the monograph "Musical conversation with Ilir Bajrin" by Liburn Jupolli, on Friday, April 12, at "Kino Armata" in Pristina

If the history of jazz music in Kosovo had to be defined by only one name, it would be maestro Ilir Bajri. Now his activity, the stories about him, the works and much more, come in the monograph "Musical conversation with Ilir Bajrin" by Liburon Jupolli, which, like the main character of this work, comes out of the templates of such publications, offering another approach to the discovery of the complex world of a completely unique musician

The atmosphere at the inauguration of the book "Musical Conversation with Ilir Bajrin" by Liburn Jupolli has also gone well with the format of the book itself, which is built from the narratives of different figures that have been part of the jazz master's artistic journey. Before the promotion of the book, Bajri's compositions were played, as an overture to his world that was waiting to unfold in the following moments. 

But this time, outside the framework of the book, the conversation took place in "Kino Armata" with Ilir Bajri himself, the author Liburn Jupolli, Olisa Çekaj as a research assistant and Besa Luzhë and Dardan Selimaj, Bajri's collaborators throughout his career. 

This book - which at first glance is described as an ordinary monograph - stands far from the conventional norms of writing a monograph, since the entire content is built from conversations with different subjects about Ilir Bajri. In addition to these interviews as an oral history method, the narrative in the monograph is enriched with exclusive photographs from Bajri's personal archives. But it doesn't stop there. 

It offers the entire chronology of the activity, the groups in which he was a part, the festivals where he was a participant, the list of instruments created by Bajri as his continuous effort to explore the capacities of technology in making music. There are also his sound sculptures, various compositions for film and theater and the list of his performances. 

As a pioneer of jazz music in Kosovo, Ilir Bajri, in the biography provided on the first pages of the monograph, is described as a complex figure, who is known as a composer, performer and organizer of music events and festivals in Kosovo. 

"His artistic and compositional career spans over 30 years active as a piano performer, electric keyboards of various forms and editing and creating effects, as well as introducing a postmodern approach to interdisciplinary arts. His activity is closely related to the musical heritage of the XNUMXth-XNUMXth century in Kosovo and the fusion with modern musical developments in Kosovo from the second part of the XNUMXth century in the alternative scenes", says the biography, while also giving an introduction to his philosophical approach to thinking, which translates into an equally unique and complex musical approach. 

In the context of the history of music in Kosovo, documenting the activities of artists like Ilir Bajri is essential and appears to be necessary to understand and preserve an artistic heritage. His decades-long life and work embodied in this book provide a broad understanding of his artistic evolution, the contribution and the continuous impact that he and his music have had on the cultural identity of Kosovo. 

While browsing the book, the dense world is also evident as an inspiration for the continuous efforts of a pure artistic creativity which originates naturally and manages to find a place in reality as such, natural and conflicting with the norms, which Bajri does not have have fun This continues to be the case today. 

For the author Liburn Jupolli, the work with this monograph started inspired by the complexity of Bajri's musical identity and his closeness to his musical activity. According to Jupoll, this monograph follows the publications of the "Magmus" publishing house. 

"Initially, I had the opportunity to learn from Iliri and collaborate with him on different occasions. However, for this book I had the advantage because I knew many things first hand, as a result of long discussions with him, over the years", said Jupoll, composer, pianist, professor of composition and musical innovation at UBT. 

The publication has been referred to as an alternative monograph which emphasizes, among other things, the role of the work process and the approach of an artist beyond focusing on his works. 

Ilir Bajri
The life and work of the jazz musician concretized in this book offers a broad understanding of his artistic evolution, the contribution and continuous influence that he and his music have had on the cultural identity of Kosovo.

The monograph presents Bajri's figure with minimal processing, preserving his nuanced character that starts from the way of musical expression, the style, the way it is written, the technical details such as the layout and design, creating an intimate feeling of special. 

Olisa Çekaj, historian and researcher for this book, in a statement for TIME said that the primary goal of the team was to consolidate a biography of Ilir Bajri. 

"We tried to bring a new approach, a new format that I hope will become a standard in the future. At the same time, the book also contains oral histories, through interviews, creating the feeling that you are having a conversation with Ilir Bajri, starting from his childhood onwards", said Çekaj. 

As part of the panel, the professor of the University of Pristina, Besa Luzha, praised Ilir Bajri, describing him as a jazz icon. 

"Illyria has always been an icon of jazz. My generation, when we thought of jazz, we first thought of Illyria, when jazz music was mentioned, he was also mentioned at the same time", said Luzha, expanding on the analysis of his artistic character. According to her, Bajri avoided conventional approaches in every aspect. 

Iliri is very demanding and does not agree with what is readily available. He wants to create something new, to look for the undiscovered", she added, also referring to Bajri's activity, which explores the role of technology in musical compositions through some of his creations which, according to Luzhë, prove the character with many sides of it. 

In the promotion in the form of conversation, the role of non-formal education and the need for the new generations today to have the opportunity to explore new ways of learning, away from the framework of music study, has been constantly emphasized. This discussion has come in the spirit of Bajri's own approach, who has a significant part of his professional training from informal education. According to his judgment, the formal approach to education has been increasingly cold. 

Ilir Bajri as an important source for him, at the beginning of his relationship with music, he remembers this being his teacher and precisely her open approach which would make his path difficult. Bajri has been tight-lipped in the inauguration of the book for him. However, he shared his worldviews with those present while also talking about the documentation that is being done to history today. He gave the message that one should focus on the present and live it as a whole. 

"We all notice, I believe, how much we talk about the past, and I believe this is not good. It's fine to consider it and treat it as a library of experiences but maybe not treat it emotionally. The future must be treated emotionally because it is abstract, while the combination of the two, I believe, helps more to capture the present", said Bajri. 

Producer Dardan Selimaj had his first meeting with Ilir Bajri in 2002, as a teenager.

The first encounter with his artistic activity had been quite special for him and would later develop into numerous collaborations between them. He would join in organizing the "Prishtina Jazz Festival" founded by Bajri, which became the main address of the jazz scene not only in Kosovo. 

"For me, as a high school student, it was the first encounter with a concert that was in a different dimension in relation to everything I had the opportunity to see at that time", said Selimaj, at the same time manager of the Kosovo Philharmonic. The role that the "Prishtina Jazz Festival" has had in the affirmation of jazz music in Kosovo has also been discussed. 

"A good part of the jazz musicians we have now were inspired by the 'Prishitna Jazz Festival', since there was no formal jazz school, that festival itself served as a school", added Selimaj about the festival, which from 2005 to 2014 with ten editions marked the unique chapter of music in these parts. 

Well, Ilir Bajri is a distinguished name in the history of music. "Conversation..." is the opportunity to get to know his universe.  

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