Echoes of Bucharest – a reflection of the present, a fragrance of the past and a glance into the future of a city with a rich multicultural legacy.
The compositions of this suite encounter no rules or boundaries, only love, and the urge to create and share. The vision is built on two main pillars innovation and heritage, and aims to shape sounds into a unique audience experience.
The music and the concept behind the compositions are a natural reflection of Alex Simu’s experience with his hometown, expressed through the lens of his emotional and historical ties. All sounds are inspired by the history of Bucharest, from its creation and evolution, to its contemporary times and future.
Found at the juncture between East and West, Romania benefited from rich cultural influences which lead to the creation of various identities throughout its historical evolution. Purely folkloric sounds, the dramatic influence of the Ottoman Empire, the Phanariot epoch, the Little Paris illusions, the two world wars, the communist regime, the revolution, and the contemporary Bucharest, they all become subtle echoes reflected through the spirit of the music on this album. All the various influences that have carved the cultural identity of Bucharest over
time come to life as melodies, rhythmic themes, and motifs. Complementing the original compositions, thematic fragments of classical
pieces by George Enescu and Dimitrie Cantemir have been specially arranged to harmonize with the contemporary language of jazz and free improvisation.
“The venue was so full that a part of the audience was standing around the corner and could not see the band playing on the stage. But we heard clarinet, piano, viola and bass which where blending Romanian folkloric sounds with subdued, Norwegian quietness in long, poetical compositions. Those who could not see the band where enjoying with their eyes closed, leaning against the wall.“ – Dagblad van het Noorden
“Adventurous and stunningly beautiful. How much it was shared with the audience was evident from the daunting discharge after the end of the first set: an applause eruption that lasted so long that it seemed almost as if the final was reached.” – Ton Maas, Mixed World Music
“Alex Simu shows his versatility and sense of beauty by playing clarinet in a style that unites his native city of Bucharest and his current city of Amsterdam. From a completely integral attitude, the quintet made the Balkan songs with their melancholy and beautiful melodies. Amsterdam seemed a little like Bucharest tonight.” – Jan Jasper Tamboer, Het Parool ****
Alex Simu is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer. Born in Romania, Simu followed a music education from a young age. In pursue of an international music career, he moved to the Netherlands at age 22, where he began his studies at the Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen, obtaining a Bachelor degree in Jazz Saxophone, followed by a Masters degree from the Amsterdam Conservatory. In 2007 he received an HSP Huygens scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. In 2008 he was awarded the First Prize of the Utrecht Holland Casino Jazz Contest. The same year he won first prize of the Dutch Jazz Competition at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, and in 2009 was awarded with the EBU jazz scholarship, and became a member of the European Jazz Orchestra for the project Swinging Europe lead by Peter Herbolzheimer. After completing his studies, Alex Simu co-founded the Dutch-based quartet Arifa. Their debut album Beyond Babylon was released in 2010, followed by Anatolian Alchemy in 2012. Both albums were awarded the Best World Music Release of the year in the Netherlands, and distinguished with 5 stars by various publications. In 2017, Alex Simu released Echoes of Bucharest, his debut album as a band leader together with his quintet. The release at Bimhuis in Amsterdam was highly received by the national press.
Also a film music composer, Alex Simu has worked since 2010 on a great number of award-winning international film productions. In 2017 he was awarded with the Golden Calf by the Dutch Film Academy for the Best Music of Beyond Sleep, and in 2018 with the BUMA Award for the Original Film Score composed for Verdwijnen – Disappearance by film director Boudewijn Koole.
Since 2015, Alex is the clarinet teacher of the jazz and world music departments of the Codarts Conservatory of Rotterdam. He is active in the field of organology and clarinet synthesis, and has innovated the tenor clarinet, as well as brought into contemporary use the alto clarinet, clarinet d’amour, and the bass clarinet d’amour.
Active on the jazz and world music scene since 1999, Alex Simu performed and toured professionally in 41 countries over 5 continents, and shared the stage with important figures such as Alvin Queen, Brian Lynch, Benny Golson, Bennie Wallace, Peter Herbolzheimer, Mari Boine, Jorge Reyes, Naseer Shamma, Ghalia Benali, Aynur Dogan, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, and many others.
Alex Simu is known to have “a tenor sound like Sonny Rollins, blended with Balkan wizardly staccatos” – Leidsch Dagblad. He is characterised by acclaimed press as “undoubtedly virtuosic, with an emotional depth that you would expect from a veteran like Ivo Papasov.” – De Volkskrant*****
“The soundscape is very special: Alex Simu’s music organically blends in with the moving rocks, buzzing mosquitoes and other, more obscure sounds.” – NRC on the film Beyond Sleep
For more information visit: www.alexsimu.nl