Toni Kitanovski

Guitarist, composer/arranger, bandleader and educator

Toni’s music is quite afro-centric. Maybe becosе he grew up playing soccer with African exchange students from his neighborhood and borrowing records from their huge collections after the game.

All of his current musical projects are collaborations with master percussionist Oscar Salas.

His crafty guitar style is the most intuitive of all of his musical outputs. He is one of the very few people ever to get rarely awarded full four year tuition scholarship by Berklee College of Music. Boston music scene suited well his diverse musical interests. Sounds of Bluegrass and Delta Blues started sneaking under his fingertips. Not less dramatic was influence of having opportunity to attend seminars and lectures of Luciano Berrio and Georgy Ligethy, to explore Duke Ellingtons big band style with Herb Pomeroy or Afro-Cuban rhythms with Giovanni Hidalgo also having special studies of composition and arranging with Dennis Grilo.

It was than that collaboration with trumpeter Greg Hopkins started. Two of them performed and recorded together past twelve years. Culmination of their musical friendship was joint performance with Macedonian Symphony Orchestra featuring their original compositions written specially for this event. Toni often sites Greg’s trumpet sound as major inspiration and guiding light of his compositional process.

Performances, special projects and tours with Balkan music hero Theodosi Spassov, extreme avantguardist Vinny Golia, jazz legend Charlie Mariano, invitations by Derek Trucks and Steve Bernstein’s Sex Mob to share stage with them, countless apairances as guest artist followed.

Moving back to Europe after ten years in America required some adaptation. There are no black jazz musicians in Macedonia so Toni started playing with gypsies whose brass bands share similar tradition as first jazz marching groups – rhythm clave and instruments borrowed from army brass orchestras. Exotic sounds of multi cultural fabric of Boston where traditional music from every imaginable part of the world can be found around the corner anytime needed, were substituted with equally intriguing Balkan variety of musical colours based on modes and rhythms of antiquity, byzantium and eastern traditions.

Fascination with jazz and the guitar for Toni started the day he heard recordings of great late Barney Kessell. Since that day it has been quite a ride for someone who has always been curious about comparative musical anthropology – Why the same rhythms and melodies are found in totally different parts of the globe.

Toni Kitanovski is Chairman of Jazz Deprtment at GD University in Macedonia.