Title - ‘The American Dream’
Artist - Damian Drăghici
If you have never heard of this man, well, fair enough. But, that said, if you are interested in Romanian politics and love your jazz, you should know him VERY well! For Damian Drăghici is a Romanian politician of Romani origin, a Senator in the Romanian Parliament, and also an advisor on Roma issues to the Prime Minister. Oh, and yeah, he is a former musician, best known as a nai player and is a noted exponent of this instrument in the world of jazz!
Drăghici was born in Bucharest to a family of lăutari whose distinguished musical heritage dates back at least seven generations. He started to play lăutărească music in the family and tried an array of instruments before settling on the nai at the age of ten.
A year before he escaped communism in his native Romania by walking through the mountains of Yugoslavia and into Greece, the seed of Damian Drăghici’s dream was planted when he was just a 17-year-old teenager who snuck into a Bucharest nightclub to watch a set by an American jazz combo.
Nearly 30 years later, his vision will finally come to fruition on July 8th when Century Jazz Records issues The American Dream, a 13-song disc of standards produced by Dan Siegel and Tom McCauley that showcases the pan flutist collaborating with nearly two dozen jazz, Brazilian and Latin music greats, Grammy winners, icons and top-shelf musicians.
“’The American Dream’ has been a dream of mine for a while now,” Drăghici himself recalls. “Here’s how the story started almost 30 years ago. When I was 17 years-old during the communist times in Bucharest, Romania, I saw and heard for the first time real American jazz musicians playing live. That was the moment I fell in love with jazz and I knew that I had to go to America to learn jazz – to play and improvise bebop on my instrument – to become the Bebop Pan-piper.”
1) “Donna Lee” with Arturo Sandoval
2) “Ceora” with Chris Botti
3) “Giant Steps” with Eddie Daniels
4) “From Within” with Michel Camilo
6) “Modhina” with Luciana Souza
7) “You Must Believe In Spring”
8) “My Song”
9) “More Than Yesterday”
10) “See The World”
11) “Curumin” with Frank Gambale
12) “Waltz For Debbie”
13) “One Note Samba”
Having listened to this album three times on the spin now, I have to say that not only is it highly addictive music, the craftsmanship of each and every track is painstakingly exquisite. At no time does Drăghici take what he is doing, or who he is with for granted, for tracks such as the album opener “Donna Lee” (with Arturo Sandoval), the sultry bossa nova “Ceora,” an exquisite duet with trumpeter Chris Botti, and my personal favorite, “Modhina” (with Luciana Souza), all showcase why we should all be so grateful that Drăghici’s walk through the mountains of Yugoslavia and into Greece all those years ago was a success.