b. 1952, Kurdzhali, Thrace, Bulgaria. The most famous practitioner of Bulgaria’s most favoured musical format; master clarinettist Ivo Papasov is the King Of Wedding Music. Though Western European eyebrows might be raised at such a title, it equates Papasov with the status of superstar in his native country. Papasov and his Orchestra tour the Balkans, playing several weddings a week (many couples will re-arrange the dates of their ceremonies to coincide with a blank entry in his diary). He descends from a long line of zurna (double-reed instrument) and clarinetists. After forming his first ensemble in 1974, he gradually evolved from a traditional Thracian repertoire into a jazz-inspired improvisational set. This new work nevertheless maintained the complex time-signatures required of traditional Bulgarian dance music. Papasov had stumbled over the incredibly popular formula which would see him become a national toast. Though he boasts many domestic releases, the two albums listed below were the first to be circulated internationally.