From humble beginnings in the small Macedonian city of Strumica to conquering stages across the globe, the Džambo Aguševi Orchestra has risen to the very top of the international music scene. Džambo Agušev also known by the nickname " the funky tiger " is the most widely celebrated Macedonian musician since the late Esma Redžepova but he’s not about to rest on his laurels. Instead, the 36 year old trumpet player and band leader is aiming at developing the reputation he and his band hold as musicians par excellence!
Džambo was born in Strumica, eastern Macedonia, in 1987. His family had been musicians for generations and Džambo’s father, Demal, worked in local orchestras. In the mid-1990s – that little Džambo got seriously interested in playing trumpet. Every day he insisted on accompanying žzemal to rehearsals where he would observe and listen. Back then he dreamed of owning a trumpet but his family had been reluctant to give him one, knowing how tough a musician’s life can be. Yet the conductor of Džemal’s orchestra took pity on the little boy who studied the musicians with such intensity and gifted Džambo his first trumpet. From then on there was no stopping him – with his eyes on the prize, the boy from Strumica set off about becoming the greatest trumpeter in the Balkans!
Whilst most of the boys in his age in Strumica, as almost everywhere, wanted to play with a ball as much as possible, he just wanted to spend more and more time trying to improve his ability as a trumpet player. Grudgingly, Džambo did so but music was where his passion existed and, at the age of 11, he became a member of his uncle’s Kočo orchestra.
Determined to continuing developing, Džambo did not let the attention sway him from focusing on maturing as a musician. While he was deeply rooted in the brass band genre of the southern Balkans, young Džambo kept his ears open and listened to music from both West and East – appropriate for a Macedonian youth, the former Yugoslav republic historically being a meeting point (and melting pot) for Ottoman and Orthodox cultures. Džambo listened to Jazz and Turkish, Funk and Soul music, movie soundtracks and classical, all the time using his Gypsy heritage as the roots from which he developed his own distinctive trumpet style and sound.
As Džambo matured into adulthood he founded his own band and became leader of the Džambo Aguševi Orchestra and so built his reputation playing weddings across the region. Word got out that he was the hottest trumpet player around and this meant, like gunslingers in the Old West, the Džambo Aguševi Orchestra had to engage in showdowns with other brass bands. In 2006 they entered Kumanovo Trumpet Festival. Result: first place! Džambo continued to win at Kumanovo every year up to and including 2011 – after this the organisers “banned” him from competing, so to give other musicians a chance! Džambo then entered Pehchevo trumpet festival and blew minds there, he and his Orchestra winning all the prizes going. Džambo knew he was thus ready to step up and enter the ring against the heavyweight Balkan brass bands in Serbia’s famous “Dragačevski Sabor” in Guča (also known as “Golden Trumpet competition”). Since the 1960s Guča has gained an international reputation as the most important brass band battle in the world. And in summer 2011, the Džambo Aguševi Orchestra received the first prize and wrote his name in the history of this famous event: both the judges and the audience appraised the Orchestra and its young leader.
Known as the funky tiger of Balkan brass music, Džambo could have rested on his laurels, earning a fortune playing glitzy weddings and big festivals. Yet the young virtuoso was not satisfied with such a career and has, since then, looked towards winning an audience across Europe and beyond. In doing so they have won many admirers.