As a creator of contemporary Balkan music, he long ago became part of global culture. Thirty years ago, in 1974, long before Balkan music was discovered on the major music scene, Papazov started his revolution with his Trakija Band. At the time he could hardly have known that he was creating a new movement, later known as wedding band music, a mix of Bulgarian and Balkan folk with contemporary elements. His work changed the face of Bulgarian and world music and developed it in new directions. No wonder his fans around the world call him the King of Wedding Band Music. In deference to his amazing talent, Bulgarians call him the Aga (the Master). And Papazov really is part of the best moments of their lives. His music resounds not only at major concert venues, but also at the important days of their lives, their weddings and family celebrations.
Ivo Papazov is now 57 with a brilliant musical career behind his back. He appears on innumerable productions and albums. Two of his albums were produced by Joe Boyd (who produced Pink Floyd, REM and others). Global media of the calibre of The Guardian, the The Washington Post and The New York Times write about him in superlative terms. Flattery for Ivo Papazov has come from world-famous musicians like David Sanborn and Frank Zappa and famous and respected experts and connoisseurs like Simon Broughton and Timothy Rice. Ivo Papazov works with world-renowned musicians like Milcho Leviev, Peter Ralchev, Teodosii Spasov, Antoni Donchev, Johnny Griffin, Hector Zazou, Okay Temiz, Glen Velez, Kepa Junkera, Arild Andersen, Kalman Balogh, Iva Bitova, Sergei Starostin; he plays at festivals in Paris, Salzburg, Tilburg, Krakow, Budapest, the Södra Teatern in Stockholm, the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, the Moers Festival, TFF Rudolstadt, Schloss Elmau, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Ronnie Scott’s in London, etc., etc.
His album Fairground (Kuker Music / BBC World Music Award 2005) is a source of what we all love so much: a tender, lyrical and crazily exuberant mix of bright sounds, beautiful melodies improvisations in half-tones and rhythms, so lovingly created that it draws from our hearts what we cherish most. Here Ivo plays with his wife – the singer Maria Karafizieva – and his old friends from the Trakija Band: Nesho Neshev on accordion, Vasil Denev on keyboards and Salif Ali on drums. But shades of modern Bulgarian music also appear in the form of master musicians like Stoyan Yankulov on tupan drum and percussion, Ateshhan Husseinov on guitar, Vasil Parmakov on piano, Ivo Zvezdomirov and Stefan Marinov on bass.