Hristo Vitchev is a modern jazz guitarist and composer from Sofia, Bulgaria. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hristo leads his modern jazz quartet which features the Latin Grammy-nominated pianist Weber Iago, drummer extraordinaire Joe De Rose, and virtuoso bassist Dan Robbins. Hristo has toured nationally and internationally with a wide variety of formations and has also performed guitar clinics in Europe and Japan. He has written more than 270 original compositions, many articles on jazz improvisation, and a book on chordal theory and construction entitled Between the Voicings: A New Approach to Chord Building for Guitarists. The Hristo Vitchev Quartet’s 2009 debut album, Song for Messambria (First Orbit Sounds Music) quickly received outstanding reviews by the international jazz community and was selected as one of the six best jazz albums of 2009 by E-JAZZ NEWS.
As jazz critic Edward Blanco describes, “Vitchev is the newest guitarist to enter the national jazz scene and does so with a stunner of a recording in Song for Messambria, one of the finest debut albums I've had the pleasure of appraising this year.”
The record presents a unique blend of ECM-style modern jazz, classical, and Brazilian tone textures, and showcases the completely unique and masterful interpretation of the jazz idiom by each one of its members. In late 2009, Hristo Vitchev released his second studio album featuring Latin Grammy-nominated pianist Weber Iago. The Secrets of an Angel is an impressionistic landscape painted by the delightful and graceful conversation between the two instruments (guitar/piano).
As jazz critic Brad Walseth describes, "On the heels of his impressive debut recording, Song for Messambria, guitarist Hristo Vitchev returns along with pianist Weber Iago for a wonderful guitar/piano duet recording - The Secrets of an Angel...while the gentle title track shimmers like a glistening iceberg on a cold sea. The delightful two-part ‘The Last Pirate’ is a highlight - brilliantly showcasing the exciting romantic bend inherent in Vitchev's music, while the nostalgic lullaby “Leka Nosht (Good Night)” recalls a faraway youth and rounds out this fine release.”
In 2010 Hristo Vitchev wrote a large scale jazz work (The Perperikon Suite) especially to be premiered at the 53rd Monterey Jazz Festival. This 7 movements jazz suite is inspired by the ancient Thracian city on Perperikon (located on the territory of Bulgaria), and combines orchestral, classical, jazz, and fusion elements depicting the history and mystery of this enchanting place. The work marks Hristo Vitchev’s third album and one of his most adventurous and sophisticated works up to date. For the recording of this project the Hristo Vitchev Quartet was joined by virtuoso vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist Christian Tamburr.
As jazz critic Dan Bilawsky describes: “Shimmering harmonies resonate throughout these modern jazz marvels, and the soloists work their way around and through this accessible and exciting music with equal measures of taste, technique and spirit. Vitchev's pieces are peppered with signpost sonorities and ideas that often reappear throughout a given song, creating a sense of continuity and thematic steadiness that develops around individual soloists. While this group ably establishes its own aural identity, which threads its way through the whole album, each movement of the suite has different strengths and a unique sonic footprint. Brought to life as a tale of two cities, The Perperikon Suite ultimately occupies its own wondrous world within the confines of its jazz borders.”
As jazz critic Brent Black describes: "There is an incredible warmth to Vitchev's playing, a fluidity of movement and direction held firmly in place by a stellar quintet that provides ample support for the lyrical imagery created on this release. Aside from the superior sound which almost smacks of a live in the studio recording, there is a true working band feel that Vitchev has been able to obtain. Vitchev displays an unparalleled versatility moving from the flash of "The Acropolis" to the more introspective "The Southern City" allowing for a wonderfully paced recording. The drumming of Joe DeRose creates a special dynamic tension on the tune "The Great Hall." A release that ends far too soon. Wonderfully crafted, well paced and a sonic tapestry that stands up as well as any release for this past year."
As jazz critic Bruce Lindsay describes: “The music, performed by a terrific quintet, is beautiful: it captures images not of a city in ruins but of a city full of life, of vibrant activity. The Perperikon Suite is an impressive creation. Each individual tune is beautifully crafted, but so, too, is the Suite as a whole. Vitchev's response to the ancient city is remarkable in both its conception and its performance.”
As jazz critic Michael Bailey describes: “Many time motifs are used throughout this suite. Tick-tock ascending and descending figures pass as a thread through cloth, to hold this musical garment—a coat of many colors—together. Vitchev achieves this effect with no apparent effort or change in guitar tone or approach. Merely by affecting the time signatures, Vitchev makes his magic. The Perperikon Suite is soft-spoken and brainy music that exists out of the ordinary.”
As jazz critic Brad Walseth describes: “The new songs are the strongest Vitchev has written yet, and the addition of Tamburr serves to take the music to an even higher level. Vitchev, meanwhile, continues to impress the listener with his addictive blend of jazz with touches of classical, Brazilian and Eastern European influences in both his playing and songwriting. In lieu of visiting the legendary site yourself, listeners are urged to take a musical journey to the ancient location as seen through the senses of Hristo Vitchev and shared with you through his highly satisfying musical presentation.”
As jazz critic Ed Blanco describes: “Hristo Vitchev and his inspirational quintet provide an all-new experience on The Perperikon Suite, a concept album that is accessible, creative and a pleasure to spin often.”
In 2012 Hristo embarks on yet another musical chapter of his life. Heartmony is the long awaited and highly anticipated follow up to the first duet recording by the guitarist and pianist Weber Iago (The Secrets of an Angel). As the title of the record will suggest, Heartmony explores a truly intimate, honest, and emotional conversation between the two instruments. The music, which transports you from impressionistic landscapes to folkloric tales and from melancholic memories to meditative trances, is simply the purest harmonious sounds Vitchev has put on tape up to date. Straight from the heart, healing energy that will embrace you long after you listen to it.
"If ever there were a marriage between classical music and jazz then this Heartmony is it. Hristo Vitchev and Weber Iago have created a very special experience." - Grady Harp (Amazon.com)
As jazz critic Brent Black describes: "Heartmony is a sonic mosaic pieced together from heartfelt feelings and emotions carried through time and communicated in an incredibly heartwarming and emotional presentation that exemplifies the zen concept of less is more perhaps as well as any recording of the last decade. The musical sound of one hand clapping. Vitchev and Weber's music transcends the more traditional jazz idiom in much the same fashion that their recorded work here is that of a more cohesive unified voice with subtle shadings, lyrical swells and the textured nuances that creates music that is to be experienced. An incredibly beautiful artistic statement of personal experience."
"Guitarist Hristo Vitchev and pianist Weber Iago sounds like a perfect match in a musical heaven, if such things exist. What I’m saying here is that this is a duet album that sounds perfect, music made from the heart and soul. There’s warmth, there’s care, and there’s a human quality to this that no machine can replicate, and it is that Heartmony that makes this a powerful album worth listening to repeatedly." - John Books
As jazz critic Dan Bilawsky describes: "The eleven originals are all musical offerings from the heart and soul, but this isn't a one-dimensional recital. Some songs are full of life and positive energy, while others have a sense of regret and nostalgia sewn into their being, but they're all painted in sharp, vivid colors, thanks to the skills of both artistic practitioners at play."
“This set of guitar-piano duets is quietly emotional, always intriguing and quite original. Vitchev’s clear toned guitar blends in perfectly with Iago’s powerful piano and the two musicians often seem to think as one. Heartmony is quite thought provoking and well worthy of many close listens. Highly recommended.” - Scott Yanow
"Vitchev and Iago play together with the assurance born of long and fruitful collaboration. They know each other well, and it shows in the skillful way they complement each other. They take a beautiful melody and run with it. They wring every bit of emotion out of it. There are passages in a composition like "Memories in Black and White," nocturnal moments in "The Last Leaves which Fell in Fall," that sound like they could have been written by a nineteenth century Polish Romantic. Then there are moments in the same songs where there are glints of French Impressionists." – Jack Goodstein (blogcritics.com)
“Hristo Vitchev is a gifted composer and master guitarist whose stylish approach to the music makes him a hidden wonder of the jazz world. Heartmony is an intelligent musical statement and gentle follow up to his previous works, a relaxing soulful musical experience sure to touch a piece of your heart.” – Ed Blanco (E-JAZZ NEWS)
On top of leading his own quartet, quintet, duo projects, and co-leading the group SEVA, Hristo Vitchev also co-writes and plays guitar with Joe De Rose and Amici - an energetic jazz/fusion formation lead by drummer Joe De Rose. Their debut record Sounds for the Soul (First Orbit Sounds Music) was released in late January 2010 and it is already gaining critical acclaim on the international scene.
Hristo Vitchev has appeared on countless radio shows including the Bay Area’s KCSM, KRML, and KKUP, and Jazz FM 104 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Hristo has also performed in world-class jazz venues and festivals including Yoshi’s Jazz Club (Oakland, CA), Anthology (San Diego, CA), The Herbst Theater (San Francisco, CA) as well as major jazz festivals including the 53rd Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey, CA), 2009 and 2010 AT&T San Jose Jazz Festival (San Jose, CA), 2010 Redwood City “Jazz on Main” (Redwood City, CA), Okazaki Jazz Festival (Okazaki, Japan) and many more.