Zoran Madzirov – The Bottleman
As those of you who read my columns know, I am always looking to discover amazing music and performers. I have found such in a Macedonian percussionist, composer, and inventor, Zoran Madzirov. Affectionately known to his fans as “Zoran the Bottleman”, Zoran unfortunately recently passed away in 2017. But with the help of his loving family, his music and his inventions will not only live on, his legacy will only grow.
Zoran grew up in a musical family, first learning to play ‘jazz’ drum techniques through lessons with his father, then taking up the piano, the trumpet and finally other forms of percussion. His music studies continued both in Munich (where he first designed his own invention, the “Bottlephone”) and at the University of Cologne, Germany. Known in his home country as “The Maverick of Macedonian Music”, he developed a revolutionary concept of a solo percussion act during which he played unique versions of great classical excerpts, by composers such as Stravinsky, Mozart, and Vivaldi on graduated tuned bottles. I have had the pleasure of getting a preview of his music soon to be released in the US, but you can experience Zoran’s music and performances by simply typing in his name “Zoran Madzirov” on YouTube. There you will find a 100+ videos of his performances.
His performances weren’t just regular performances, they were each and every one “an experience”. Zoran had that state of mind that he wanted to entertain people, and that’s what he did. What he did was pure magic. A fan who had the pleasure of listening to him performing “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky, described the experience to me as “It felt like magic. You could feel the beauty of the sound just flying around the whole concert hall. The combined sound of the wood knocking on glass was something so unique, yet inspiring and simple. He would always have that special kind of extraordinary energy, to lift people up.”
During his career, he also performed with stars such as Sting, Tito Puente, Tina Turner, Harry Belafonte, Scorpions and Tommy Emmanuel, plus many others. He also founded and played percussion for the group “Les Barons Karamazoff” in 1987, with Edin Karamazov (guitar, lute) and Sasa Dejanovic (guitar). They toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States for the next few years, culminating in a long-standing off-Broadway engagement from 1995 to 1996, plus an appearance at the Atlanta Olympic Games in the latter year.
His daughter, Nina, described one of her favorite songs as “Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part”. He performed that song with Edin Karamazov. “While hearing him perform that song, I felt so much emotion, only in one sound of that bottle. Whenever I would hear that song I felt both heartbreak and love at the same time. The audience just gazed at that man, playing The Bottlephone, and suddenly everyone was clapping along. No matter how many times he performed the same song, each time it was unique, with a different sound flavor.”
One of many Zoran’s passions was jazz. He lived for jamming and just playing jazz. His family says he was the happiest then, and that he would sit on the piano and play throughout the whole day. His latest work included jazz and traditional Macedonian music. He composed old Macedonian theme songs that are very popular, in a very jazzy style. He released an album in Macedonia in 2010 called “Balkano Nuevo”. One of the most popular compositions is called “Balkan Vulkan”, actually dedicated to Chick Corea, who he adored. You can listen to another of his Jazz Albums “Bottling Jazzy” on Spotify.
Creating such a big effect, and making other people’s lives better with his art, Madzirov left his treasure to his children Nina and LJ. Now with his legacy, Nina and LJ are continuing his art. Zoran was mid composing vol. 2 of “Balkano Nuevo”, and now his children are finishing what he started. They are finishing his last album just like Mozart’s students finished his requiem. Within his art, and the music he created, Zoran will be forever alive through his children.
Stay tuned for this future release. In the meantime, you can see him perform on Youtube and listen to some of his original Jazz on Spotify.