Trumpet player and ethnomusicologist Will Magid is the creative force behind the musical project Balkan Bump. He has a new album out Oct. 23 called “Osmanity.”
The name comes from two sources: Osman I, the first sultan and founder of the Ottoman Empire; and the word insanity.
“I'm not suggesting that Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, was particularly insane — although, much like most leaders, you have to be a little crazy to start that,” Magid said. “The insanity part is more just the concept that one person in time, even with the best intentions, you know, can change the course of history.”
And given the former empire's location at the intersection of so many trade routes — it linked Asia and the Middle East, Europe and North Africa — the region also covered a variety of music traditions that borrowed from each other throughout the years. That was a “big influence" of the record, Magid said, and he tried to combine those sounds with the funk, hip-hop and jazz he grew up hearing.
“I started hearing these similarities between these klezmer scales and klezmer rhythms and these sounds from the Balkans. And I heard that I was like, wow, that feels somehow close to home and very ancient at the same time.”
“When I first started hearing this music, there was something that really resonated with me personally,” Magid said. “My family on my dad's side is Eastern European Jews. And like there's this great klezmer tradition that also runs through that current. And I started hearing these similarities between these klezmer scales and klezmer rhythms and these sounds from the Balkans. And I heard that I was like, wow, that feels somehow close to home and very ancient at the same time.”
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Magid performed some of the songs from his new album last month in a virtual concert for Burning Man.
He opened the concert by playing "Over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz on trumpet.
“It's a melody that every time I play it, no matter how many times I play, it evokes an emotion and evokes an arc of emotion, of sorrow and of hope,” he said. “And if you can just go out there outside social distance and play a melody that makes people forget about the news cycle for a second, you're doing something powerful. So, that's why I played that song.”