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Featured artist: Michael Cretu
10th December 2015

An interview with bass player and composer Michael Cretu.

What led you to become a musician?

I come from a 300 year-old musicians family from Transylvania. My great great grandfather was the violinist of the city of Braila, my grandfather a double bassist, my uncle a double bassist and composer (considered the father of Romanian jazz) and my father a well known pianist. My dad together with my grandfather and uncle showed my the beauty of music-making, composing and playing the double bass, I studied at the Bucharest music school and Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

How would you describe your music?

The love for the beauty of folk music was transmitted to me by my family, generation by generation. The great Roma musicians families(including mine) played a vital part in preserving and passing down to generations, Eastern European folk music. The influence of Balkan and Eastern European folk melodies and timings are very important in my world,jazz and contemporary compositions.

How significant is your Roma heritage to your music?

I would say that the Roma heritage in my music is essential! The very original and powerful string playing style of the romanian Roma musicians is very much present in my mind and all ways try to bring into my solo playing. The special “language”of the Roma musicians is present in my compositions.

Tell us about the bands and groups you work with.

I have worked in gipsy bands, jazz groups, pop groups, the Radio Symphonic Orchestra Bucharest, London Schubert players, chamber music ensembles, Michael Cretu Jazz trio and Stringboxes. I think I tried to follow a wonderful Roma musicians tradition- the willingness to embrace professionally all musical styles.

Which other musicians do you enjoy and admire?

I admire a lot my father, the pianist Dumitru Cretu; my uncle – composer, double bassist and pianist Johnny Raducanu; and my grandfather – double bassist Costica Cretu. Also G. Dinicu, G. Enescu, Bela Bartok, György Ligeti,Charles Mingus, Bill Evens, Queen, Amy Winehouse, the amazing folk players of Turkey, Greece and Africa.