Serbian nu-jazz band in Norfolk

VINCE YALLOP Serbian band New Walking Trio are playing three dates in Norfolk – their first appearance in the UK. Vince Yallop found out more from guitarist Leche.


New Walking Trio is a result of a collaboration between Modern Quartet, who have a reputation as one of the best bands in Serbia and some of the country's best studio musicians. The band grew from sample-based nu-jazz to a live mix of jazz, broken beat and other styles. They're inspired by the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Kraftwek, Bill Laswell, Jazznova, St German and 4Hero.

There are also four in the trio, but maybe that's just an unusual translation. They are playing dates at the Worstead (village) Festival (Friday July 28 at the New Inn, Saturday July 29 in the village square) and at Norwich Arts Centre (Monday July 31).

Supporting the dates are Worstead Events and the recently formed Norfolk and Norwich Novi Sad Music Group, which has the support of the Norfolk and Norwich Novi Sad Association.

Earlier this month, Lowestoft rock-rap band CThru27 and Norwich singer Rory McVicar played at Exit festival in Novi Sad, as part of the musical twinning project. The festival has become a focal point in the town, whose economy is still recovering from NATO bombings during the Kosovo war of 1999.

Leche, 35, guitarist and programmer with New Walking Trio and Modern Quartet said the war had a devastating effect on the way of life they had.

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“The second half of the Eighties were golden years for people in ex Yugoslavia - good life, good money, not problem with visas and travelling during that time,” he said.

“Novi Sad was together with Ljubljana (Slovenia) the centre of underground thinking, music and art of ex Yugoslavia. We have had gigs in high schools back yard every weekend. Music was important for all of us.”

“War started on 1991. It never happened here in Novi Sad, but a lot of people I know were mobilised for the army in those days. The only war that Novi Sad was involved in was 1999 with NATO bombarding Serbia.

“Propaganda on national TV opened new space for all kinds of stupid national music, packed and repacked in various styles and versions. The war was going on, so anything open-minded or revolutionary were out of the media.

"At that time I formed a band called 3ofus (seven musicians) playing everything from The Police. Eurythimcs. David Bowie, Queen, to some of our own songs and some domestic underground hits. In the next five years we have played more then 700 times. It was cheap fun for poor people, but that's how I survived. All domestic popular guitar bands and pop singers who performed their own music were extra boring and bad. At that time creative local bands were down to nothing.

"Few good bands survived, but they played in their living rooms.

"At the time slowly started Novi Sad electronic music scene, with Suba, Noise Destruction, Modern Quartet, which is still, with a couple of new names, the strongest Serbian electronic scene, I think."

Leche says times are now better for bands - but still not great

"[There are] lots of new bands getting out on any kind of stage. Kids raised with a war, rebels of all kinds - from trash punk to Morrissey kind of stuff, but the market is small and closed. It's very hard for new bands to find a record label, or to get on TV. But it grows.

"Some of my friends live like professional musicians - studio work and gigs with a big stars, but thye are seriously good players. Selling your own music is almost imposible, [the] black market is still very strong".

He is a big fan of the musical twinning project which aims to send bands in both directions and give young people an experience of each others' culture.

“It's a great idea, but I think that we should make it as a project and try to cities' government support, or some sponsors, then we can do a gig each month. “One month band from Norwich in Novi Sad, next month the other way... then an art exhibition from here in some Norwich art gallery, next month the other way.”





t Friday July 28: New Inn, Worstead, with Norfolk band Buswood. Doors 7.30pm.

t Saturday July 29: Worstead Village Square, 4pm, as part of the festival. Also Saturday (from noon) the Water Rats jazz band, Acaysha, Norwich Barbershop Harmony Quartet, Spider Murphy.

t Monday July 31: Norwich Arts Centre, doors. 8pm, tickets £5, 01603 660352. Main support comes from Norwich band The Neutrinos, who had hoped to play at Exit festival this year. Time Out New York described them as "throbbing art-punk noise and sexy urgent energy". Alos playing on Monday - city ska youngsters Smaller Than You, singer-songwriter Rory McVicar, plus DJs Taxi Paul and One Eclectic DJ in the bar.

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