Friday, 17th November, 8 pm

The Serbian National Theatre


Felipe Salles, tenor & soprano sax

Mokhtar Samba, drums

Nenad Gajin, guitar

Vladimir Samardžić, bass guitar


FELIPE SALLES (Brazil/USA), tenor & sopranosax

A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Felipe Salles is an Associate Professor of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 2010. An active musician in the US since 1995, he has worked and recorded with prominent jazz artists, including Randy Brecker, David Liebman, Lionel Loueke, George Russell, Gunther Schuller, Sam Rivers, Herb Pomeroy, Jerry Bergonzi, Jovino Santos Neto, Oscar Stagnaro, Duduka Da Fonseca, Maucha Adnet, Tony Lujan, Luciana Souza, and Bob Moses. He has toured extensively in Europe, North and South Americas, India and Australia, both as a sideman and as a leader of his own group.

Salles is a 2015 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant winner, a 2009-2010 winner of the French American Jazz Exchange Grant, and a 2005-2006 winner of the Chamber Music America New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant Program, grants sponsored by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was awarded First Place in the 2001 Concurso SGAE de Jazz “TETE MONTOLIU”, 2001, with his composition The Return of The Chromo Sapiens.

Felipe Salles has had arrangements and compositions performed by The Metropole Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Violas, Meta4 String Quartet, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, and New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, among others.

Felipe Salles’ fifth release, Departure, on the Capri/Tapestry Label, has received raving reviews. In its four-star review, Downbeat Magazine calls Felipe’s music “crafting pieces that juggle intriguing complexity with buoyant rhythms and lush colors”. JazzTimes Magazine says “Felipe Salles blends the visceral and the cerebral on his fascinating fifth album, infusing classical modernist strains with the buoyant rhythms of his Brazilian homeland.”

His sixth album, Ugandan Suite (Tapestry), has been described by jazz guitarist extraordinaire Lionel Loueke as follows: “This is one of the best progressive works I have heard in a long time. What a great blend of classical, African and Jazz music.” Both CDs made to DownBeat’s best albums of the year list in 2013 and again in 2014.

Dr. Salles is a D’Addario Woodwinds Select Reeds Artist/Clinician and an Andreas Eastman Saxophones Artist/Clinician. He currently works as a member of the New World Jazz Composers Octet, Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra, Alex Alvear’s Mango Blue and Gonzalo Grau’s (Grammy Nominated) La Clave Secreta.



Drummer and percussionist of Moroccan and Senegalese origin, Mokhtar has played alongside the most prestigious of musicians, including Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Youssou N’Dour, Mariah Carey, Patti Smith, Carlos Santana, ONG National French Jazz Orchestra, Carlinhos Brown, Eddy Louis, Jean Luc Ponty, Manu Dibango, etc. to name but a few.

From his debut with Hamsa Music to the legendary Ultramarine (featuring Etienne M’Bappé, Mario Canonge and N’Guyen Lê, among others), Mokhtar has proven to be a diligent, vigorous yet inventive explorer. From innovative sonorities to imaginative mixing, Mokhtar has conveyed a multifaceted talent for western harmonies, as well as African rhythms and Bedouin tunes. His rigorous and consistent quest is a search for “Musical Graal“: music with no frontiers. Such is his capacity to revive cultural heritage to a universal dimension that speaks to all souls.

Distinct Mandinka inspiration is patent in Mokhtar’s work, stemming from musical experience with Salif Keita, Kante Manfila, Ousmane Kouyaté and Cheikh Tidiane Seck. Here, the enlightening arpeggios of the Kora, the enchanting melodies of the desert nomads unite with jazz improvisations, all contributing to the songbook of this outstanding drummer.

The sensational solo album, Dounia, which translates as World from Arabic, Mokhtar performs live with extraordinary singer Woz Kaly (Xalam, Touré Kunda), bassist N’Doumbé Djengué (Fémi Kuti) and the eternally inspired Jean-Philippe Rykiel (Youssou N’Dour) to name a small handful of the acclaimed collaborators. The result is a joyful, generous music, where sophisticated musical architecture leads to sheer emotion.


NENAD GAJIN (Serbia/France), guitar

Nenad Gajin started playing guitar at age 11, fascinated by music of Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. Older friends introduced him to works of Joe Pass, George Benson and Miles Davis who had a lasting influence on his love and spark for jazz. During his professional beginnings, growing up and developing as a musician in the Balkans, Nenad met and played with some of the most influential creators of Balkan ethno music, but also learned from passionate, unknown Music Tzigans. In his native town of Jagodina, he played with the bands Pure and Etiopia. Also, he gainedvaluable expeirence playing with the legendary drummer from the rock band SMAK, Slobodan Stojanović Kepa.

His professional carrier took off when he was, at the age of 20, invited to join one of the most recognised rock bands in Ex-Yugoslavia, “Zabranjeno pusenje” akka “No Smoking Orchestra“, led by famous film director Emir Kusturica. Four years of playing with the No Smoking Orchestra included recording of three original movie soundtracks and touring Europe, Canada, South America and Russia.

At the same time, he started regular collaborations with some of the most talented Serbian jazz musicians like Vasil Hadžimanov, Slobodan Trkulja, Dragan Ćalina… soon establishing himself as one of the most remarkable young jazz guitar players, a rare artist who is both wanted by other hardliners and maintains a clear solo path of his own.

With a scholarship from “Total Guitar Magazine”, Nenad spent two years (2002-2004) at the London Guitar Institute studying under guitarists lainScott and Shaun Baxter, and was awarded the ‟Outstanding Student of the Year” title. After London, Nenad spent some time in Los Angeles, playing and gaining valuable expeirence.

In 2007 he moved to Paris, and after just two years, became one of the most active and sought-after guitar players in France. Since then he has been colaborating with great international artists like: Sylvain Luc, Mokhtar Samba, Bojan Z, Dave Douglas, Dominic Miller, Karim Ziad, Ibrahim Maalouf, Mayra Andrade, Malika Zarra, Hadrien Feraud, Guillaume Perret, Woz Kaly, Giovanni Hidalgo, Meddy Gerville, Linley Marthe, Damien Schmitt, and many more…

In 2008 Nenad released his first album KEC as a leader, featuring Bojan Z, Hadrien Feraud, Mokhtar Samba, Omar El Barkaoui, Marko Djordjevic, Vasil Hadžimanov, Slobodan Trkulja, Vladimir Samardžić, Ištvan Mađarić, Aleksandar Banjac.

Currently, he’s working on 3 albums, 2 under his name, one as a duo guitar – wooden flute project, the other one in an acoustic trio, and one within the new Soularity project with Vladimir Samardžić and Dalibor Dado Marinković.


VLADIMIR SAMARDŽIĆ (Serbia), bass guitar

A bass guitarist, composer, music editor and educator, born in Novi Sad (Serbia), an alumni of theBerklee College of Music in Boston (Bass Guitar Department Achievement Award in 1997 and BMG Jazz Award in 1998), Vladimir Samardžić is one of the most prominent bass players in Serbia and in the territory of ex-Yugoslavia.

He started playing the bass as self-taught at the age of 19, and after only 4 years (1993) he was engaged by the Dance Orchestra of Radio Novi Sad. The same year, he met Vasil Hadžimanov, which marks the beginning of cooperation that lasted for several years (2010) which spawned 4 albums with the VHBend for PGP RTS. He was a member of the legendary rock group SMAK led by R.M.Točak in the period 1995-1997 (album “Bioskop Fox” 1995).

He has worked with the orchestras: The Mambo Stars, Balkanopolis and the Belgrade Philharmonics, and has been an associate of the Novi Sad Big Band for many years. He has been a leader of the authorial jazz quintet Pannonia Project (album „The Bridge” 2010) and a member of the world music trio Moraitika (2 albums).

He has performed/recorded with the artists: Radomir Mihajlović Točak, Kornelije Kovač, Slobodan Trkulja, Slobodan Stojanović Kepa, Dado Topić, Vlado Georgiev, Željko Samardžić, as well as vocal soloists Bisera Veletanlić, Teresa Kesovija, Brankica Vasić-Vasilisa, Aleksandra Radović, Frajle, Tijana Bogićević, Tanja Banjanin, Daria Hodnik, and Jelena Tomašević, who he still actively performs with.

Vladimir has collaborated with a number of first-class musicians from the region and wider, among whom are: Elvis Stanić, Ante Gelo, Dušan Jevtović, Nenad Gajin Coca, Dalibor Dado Marinković, Amar Češljar, Marko Đorđević, Bodan Arsovski, Tony Kitanovski, Laki Akoš, Teodosi Spasov, David Rhodes, Luis Bonilla, Sami Amiris, Sean McGowan, Felipe Salles, Mark Milan, Maxim Zetel, to name just a few.

He has appeared at all major jazz festivals in Serbia and the region, a number of jazz and world music festivals in Europe as well as the World Expo in Nagoya (Japan) in 2005 with the Vasil Hadžimanov Band.

He has been active as a bass guitar instructor, and the teacher at the Bass Workshops and the major music Jazz Master Class events (Pannonian Bridge, Novi Sad 2007-2008 i Jazz Ex-Tempore, Opatija 2006, 2012).

Since 2013, he has been the Jazz Programme Music Editor of Radio Novi Sad, RTV Vojvodina, as well as a member of the jazz fusion quartet Chewbakka 4, featuring the Croatian musicians: guitarist Ante Gelo, keyboardist Maasej Kovačević and drummer Dado Marinković.

In 2017 he initiated his new authorial project Soularity, gathering old friends – guitarist Nenad Gajin (Paris) and drummer Dalibor Marinković (Zagreb).