Composer and flutist Damjan Krajacic is an artist characterized by “his own style defined by the immediacy, intensity, quality and sophistication of sound” [Cantus Magazine].
A musician of eclectic styles, Damjan’s background spans jazz, latin jazz, and classical training flavored by his own Eastern European heritage. From an early age on, he was drawn to Latin music, partially due to his father — a classical guitarist with a love for Spanish guitar music — but he never lost touch with the great classical tradition of flute playing, either. A native of Zagreb, Croatia, Damjan holds a Master of Music degree in Afro-Latin Music from California State University Los Angeles. His teachers and mentors were the world-renowned flutist Danilo Lozano, with whom he studied charanga, jazz, latin-jazz and classical flute, as well as the award-winning flutist and composer James Newton, with whom he studied jazz. Damjan has performed in jazz concerts and festivals in both the United States and Europe, both as a leader and collaborator, and continues to be active on both continents.
In 2014, Damjan was instrumental in starting the Croatia Flute Academy, a week-long summer flute festival in Karlovac, Croatia. There he served as Artistic Director and Professor of Jazz and Latin-Jazz Flute from 2014-2016, teaching alongside some of the biggest names in the classical and jazz flute community, such as Pierre-Yves Artaud, Trevor Wye, Orlando “Maraca” Valle, and James Newton.
With 7 critically-acclaimed albums under his name, Damjan is a seasoned artist with a mature compositional and stylistic approach that seamlessly combines various musical styles and influences. Damjan’s music ranges from groove-packed latin-jazz to meditative ambient music. His compositions are infused with jazz and classical sensibilities as well as Eastern European rhythms and melodies. They continuously challenge the boundaries and role of the flute in small, improvisatory groups. His jazz quartet album “Visions”, with pianist Matija Dedic, bassist Martin Gjakonovski and drummer John Hollenbeck, was nominated in Croatia in 2015 for the prestigious Porin Award “Best Jazz Music Album”. Damjan currently leads his own latin-jazz quintet “baCLAVE”, with the band debut album released on Nota Bene Records in September of 2020.
In 2006, Damjan started a collaboration with pianist Robert Thies with a release of a crossover improvisatory album “Difference”. This led to two more critically-acclaimed albums for Gentle Rain Records in the Fall of 2012 and 2016: Blue Landscapes and Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries, two collections of original compositions and improvisations. The latter CD won a Global Music Award while the third album of the Blue Landscapes series was released to critical acclaim by Real Music in January of 2020.
Robert Thies / Piano
Damjan Krajacic / Flutes
A musician of eclectic styles, Damjan’s background spans Jazz and Latin Jazz with a touch of his own central European heritage and Classical training. From an early age on, he was drawn to Latin music, partially due to his father—a classical guitarist with a love for Spanish guitar music—but he never lost touch with the great Classical tradition of flute playing, either. Damjan’s flexibility and ease with many styles is demonstrated on his debut album “In Retrospect”, where he displays masterful Latin Jazz improvisations and exciting grooves. On “Difference”, his playing is more personal, and dynamic, reflecting a more intimate aspect of the flute and its nuances.
Although internationally renowned as a classical pianist, Robert began improvising and composing at an early age. Raised in a musical family, he learned the rudiments of jazz from his father. Influenced by ECM label's "European jazz" artists as well as the pioneering sound of the Windham Hill label, Robert has been eager to continue exploring spontaneous and creative music-making. This album proved to be the perfect vehicle to revisit his love and passion for musical conversation that is both heartfelt and honest.
Part afro-cuban, part modern, part world jazz – baCLAVE grooves deeply and speaks authentically with immense energy and profundity. Its focus is the Cuban clave as much as the infectious Balkan rhythms and melodies – a musical experience that crosses stylistic and ethnic boundaries. Led by Croatian-born flutist Damjan Krajacic, the music features some of the more prolific jazz and latin-jazz musicians from both the US and Europe.
Damjan's music frequently deals with peace and war. He grew up during the Croatian war during the period of 1991-1995 and that has clearly shaped a lot of his music. Compositions like “Peacefully” (his experience stems from a war that was started in 2000’s) and “War” deals with this directly, whereas compositions like “Bells at Midnight”, “Speak” and “Reach You” deal with the topic in a more subtle way. He previously released a record called “Visions” (short for “Visions of Peace”, which is one of the tracks on the album), which circles around this very topic. baCLAVE is more about the blending of cultures and styles, with an underlying desire to bring us all together, to transcend aggression and violence; in the end his music is an expression a longing for peace.