The Berlin Jazz Festival featured the guitarist and composer Roman Bunka as one of Germany´s most accomplished oud-players. According to music-magazine „Stereo“:
"With his enchanting solo on the Arabic lute, Roman Bunka unites all peoples and cultures!"
In fact, born in 1951, Bunka´s biography may be considered a chapter in contemporary German music history. Working with the pioneering German avant-garde/rock/jazz and world-music group Embryo (portrayed in "Vagabundenkarawane", a documentary by Werner Penzel ) Roman Bunka broke new ground with his Eastern-influenced guitar playing and composing. („Embryo´s Reise", Schneeball Rec.).
1976 he performed in concert for the first time with world-renowned percussionist and composer Trilok Gurtu in India. To pursue his musical development in a microtonal and modal direction, Bunka searched for a second, more suitable stringed instrument. He discovered the Arabic lute or „oud“, the fretless mother of the guitar.
His first solo album ("Dein Kopf ist ein schlafendes Auto” 1980-ATM-records) presented a blend of avant-garde rock with Oriental melodies. Released in the same period was the jazz/rock fusion oriented album "Live!” with the group Aera. After concerts with Okay Temiz in Turkey, Bunka chose Cairo as his musical refuge in the Arab world during the 1980´s.
There he met the immensely popular Nubian singer Mohammed Mounir. They began a collaboration that was to influence the course of Egyptian pop music, lending a note of sophistication and international influence to the genre. One of the many highlights of Bunka´s work with Mounir as arranger and musician, was their appearance in the Mediterranean Culture Festival in France, as Egypt´s representatives. (Wast el daira-Mohamed Mounir, Line Rec.)
With solo-concerts in Tunis (Festival de la Medina), Cairo, Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut (Goethe-Institut) and Sanaa as well as in Lanzarote with the group Vox (CD: Spain to Spain, Erdenklang Rec.); and his performance at the Jazz Festival in Granada, Bunka, according to Peter Pannke, brought his "very personal journey to explore the world of Arabic music" closer to a growing world-music audience.
Roman Bunka composed the score and provided musical direction for the feature film "Al Oud" (Director: Fritz Baumann ) that won the Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival. While shooting, he became involved with the violin virtuoso Abdo Dagir from Cairo, and was largely responsible for introducing the works of this master composer and musician to the Western world. (CD "Malik-a-Taksim" ENJA Rec.) He studied under Abdo Dagir and toured with his ensemble throughout Europe and Egypt.
His award-winning work also includes the live recording of his project "Color Me Cairo" featuring the Fathy Salama Ensemble from Egypt and Malachi Favors from the legendary "Art Ensemble of Chicago". It appeared on the ENJA label and received the German Record Critics Prize. („Color me Cairo“, ENJA rec.)
Bunka composed and produced film-music for the film-directors Heiner Stadler, Frieder Schlaich, Fritz Baumann, Maria Knilli, Josef Rödl, Herbert Brödl and Doris Dörrie ( “Bin ich schön?”-Virgin Rec.).
Crossing over to yet another media, Bunka, in collaboration with Grace Yoon, produced several radio-plays for German Radio. The BBC awarded the „Prix Futura“ to the one entitled „Tunguska-Guska“ (BR). This and Bunka and Yoon´s radio-play "Earborn” (BR) are available on CD (Schneeball and Jaro Rec.). To celebrate the new millennium, he participated (with Mal Waldron, Jeanne Lee, Tri-O and Blixa Bargeld ) in Grace Yoon´s multimedia-event and Live Radio-play "Illusion des Endes" (WDR) and in Yoon’s Radio-play “Family Affair” (SWR), along with Ernst Reijseger, Xizhi Nie and Lauren Newton.
His credits as studio musician include work with the German Ethno-pop group Dissidenten, the sudanese singer Mohamed Badawi, algerian singer Hamid Baroudi, spanish flamenco star Tomatito and the marrocan musician El Houssaine Kili.
He performed and recorded with Paramashivam Pilai, The Karnataka College of Percussion, Hartmut Geerken, saxophonists Charlie Mariano, Edgar Hofmann, John Tchicai, Monty Waters and Roland Schaeffer, clarinet virtuoso Gabrielle Mirabassi, nay-player Claudia Ott, the singers Stepanida Borisova, Sainkho Namchilak, Fadia El-Hage and Lidia Borda, drummer and producer Hubl Greiner, keyboarder and producer Hammondo, percussionists Limpe Fuchs, Rhani Krija, Ramesh Shotam, Salah Ragab, Pierre Favre and Bijan Chemirani, bassists Ronan Guilfoyle and Norbert Dömling, pianist Francesco Turrisi and the Djose-player Bassem Hawar.
With the Argentinean guitarist and composer Luis Borda, Bunka creates a mix of tango and arabic music, their trio project „Orientacion“ with Jost Hecker on Cello was released on ENJA-records.
Together with Egyptian musician and musicologist Issam El-Mallah, singer Sheikh Arabi Farag and the kawala virtuoso Ahmed Arnab he also formed the “Madih-ensemble”. This Ensemble performs traditional egyptian Sufi-music, but participates also in the projects of modern european composers like Rupert Huber (“Sufi-Modem” NDR, “Ruh-I Gulab” WDR, BR), Jürgen Grözinger („Orient-Okzident“) and Klaus Huber („Die Erde bewegt sich auf den Hörnern eines Stiers“).
In 2013, he cooperated with the film-director Janek Romero for the Feature Documentary "City of Sounds", a musical journey through Cairo. He was honoured in 2014, by his hometown Munich with the "Schwabing Art Award" and in 2015, he was chosen by Europe's biggest African Music Festival in Würzburg for their "Africa Festival Award". He was the first European oud-player to be invited to perform at the famous „International Oud Festival“ 2015 in Muscat, Oman. At the „Bayrische Akademie der schönen Künste“, together with the composer Peter Michael Hamel, he presented his Project with the Syrian refugee group „Jisr“ and in November 2016 he was invited to give a workshop and a concert at the „Goethe-Institut“ in Sofia, Bulgaria.
"... there, between his fingers, the modi and scales of the arabic mystic meet with the electrifying ease of the urban Bluesmen. Roman Bunka is the mediator and the center of a world-music fusion, call it success, joy or utopia if you want to describe it!"
with Embryo and Trilok Gurtu 1976
with Luis Borda and Jost Hecker
with Mohamed Mounir
with Bassem Hawar
with Abdo Dagir
with Xizhie Nie
with Stepanida Borisova, Mohamed Badawi und Hubl Greiner
with Mohamed Mounir, Grace Yoon and Dietmar Schönherr
with the Madih-Ensemble
Color me Cairo, with Malachi Favors and Fathy Salama