Wednesday April 1, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
In a city silenced by the crisis, jazz continues to find its voice

By Elias Maglinis

A couple of years ago, as the financial crisis was starting to really show its teeth, Greek saxophone player Dimitris Vassilakis took part in an unexpected jam session in Athens alongside renowned trumpet master Jack Waller. The impromptu performance took place in the then-tiny Aperitif bar off Syntagma Square, following a joint appearance by the artists at nearby Bacaro.

Music producer Ilan Solomon was one of the lucky few to witness the event.

“While the bar was normally considered full with just 15 to 20 people, about 50 of us, all die-hard fans, managed to squeeze in that evening, including Greek trumpet players who hid their instruments in their jackets and ended up joining their fellow musicians on stage,” said Solomon. “It was an amazing night.”

Watching top jazz names perform is no longer a frequent phenomenon in the crisis-hit Greek capital. The Half Note Jazz Club, for instance, has scaled down its roster, while venues such as Parafono, Guru Upstairs and Bacaro have closed. Jazz, however, is not on its way out here, as plenty of bars and cafes are hosting young local acts, in some cases without charging admission.

According to journalist and jazz lover Nikos Fotakis, manager of the Petite Fleur bar in the northern suburb of Halandri (which hosts live sessions on Wednesdays), there are two ways to set up a live jazz show. “The first way is the traditional music stage way, where people listen to live music while enjoying a drink. The focal point in that case is music. The second way is to go to a bar where musicians happen to play music. In the latter case, the focus is on drinking and the going-out factor, and it seems to be the prevailing trend these days, because setting up a stage for gigs is a difficult and costly endeavor. At Petite Fleur, we usually host small ensembles, given that I’m never short of offers from musicians who want to perform.”

Last month, flutist Leonidas Sarantopoulos appeared at the newly established Jazz Point on Academias Street in central Athens, performing tracks from his “Black Mamba” album along with his quartet.

Located at 94 Solonos Street in Exarchia, Verve recently hosted a Greek electric jazz trio, while on nights with no scheduled live performances, guest DJs play jazz and soul.

“When you visit these smaller venues you realize that the Ionian University, state conservatories and private music schools such as the Athenaeum and Philippos Nakas have turned into a great source for young, dynamic musicians who are now appearing on various music stages around the city. This is very important because jazz is born the moment it is performed, not in a studio,” said Yiannis Stefanakos, known as “Professor” in local jazz circles.

On a recent Monday night, the Synergy Quartet played bossa nova-meets-jazz at a venue not usually associated with the genre, the Baba Au Rum club on Kleitiou Street.

Among a large number of venues hosting jazz ensembles are the Blue Bossa Bar and La Ronda in Vyronas, Santa Botella on Panormou Street, the Melanythros art space near Kallimarmaro, as well as bars located in central Exarchia, such as the Faeinon, on the corner of Kallidromiou and Mavromichali streets. The Numismatic Museum’s jazz evenings have also proved a success, while over at Faust on Kalamiotou Street, “Jazz Opera Shows” take place on Wednesdays.

At the same time, Vassilakis recently inaugurated a jazz stage in Thiseio. Miles View (on Apostolou Pavlou Street) aims to fill the gap left by other venues that have closed their doors. Festivals also play an instrumental role and include events such as the second edition of Greek Jazz Panorama, which recently took place at the Onassis Cultural Center.

According to director-producer Kyriakos Angelakos, the most important aspect of this jazz revival is that it showcases a new generation of musicians.

“You should listen to the fabulous Eva Kesselring and her ‘BLUEzUKI’ evenings at the Klimataria taverna in Psyrri on Friday nights,” said Angelakos. “It’s all about fabulous jazz through reorchestrations of old Greek songs or classic jazz performed on the bouzouki.”

Another act to look out for is the WonderFall Quartet, co-founded by Irini Konstantinidi and Thanos Hatzianagnostou.

Meanwhile, Solomon says that young Greek musicians boast top-level training, including degrees from excellent music schools, primarily in the Netherlands.

“Both their techniques and their aesthetics go beyond the mainstream. They are more liberated compared to the older jazz generation, whose members were taught music through listening to albums,” he said.

While the days of Athens being known as a jazz capital are over, the current revival is nothing short of a small miracle.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday December 23, 2012 (19:39)  
For its reopening exhibit, Municipal Gallery focuses on history of the capital
Communist structures risk fate of Ozymandias
Nude sculptures of ancient Greeks dazzle in British Museum exhibition
Mary Katrantzou wins 2015 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund
Narrow escape from Norman Atlantic fails to dampen one Austrian´s support for Greece
Erwin Schrumpf, from Austria, was one of the last passengers to be rescued from the Norman Atlantic, the Greek ferry that went up in flames on December 28 while traveling from Greece to Ital...
For African migrants, trek to Europe brings risk, heartbreak
VELES, FYROM – This is the moment when Sandrine Koffi's dream of a new life in Europe ended — and her nightmare of an infant lost in the night began. As club-wielding police closed in, the 3...
Inside Community
Inside Gastronomy
Inside Travel
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. AEK could get a wild card to the Euroleague
2. Business sentiment in decline
3. Ministry headache over T-bills
4. Lafazanis reaches preliminary energy package deal in Russia
5. Bank recap cash can’t be used for other purposes
6. EIB said to have frozen funding
more news
Today
This Week
1. Amateur antics or overstepping the mark?
2. Parliamentary speaker prompts ND walkout, anger from PASOK, Potami
3. Investment guru Mark Mobius rules out Grexit, advises sell-offs
4. Greece, EU/IMF lenders end round of technical talks without deal
5. A pointless debate
6. Greek government proposes measures worth 3.7 bln
Today
This Week
1. Next Monday is D-Day for state funds
2. Eurogroup unlikely to be held soon to discuss Greek reforms
3. Moscow expects progress from Tsipras visit
4. Some more equal than others
5. Greece to present reforms by Monday, says gov't spokesman [Update]
6. Greece optimistic on deal with euro area next week
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.