CULTURE

Greek acts double bill in London

British audiences at this year’s Rhythm Sticks Festival will get to enjoy a taste of Greek folk sounds with jazz inflections when two Greek acts, Mode Plagal and Krotala, join forces on Saturday. The annual event, held at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in the city’s South Bank Center, brings together jazz acts from all over the world whose work lays heavy emphasis on rhythm and percussion. The upcoming Greek double bill, organized by the London-based Hellenic Cultural Foundation, is also part of «Greece in Britain 2003,» a series of events presented by the foundation in the UK. The two acts will perform separate one-hour sets and a briefer joint set, about 20 minutes long, for their first ever collaboration. «We tend to feel a little bemused when we’re asked what kind of music we play, particularly abroad. We usually try to explain what we do descriptively,» Mode Plagal’s saxophonist, Thodoris Rellos, told Kathimerini ahead of the sextet’s trip to London. «The truth is, however, that we’re not only unafraid of clueless audiences, but we consider them to be the most interesting and fertile of audiences – ones that haven’t heard our music before and discover our rhythms and melodies with pure ears,» he added. Formed 10 years ago, initially as a trio comprising Rellos, guitarist Cleon Antoniou, and drummer Takis Kanellos, Mode Plagal were quickly joined by bassist Antonis Maratos. Two more musicians, keyboardist Florian Micuta and percussionist Angelos Polychronou, were later added to the band’s ranks. Mode Plagal has released three albums to date, and, most recently, also put out a collaborative effort with Bosphorus, an Istanbul-based collective led by Nikiforos Metaxas. European critics, responding to previous performances by Mode Plagal on the Continent, Rellos said, have tended to categorize the Athens-based group’s sound as a form of fusion. «The reviews we’ve read for previous European shows refer to our sound as full-blooded fusion, meaning a mix of elements from the past and present,» Rellos remarked. The band’s upcoming London performance is not its first in the city. The act has also played at the Barbican Center. Past shows abroad have garnered favorable reviews in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Turkey and Syria, as well as various Balkan regions, where audiences tend to be more accustomed to the Greek band’s style. In more recent times, the fusion of jazz with traditional regional elements has been common in countries neighboring Greece. «It seems that what we’ve done in Greece is happening in many other parts of the world, where both audiences and artists are discovering the wealth of the past and want to deliver it in a more modern form,» Rellos said. «We like to use tradition as a raw material. I consider that the material we’re going to play on Saturday will fit in nicely at Rhythm Sticks, as percussion and winds are the backbone of our compositions. Our onstage collaboration with Krotala will be interesting. We’re on friendly terms with the band’s members but have never worked together in the past.»