Al Di Meola, Gilberto Gil and other jazz greats to perform in Athens

Jazz leads the musical way in Athens this week with a plethora of events covering a broad spectrum of styles and tastes, ranging from hip-hop and jazz to rock and heavy metal. Jazz Festival Only a few days after the European Jazz Festival, the First Athens Jazz Festival comes to the Lycabettus Theater on Wednesday and Thursday this week, aiming to establish itself in the long run – the aim of the organizers is not just to capitalize on this particular summer but to develop a quality annual event presenting foreign and local artists and bands. The festival will be opened by guitar virtuoso Al Di Meola, already a familiar face to local audiences. He will be followed by other leading music personalities, such as veteran Charles Lloyd, a forerunner of the so-called ethnic music, whose compositions mix various rhythms from different parts of the world, and Richard Galliano, the man who introduced accordion improvisation into the world of jazz. The local scene will be represented by popular Mode Plagal and The String Project. Attention: the latter is not a band, but a group of musicians joining forces on the occasion of the festival. These are Vassilis Rakopoulos (guitar), Haig Yazdjian (oud), Takis Farazis (piano), Giorgos Kaloudis (cello), Themis Nikoloudis (violin), Petros Varthakouris (base) and Alexandros Ktistakis (percussion). Gilberto Gil One of the week’s highlights is an appearance by Brazil’s legendary Gilberto Gil. An active performer who also happens to be his country’s minister of culture, Gil is scheduled to perform at the Herod Atticus Theater as part of this year’s Athens Festival. The renowned artist was one of the leaders of «Tropicalismo,» a musical movement which emerged in the 1960s and combined psychedelic rock, reggae and afro-jazz with Brazilian rhythms. Besides jazz and Latin, hip-hop friends will hardly be able to resist the Cypress Hill temptation, who go on stage tonight at the Petra Theater. The popular band will present its very own Latin take on hip-hop. At the same venue tomorrow, it’s time for genuine rock with the likes of Iggy Pop and the Stogges, New York’s Stellastarr and Madrugada from Norway. Meanwhile at Nikaia’s Katrakeio Theater, heavy-metal fans are expected to turn out en masse for the Athens Open Air Fest, which takes place tonight and tomorrow. Performers here include Motorhead and Anthrax.