CULTURE

Gearing up for upcoming jazz festival

Following a first successful run last year, the global jazz music Muse Festival is back and will be taking place at the Arts Center of Halandri at the beginning of December. Local jazz experts as well as well-known international acts, such as Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani and, last but not least, the Dave Holland Quintet, will participate in the event. All concerts will be recorded and transmitted via satellite around the world through the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) network, which counts 118 members in 79 countries. The Muse Festival, which embraces all forms of jazz, aims at supporting and promoting independent music production and offers local jazz musicians and composers the opportunity to broaden their horizons by mingling with elite international artists. It is organized by the Muse Institute, which, according to one of its founders, composer Vassilis Rakopoulos (the other is Antonis Ladopoulos), is an organization that houses all sorts of professional music activities, promotes music education and serves as a meeting point for the local music community. «The Muse Festival is a non-profit initiative,» Rakopoulos pointed out at a recent press conference. «What makes it stand out from other festivals is that it has its roots in the music community, without this meaning that it is a festival created by musicians and for musicians only, because the audience, especially young people, is always top priority. What is special about the EBU recordings is that not only will the concerts be transmitted around the world, but the originals will be given to the artists, to use at their own disposal.» «We encourage young musicians,» he added. «The fact that people like Dave Holland, Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani are participating strengthens the incentive for local artists to take part, organize their material and present it in the best way possible. We don’t believe we are organizing a huge event, but we are establishing a presence here. We hope we can include more kinds of music in the future, which was not possible to do this year. Many were left out as it is all still rather spontaneous and everything happened on a first-come, first-served basis.» The three-day festival will kick off on December 1 with a tribute to the local scene and concerts by Sami Amiris, Antonis Andreou and Grigoris Danis. Award-winning duet Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani (leading Italian trumpet player and composer Rava and pianist Bollani) will play on the second day, after the Giorgos Maglaras group, while a performance by the internationally renowned Dave Holland Quintet, an ensemble that has received numerous Grammy nominations and has won a significant number of awards, will signal the end of the event on Sunday, December 3. «We are very proud we could bring the Dave Holland Quintet to Greece,» said Thomas Countryman from the American Embassy, which is one of the festival’s sponsors. «Jazz may be the ultimate world music. People who appreciate jazz are among the most open-minded, because they can understand and appreciate so many different influences.» The festival will also feature a variety of parallel events: a tribute to the historic ECM record label will see an exhibition of ECM album covers as well as a speech by one of the company’s representatives. Danae Stefanou will lead an improvisation workshop, open to all musicians and audience members, for a live performance of a series of action scores on the last day. The Ionian Jazz II ensemble of the Ionian University’s Jazz and Improvisation program (the only university jazz program in Greece) will also give a show on the same day. A forum on the burning issue of music piracy, organized by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI) and the Intellectual Property Organization (OPI) will take place with the participation of various labels and independent producers. Both AEPI and OPI, along with the American Embassy, EBU, the Omiros Schools, Sony and others, are among the Muse Festival sponsors. «Only by expressing the needs of the music community can this festival go further,» said Rakopoulos. So far signs are very good considering last year’s promising start: Concerts were transmitted to nine countries through EBU, an organization which promotes the exchange of culture through the exchange of music. It mostly collaborates with festivals, counting 13 in Greece, as Constantinos Sergis from EBU explained. «It was very important for a start. We hope to extend to more than 15 countries with the Dave Holland Quintet this year,» said Sergis. «Two albums have already been released after last year’s concerts, by Vassilis Rakopoulos and the Apodrassi group, and another three are on the way.» «Given the hostile environment of populism and bad taste prevailing in the media but also audiences today, we are very happy with every opportunity we get to communicate,» jazz musician Dimitris Economakis, one of last year’s participants, said jokingly. Muse Festival, December 1-3, at the Arts Center of Halandri, 53 Garitou, tel 210.639.3341. For tickets: tel 210.723.4567 or log on to www.ticketservices.gr.