Jazz festival turns nine to the power of 14 at Technopolis

The organizers of the 9th European Jazz Festival, which opened it doors yesterday and will run to Sunday, are expecting more than 45,000 visitors this year. All in all, the event features a program of 14 concerts, presenting jazz bands from no fewer than 14 European countries. Admission to the five-day event is free of charge. According to Fotis Ignatiou, president of the festival’s board of directors and chairman of the Technopolis Arts Complex, the choice of picking this year’s Greek participation was a difficult task, given that the board had to choose among 19 candidates. Yiannis Kassetas eventually emerged as the winner and he is scheduled to perform along with the Funk Wizards band tonight at 11 p.m. Saxophonist Kassetas is the youngest Greek band leader to take part in the annual event. The artist’s resume includes studying next to prominent Greek saxophonist Dimitris Vassilakis, as well as attending the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, on a scholarship. Coming up in September, Kassetas is also set to become the youngest Greek jazz musician to claim two personal albums. «What these two albums clearly have in common are influences from jazz and funk as well as New York jazz, with some references to Eastern beats,» Kassetas told Kathimerini in an interview. «Being methodical and working very hard are pivotal in music composition. Without these two elements, I could say that so-called talent will not result in anything,» he added. Kassetas said he owes a lot to jazzmen Vassilakis and Christos Alexopoulos, while adding that he is positive about the developments on the Greek jazz scene. «It cannot be compared to the London scene, let alone the New York scene, but we are now in a position to talk about a number of Greek artists currently enjoying an international career, people such as George Kontrafouris, who I was very honored to have on my first album, on the piano.» Kassetas also shared some thoughts on his Berklee experience. «It is as vast as a jazz community in a large European city. There are incredible differences regarding the various levels of the students. In general, Berklee is a mini-reflection of America: you have to know how to swim with stamina, obstinacy and vigor in order to survive. But if you make it there, you can make it anywhere. A few years ago, I was commissioned for a project by the Greek National Research Foundation. The project comprised of various compositions based on the different time periods since the creation of the universe up to now. If the commission had come along prior to my Berklee experience, I would not have been in a position to carry it though.» For information on the Jazz Festival see the «What’s On» column.