Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gypsy Swing

Gypsy Swing got mixed with folk and rembetica back in the 40s and 50s in the hands of major Greek composer and bouzouki virtuoso Manolis Hiotis.
Hiotis, born 1920, was a professional player in the age of 16. He has written his first song in 1938, switched from guitar to bouzouki and from then on became one of the major composers of rembetica.
Famous in US too where it is said that Jimi Hendrix was amazed by his virtuosity and he even played at the White House.

Manolis Hiotis and Mary Linda - You are the cause (Esy eisai i aitia). This song was released in 1949 but this version is from 1959.

A few decades later Greece is following the worldwide swing revival trend and after 2006 has all the elements in place so that we can talk about a “scene”: a good number of bands, dancing clubs, festivals, happenings and an audience. Discography is weak at the moment and the material is mostly covers of swing standards but also of rock, folk or even disco(!) classics.

The Swing Shoes
We have already presented the band in another post of this blog. Their first album "Ladies and Gents Here's the Swing Shoes" is released.

Here's Karagouna, a Greek traditional song in swing mood.

They first appeared in 2007 and have just released their first album named “a-rhythmology”.

Their influences are obviously Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli.

Their album is only available through post so you can order it here:

Here's Diminuita covering Sweet Georgia Brown

A gypsy jazz band from the island of Syros. No discography yet but lots of live appearances.
More info:

Lerotika - Some of these days

Swingtime Quintet
Formed in 2007 in Thessaloniki. Mainly influenced by Reinhardt music idiom. No discography yet.

Another classic standard: Minor Swing

There are other swing bands too like Gadjo Dilo, Swing-Azoo, John Loukatos Quintet, Adonis Priftis Quartet, Los Tre Swing, Swingin' Joke and the list gets bigger every year. So we'll be back with some more swing when we have first or new albums released.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Soft Wave

Alexis Georgopoulos is a composer and artist based in New York. Born in 1974 he studied liberal arts and founded his first band, Tussle, in 2001. After debut album Kling Klang (named after Kraftwerk’s studio) he changed from drums to bass and became main songwriter. Tussle gained a reputation for their lives that incorporated Krautrock-electro fusions over dub-funky rhythms.

Tussle - Warning

He left the band in 2007 and released under the name Arp his solo record In Light, a minimal album that recalls Brian Eno ambient work. In his 2010 album The Soft Wave he presents a blend of melodic explorations, fuzz layers, hidden grooves, using mainly analog synthesizers but physical instruments too. In the same year he collaborates with Anthony Moore in FRKWYS III album.

ARP - Alpha (Dusted)

Alexis Georgopoulos is also a member of The Alp, a trio from San Francisco (Alex Georgopoulos, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma of Tarentel and Scott Hewicker of Troll). They have released four albums with most recent one Easy Action of 2011. Their music is a mix of psychedelic, folk, kraut and ambient elements.

The Alps - For Isabel

More info:

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Advice of Şangó

Following the post re band-leader Demetrios Kastaris and his Latin Jazz Coalition, here’s another great band-leader and musician who made it to shape his dream and offer some great music.

Sotiris Papadopoulos, born in Volos, Greece, is a scientist (PhD in Atomic Physics) who gave up academic research to follow his dream: unite people through music. It’s not only the Greek origin that is common between Sotiris Papadopoulos and Demetrios Kastaris but also their interest in latin jazz.
 Sotiris Papadopoulos has practiced the guitar in parallel with his studies. When in Germany he meets and becomes friend with Ira Coleman while in 1980 he travels to Nigeria to play on stage with Fela Kuti (!). In the following years he develops an interest for African music.

Ashake - Salvador Sango

When in New York for his studies he has the opportunity to play with Tito Puente.
In 1988 he moves to Nigeria and in 1989 he performs with Dizzy Gillespie in the latter’s Nigeria tour. During the following years he plays with Femi Kuti, Orlando Julius, Vicror Waifo among others while in 2004 he creates his group Salvador Sango featuring musicians from Nigeria. Their music is a blend of Afrobeat, Afrocuban, Latin Jazz, Flamenco.

Toussaint l'Ouverture - Salvador Sango

You can purchase their album “The Advice of Şangó” here
More info here

Friday, May 13, 2011

Disco Kings

Alec R. Costandinos, (born Alexandre Kouyoumdjian in 1944 in Cairo, Egypt) is considered one of the Euro-Disco pioneers. He worked in France and during the 70s he published hits for several artists including Demis Roussos, Dalida, Cerrone and others. With his group Love & Kisses (!!) he entered the US market and scored a Billboard disco hit with "I've Found Love (Now That I've Found You)".

By mid 70s he started focusing on disco operas and under his name he released Romeo & Juliet in the form of disco suit using a full orchestra. He continues with other concept albums like Judas Iscariot released under the name Sphinx. Listen to Simon Peter from this one:

Sphinx - Simon Peter - 1979

 In 1977 he releases the album Golden Tears under the name Sumeria. From this album here’s Cosmic Traveller:

Harry Chalkitis is already presented in other posts. One of his incarnations during the 70s was Queen Samantha, a disco band featuring American vocalist Gloria Brooks. They released 3 albums (written and produced by Chalkitis). They had several hits in Europe and US, including Mama Rue, Take a Chance, The Letter (The Box Tops cover) and others.

Here's Mama Rue from their 3rd album, 1979

and here's Take a Chance, a space disco song from their 2nd album, Queen Samantha 2 (1979)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Legend of Aris San

Aris San (full name Aristides Saisanas) was born in Kalamata, Greece in 1940. He sung and played guitar from an early age and won his first contest at the age of 11! At the age of 17 he went to Israel (following a woman that proved to be married!) where started working in Greek taverns, singing and playing the electric guitar under the name Brian. He was singing in Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian and English and very soon became a megastar.

What distinguishes Aris San is his playing of the electric guitar as an amplified imitation of the sound of bouzouki creating his own unique sound and mixing folk with rock music.

Here's Zigouala from Aris San orchestra from 1960

In 1969 he went to New York where, as Aris San, opened his own bar-restaurant where he played Greek music with great success. He even played at the Carnegie Hall. His fan club included Anthony Quinn, Harry Belafonte, Telly Savalas. One of the greatest Greek singers, Stelios Kazatzidis who was a friend of his, claims that Aris San was admired for being one of the best dressed men in New York at the time.

Aris San - Todo Pasa

Fame brought the mafia and drugs into his life and later on the FBI which tried to trap the head of mafia through him. He denied and was imprisoned for 2 years.
When he got out of prison he went to Hungary to work where he had an accident and his health deteriorated quickly and passed away. He is buried in New York next to Louis Armstrong.

Aris San - Dam Dam

For this post I used as a source information from CafeSebax blog and from inner sleeve of Aris San: the unknown Greek voice compilation cd of 1997.
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