Friday, June 17, 2011

Tradition Goes Electric

Greek traditional music is not just legacy but a living and always expanding organism.
In the hands of great jazz musicians, traditional music can provide a vast platform for improvisation.
Mimis Plessas, with a career spanning 50 years, is considered one of the most important Greek composers.
He has composed over 100 soundtracks, has collaborated with all major Greek singers and from the very beginning until now he demonstrated a great passion for jazz.

In 1967 he released what is often mentioned as “the holy grail of Greek jazz music”, the “Greece Goes Modern” album. This was a jazz fusion based on Greek traditional folk songs. The outcome was a fresh jazz, beat, psychedelic, funky orchestration that re-introduced the old material, improvised and suggested a new and very interesting sound.

Unfortunately the album is one of rarest and never released on cd. Moreover it seems that the master tapes have been lost but…as long as some people have the original vinyl (I don't) we can enjoy this great music.


Another great musician and composer with a taste for jazz, Kostas Kapnisis, has gathered several singers during the 70s and recorded with his orchestra his own versions of Greek traditional songs.

In this case there is a triple cd released in 2004, Dimotikoi Adilaloi (echoes of traditional music).

Kapnisis sticks more to the original forms (compared to Plessas who promotes improvisation) but the choice of a modern orchestra with bass, drums, electric guitar etc provides in any case a more modern sound.

Here’s the instrumental “Hara mou palikari mou”

Finally, in 1990 a new band is formed to take this experimentation further. Mode Plagal were formed by Thodoris Rellos (saxophone, voice), Kleon Antoniou (guitars, voice) and Takis Kanellos (drums).
In 1995 Antonis Maratos (bass) joins the band and they release their first album, MODE PLAGAL.
Mode Plagal have created a unique idiom with original compositions and covers and references to traditional, byzantine music, funk and jazz.

Here's "Funky Vergina" from Mode Plagal II

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