Tag Archives: Greece

Artist Profiles: Alekos K. Vretos

Alekos K. Vretos

Alekos K. Vretos was born in Athens in 1976. In 1978 his family moved to Argos were he grew up. His father was in love with music so he took him for piano lessons at the age of three. That was Alekos’ first contact with music. His first piano teacher was Mrs. Eleni Apostolaki. At the age of sixteen he decided that his route in life would be music. Yiannis Iordanoglou was the first to open his eyes on what music and being a musician is really about.

In 1993, Alekos settled in Athens were he studied classical music in the Athenaeum Conservatory with Panagiotis Adam (harmony) and other great teachers. At the same time, because he was a jazz lover, he enrolled in the Phillipos Nakas Conservatory were he studied jazz with Markos Alexiou (improvisation), Takis Paterelis (composition and arranging), Pantelis Benetatos (jazz piano), Spiros Panagiotopoulos (ensemble training) and Kostas Baltazanis (improvisation and jazz harmony).

In 1995, Berklee College of Music held a weekly seminar in the Nakas Conservatory under the name “Berklee School in Greece”. Alekos won the award for “Outstanding Musicianship” and the doors of Berklee College were open for him. Soon after that he won a Phillipos Nakas scholarship for the year 1995.

In September 1996 he enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. There he studied as a Jazz Composition major. Some of the teachers that gave him more insight for music were: Vuk Kullenovic (composition), Ray Santisi (Jazz piano), Dick Lowell (Jazz composition), David Callahan (Conducting), and Dennis Grillo (Orchestration). During his studies in Boston he performed extensively as a piano player in jazz ensembles and Big Bands. He graduated in 1999.

A year earlier he took up the ud (Arabic lute) and he fell in love with an instrument that had nothing to do with jazz but had a lot to do with Greece and the Mediterranean region. He met the great Master Simon Shaheen who offered him the first steps towards the Arabic music and ud playing. Alekos considers master Shaheen his mentor and his musical benefactor. They see each other once a year at master Shaheen’s Arabic Music Retreat, where Alekos has attended from 1998-2004. Of course, Alekos had lessons with other teachers in Arabic music such us: Marcel Khalif?, Bassam Saba, Dr Ali Jihad Racy, Dr George Sawa, William Shaheen and Charbel Rouhana. He has attended many lectures in Arabic music and in 2004 he won a gold medal in an ud improvisation and artistry contest in the U.S.

As a professional he has performed with different ensembles in Greece with great reviews on his playing and composing. Some of the musicians that he has worked with as an udist are Yiorgos Despotidis, Nikos Androulakis, Panagiotis Mylonas, Kostas Thomaidis, Yiorgos Boufidis and others. Also, he has appeared on TV as a permanent udist in the “Greek Tradition show” in the Hellenic Television for 3 years. He has worked in the Music Ensembles of the Hellenic Radio for over two years as an ud soloist and arranger. He has collaborated with the Great Music Library in the Athens Concert Hall, as a supervisor in the digitalization of the “Mikis Theodorakis” archives. He conducted a research in cataloging the same archive in 1998.

Alekos K. Vretos was the founder and Music Director of The Meliti Ensemble. Their first release “Yunan” was very promising and it was welcomed by media and audiences. One of his great collaborations was with the great composer Mikis Theodorakis in Editions Romanos which manages the total work of the composer.

In 2005 Alekos K. Vretos co-produced with Dimitris Maragopoulos and the Athens Concert Hall a concert featuring master Simon Shaheen and Hussein el Masry. The concert was a great success. Since 2006, Alekos K. Vretos has been collaborating with the Athens Concert Hall as a concert producer.

In 2013 he recorded the album K. on top featuring original tracks along with musical pieces by friends Gilad Atzmon and Ara Dinkjian together with favorite compositions by Anouar Brahem.

Discography:

Yunan, with Meliti Ensemble
Mergin’
K. on top

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Nikos Tsiachris, El Greco Flamenco

Nikos Tsiachris, featuring Bandolero – Alcance (Galileo Music GMC075 CD, 2017)

Alcance is the remarkable debut album of Berlin-based Greek flamenco guitarist and composer Nikos Tsiachris. And indeed he plays real flamenco. Tsiachris delights the listener with a set that includes various flamenco palos (genres), including bulerias, garrotin, soleá, farruca, rumba, granaina and alegria.

The Spanish influence is clearly evident and it’s no wonder since Nikos Tsiachris invited Spain’s famed flamenco percussionist Bandolero (José Manuel Ruíz Motos). The Madrid-born Bandolero is one of the finest flamenco percussionists and has played with some flamenco’s biggest stars. He plays cajón and palmas (flamenco handclap percussion) and adds jaleos (shouts of encouragement) as well.
Alcance, nevertheless, is not a traditional album. Tsiachris surprises the listener with a brief injection of electric guitar on the opening track “Alcance”, a Middle Eastern trumpet introduction on “Lobna” and flamenco-jazz on “Baracoa.”

Spain-based Cuban bass player Yelsy Heredia also appears on the album, adding a succulent Cuban flavor that blends perfectly with Bandolero’s beats, Tsiachris’ guitar and a Latin jazz trumpet played by Martin Auer.

Also featured is Flamenco singer Juan Cárdenas on one track, trumpet player Milad Khawam, Tom Auffarth on percussion, Takashi Peterson on electric guitar, and Yorgos Dimitriadis on percussion.

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Artist Profiles: Martha Mavroidi

Martha Mavroidi

Martha Mavroidi is a lutist and singer from Greece. She plays folk lutes (lafta and saz) performing music from Greece and the Balkans. She has participated in various world and contemporary music projects in Europe and the United States of America. She has also composed music for films, dance and theater.

She launched her music career as a recording artist in 2010 with the release of her critically acclaimed debut album “The Garden of Rila”. With her new trio she takes her music a step forward, drawing from her experience in folk music those elements that can be reworked in a contemporary music project.

In 2012 Martha Mavroidi showcased at WOMEX with an unconventional trio (bass, drums, folk lutes and voice) that brought together Balkan music and improvisation. The band performed in numerous venues and festivals in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. In 2012 they released their album Portaki.

Trio line up: Giorgos Ventouris on double bass, Kostas Anastasiadis on percussion and Martha Mavroidi on electric lafta, saz, voice.

Discography

* The Garden of Rila (2010)
* Portaki (2012)
* Agiorgitiko (Violins Productions)
* Thread and Neddle

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Artist Profiles: Kostis Avyssinos

Kostis Avyssinos

Kostis Avyssinos born and raised in Skalani of Iraklion, Crete (Greece) and made his first musical steps next to his father, Master of Cretan music and skilled violinist George Avyssinos. They traveled together for years both in Greece and abroad conveying the magic of Cretan musical tradition throughout global Hellenic diasporas.

Kostis Avyssinos has collaborated with George Avyssino playing lute, mandolin, boulgari, and mandolin and as a singer. In 1996 in collaboration with the famous Turkish dab of violin Senich Antegker and Dimitris Apostolakis, Kostis Avyssinos made his first solo album with the title “Libyan Sea”. At the same time he works on stage with many leading musicians in both traditional and Rebetika genres.

In 1997 he collaborated with Chainides band. Arising from this collaboration is an album titled “The Big Voyage”.

Kostis Avyssinos is carrying the origins of Cretan tradition and assimilating many musical traditions (Smyrnaiiko, Island, Rebetiko).

He has taken part in international folk music festivals in France, Italy, America, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Turkey, etc.

He has presented his work in many cities and villages of Crete and the rest of Greece (Athens, Thessalonica, Patras, Volos, Ioannina and the Aegean Islands. He has also performed in the magnificent Athens Concert Hall.

Discography

Libyan Sea (1996)
Tou Livykou to pelagos (Warner Music)

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