THE ATHENS CONCERT HALL - MEGARON MOUSIKIS ATHINON: ANDREAS GEORGIOU AND THE ETHNIC JAZZ TRADITION

The music of Andeas Georgiou is placed in the framework of the so-called ethnic jazz implying a form of ethnic music which incorporates elements from the traditions of several musical cultures such as:

  • Melodic, harmonic and rhythmic features and often loans of unedited traditional melodies.
  • Traditional musical instruments. Georgiou has been experimenting extensively with the use of various traditional instruments in his own music such as, among others, the Greek tambura, the Cretan mantoura, the Cyprian pithkiavli, the Indian sitar and shahnay and the African sansa.
  • The different approach of the very act of a musical performance (i.e. the importance of the season of the year and the time of the day during which a raga should be played to the people of India).


    It is important to be stressed right from the outset that the use of the above elements is by no means binding. The objective pursued is not the precise production of the music patterns but the expansion of expressive potential and the enrichment of the final musical output.

    A distinctive feature of ethnic music is the freedom of use as regards the material that is summoned up. When traditional music is played in its authentic mode it is not ethnic music. It is instead the so-called world music.

    The ethnic approach on jazz dates back to the end of the 50s. The first substantial ethnic approach was the so-called bosa nova, a new Latin American rhythm created by Joao Gilberto The success of the "'Orfeu negro" film, which was released in the 50s, contributed to the popularity and the dissemination of this rhythm as well as of the Latin American music in general. In the same year, Gilberto released the epic album "Chega de sausade" introducing bosa nova, a new kind of more relaxed samba combined with lush jazz harmonies.

    This new rhythm had soon a major impact. However, it is most important the fact that this turn toward Brazil's music signalled the beginning of the study of other musical cultures such as Africa's and India's which eventually had a considerable influence to the western world.

    All the above had a significant impact on Georgiou's music, too. His collaboration with Airto Moreira , the leading Brazilian percussionist, is most crucial. Africa is echoed in many of his compositions as it is often evidenced by the titles of his works. Andreas has been definitively influenced by India's cosmic approach to the origin of the universe.

    Nevertheless, if the ethnic approach to music is characterized by the tendency for experimentation, this tendency in Georgiou's music is not limited only by the traditional ethnic aesthetics but it expands to encompassing many other elements. His experimentation with various instruments, which is generated by the need for the expansion of the expressive potential of his music, is distinctive.

    As already said, Georgiou uses to this purpose various traditional instruments. Yet, the most important one was the construction of a guitar which he invented.

    In his own words: "Almost from the beginning of my career, in 1980, I had set certain goals. As a result in 1982 I invented my own 16-string guitar. This guitar did not exist anywhere until that time. I had contemplated on how I should apply certain harmonic systems as well as produce multiple rhythms at the same time so that the guitar could assume a different identity [...] It's just a different instrument which in fact I had been studying for many years [...] Still new questions were raised again and again such as: what could be the configuration or the arrangement of the strings so to speak. Thus I experimented with different tunings".

    Georgiou's tendency for exploring different music capabilities finds a wider expression in the sector of orchestration whereas his relevant musical pursuits have been developing from album to album.

    In conclusion, his music is characterised by the harmonious co-existence of influences from different worlds (each one of which he explores in its entirety):
  • From jazz with its intensive rhythms and the ingenious improvisation which is based on the utilization of any musical element.
  • From traditional music.
  • From classical European music, where his music is rooted, as it is often the case in contemporary jazz. His studies include also Byzantine music, which is a form of eastern classical music, an element that is easily detected in his work.

    In general, Georgiou's music relies primarily on the rhythmic element insomuch that it calls to mind rather the traditional jazz although it's sound is quite different.

    His compositions, which are dominated by the melodic element, are fewer. Their inner strength though is far greater. Their essential asset is the use of simple melodies which render greater immediacy. Besides, artistic creation aims at approaching simplicity which characterises whatever is beautiful.

DIONYSIS BOUKOUVALAS


GUITAR SUMMIT: ANDREAS GEORGIOY

Although Andreas Georgiou's performance drifts from acoustic guitars (of 15 or 16 strings) to the electric guitar, from solo to the small ensemble as well as the free-traditional jazz mix of the 80s (including the dual aspect of the jazz of this period) he seems to disregard this transition. The process he follows is characterized especially by his sense of listening, dialogue and a tendency to search for (and find) a natural ecology of sounds.

JEAN-CLAUDE QUEROY, "ECOUTER VOIR" musical magazine


MARDEL JAZZ: AIRES DE RENOVACION


[...] This is the case of Andreas Georgiou, who has marvelously depicted this primeval music which diffuses its resonances in various cultures of the Old World.
Andreas, using different guitars (acoustic and electric) along with the Indian sitar, the shahnay, the African mbira, marimbula and various percussion instruments, dives into the roots of the Greek modes in a rhythmic pulse which echoes dances of millennia.
Andreas returns with unction and merriment to this territory which from the Aegean Sea was launched to the entire world a music system that was enriched in the course of centuries. It's a ceaseless back and forth, a miraculous journey guided only by the hand of the chosen.
Mar del Jazz seems to find in this group of the protagonists its reason of existence.

Rene Vargas Vera
"LA NACION" ARGENTINA