Monday, May 2, 2011

Alekos Galas, Bouzouki Contemporary, and His "Mediterranean Breeze"

The double-stranded string instrument known as the bouzouki, safe to say, has been a central part of the Greek musical texture for ages. Alekos Galas has taken the virtuoso technical requisites of bouzouki practice, mastered them and elevated his playing to the upper realms of possibility on the instrument.

On his CD Mediterranean Breeze (Ehos 0417) he shows convincingly what can be done when he applies his considerable abilities to a fusionoid-light smooth-funk context. This is pleasant music on the pop-side of the spectrum. He is joined for the date by a fairly large gathering of musicians including Alex Acuna on conga and percussion, and electric bassist Abe Laboriel.

Mediterranean Breeze stands or falls on Alekos Galas himself. Without his considerable presence this would be an innocouous and fairly ordinary gathering of peasantries. Galas makes it more than that. Much of what he plays is on the melodic, pre-planned tune-spinning side of things. His solo improvisations are brief. In that way this is closer to contemporary Greek music than "jazz" per se (though his few cadenza-like passages are pretty impressive).

Nonetheless Mr. Galas is a fine player. I'd love to hear him put a little more (or even a lot more) grit into his concept, but his music in the present form will no doubt find airplay on the smooth jazz radio outlets.

5 comments:

  1. I have seen Aleko in person and he is one of the most talented bouzouki artists today!! This album is tops and brings the art of playing this beautiful instrument to new levels. From Greek popular to jazz, Aleko demonstrates his skill and makes his bouzouki sing!!!

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  2. I have seen and heard Aleko in person. He is truly one of the most talented bouzouki artists around in today's contemporary world. Aleko brings the bouzouki to new levels, from popular Greek tones to the rich sound of Jazz. He masters the bouzouki and makes it sing. His CD is a must for music aficionados who love the sound of the bouzouki in all types of music. New rhythms, new sounds and beautiful music. Bravo Aleko!!!

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  3. Thank you for the input Nikos. I was impressed with what he was doing on the CD. I can imagine in a live situation he is somebody to hear!
    Grego

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  4. Georgios MarantosMay 31, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    Alex Galas is by far one of the best Bouzouksis (Bouzouki players) not just in the United States but in the world, he stands next to Karantinis (Greece),Nikolopoulos (Greece)Tatasopoulos (Greece) as one of the Greek Worlds best. What most people dont know he who he was mentored with and what Greats he played with even when he was young. Alex is truly a King in the Bouzouki world and for those who have just now heard bouzouki for the first time or were fortunate enough to see him play you were blessed to see his skills and his imagination run wild on the Bouzouki. Alex truly has made us Greeks proud and hopefully more people will enjoy his brilliant musical gifts.

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  5. Thank you for your input Georgios! I would love to hear him do a live recording where he really lets go! You can tell from the CD that he can play circles around other players. I'm sure in a live setting he would be that much more amazing!
    Grego

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