Greeks of Amherst: A Handful of Jazzfolk

Downbeat. The Pantheon. Animal House. Amherst. Doogie Howzer. What do these things have in common?

Well, they’re all connected to that thing where I trawl Wikipedia to collect names of jazzmen and jazzwomen and put up another kooky post.

Jazz. That’s how we get to Downbeat, the definitive jazz journal.

Now, usually my jazz trawling has focussed on some innocent, unsuspecting country (cough, cough, like Norway, cough, cough) where the names sound perfectly normal to its citizens, but not the rest of us . . . globally challenged folk.

But since Norway has more jazzpeople than I can shake a brush stick at, this time I turn for respite to . . . Greece! Hence, the pantheon.

“Greek” also connotes college fraternities, hence Animal House, that famously raunchy comedy about college fraternities.

Why Amherst? you ask.

To get from Animal House to Amherst is a a stretch. Why not any college? Why not Faber college, where the motto is “Knowledge is Good.”

It’s because it turns out that “Amherst” matches the alphabetical array of our jazz subjects, whose last names in alphabetical order spell out A-M-R-S-T. That’s only one “he” shy of Amherst, that august arena of learning.

We’ll get to Doogie Howzer later, but first, our handful of Greek jazzers. They stretch the definition of “jazz” thinner than I’m comfortable with, but we’ll give them all a hearing.

“A” is for Thomai Apergi (Θωμαή Απέργη).

Thomai is an attractive lady, no question, but this is not my style. (And this is about the “jazziest” one of hers I could dig up.) Judge for yourself. I get an Amy Winehouse vibe in her other videos, but with much less soul and grit. Maybe it’s just as well for Thomai, because Amy definitely paid a price for it.

“M” is for Maria Markesini

OK, that’s more like it. Though, to be honest, I usually like my jazz vocals more understated. I can’t find out who the pianist is. A T’Oob commenter elsewhere identifies him as Doogie Howzer. Should I believe it?

“R” is for Christos Rafalides. OK, we’re getting much warmer here in terms of my jazz preferability:

Christos Rafalides, on vibes, does “Serendipity” with Manhattan Vibes. (Just coincidence?) Sergio Salvatore (piano), Petros Klampanis (bass), Ludwig Afonso (drums).

“S” is for Hrysoula Stefanaki. Notice how the names are improving. How about the music?

“Tango Notturno,” arranged by David Nachmias, who may also be on piano (other musicians unknown). This one works for me, maybe because it’s not trying to be “jazz.”

“T” is for Vassilis Tsabropoulos. The best name yet, but I don’t know where to put Vassilis–a renowned pianist, composer, and conductor–on the jazz spectrum. Notwithstanding, this is a nice place to wind up our musical journey.

Nektaria Karantzi does vocals in this contemplative piece “You Are with Me,” from the album Eleison (2016), here at Amazon. The song is Psalm 23 sung in ancient Greek.

Speaking of Doogie Howzer, please help our resident medical wunderkind, Dave! Click the link below.

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9 Responses to Greeks of Amherst: A Handful of Jazzfolk

  1. ksbeth says:

    and a jazz hand wave to you for another great post, filled with lots of naming mayhem –

  2. kerbey says:

    Thomai’s voice is not pleasant, and I would not turn my chair for her on The Voice. Are you sure Markesini isn’t Irish? I like to judge people on their looks. That’s my thing. She certainly dips into her lower register. It’s like watching someone who took Ambien 27 minutes ago get hit halfway into a song. BTW, Doogie Howzer would never let his hair get so ragtag. He has an image to uphold. I agree Christos does sound more like normal jazz. Is Christos a common name, like Jesus in Mexico? I wouldn’t saddle that burden on my kiddo.

    I can see my grandparents dancing to Hrysoula. They also liked a song called “El Cuarto de Tula,” so this could just be “El Cuarto de Hrysoula.” I feel like you should be dressed in a jacket to listen to that. And not Members Only.

    Finally, I was wondering WHEN you were going to put an -opolous in here. Vassilis Tsabropoulos is clearly the winner, and I don’t vacillate on that. I can smell the feta cheese from here. So glad I didn’t fall in love with a Greek man and take that last name. Stamos notwithstanding, of course. Kerbey Stamos, hmm. What are we talking about again?

  3. What a collection of performances, and as varied as their nom de plumes.

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