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.