Priamos Morakis: Who says you can’t do jazz & blues in Greece?

More often than not being born to famous parents is more of a curse than it is a blessing. For Priamos Morakis it’s a fact of life. His father was none other than Takis Morakis, one of Greece’s most prolific composers and his mother, Nadia Konstantopoulou, a leading lady of song. Naturally, one could say Priamos was born and raised on music…, which inevitably won him over.

Taking a slight turn from his parents’ tastes, Priamos has a soft spot for the blues. The 40-something jazzman has gone from Athens to Chicago and back again just to get that “special feel for the blues” that only the Windy City bluesmen can communicate with their exhilarating electric touch.

He may have extensive music studies, but what makes Morakis a jazz/bluesman of acclaim is his hands-on experience at clubs across Chicago and an almost esoteric dedication to his art. That’s why he rarely performs, and when he does you can be certain he has something to say.

Barely a month old, The Athenian Project, is Morakis’ latest 11-track release featuring a series of jazz standards, several works penned by his father and a song of his own.

His father, Takis, started off as a Paris-educated violinist only to  leave an indelible mark on Greek music history. Takis Morakis served the “Elafry” genre – capricious songs of love and enjoyment, influenced by French chanson, Italian Bel canto as well as operetta. A prolific composer, Takis Morakis penned dozens of songs for theater, revue and film.

Here in the 1950 “Hara Mou” (My Joy) featuring Sotos Panagopoulos to the lyrics of Kostas Pretenteris and Yiorgos Economidis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gGs-ym7f2s.

One of his most famous “international” works: “Ti ein’ Afto Pou to Lene Agapi” (What’s This Called Love) was set to the lyrics of Yiannis Fermanoglou and featured in 1957 film Boy on a Dolphin. The stirring ballad was interpreted by Italian film star Sophia Loren and Greek troubadour Toni Maroudas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDMiUPcZst8 The work was integrated into the film score by composer Hugo Friedhofer.

A large part of Takis Morakis’ works was performed by his singer/lyricist wife Konstantopoulou, one of the genre’s finest representatives. Here in the story of “Marilou”, who wants to move up in life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktdQRbU823o

Some 50 years later, with the childhood memories of his parents’ performances echoing, a subtle teenage musical rebellion lingering and a mature and seasoned ear, Priamos takes his father’s works and makes them his own, adding a feather-light jazzy feel with an underlying bluesy touch.

It’s not about innovation or fresh takes, it’s about listening differently. Priamos gives weight to these works, demonstrating in the process the timelessness of his musical birthright.

His quartet features four of Greece’s finest jazz instrumentalists and singer Penelope Tzanetaki makes these songs work with her sensual vocals.

So who say’s Greeks can’t do jazz? Take this one with you on your next holiday to the Greek isles. You’re bound to fall in love…

http://www.priamosmorakis.com/

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