In May 2010 the first Gypsy Jazz festival took place in Athens, Greece. The festival was a sold out success. More than a thousand people watched the 7 bands paying their tribute to Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and all the other great musicians who have shaped in their own personal way what we call today the gypsy jazz idiom. For those of us who had the honour to play for such an enthousiastic audience, it was a memorable night.
It was the first time that gypsy jazz enthusists from all over Greece gathered in one place to listen, meet new people and discuss their love for this fascinating style of music. The event was basically organised and put together by all of us musicians who wanted to celebrate Django’s 100th birthday. Django was born on January 23rd 1910 and concerts were held in his memory all over the world. So we felt we had to be part of this effort.
The night opened up with the amazing jazz guitarist Giannis Loukatos and his Hot club de Grece. Then more bands followed: Lerotika, Swingtime Quintet, Diminuita, Swing Shoes, Gadjo Dilo, Swing Azoo.
The second Athens Gypsy Jazz Festival was also really special. It took place in club Kittaro in May 2011. That year we had the honour to listen to Lollo Meier Quartet with Tcha Limberger on the violin.
Both Lollo and Tcha gave a workshop, explaining their approach and technique to gypsy jazz guitar and violin.
The 3rd Gypsy Jazz Fest was held in Thessaloniki for the first time on May 25th 2012. Me and my band had the pleasure to invite 8 good friends and great musicians to perform with us on stage. All of them were newcomers to gypsy jazz and the festival offered them the opportunity to perform live some of their favourite tunes. I would like to thank them for their enthusiasm and their performance.
Since then, 5 more Festivals have followed. The Gypsy Jazz Festival has been a great success due to the joined efforts of all the people who wanted to organize an event in the memory of Django Reinhartdt, play and talk about this exciting style of music.
If you are visiting Greece and you are looking for people to jam with or you simply want to get in touch with the Greek Gypsy Jazz community, you can send me an email, check the Greek Gypsy Jazz Guitar Facebook Group or visit the Greek Gypsy Jazz website.
Here are some of the most active bands in Greece today:
- The Swingtime Quartet. My band which has been performing all around Greece since 2007.
- Hot Club de Grece. Two of my favourite guitarists play in this recently formed group with which I have the honour to play regularly with.
- Je Swing. One my favourite bands, great sound, great people! I tour the Greek islands with this amazing group every summer.
- Manouche Drome. I love jamming with these guys, nice and smooth!
- The Ghost Notes. Although relatively new in the scene, this hard-working group is already touring abroad and recording their 2nd Cd. Dedicated to acoustic instrumental music, they play manouche as well as their own compositions.
- Diminuita Swing Trio. My good friends who have dedicated their lives to organising the Gypsy Jazz Fest in Greece. A really active group performing for many years now.
- Gadjo Dilo. One of the oldest bands. They play manouche style music spiced up with some Greek music elements.
There are also some fine guitar makers based in Greece you might want to check out:
Leveller Guitars www.levellerguitars.com
Spiros Mamais www.santouri.gr, www.mamaisguitars.com
Tziganize Ιt guitars (Adonis Goulielmos & Andreas Kilkiktsis)