George Koufogiannakis

George Koufogiannakis

9th Annual Jazz Album Nominee

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Genre: Jazz

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ALBUM NOMINATED: Generations – Greek Oud Jazz

WHERE WAS ALBUM RECORDED? In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in a home studio with some of Edmonton’s finest improvising musicians including: local piano guru, Charlie Austin – piano & organ (retired head of keyboard studies at Grant MacEwan University) and Jeremiah McDade – saxophones and violin (JUNO, Canadian Folk Music Award and Independent Music Award winning multi-instrumentalist).

WHERE IS YOUR MUSIC AVAILABLE? It can be found on the ‘net at such sites as iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby, as well as locally through a number of retail outlets.

WHICH GENRES BEST DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC? Generations – Greek Oud Jazz is a combination of Modern Experimental Jazz and Traditional Greek music from and inspired by the Island of Crete.

IS THERE A THEME TO THE ALBUM? This recent quote of mine summarizes the theme behind this album: “I wanted to try and explore some of that wonderful Greek spirit and intensity in the songs and influence of my family, with an emphasis on creative improvisation and harmonically taking the music where possibly it has not yet traveled. It was such a pleasure working with these amazing musicians who took these open structures and driving rhythms and playfully, with a wonderful sense of form and interaction, allowed these pieces to organically flow and evolve through this recording.”

WHAT UNUSUAL INSTRUMENTS OR TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE ON THIS ALBUM? 1) I used a number of More Traditional Middle Eastern Instruments on this recording, including the Egyptian oud and the Greek bouzouki, in combination with a modern Jazz horn section and rhythm Section. 2) I am also a local high school band teacher and a number of my current and ex high school music students were involved in the making of this recording, from the arrangements, to performance, to the design and layout of the CD. See the following news story for details: 3) We had used an interesting recording method on one of the pieces on the release; on the wind band composition, “Kaelin’s Mood,” I had not only scored/arranged the music for the piece in regular forward motion but also in reverse, starting at the end and working our way back to the beginning. We then recorded both versions with a local Wind ensemble and took the second backward version and flipped it around in the studio and lined it up with the first version. That technique is what gave this piece the eerie, spooky sound it has on this recording. I had never heard of this technique being used with a full orchestral arrangement before, but I think it achieved some interesting results.

DID FANS HELP FUND THIS PROJECT? The recording of this project was made possible by a generous grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

WHO IS SITTING IN YOUR AUDIENCE? Thus far our audience has been quite eclectic, from heavy experimental Jazz fans to Canadian Folk and World music fans to Traditional Greek music fans and the Greek community. I think that speaks well to the diversity, musicianship, and the strong sense of fun and interaction of the players on the recording.

WHAT MAKES YOUR FANS UNIQUE? I think our fans have a wide perspective as to the world around them and enjoy that sense of adventure and exploration in the music they listen to; not knowing where the music is going to go and coming along for the ride with the players as they allow the pieces to organically unfold as they listen.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO PLAY? I enjoy the energy and excitement of playing large venues to large crowds of people, but also equally treasure those intimate moments in a performance in a small cafe where the audience’s immediate and close feedback help forge the direction and mood of the compositions.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE? Having been recently nominated for World Solo Artist of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards and then this 9th Annual Independent Music Awards nomination in the Jazz Album category have been a huge honour and I think showcase the diversity of the recording.

WHAT’S IN THE WORKS FOR 2010? Looking forward to taking this project on the road in the next few years with a number of both Folk and Jazz festival performances.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS….. A place where an artist who is focused fully on their craft and who is willing to take chances and think outside the mainstream box, has the opportunity, now more than ever, to reach and touch large groups of people and expand their audience’s definition as to what music is and what it has the potential to be.

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS? Success for any artist would be to have the opportunity to broaden peoples’ perspectives about the world around them and then, if we are lucky, maybe open up the possibility of making the world around us a better, more empathetic place to live.

WHAT’S ON YOUR IPOD THAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR FANS? Mose Allison, Leonard Bernstein, Stan Rogers and Cecil Taylor.

From Love To Forfeit – a fantastic group of young and very original musicians –
Sally’s Krackers- bridging the gap between Old School Folk/Blues and English Alternative Rock – .