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18 Jan

John Balikos Interview

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Interview with John Balikos for the the release of his new album, “Rings Around the Moon”. 

1-You are a teacher, a composer (you composed for large ensembles and Symphony Orchestra) and you now compose for your jazz trio. What is more fun for you among all those things that you do?
From time to time a composer, depending on his age and his surroundings, is influenced by and expresses himself through different genres and idioms of music. For example, when I was younger, I really enjoyed listening to rock music and later, due to my music studies, to classical music. At this point, what helps me express myself as a composer, is composing music for the “John Balikos TRIO”, since my disposition as composer shifts between my two favourite music worlds: European Jazz and the classical music of the early 20th century (e.g. Debussy).

2-How was your trio born?   
Over the last few years, due to some health issues, it was difficult for me to perform my music the way I wanted. Therefore, with the help of my dear friend and fellow musician Petros Varthakouris, the idea of the “John Balikos TRIO” was born. The Trio along with the help of other exceptional musicians and friends, played for the first time my music in 2012 in our debut album by the name “John Balikos TRIO”. The first members of the group were Yiannis Kyrimkyridis on the keyboards, Yiannis Angelopoulos on the drums and, of course, Petros Varthakouris on the double bass. “John balikos TRIO” received great reviews  in Greece and abroad, by offering me at the same time great joy, as well as, the motive to make a second album in the future, as did happen, with “Rings around the moon” presented to you now with the new line-up of the “John Balikos TRIO”. One year after the presentation of the first album, I felt honoured when the composer and pianist, Takis Farazis showed a particular interest in my music, after our cooperation for a concert in Paros where we gave a mutual promise that someday, we would record something together. Promises were kept and T. Farazis imbued my music with his sense of taste, embracing my compositions with an extraordinary naturalness. The same applies for Petros Varthakouris, who has been familiar of my music for years, as well as the new member of the group, Thanos Hatzianagnostou, who perfectly fits in the new line-up of “John Balikos TRIO” with the exquisite melody of his drum playing.

3- Which artist could you have as a guest for this trio who could be a perfect match?
I feel so pleased and complete with the result of this recording that, honestly  at this point I could not imagine a guest better suited to fit in this musical chemistry between the Trio. Besides, we do have a guest in this album, an exceptional string trio: Themis Nikoloudis violin, Yannis Zarias also on violin and Alexandros Kasartzis on the cello. They join in, on two tracks in the album  complementing my music in a magical way; I am really thankful for their participation.


4-You got involved with music at 18, and in Jazz even later. What led you to Jazz music? 
As I previously mentioned, a musician/composer at different times in the course of his development, flirts with a variety of music idioms. I believe in the open-minded approach in music, without strict labels and limitations. For the last years, Jazz and its broad range, monopolizes the field of experimentation and composition, in a way which satisfies my musical restlessness and ideas.

5-What about jazz in Greece. You live in Paros, which has been lately, an island hosting quite a few jazz event. It must be exciting for you to be in this environment. Do you take part of those jazz event in the island ?
The truth is that only a handful of events are happening in Paros, as well as generally in regional Greece. What is comforting however, is that under such difficult conditions there are always people who support and organize such events. One of them is, Vasilis Rakopoulos who has for some years now created a strong bond with the island and organizes a variety of music festivals there. I had the pleasure of participating twice in these festivals, presenting “John Balikos TRIO”. The first time was in 2013, during the jazz festival at the Paros Environmental Park in Naousa and the second was last summer during “Jazz me up-Festival”, where my music from “Rings around the moon” was for the first time performed live.

6-Your first album named “John Balikos Trio” had influences from Jazz, Latin and classical music. What about “Rings Around the Moon”,  your second album which has recently been released? Anything you would like to say about it?
Firstly, I would like to say that the idea for the name of my second album “Rings around the moon”, came after observing the moon one winter night during recordings, when we saw the fascinating view of the moon surrounded by light rings, the so-called “Halo phenomenon”. The title reflects, in the most telling way, the nature of my musical inspiration and describes the performance of the three musicians as they embrace my music with tenderness and refinement. I would like to deeply thank the exceptional musicians and friends who joined me in this effort: Takis Farazis, who embraces my compositions as if they were his own, my dear friend P. Varthakouris with whom I have been working together for many years now, as well as Thanos Chatzianagnostou, with whom —despite him being the youngest addition to the group— it seems as if we have been working together and communicating through music for many years. Besides, this kind of music is not merely a collective work, but an act of parity, defined, renewed and enriched each time it takes place.

7- What are your plans for the following months?
For the time being, I had been pretty busy with recording/releasing the new CD as well as with organizing the presentation. The only thing for sure is that there will be a second presentation in Paros, for all these people who have supported me throughout the years.

Interview for Jazzonline.gr by Patricia Graire - Janvier 2016

Last modified on Monday, 18 January 2016 11:50