Na Zisi E Nyfi Ki’O Gambros
“Bouzoukee music can rightfully be called Greek jazz.
Today, the bouzoukee bistros in new York, besides doing a roaring trade, boast a following of renowned aficionados. Among the sophisticated members of the bouzoukee cult are singer Tommy Sands, actress Sophia Loren, actor Dana Andrews, playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge not to mention socialites, college students and tourists from all corners of the world.
That is not to say, of course, that the Greek people, to whom this haunting and hypnotic music really belongs, aren’t among its most devoted camp followers. For on any night during the week, braving summer rains or winter snow storms, you’ll find youthful sailors from the just-harbored Hellenic ships, middle aged Greek business men with their wives, raucous old bachelors sitting back in their favorite bouzoukee clubs to revel in the rhythms of the bouzoukee.
“And what exactly is a bouzoukee?” the uninitiated ask.
A bouzoukee is a long-handled, gourd-shaped, handmade instrument that dates back to the long-gone days of the old Byzantium. Yet, it’s remained a favorite instrument in the Bohemian atmosphere of the open-air tavernas along the colorful waterfront of Piraeus in Greece, providing the musical background for solo dances of fishermen and mariners who oftentimes balance tumblers of drinking water or wine on their heads while twirling to the bouzoukee’s stirring music.
Now in New York, there’s bouzoukee music to please all tastes from sensuous tsiftetellis to mournful laments of lost loves to taxims (or solo improvisations) at the crowded bouzoukee hideaways in Manhattan’s fur district.
Usually seated on a rose-lighted bandstand at the far end of the nightclub, the bouzoukee player plucks the strings so effortlessly he’s likely not to call much attention to himself or to his instrument of handsome inlaid ebony wood with mother-of-pearl trim. Bouzoukee players sit; one never has an image of them at their feet. And, judging by the dozens I’ve known, they all affect black, bushy moustaches (all except young Yanni Tattasopoulos and Yanni Stamatiou whose bouzoukee is heard in this album) which accent their gold-capped teeth whenever they break into a smile.
While the bouzoukee is played, some youngish man with eyes dreamy from his drink of ouzo will step forward and snap his fingers as he begins tracing intricate, syncopated patterns on the hardwood dance floor. Sometimes he dances alone, sometimes with a male friend, occasionally with a girlfriend or wife.
With Nina’s latest “Bouzoukee Party” album, you can hear the outstanding music of Yanni Tattasopoulos and Yanni Stamatiou, two of Athens’ best bouzoukee players. Miss Poly Panou, renowned in Greek circles for her singing artistry, adds richness to the bouzoukee music with her earthy interpretations of a number of songs.
They are all accompanied by a lively orchestra. And with every spin of the turntable, this inimitable Greek jazz will fill you full of good-time partying spirit.”