ONE of the most uplifting experiences
you can have in Athens is to be infused
by the (surprising!) musical
magic of the municipal Athens Big Band.
It’s mid afternoon on a direly dreary day (look out the window), and as you’re shuffling through the metro station, walking past streams of similarly zombified Athenians, wishing you’d grabbed a frothy cappuccino just like the one you caught a mouthwatering whiff of from a passerby before you entered the station, there they are – Wham! bam! alakazam! – standing proud, playing loud and blasting a beautiful big band rendition of All That Jazz or The Sunny Side of The Street, offering you exactly the cheerful kick your being demands in order to get your day rolling.
The City of Athens Big Band is the municipality’s broad jazz music ensemble comprising the four instrument families, namely saxophones, trumpets, trombones and rhythmic drums, often backed by string and other symphonic instruments. They are the dream of classic jazz fans, bringing the sounds of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Count Bassie and many more jazz heroes to life on the streets and music stages of Athens.
I have often had the good luck to come across them during the most random, unexpected moments when their potent sound, contagious energy and verve has effectively served to resuscitate me from near-death-ennui or relieve me instantly of urban dyspepsia.
I suspect I am not alone in having experienced this huge head to toe / inside out sense of rhythmic rapture as there are a great deal of Athens Big Band fans out there, and crowds regularly swarm to their organised (free) staged performances around town, in which they often also accompany talented singers and are often directed by acclaimed conductors.
The City of Athens Big Band’s repertoire consists of historic compositions and orchestrations by the pioneers of the Big Band philosophy, as well as modern, quality jazz works oftentimes penned by Greek artists. They have a Facebook page and a reference page in the municipal website (too sad to present here) but as with many great, rare and cultishly adorable existences in Greece, they are hardly given the respect and credit they deserve.
So here’s to the Athens Big Band, and may you too have the good fortune of coming across them during a random moment, and be infused by their musical charms.
Are you an Athens Big Band fan? Comment here!