One of the most significant voices of Greece, Maria Farantouri, and renowned US jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd continue their fourteen-year music collaboration, this time in Australia.
Presented by the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and The Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture, Farantouri and Lloyd’s Sunday night performance, to a sold out crowd at Melbourne Town Hall, was simply sublime.
Maria Farantouri, through her actions and voice, is legendary for the honesty and justice she symbolises, and the inspiration she generates. With her participation in demonstrations against the Greek Military Junta in the late 1960s /early 1970s, Farantouri became known as the “voice of resistance”. These protests and her consequent exile, as well as her musical collaborations with the great Greek composers, Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hatzidakis, added to the feeling of awe one felt on Sunday night, just to be in her presence.
On stage with Farantouri stood another legend, Charles Lloyd. Lloyd, along with his sax, epitomises the spirit and truth he has vehemently pursued over the last few decades. His music, filled with soul and sincerity, guided the audience along the same quest.
Performing together, Farantouri and Lloyd were unparalleled. Seemingly unsuited, their folk meets jazz blend was impressively interconnecting; in-tune with sound and message. Accompanying them on stage were musicians Takis Farazis on piano, Socrates Sinopoulos on lyra, Reuben Rogers on double bass and Eric Harland on drums. Though all equally impressive in skill, Sinopoulos’ lamenting lyra surpassed, capturing many hearts.
Farantouri and Lloyd began with a beautiful rendition of Theodorakis’ “Kratissa Ti Zoi Mou” (I Kept a Hold of My Life). The song, composed with the words of George Seferis’ poem, cemented the feeling that the combination of jazz and Greek folk was destined.
Highlights included the traditional Greek folk songs from the Dodecanese Islands, and Lloyd’s “Prayer” where Farantouri amazingly vocalised the wordless song with heartfelt harmony. Such contrast and passionate power was not unsettling but added to the texture of Lloyd’s tender, wanting improvisation.
“The Greek Project” was a night of exquisitely haunting harmony and moving soulful sound. Yet, although mournful, it was surprisingly uplifting as well. Ending with the fabulous traditional Greek folk songs “Thalassaki Mou”(My Little Sea) and “Yanni Mou”(My Yanni), the audience left the concert not in despair but full of hope.
The Greek Project, featuring Maria Farantouri & Charles Lloyd, has one more Australian date:
Wednesday 4th June at City Recital Hall Angel Place in Sydney.
Don’t miss out.
Photos by Mary Boukouvalas