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30 Apr

Dimos Dimitriadis Interview

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Dimitriadis is regarded as a key figure in musical education in Greece. He is the founder of the unique and highly successful Jazz Studies Program at the Ionian University in Corfu, where he holds the position of Associate Professor of Saxophone and Head of Jazz Studies, the first academic position given to a jazz musician in this country. His international training and strong performance skills, have brought him to record and perform next to some of the leading jazz musicians  such as Tim Hagans, Adam Nussbaum, Chico Freeman, Ron McClure, Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Keith Copeland, Armen Donelian, JD Walter, Jonathan Kreisberg, Andy Middleton, Chico Freeman and many others. Jazzonline met him few weeks before his concert at Athens Concert Hall on May 31, 2014

1- Dimos Dimitriadis Quintet is scheduled on May 31 at Athens Concert Hall. What about this new Quintet ? (Who are they – why did you choose them ) and what are we going to listen to ?
The program I am preparing for the Athens Concert Hall is titled: "Dream Modes".
It consists of compositions quite different from those on my first CD "The Game". "The Game" reflected my love for sophisticated melodies and forms in the 60s-like modern jazz style, played live with powerful players. "Dream Modes" is a different set of compositions. They reflect memories from my childhood. The songs have strong references to traditional modes and rhythms but all this is filtered through "time past". And "time past" transforms memories into dreaming. Duke Ellington is my guide on this. There is a famous talk on television with Ralph Gleason. Duke is asked "where do you get your ideas?" and he replies: "I got a million dreams, it's all I do . . . I dream . . . all the time".
In Athens I will be playing with two of my favorite younger jazz musicians. Yiannis Papadopoulos and Ntinos Manos. They are "my children", so to speak. I have known them from their first year at Ionian University and followed every step of their development. I guess I have guided their development to a certain degree. The result is that we have a very deep understanding and a strong bond. They are the nicest young cats to be around and play, seriously, and they have also grown to be quite dedicated teachers which makes me also very proud. I will be also joined by one of the most powerful jazz trombonists I know, Antonis Andreou who was also on my first recording when he was only 17.
But the featured artist is of course drummer Marc Halbheer an amazing colleague with very interesting projects of his own and a fellow professor at Luzern University jazz school. We share very similar approaches to teaching jazz and jazz rhythm in particular and have worked together teaching and playing. Our latest work together was last May in Corfu where we hosted Marc as a visiting professor at the Ionian University.

2- Could you tell us few words about your work at the jazz department of the Ionian University in Corfu ? We have noticed that you always have famous musicians from abroad coming for masterclasses or workshops and also the elite of jazz scene has been there.
The jazz program at the Ionian University is now in its 17th year. We have 23 excellent graduates who are all among the best young jazz players in Greece. Some continue to study at the best jazz master's programs in Europe and the US, many of them have been awarded Fulbright and Onasis scholarships. Probably the most prominent among them is Lefteris Kordis an amazing pianist and teacher at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Lefteris is the first greek jazz musician who obtained a doctorate in jazz studies with a very interesting thesis on jazz education.
I think what makes the Ionian Jazz program so successful is a number of things. First is the fact that we have created a real jazz community with shared musical and educational values. All students and all our great teachers over the years share them: George Kontrafouris (who is now Lecturer) and Stefanos Andreadis but also Dimitris Kalantzis, Alex Drakos Ktistakis, Vasilis Rakopoulos, Makis Stefanidis. Secondly we are probably the jazz music school with the best international educational connections. We have exchange agreements with 12 European countries and some of the best jazz schools in the world: the Sibelius Academy, the Paris Conservatoire, Graz and Luzern Universities and the Royal Academy of Music in the Hague. There has been an impressive flow of American artists and teachers also: Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Ron McLure, Jonathan Kreisberg, JD Walter, Armen Donelian, the amazing trumpet player Tim Hagans who has never taught or played anywhere else in Greece except in our Summer Academy in Corfu which ran for 5 consecutive years. Most of our students graduate with a real international experience either by studying abroad at one of our Erasmus partner schools or by participating at one of the International IASJ meetings. Until 2010 our Summer Jazz Academy in Corfu was also a true international experience with teachers and students from all over the world. We are hoping to bring this important organization back very soon. Thirdly it is Corfu. An amazing place to live and work in.

3- What about the up coming generation of jazz musicians in this country ?
The age of information, global communication and travel has changed things a lot. There is a big difference between the current and previous generations. Misinformation and lack of education is no longer a problem no less thanks to the Ionian University among others. Some persisting elements of provincialism in the greek scene are slowly disappearing thanks to the younger ones being well travelled and exposed to the world. I see more creativity, imagination and professionalism but I hope these will intensify seriously in the future. We need more fierce dedication to high quality for things to change really. For the first time we are beginning to see some very few but hugely talented youngsters now. I am looking forward to their work. We might need some truly international successes, maybe a star or two. This could help. But our audience does not help much and this is probably because our culture is relatively conservative and insecure and our general education is anything but progressive. Not just music education. Education is in my opinion still completely antithetical to high quality, achievement, creativity, imagination, innovation, improvisation. I think too much young enthusiasm is being killed by misguided music teaching too. I am always trying to think of ways to help change that. I think teachers must be our primary target at this point rather than students.

4- Could you tell us few things about your work with Dave Liebman at the IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz) ? Where and when is the next meeting and what are you aiming to ?
The IASJ is the only truly global organization for jazz education right now, with members from 40 countries and it is one of the most important parts of my educational work. IASJ was created in 1989 by Dave Liebman and I have been working in the IASJ for the last 13 years. I have been voted to the position of secretary and I have been helping organize international meetings in a different country every year, listening to hundreds of young jazz talents and following (but also influencing) the developments in jazz education globally with the ideas we share and the work we do. Needless to say my position in the IASJ has helped the Ionian University music department and our students tremendously. Not only have most of our graduates had the life-changing experience of an IASJ jazz meeting but also our department now enjoys the privilege of being known and connected globally among IASJ members. The next aim for the IASJ is the expansion to South America, a goal that has started to materialize in 2011 with the meeting in Sao Paulo. We have also supported the launching of a jazz school in India and our next meeting is going to be this July in South Africa.

5- Your last CD – The Game was released in 2011. For when is the next one ?
There is a live recording with a stellar personnel (Lefteris Kordis, Petros Klampanis, Alex Drakos Ktistakis) that I would like to release soon and the recording and releasing of "Dream Modes" is next in line. Admittedly my intense educational work has had its toll on my recordings. Hope to rectify this soon.

6- What about the Ionian Jazz Ensemble. Are you going to make another cd with your students like you did in 2003 & 2011 ?

The two CDs ("Ionian Jazz Ensemble" and "Jazz Now! New Music from Ionian University Jazz Program") have been very important at the time of their release. They were both released through the JazzNTzaz magazine which supported us a great deal but unfortunately is now discontinued. Which means that when the need for a new Ionian CD arises it will force us to find a new source of funding. Soon after the second CD, however, the students themselves started producing their own recordings. It will probably be a compilation next time.

Interview by Patricia Graire -  April 2014  

More about Dimos Dimitriadis http://www.jazzonline.gr/en/musicians/item/81-dimitriadis-dimos.html  &  http://www.jazzonline.gr/en/musicians/itemlist/tag/Dimos%20Dimitriadis.html

Last modified on Friday, 06 June 2014 12:27