March 3, 2024

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Interview with Dimitris Angelakis: Success doesn’t mean necessarily happiness: Video

Jazz interview with jazz vibraphonist Dimitris Angelakis. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Dimitris Angelakis: – Hello and thank you for the invitation! I grew up in a city, North of Greece, called Thessaloniki. It is the second largest city of Greece. My first influence was my father. He is retired now but he is a trumpet player, a piano player and an arranger and I decided at around 9 years old that I want to be a jazz musician because I felt connected with the American jazz and soul music listening my father’s tapes. Of course back then I didn’t play the vibraphone but I was interested in percussions and since I like to play melodies I thought that the perfect instrument to play jazz is the vibraphone since you play melodies by hitting the bars.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

DA: – Well, in order to work and find my sound (still trying!) I got inspired mainly from two vibraphonists. Philadelphia based Tony Miceli and New York based Christos Rafalides. Christos is Greek and he took lessons from my father and he showed me all the secrets of jazz improvisation. In a way he transferred to me his New York experience every time he visited Greece. On the other hand Tony he showed me not only the secrets but also how to practise.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

DA: – I used to learn solos by ear, sing melodies and licks all the time, even when shopping groceries and learn the instrument by practising 4 mallet techniques, scales, drop 2 technique etc. Generally I spent many hours both practising on vibraphone (sometimes piano) and mentally. All those things took time for me but I really wanted to express myself playing the vibraphone and I stick to that plan!

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

DA: – This is an interesting question. I am also a classically educated musician but I spent many years studying jazz. A couple of years though I started listening and studying again composers like Bach, Chopin, Stravinsky, Bella Bartok in order to widen my harmonic perspective. I remember vibraphonist Joe Locke once told me that I should also check out modern classical composers. Of course Joe helped me especially during quarantine to practise new things, deeper in many ways in jazz and that was a great thing for me. Christos introduced me to Joe Locke and it was a magical moment!

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

DA: – I usually try to not have many expectations and to enjoy the moment!!! Not an easy task I might say!

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

DA: – I am still trying to find this balance!

JBN: – Our readers will definitely think that you are stupid, because you did not even understand what the interview is about, that all the questions are about this issue. I feel sorry for you.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

DA: – It really depends on the venue. Sometimes you just have to play music that the people want to listen and other times you just do your thing. In both cases I try to be myself!

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

DA: – This question could be where jazz or where music is heading I think 🙂 Unfortunately I do not have the answer. One thing I would like to share is that whatever we do we must try to connect the music with the community, not only the music one but in general. At least heading for this direction.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

DA: – I don’t know what is the meaning of life. One thing I could tell you is that success doesn’t mean necessarily happiness. There has to be a balance to everything.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

DA: – Give money to all the artists to travel and play music without any hustle.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

DA: – Erycah Badu.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

DA: – Music is one of the vehicle to discover ourselves and explore new ways to connect with our fellow musicians and the audience.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

DA: – I would really want to chat with Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Parker and maybe Socrates! Just to have a coffee with them…

JBN: – At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

DA: – Hope the reader understand that I am just a vibraphonist trying to make music with 37 metal bars which is the exact numbers of the bars we hit on the vibraphone.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Vibraphone | Dimitris Angelakis vibraphonist jazz music

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