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SKOLIAS & BESTER ~ REBETIKO POLONIKO
FOR TUNE 0142 (Barcode: 5906395808564) ~ POLAND ~ World Music & Folklore

Recorded: 2018 Released: 2019

This is a wonderful album by two Polish musicians: charismatic vocalist Jorgos SkoliasFind albums by this artist (obviously of Greek origin) and accordion virtuoso Jaroslaw BesterFind albums by this artist. As the album´s title suggests it offers somewhat polonized versions of traditional Greek Rebetiko songs. The album presents twelve tracks, eleven of which are of traditional origin and one is an original instrumental composition by Bester.

I have no idea how many listeners in Poland have been exposed to Rebetiko, or even any other kind non-popular Greek music, but for me this album is a true feast for the ears. Outside of Greece, Israel is probably the most likely place on earth to hear Rebetiko on a daily basis, on the radio or on stage in the small tavernas in Jaffa, where the majority of Israelis of Greek origin made their homes. Rebetiko and its Cultural, historical, social and musical significance is so vast and diverse that it requires years of study to be comprehended properly. But since the music of our Mediterranean neighbors is so close to our hearts, even without being a music scholar this music can be, and in fact is dearly loved here.

Of course the accordion is not the immediate instrument associated with Rebetiko; the bouzouki is the absolute monarch of the genre and great Masters of the instrument are much loved and cherished in Greece, often way more than Pop stars. Bester steps boldly into the challenging circumstances involved in this recording and his adaptation of the Rebetiko atmosphere is truly superb. Rather than trying to imitate the original sound, he takes the music to his familiar neighborhood of Polish Folklore and Hassidic Music, creating the "Rebetiko Poloniko" atmosphere which the album´s title hints to. Bester´s accordion playing exposes the unlimited possibilities of the instrument on the one hand and his incredible sensitivity and musicality on the other hand.

Skolias handles the traditional Rebetiko in his own idiosyncratic way, again not imitating the famous Masters of the idiom, but creating a new approach which mixes the Greek origins with Blues and other European vocal traditions. The resulting vocal delivery masterfully emphasizes the universality of music. His version of Rebetiko might raise some brows in a Piraeus taverna, but will surely be embraced for its evident honesty and intrinsic beauty.

Overall this is a beautiful album, from start to end, which should touch any true music lover, even if this is his first encounter with Rebetiko magic. Congratulation to both musicians for the courage and vision needed to tackle such an ambitious project and deep thanks for the album´s emotional value.
Updated: 19/07/2019Posted: 18/07/2019CD 1 Recommend To A Friend

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