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Still-fresh Half Note Jazz Club turns 30 October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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The venue is back for another season of jazz and much more with live performances seven nights a week > Chilean Claudia Acuna, who has released work on the Verve label, performs until Thursday.

Celebrating its 30th year in the business this winter, the Half Note Jazz Club, nowadays a bigger, more extravagant and pricier venue compared to its humbler earlier versions at several locations around Athens, promises to continue its trademark policy of non-stop music for yet another year. All may lie still across the road from the venue, at the capital’s First Cemetery in the Mets district, but, since moving to the neighborhood a little over a decade ago, the jazz club has offered live music seven days a week, often beyond the jazz field.

Originally launched in 1977, when jazz music was a rare breed here, at a venue along Michalakopoulou Street, not far from downtown Athens, the Half Note relocated to Strefi Hill in Exarchia and then moved again for a considerable spell to the downtown Ambelokipi area before settling at its current Mets base in the mid-90s.

Now, just weeks into the new season, the Half Note is currently hosting Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuna and her quintet until Thursday. Acuna, who performed at the Athens club seven years ago, has proven a notable figure on the international circuit in recent years.

Though she always wanted to be a singer, the Santiago-born and -raised Acuna, who grew up singing her homeland’s traditional folk songs and pop hits, did not discover jazz music until her mid-teens. She began frequenting a key jazz club in Santiago, both as a performer and audience member, before moving to New York City in 1995 to pursue the career more seriously. She started taking on odd jobs and was a keen contributor to jam sessions, sometimes waiting until the early morning hours for her chance to sing, gradually making a name for herself on New York’s circuit.

Five years after her move to New York, Acuna put our her debut album, “The Wind From the South” on the renowned label Verve Records, which offered the new artist a contract. She has since released another two albums, 2002’s “Rhythm of Life” and 2004’s “Luna.” Her live sets include Latin jazz numbers, originals steeped in bossa nova and soul balladry, as well as covers of material by major artists such as George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder.

Fado singer Silvia Filipe, a French-born artist of Portuguese descent, takes over from Acuna on Friday for a further week. Like a fair number of her contemporaries, Filipe has added poetic and theatrical elements to the old fado style, a popular Portuguese song form that emerged early last century. Filipe released her debut album “Sea of Fado” in 2003 and followed up with last year’s “Canto Serena.” Interestingly, Filipe uses saxophone, an unorthodox choice of instrument for fados, which will be included in her backing trio for her Athens shows.

Forthcoming Half Note bookings, beyond Filipe’s October 26 to November 1 residency, include: blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin with Buddy Flett and the Bluebirds (November 2-8); the Rashied Ali Quintet (November 9-15); flamenco act David Perez – Ana Morales Y Grupo (November 16-22); and soul-jazz act Stephanie McKay (November 30 – December 6). For bookings, call 210 9213310 or 210 9232360.

Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou Street, Mets, Athens, tel 210 9213310.

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