Dimitri Vassilakis

Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Born: October 21, 1961    

Dimitri Vassilakis

Dimitri Vassilakis is a celebrated award winning saxophonist/vocalist/composer/educator. Has recorded 5 albums for the historic Candid Label in London “Labyrinth” was voted 2nd jazz album of the year at the BBC Internet poll and was album of the month March 2002 for BBC Music Magazine. New album “Across The Universe” recorded in New York, with top jazzmen from all continents, is out on Candid Records 50th anniversary edition.

Has played all around the globe, notably at Birdland NY, Yale, Natural History Museum Washington DC for the Smithsonian Institute and Jazz appreciation month, Onassis Cultural Centre New York, Sweet Rhythm and Zinc New York, London Jazz Festival Royal Festival Hall, South Africa Tour and major festivals in Europe and the Balkans, while reviewers refer to him as the Greek god of jazz… Has played and recorded among others with: Jeff “Tain” Watts, Dave Liebman, Marc Johnson, Abdullah Ibrahim, Essiet Essiet, Jamie Cullum, Adam Nussbaum, Theodosii Spassov, Ralph Peterson, Andy Sheppard, Milcho Leviev, Ron Affif, Juliet Kelly....
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Album of the month for the BBC Music Magazine March 2002 for Daedalus Project - Labyrinth, later voted 2nd jazz album of the year 2002 at the BBC Internet poll!
Dimitri Vassilakis press cuts:

“Dimitri has a wonderful voice especially evocative and warm on the ballads…some robust saxophone work and fine arrangements” Bruce Lundvall

“Saxophonist-vocalist Dimitri Vassilakis is a dynamic live performer. His highflying style full of impassioned lines and impeccable technique, fires his exciting new album.” London Jazz Festival

“Infinite grace poetry and passion...Dimitri Vassilakis is revered as the Hellenic God of post-modern expression. A rhapsodic stylist of immense power and authority.” BBC Music Magazine

“Vassilakis leads a groove-based trio with Essiet Essiet and Jeff “Tain” Watts...I’ve little doubt that if these three played live, it would burn…” Jazz Times NY

“Dimitri Vassilakis uses the warmth of his Greek spirit to inform a command of the jazz language, with a series of great Candid recordings to his name.” London Jazz Festival

“Jazz among the Greek Gods…Dimitri Vassilakis brings fresh, organic and energized music to the Smithsonian.” Natural History Museum Washington DC

“Vassilakis is a consistently interesting and often very impressive player…conjures amazing depths of color and harmonic resonance from his group… filtered through a unique imagination and delivered by a powerfully individual voice.” The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD 7th edition

“His timbre is soaked in thick, slow harmonic molasses…” One Way Magazine LA

“Leader Vassilakis’s compositions offer a perfect platform for post-modern expression…whiz-kid tenor player from Greece…post-Coltrane, post-Rollins style…high-energy and immensely fluid…overall, euphorically dizzying.” “Live at Birdland” “New York Press”

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Primary Instrument:


Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.

Ph. Nakas Conservatory sax, combos, analyses, Big Band 1991-2000, Lecturer at University of Macedonia 2000-2007, Clinician at Queens, DePaul, Columbia, Monmouth, Royal Academy, Paris Conservatoire, Athens University, Aristotle University etc

Clinic/Workshop Information:
DIMITRI VASSILAKIS JAZZ SEMINAR/WORKSHOP PROPOSAL BALKAN RHYTHMS AND MODES AND THEIR INTEGRATION INTO MODERN JAZZ • Thematic development in improvisation • Techniques for polyrhythmic development • Circular breathing • Vocal improvisation (scatting) A mix of recorded and live examples that spans a wide range of jazz literature, from the works of Max Roach, Don Ellis, and Dave Brubeck, to Balkan jazz-fusion, modern jazz, and Vassilakis’s material for the Candid label, is used to illustrate: 1) The simultaneous unfolding of multiple and asymmetric (e.g. 5, 7, 9 11, 13, etc.) time signatures, to form well- organized musical structures that can sustain controlled variation within a broad range of swing, flow, and groove feels. Parts will be made out for a variety of instruments and students will be guided in their performance of and improvisation over originals and well-known standards in different time signatures and grooves. 2) Greek and other Balkan scales, modes, and tuning approaches and how they can be used to enhance and enrich modal improvisation. Thematic development will touch upon known forms (e.g. sonata, cyclic forms, etc) and will extend to short motif development, especially useful in building jazz solos. Concepts of symmetry and varied repetition and aspects of acoustics and perception will be formally addressed to enhance the students’ understanding of structural and sonic harmony. Recorded examples by Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and others will serve as guides for the students’ improvisational efforts. Work on polyrhythmic development will also include integration of a swing feel to a large variety of grooves and simultaneous unfolding of layered time signatures. We will also touch upon different degrees of swing, time feel, and time modulation. The technique of circular breathing will be illustrated in harmonic and melodic contexts and will be approached as a tool to support melodic/harmonic integrity and development, while scatting and vocalizing will be explored for the ways they can help unlock hidden melodic potentials for the jazz instrumentalist. EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS: Fully equipped rehearsal room, studio, or concert hall including minimum sound system to cover vocal or instrumental microphones, drum kit, piano or keyboard, bass and guitar amps, CD player, and a PC/MAC computer projection set-up.

MarkVI 1957 tenor and 1961 soprano...

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