Primary Instrument: Vibraphone
Born in Kozani, Greece, Christos Rafalides can't remember a time when he wasn't surrounded by music. The influence of his older brother led him to the piano at the age of seven. He began his studies in classical percussion at the age of fourteen, and by the time he was twenty he was working in some of the best Orchestras in Greece. He believed he would continue his career as a classical percussionist, until one evening when he heard pianist George Cables with the group of Billy Cobham 'here was this guy, playing with his shoes off, conveying so much feeling through his instrument... I knew I wanted to be able to express myself like that. From that moment, Christos knew he would be a jazz musician.
Upon receiving a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, he moved to Boston, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, studying with Ed Saindon. His desire to continue growing brought him to New York City to study with acclaimed jazz vibraphonist Joe Locke at the Manhattan School of Music. Finishing his Masters Degree, Christos began to immerse himself in the vital NYC jazz scene. In a short while he was playing with such notable musicians as Ravi Coltrane, Antonio Sanchez, Donny McCaslin, Mark Ledford and Ron Affif, among others.
Christos found his personal voice as a player and composer when he established 'Manhattan Vibes', a jazz group with a modern sound, which revealed his developing affinity for Latin and other world musics. The group's eponymously titled CD featured the talents of John Benitez on bass and Steve Hass on drums, two of the most respected young players on the contemporary music scene. The legendary trumpeter Randy Brecker also appears as a special guest. In Jazz Times' magazine's 2002 Year In Review issue, the recording was held as, ...one of the top-ten jazz recordings of 2002.
Christos' latest project is a vibes/marimba collaboration with his erstwhile mentor, Joe Locke. The duo performed original music from their recent release Van Gogh by Numbers to an enthusiastic overflowing audience at the 2005 PASIC convention in Columbus, Ohio - an event which sparked considerable interest in the percussion world.
In the spring of 2007, Christos performed a series of concerts with the Charles Mingus Epitaph Band featuring bassist Christian McBride and conductor Gunther Schuller. In the fall of that same year, he also performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Whether in the studio or in concert situations, Christos continues to maintain a busy schedule. Recent highlights include a performance as featured soloist with the Orchestra of Colours, performing Thanos Mikroutsikos' Music Stories at the Athens Concert Hall; appearing, along with Mike Stern and Dave Weckl, on George Fakanas' critically acclaimed Domino CD; featured soloist with Maria Farantouri (Athens Festival) at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus; adding his vibraphone and marimba textures to the recent recordings of vocalists Chaka Khan, Christy Baron, Italian pop artist Jovanotti, Greek singer-sonwriter Alkinoos Ioannidis. Recently he played on the soundtrack of Michaels Moore's latest film Capitalism, a Love Story.
His latest collaboration with Greece's legendary composer Mimis Plessas led to the release of two projects, both based on Plessas' music from the 60s: the album Echo: the music of Mimis Plessas (Emarel Music) featuring Evi Siamanda on vocals and the soon-to-be released duo recording We Two (Emarel Music) featuring Mimis Plessas on piano and Christos on vibraphone. He also collaborated with pianist Sergio Salvatore in a duo recording entitled Dark Sand.
Christos has led groups at many of NYC's cutting edge venues including the Blue Note, the 55 Bar, the Jazz Standard and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. He is also a member of Queens College private lesson faculty.