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The freedom and the expressive arsenal of jazz serve as a source of inspiration for the internationally acclaimed Greek bass player and composer.

Petros Klampanis

The Bass Ace

Text: Evi Kallini || Photographs: George Lizardos

The freedom and the expressive arsenal of jazz serve as a source of inspiration for the internationally acclaimed Greek bass player and composer. Embarking on a musical journey by his side has a series of out-of-the-box combinations in store.

Award-winning Greek bass player and composer Petros Klampanis’ roots come from the beautiful “musical” Eptanisian island of Zakynthos. He grew up in Greece, surrounded by the magical landscape of the Mediterranean and the traditional sounds of the Balkans. He initiated his studies in Athens, at private conservatoires and the local jazz scene, before moving to Amsterdam, while later on he found himself in New York, where he currently resides.

Music fascinated him since his early childhood years. The sound, the creativity, the acquaintance with distinguished personalities of the field through their work, were the elements that stimulated his inquiring nature. Jazz came later on, when he was mature enough to grasp that, as a music genre, it encompassed everything that he cherished in music, to the utmost extent. “This form of art allows a sense of freedom and expressive fluency that bears no historical precedent”, he explains, and goes on to add: “equally unprecedented is its ability to transform and constantly integrate all kinds of influence.”

His early career was defined by mainstream jazz artists, such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Ray Brown, Thelonious Monk etc. Along the way, he discovered the “modern sounds” of Weather Report, Chick Corea, Tribal Tech and Jaco Pastorius. Blending his personal experience with these influences led him to carve a singular imprint, full of mellowness, dynamic accentuations and out-of-the-box combinations.

The National Public Radio NPR highlighted his sophomore album, Minor Dispute, among the best jazz albums of the year 2015, while his third album, titled Chroma (Motema Music, 2017) was bestowed the Best Album Live Performance award the Independent Music Awards. His most recent distinction came a while ago, again within the framework of the Independent Music Awards, as his fourth album, Irrationalities (Enja / Yellowbird, 2019), won a triplet of awards: one for the album’s production and two for the track Easy Come Easy Go (the fan-driven “Vox Pop” award and the “Jazz Instrumental” award).

The album Irrationalities marks another first: it is the first trio album by Petros Klampanis, who is accompanied by pianist Kristjan Randalu and percussionist Bodek Janke, in a group formed back in 2016. “The idea of returning to an ensemble rather than a band has to do with an aesthetic turn towards minimalism, the simplicity of form and the use of space. After Minor Dispute and Chroma, I sensed it was about time for such an endeavor. Not to mention that it is a whole lot easier to go touring with a trio” he confessed with a smile.

As a bass player, he has appeared live in historic venues, such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, as well as Kennedy Center in Washington DC, while he has taken part in prestigious international festivals, such as Jazzahead in Bremen and Berlin’s XJAZZ. In Greece, he has given concerts at Athens Concert Hall, Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Onassis Cultural Center and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.

Petros Klampanis holds Greece to his heart and wishes to spend every summer of his life in his birthplace, as it is the ideal destination for summer holidays! One of his fondest memories of Greece during summertime was that of Sani Festival 2015, where he co-presented Chronos Project alongside Dimitra Galani, Christos Rafailides, Thomas Konstantinou and Spyros Manesis. His next tour in Greece will take place in September, provided that conditions aren’t forbidding.

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