GREEK ACCORDION INSTRUMENTALS
by HAJI MAJI
One of my favorite recording artists in any genre is the Greek accordion player Andonis “Papadzis” Amiralis (1896-1959). Papadzis was born in Smyrna, like so many of the best Greek musicians of the time. In addition to accordion, (“armonika” in Greek), he played several string instruments. He recorded many instrumentals, with guitar accompaniment, in the 1920s and 1930s, and also recorded with well-known singers of the time, such the legendary Dalgas. His style is highly ornamented, as was the common approach at the time. Contemporaries such as Yangos Psamatianos and Michalis Trimis use a similar approach. The accordion became a regular part of rebetiko ensemble later, in the 1940s and 50s, but the style was a simpler, more modern approach.
First up are two classic zeibekika. The zeibekiko is a dance that was originally associated with the Turkish Zeibeks, and later became a staple of the rebetika repertoire. The zeibekiko is played in 9/4 rhythm, which gives the melodies an unusual loping quality. The Bohoris is an “easy mark”, according to Tony Klein’s Mortika cd. O Bohoris was recorded in 1932.
This record, attributed to “G. Kourtis,” is almost certainly a dub from an early Victor of Papadzis. The Standard label was started by the Tetos Demitriades.
The syrto is a 4/4 dance, one of the most common found in Greece. The syrto has many varieties, and this one’s title suggest it originates from Smyrna.
In contrast, here’s a “kalamatiano syrto” from 1929.
After Papadzis, the next well-known accordion player is Yangos Psamatianos. He didn’t record as much as Papadzis, at least under his own name. Here he is playing a manes. It’s not an instrumental, but a modal improvisation on both accordion and vocal. This was recorded in 1929.
Here are a couple Victor sides from 1909. I have no idea who the accordion player is on these records. Another lingering mystery is the question of what kind of accordion is being played on these recordings – piano or button style. Compare the sousta to the version I posted here.