Il Saggiatore

A tavern that you cannot see from the street, a small door marking the entrance. Inside, a few tables, low lights, smoke. At the back of the hall a small stage, where you play in line, in front of people. Voice, guitar, bouzouki. Tonight we play rebetiko. You listen to it while you eat and drink. There is no way out. 

Vinicio Capossela walked the streets of Greece during the year of the financial crack. He met what is left of the legendary rebetes in Athens, Tessaloniki and Crete’s taverns, catching visions, thrills, magic and illusions on a small notebook, his “tefteri”.  

Capossela tells an unprecedented Greece, suffering and proud, that rediscovers rebetiko as “crisis music”. A music of absence, born from the rage and nostalgia of a people, the Greek-Turkish one, that in 1922 ended up rootless and foreign in its own homeland. 

Rebetiko is a political choice, rebetiko is belonging. It is the song of a siren that echoes in the harbors of Mare nostrum (the Mediterranean Sea). 

You do not clap at rebetiko, you break plates: the root of its energy comes from its anarchism. Note after note, page after page, «Tefteri» is the transcription of debts and credits that are necessary to «learn how to live». It is the register of unfinished business that everybody has towards life and death. Because, since ancient times, what comes from Greece is part of the universal, it tells us about Man and his fate, right there where he was born. When he went over the necessity and he invented game and art. When he lifted his head up and became Anthropos.

«Greece tells us about man since ever. Crisis is a Greek word too, it comes from the verb krino: separate, choose. In this tefteri I marked many unifinished business that humanity has towards itself and the world we live in. To talk about it I chose a kind of music that accompanies crisis, a kind of music that was born from separation, that in 1920s gave a voice to the anarchist and unconventional side of its listeners. A kind of music that does not keep apart from life truth and pain, that expresses a mood and a way to take life. A kind of music that imposes a choice: choose what you are made of. A kind of behaviour compass, although, as a songs says, the real rebetes are all dead. It is true, they are dead, but the question is still alive: what do we choose to be made of? 

That is the unfinished business, the overdraft, that repeats in this tefteri, written by an author who tried not to hinder the voices that he heard. Now that I think about it, even bios is a Greek word. It means life. Everybody’s life taps into the great, primigenic basin of life».

Vinicio Capossela