Gus Vali


American-born of Greek parents, Gus Vali studied at the Manhattan School of music and performed with Louis Prima, Artie Shaw, Johnny Long, Sonny Dunham, and Jan August. Leading his own group, he became the leading exponent of authentic Greek music, including its overlap with the traditions of neighboring regions. Accomplished on the flute, clarinet, and saxophone, he brings a unique Greek sensibility to a field dominated by artists considered more "oriental." Through various labels and projects Vali tried many different styles and featured different vocalists. During his late period as "Admiral of the Navel Academy," his exotic flute meshed wonderfully with the oud of George Mgrdichian.

Gus Vali's records are important for several reasons. First, he is the chief exponent of the Greek variety of oriental music. Second, his leadership with flute and clarinet are unusual in a field dominated by oud and derbecki players. Third, Chimera is singular, one of the hippest albums blending rock and jazz with oriental music. And there are plenty of outstanding exotic moments on his earlier records, even among his interpretations of Hollywood standards and other predictable fare. And the rare Greek Soul is the first of his later-period records with broad appeal for the contemporary DJ.

At this writing Gus Vali still performs in the greater New York City area. For performance availability, contact Vali Music: 201-768-9100; 469 Livingston St. Norwood, NJ 07648.



Gus Vali LPs

Rating
7Gus Vali & his Authentic Greek Orchestra: The Greeks Had a Song for It; United Artists UAL-30004-S; 1958 ("S" suffix for stereo version)
7Gus Vali & his Casbah Ensemble: All Points East; United Artists UAS-6083; 1960
The Greek Way; United Artists UAS-6148; 1961
7Gus Vali & his Parea: Sing Along in Greek; Glendi G-4005; 1961 (Chet Amsterdam, co-prod.; arr. Norman Gold; notes by Val Arms)
Oli Mazi! (Means "Sing Along" in Greek); United Artists UAS-6213; 1962 (possibly reissues Glendi)
A Greek in Dixieland; United Artists UAS-6250; 1962
7Gus Vali & his Casbah Ensemble: Dance Bellyrina, Dance!; United Artists UAS-6302; 1963 (Belly Dances--For Men Only; United Artists/UnArt S-21017; 1967, 10 tracks)
If It's Greek It's Greek; United Artists UAS-6321; 1963
6The Exciting Sounds of the Middle East; United Artists UAS-6404; 1965
551 Belly Dancer Favorites; Musicor MS-3021 (Turkish Delight--51 Belly Dancer Favorites; Musicor MS-3092)
51 Belly Dancer Favorites Vol. 2; Musicor MS-3147/MM-2147
7Motion Picture Music for Belly Dancers; Musicor MS-3050
8[And] All Ports East; Musicor MS-3064
8Greek Soul; United Artists International UNS-15563; 1970 (hip, funky, prod. Chet Amsterdam)
7Belly Dance Navel Academy; Peters International PI-LPS-30; 1972 (w/George Mgrdichian; in Greece as Melophone 333007)
6Belly Dancer Favorites; Musicor MS-3252; 1973 (compilation; reissued as Belly Dance!; Springboard/Trip TOP-16-12 w/instruction book)
7"Let's Belly Dance" with Gus Vali; [Greece]; 1973 (w/George Mgrdichian; in US as Peters International PI-LPS-93)
8Chimera--A Fantasy in Jazz-Rock-Mid-East Sounds; [Greece]; 1974 (Peters International PI-LPS-9005)
7Belly Dance Navel Academy Vol. 2; [Greece]; 1977 (w/George Mgrdichian; in US as Peters International PLD-2003)


Partly Gus Vali LPs

Rating
8The Sultan's Caravan: Belly Dance to Great Navel Music; RCA Victor AFL1-1820; 1976 (led by Joe Castellon, w/Hakki Obadia, Souren Baronian..)


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