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Berklee Alums Banda Magna Make A Triumphant Return To The Red Room

“I was a classical pianist when I went to Berklee," said Magda Giannikou. "If you want to play with all the jazz cats, it’s very hard. I was the only person who had an accordion – not knew how to play one – had one. Everyone wanted me to play on their project. That’s the story. I hope it was good enough.”
All photos by Bradley Fargo

I last saw Magda Giannikou, the front-woman of Banda Magna, as the opener of a Snarky Puppy show in St. Louis. Since then, I’ve been looking out for more. A more extensive bio of the woman can be found here.

Banda Magda, an international band formed out of friendships at the Berklee College of Music, dances between musical styles and languages, featuring members from Greece, Argentina, Colombia and Japan as well as the United States. They play global tunes, switching between South African rhythms and French lyrics — playing cinematic Greek folk tunes as well as borderline jazz.

Michael League, the band-leader of Snarky Puppy, briefly filled in as a bassist for a live show a couple years ago, and the bands have worked together a couple times since then. Giannikou also appeared as a guest artist on Snarky Puppy’s collaborative album "Family Dinner Volume One."

The band's third album will be released sometime in the next two months. Their website can be found here.

This Wednesday the band returned to their alma mater to play a show. It was extremely hype, and extremely polished, and extremely free.

Some of the show can be streamed through this link.

This photo story was produced as part of WGBH News contributor Dan Kennedy's class in Digital Storytelling and Social Media at Northeastern University.

“This is an assignment I have to get in at 11 p.m. today — I just got it done. I work at stage crew. We set up the stage, the lights,” said Jaidev Rishiyur, a Berklee student and member of stage crew, busy with homework before the show.

The whole band is visible while Justin Stanton solos on the trumpet.

Eduardo Kirschbaum said he was at the show “to enjoy some music." Added Nozomi Mizuno: "I listened to her in the Czech Republic four years ago."

Marcelo Woloski during a drum solo.

Magda Giannikou’s shoes are left on the floor — she is playing accordion on the stool.

A cameraman films, with Justin Stanton (who is also a member of Snarky Puppy) playing keyboards in the background.

Keita Ogawa solos on the percussive pig.

“We went home to hang out and that was basically how this band was created. Basically this band is just a moving party,” said Giannikou.

Bobby Lanzetti getting into a guitar solo.

Justin Stanton standing up from the keyboards to play trumpet.

The audience standing up for one of the final songs of the set.


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