Greek musical improv group performs at Pierce

The Mahlis-Panos Project, a jazzy collaboration of traditional Greek music and bass play, performed atop the highest point at Pierce College Thursday in MUS 3400.

The group consists of Greek musicians Dimitris Mahlis and Toss Panos, who use their shared background to blend eastern and western musical stylings with the versatility of American bass player Dan Latz.

Students and faculty members filled a packed room of more than 80 audience members.  After a short introductory speech by host and adjunct music instructor James Bergman, the group proceeded to perform five different musical pieces.

Panos recalled how he met the two other group members.

“Me and Dimitris met in 1988 when we were about 23 years old.  We started playing in my back room in my house.  It was a place for us to get together and play music even though we were not getting paid for it,” Panos said.  “All the jazz I know I learned from Dimitris in those early sessions we had.  I went on to meet Dan in 1996.”

The group has been playing together off and on for almost five years.

“We play very sporadically,” Lutz said. “The last time we played together was probably back in early November.  We didn’t get a chance to rehearse at all for today.  In fact, I haven’t even seen these guys since then.”

All three artists have been able to perform individually around the world and have set high standards in each of their strong suits.  Panos began playing at the age of 6, and had his first professional experience at age 10 performing in Greek nightclubs.  Lutz, who primarily works out of Los Angeles, has 15 years of experience in studio, commercial, movie and television sessions.

Mahlis, who is a master of the guitar and oud, is also a composer and sets the melody for the group during performances.

“I’m very proud to play the oud.  Essentially, this instrument is the grandfather of the guitar.  It is one of the oldest plucked string instruments and is an honor to play,” Mahlis said.

As the audience filed out of the room at the end of the performance, the group began breaking down their equipment to resume their personal work as artists, but said that they look to reunite for another show in the near future.