Yanni moves gig from The Q to CSU's Wolstein Center to accommodate Cleveland Cavaliers
by John Soeder / Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic
Thursday May 28, 2009, 11:00 AM
SWIMMER'S EAR: Before music beckoned, Yanni set a swimming record in Greece.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3.
Where: Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Ave., Cleveland.
Tickets: $47.50-$95 at the box office and www.livenation.com,
or charge by phone at 1-877-598-8703.
Note: Tickets for Yanni's show at The Q must be exchanged at the Wolstein Center box office. Call 216-687-9292.
Far be it from Yanni to get in LeBron James' way.
The easy-listening keyboardist doesn't follow basketball, although he did his part to help the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yanni agreed to move his concert Wednesday evening from The Q to Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center, just in case James & Co. were to need their home court for a post-season game.
"I'm glad I won't create any problems for the athletes," Yanni said, reached by phone last week at home in Florida.
Before the world came to know him on a first-name basis, Yanni Chryssomallis grew up in Kalamata, Greece. As a member of the Greek national swim team, he broke his homeland's freestyle record when he was 14.
"I understand what it takes for an athlete to be ready," he said. "If you change a game by a day or by two days, you could affect the way a team is peaking or mentally prepared."
His latest album, "Yanni Voices," mixes new material with fresh takes on popular instrumentals from his past, updated with vocals.
No, Yanni doesn't sing. He leaves that to fully capable up-and-comers Nathan Pacheco, Chloe, Ender Thomas and Leslie Mills.
"When I play the piano or I play the keyboards, it's as if I'm singing," said Yanni, 54.
"So the melodies were easily translated into vocal melodies, without major surgery.
"The only criterion that I had for a song [was] that we retained its soul, its heart, its spirit -- what the song was about. If that emotion . . . remained and by adding vocals you added a couple of extra layers of emotion, then I think you would have a winner."
The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's New Age chart in April. "Yanni Voices" is the first new studio effort in six years from this self-taught maestro, who has sold 25 million albums worldwide.
The album's vocalists are on the road with Yanni, who said his latest tour is his most elaborate yet. Keep in mind, we're talking about a guy who has staged concerts at the Acropolis and the Taj Mahal.
"Forget what I've done in the past," he said.
"Adding the four vocalists makes a world of difference. . . . They get standing ovations every night.
"This is not a Barbra Streisand concert. I like Barbra. But it's not like Barbra sitting in the front singing and the orchestra is behind some drape and you don't see them.
"It's total integration of the vocals and the instruments. It's hard to describe. It's a very unique concert.
Laughing, he added: "Somebody was reading some review on the Internet and some woman wrote: 'This ain't your mama's Yanni.'
"We've gone to another level now. And I think it's a good level for the fans. I haven't gotten too many complaints."