Allee Futterer is not shy. At 19, she is the youngest Berklee student in the Athens program, but she is always the first to start a conversation with a complete stranger. I’m not sure if signomi (excuse me) is the first Greek word she learned, but I’ve sure seen her use it a lot, as she asks for coffee or someone’s name.

“That’s just what I do,” the jazz bassist said yesterday.

From the very first week of the Athens trip, it’s been one serendipitous encounter after another for Allee—many, many more than I can get into right now. But the first one was pretty remarkable. She was actually in bed, getting ready to fall asleep one night when her new Athens friend Katerina called, woke her, and demanded that she join her at a party. So Allee grabbed her roommate Sabrina Seidman, met Katerina, and before long they were at a movie premiere party at which everyone was decked out in fancy dresses and suits. “We were totally underdressed,” she said. But it turned out to be a great start to her social season, as she bumped into some Nakas faculty members who were playing at the party, along with Nakas student bassist Spiros, who has become a good friend.

But while Allee enjoys socializing, she gets just as excited when she talks about how the semester has gone, musically. The southern California native arrived as an electric bass principle in her third semester who hadn’t yet declared a major. She was enjoying Berklee but found that she was not finding enough time to work on music.

“I’m feeling centered. Back in the game,” Allee said. “I have an opportunity to only focus on music. I don’t have to go to the post office or on little errands.”

The student and the master: Allee and Kostas.

That focus has helped clarify some of her musical choices. Now she’s spending most of her time on upright bass and, just last week, from Athens, declared her major: professional music.

Watching her play bass in back-to-back ensembles, under the direction of Nakas faculty bassist Kostas Konstantinou, I saw a different side of the “signomi” woman. I witnessed someone who’s totally dedicated to music and can lay down some mean grooves.

Konstantinou, who was the first former Nakas student to graduate from Berklee (1997) is not only Allee’s ensemble teacher, but her private instructor as well.

“Kostas is the best teacher I’ve ever had. He’s brutally honest, but he’s always really insightful,” she said. “He’s really big on tone, the quality of each note. If you can’t play five notes in tune, he’d rather you played two.

“And he cares a lot. He really wants you to do well.”

And with that, she said signomi-ed her way to her next class.

Read more about the Athens trip:

Rob Hochschild
Latest posts by Rob Hochschild (see all)