2016 Release: "IN THE NORTH" Tassos Spiliotopoulos Release Date: April 10, 2016
Five Stars***** - Reviewed by John Pritchard
Tassos Spiliotopoulos - Guitar; Örjan Hultén - Saxophonist; Palle Sollinger - bassist; and Fredrik Rundqvist - Drummer
From my very first listen, ’IN THE NORTH' was immediately impressive and refreshing: very clean and creative. It carries a confident flow of highly improvised music that is both masterful and innovative. Starting with the very first track, Waterfall, to the eighth and final track, Old Demons, there is a persistent authenticity in the music that projects tremendous breadth and inspiration. This is not a predictable jazz album in any way… it’s full of genuine musical surprises from each and every musician.
One of my favorite tracks is Polmenikon (Shepherd’s Minor). Clearly drawing from melodies rooted in Greek folk music, there is a definite storytelling quality to the composition. The guitar and sax double their lines together and gently weave in and out of insanely great improvisations like characters propelling the story forward in some ancient Greek drama.
Another great track is Friday Frolics (watch below): Imagine an extremely fluid Holdsworth-style of guitar playing that is deftly climbing mountain peaks under a cool morning sun. This is Tassos at his very best and fantastically inventive! The drum solo at the end is most sublime and tasty as well.
On the third track, By Way of Fire (watch below), there is a soulful vibe that is driven by cool changes and even more blisteringly smooth guitar work. There is an incredible sax solo that also flows mellifluously like the guitar and avoids standard cliches which is what makes all the tracks on 'IN THE NORTH’ so appealing.
All in all, this is a seriously great album of music led by Greek guitarist and composer extraordinaire, Tassos Spiliotopoulos who has relocated to Sweden and recorded in Stockholm with saxophonist, Örjan Hultén; bassist, Palle Sollinger; and drummer, Fredrik Rundqvist. They are without a doubt an amazing group of musicians and judging from the sound of it these guys must be phenomenal in person. Great to hear something so inspired coming out of Sweden! Highly recommended! Five Stars! - John Pritchard
IN THE NORTH
(All tracks composed by
2. Emerald Blues
3. By Way of Fire
4. Poimenikon (Shepherd's Minor)
5. Friday Frolics
6. Downfall Monologue
8. Old Demons
'Archipelagos' is a powerful testimony to the rising talent of Tassos Spiliotopoulos as both composer and trailblazing guitarist. The joy of listening to this album lies in the fact that Tassos is playing with his musical brothers, Yaron Stavi on bass and Asaf Sirkis on drums. This trio is one of the best of all time. You can tell in an instant that they know each other very well musically and otherwise... the sensitivity and awareness they communicate makes for supremely great music!
What impresses me the most about Tassos' compositions is the way he creates beautiful arrangements that showcase his guitar work and also inspire Yaron and Asaf to play their very best. Too many great guitarists let their ego get in the way of otherwise amazing music. With 'Archipelagos' Tassos delivers a wide spectrum of guitar savvy while never crossing that line of committing the cardinal sin that so many talented artists cross without apology: playing too much.
For example, the title song on track 1, Archipelagos, immediately transports you to a place of peace and natural beauty with the waves rolling in and seagulls soaring all around. The slowly building arpeggiation is sparse and clean and full of heart. By the time the band kicks in, you are quietly aware of entering some kind of sacred space. This is quite inspiring stuff. Like most every song, Tassos cooks up an ingenious gourmet dining experience for the ear and the spirit. The unexpected pleasure of the album is the surprising guest performances of Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and John Parricelli on guitar.
In its totality, I must confess that I find the Spiliotopoulos guitar technique to be quite uplifting and almost classical in nature: Ultra confident, smooth and precise with an intuitive elegance. While he is extremely well schooled in the grand traditions of fusion masters such as Allan Holdsworth and John Scofield, I just really love that he has developed such a fresh, innovative voice.... and to this reviewer that is what it is all about: True Genius! Five Stars! - John Pritchard
(All tracks composed by
2. The Quest
3. Red Veil
4. Secret View
5. Cosmic Motion
7. Out and About
8. Stepping Stones
"...Guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos, a six-string shredder clearly influenced by Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin, flaunts some impressive chops..." Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times
"Compelling guitarist Spiliotopoulos creates dark, modal jazz... a band and a guitarist to watch out for.” Time Out, London
”..Tassos Spiliotopoulos developed his melodic originals into a lucid flow of elegant ideas..” Evening Standard
“...In the sound of excellent Jazz guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos we hear fusion masters such as Allan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson and John McLaughlin, as well as younger important players such as Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder...” Jazz & Tzaz Magazine
Born: June 10, 1978
Originally from Greece, Tassos Spiliotopoulos moved to London in 2000 and has studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (Mmus) and Trinity College of Music (Bmus, Hons). During that time Tassos also attended seminars at the School for Improvisational Music in New York City where he studied and performed with Ralph Alessi, Ravi Coltrane, Brad Shepik, Jim Black and Drew Gress.
During the past few years Tassos has been touring with his own band as well as numerous other creative projects, performing in clubs and festivals in the UK, Germany, France, Greece, Sweden, Spain and USA. He has worked with artists such as Kenny Wheeler, Gary Husband, Asaf Sirkis, Tim Garland, Dimitri Vassilakis, Eileen Hunter, John Parricelli, Mike Outram, John Etheridge, and more.
In 2005, Tassos formed his own quartet with three of the most talented musicians he has been playing with, Asaf Sirkis, Robin Fincker and Yaron Stavi. The idea was to create a fresh sounding, contemporary group that combines lyrical, extended-form compositions with high energy improvising. The Quartet's first album 'Wait For Dusk' was released by Konnex Records in 2006 (CAT KCD5166). Tassos is currently leading a new trio and has just completed recording their new album, to be released 24 May 2010.
Opting for a more intimate sound on ‘Archipelagos’ Tassos continues to develop his compositional approach which blends contemporary Jazz with modern classical, folk and even rock fusion. The album's eight tracks offer a guitar oriented, European sound that is both intricate and powerful but at times becomes reflective and mesmerizing. The Trio (Yaron Stavi-bass and Asaf Sirkis, drums) interprets with a range of colours, from energetic to almost brittle and strong band interplay is always at the core of their sound. The album also features two very special guests, Kenny Wheeler (Trumpet) and John Parricelli (Guitar). The two contemporary masters who need no introductions have been a great inspiration and influence for Spiliotopoulos, who has tailored their featuring compositions around them.