Dimitri Vassilakis: Parallel Lines (2006)
Vassilakis' music theory and concepts are vitalized when he is joined by drummer Jeff "Tain Watts and bassist Essiet Okon Essiet. He brings a Coltrane-like modernism to his sax playing, which is marked by consummate training and imbued with a spirit of freedom and invention. The ten original selections on the recording consist of six trio compositions, three "groove" reworks, and a duet where Vassilakis plays both sax and drums. Each one showcases the musicians' abilities.
Essiet and "Tain" obliterate the jungle/drum 'n' bass motif on "Parallel Lines," mixing a funky bass, polyrhythms, and hard bop changes as Vassilakis provides dueling sax solos. The corresponding "Parallel Lines Groove" contains a loop of the original bass pattern, now enhanced by Vassilakis playing the drum section and adding spoken word with a hip-hop flavor. Both approaches have satisfying results.
But the music also moves along the lines of strong jazz improvisation and a deep knowledge of history, paying homage to Sonny Rollins' classic Freedom Suite; the trio plays with intensity and joy on the street party-like "Ocean and the heartfelt ballad "Soul Eyes.
The "groove pieces, recorded a year after the originals, serve as a synopsis of the album. They are not just variationsthey also show another dimension of Vassilakis' musicality. Witness, for example, his formidable drum work and creativity on the impressive drum/sax improvisation "The Drum Think. From beginning to end, each composition fits into an outstanding set which could also be dubbed the Dimitrios Vassilakis "Groove Suite.
Track Listing: Parallel Lines; Little One; Ocean; Swinging Second; Soul Eyes; James; Ocean Groove; Little One Groove; Parallel Lines Groove; The Drum Think.
Personnel: Dimitri Vassilakis: tenor and soprano saxophones, drums (7-10), vocals (9); Essiet Okon Essiet: bass (1-9); Jeff Tain Watts: drums (1-7).
Record Label: Candid Records
Style: Modern Jazz