6

Jacob Varmus Septet: Aegean

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The existence of this album is firm proof that you never know just when or how a benefactor can come into view. Lifelong jazz fan Apostolos Georgopoulos was passing through upstate New York and he had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Connie Casey and Harold Varmus. Upon hearing some music at their home that piqued his interest, Georgopolous learned that their son, Jacob Varmus, was a jazz trumpeter. Then, after being exposed to Jacob Varmus' All The Things We Still Can Be (Self Produced, 2006), Georgopoulos reached out to him about the possibility of commissioning an album of original material. Here we have the end result.

Each of the pieces presented on Aegean is named for friends or family of Georgopoulous, and each is meant to capture the spirit of those particular individuals. "Phineas" is vibrant and strong, "Elma" sings with a heartland sweep, "Areti" is zany yet endearing, "Lyra" is positive and upbeat in nature, and "Zeina" speaks to peace and beauty. Varmus, in creating these sonic portraits for Georgopoulos, draws a parallel between music and family: each of his pieces emanate different characteristics yet all remain bound by their similarities and shared pedigree.

Varmus' trumpet (and cornet) are central to these stories, but he also makes good use of all of the players at his disposal. Saxophonist Hashem Assadullahi is a well-matched frontline partner for Varmus, both in tone and temperament; rising star guitarist Pete McCann is an adroit player capable of conjuring quietude, delivering cutting tones, or simply blending into the mix; bassist Sam Trapchak anchors the group and adds some harmonic twists from the ground floor; and drummer Christian Coleman knows when to step on it and when to just let it glide. Then there's Leonard Thompson and Broc Hempel, both alternating between keyboard and piano. They skillfully avoid one another and fill out the sound of the band while leaving enough space for the music to breathe.

While this is basically a studio album, Varmus includes several live tracks—"Lyra" and "Elma," which also appear here in studio versions, and the multifaceted "Apostolos & Stelios." The sound quality of those three numbers doesn't measure up to the studio material, but they're important nonetheless. They give the listener a good idea of where this band can go with the music when it takes it out into the world.

Track Listing: Elma; Areti; Phineas; Lily; Nidal; Zeina; Lyra (Live); Apostolos & Stelios (Live); Selena; Elma (Live); Lyra (Studio).

Personnel: Jacob Varmus: trumpet, cornet; Hashem Assadullahi: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone (8)' Pete McCann (guitar); Leonard Thompson: piano (1-3, 5, 6, 8, 10), Keyboard (4, 9); Broc Hempel: piano (4, 8, 9, 11), electric keyboard (1-3, 5, 6, 8, 10); Sam Trapchak: bass; Christian Coleman: drums.

Title: Aegean | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Roll On" CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Il sistema periodico" CD/LP/Track Review Il sistema periodico
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Dance of Time" CD/LP/Track Review Dance of Time
by Jeff Winbush
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Second Act" CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.