Like many jazz fans, I've always got my ears open for a "new" sound, music grounded in tradition that still manages to push the borders. Arothymian qualifies. Mixing melodic and rhythmic elements of Greek music with the harmonic colors found in jazz and contemporary sounds, Nickos Kapilidis & The Jazz Utopia have come up with a fascinating, novel approach.
The lineupsoprano sax, guitar, bass, and drumsisn't out of the ordinary, but the way the Jazz Utopia brings it together is. Vasso Dimitriou's virtuosic guitar playing catches the ear right off. He creates electric orchestral washes of sound, slightly metallic in tone, light in character, and combines with Takis Paterelis' driving soprano sax sound for some vibrant unison interludes. The band makes energetic music, tinged with an exotic Greek feeling, with lots of odd rhythms, some rock leanings, and consistently engaging melodies that give way to creative free-flowing improvisations.
The set opens with "Sunday Morning Coffee," a fittingly caffeinated sound, full speed ahead, Dimitriou's guitar chiming at the beginning as the band kicks into a churning forward momentum. "Arothymian," a Pontian word meaning "longing and nostalgia" (a Kapilidis-penned tune, for his parents) feels introspective and a bit sad; and "Minhel" has a lively, sharp-edged tone over a fluid, organic groove, with Takis Paterelis blowing a sweet tone on soprano.
Some of the most interesting new sounds I've encountered this year.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.