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Album Review

George Spanos: Dreams Beyond

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Drummer George Spanos' exodus from Greece to New York City has resulted in a speedy indoctrination into its fertile nu-jazz scene, performing at The Stone and other popular venues with notables such as electronics wiz Ikue Mori and cellist Erik Friedlander. But Spanos has made the rounds in Europe and Canada, where disparate influences have cultivated his musical persona, evidenced on the rebel rousing and experimental Dreams Beyond, enacted with alternating personnel.

The album opens with a trio piece "Intergalactic Nucleus," featuring tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark's later-day John Coltrane type plaintive cries and the leader's swarming undercurrent. Consequently, Spanos is a prime accelerator and instigator throughout the program. As Mori firmly entrenches the exuberance of NYC downtown fare on "Innerspace," featuring her breezy and streaming electronics effects slicing through electric guitarist On Ka' A Davis' fuzz-toned, angular riffs and Spanos staggered rock pulse. Here, the band employs rubato via shifting dialogues, centered on free-form jazz rock and exploratory interchanges atop Ben Stapp's pumping tuba lines. On other tracks, the various aggregations infuse clustering noise-shaping metrics and anthem-like choruses into the mix.

"Eclipse" is a strings-based septet workout instituted with avant-chamber mechanisms and creaky dialogues as Spanos' jangling percussion tints the similes of a crazy mixed up world. However, on the final track "Beyond the Sky, Clark's laidback soulfulness rides above one-time McCoy Tyner bassist Juini Booth's emphatic flow and the leader's rolling accents and shadings. Ultimately, it's a strong outing that benefits from Spanos' conspicuous enthusiasm and formidable skills, whether he's unleashing torrid polyrhythmic patterns or serving as an empathetic colorist.

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